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Punta Arenas Cruise Tips

Magellan monument. Credit: Martin St-Amant
Perched atop rolling hills, Punta Arenas offers visitors views of the Strait of Magellan and is the gateway to Chilean Patagonia.

Many years ago, Punta Arenas was a major port, docking multiple ships from the north as well as other places all across the globe.

Though the destination doesn’t see as many visitors as it used to during the days before the Panama Canal, its rich natural resources, including a maze of fjords, rivers, steppes, and mountains, keeps the destination on the minds of travelers.

What To Do Once Docked

In almost all cases, once docked, all cruise passengers are transported by ferry into the main town. Tourists then get to the town center via tenders. The entire ride lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.

Once off the vehicle, tourists will find the town center extremely busy and confusing. However, there is a large and easily recognizable yellow terminal (normally, passengers are left here) that offers the same amenities as a large plaza. There are restaurants, souvenir stands, coffee shops, and an internet café. Additionally, there is a handicrafts shop close by.

How To Get Around

The town center of Punta Arenas is relatively small and rather compact. This means that walking around is generally a good idea. The major attractions in the town center including cathedral, museums and restaurants are located just off the town square and are all walkable.

To get to the popular Plaza Munoz Gamero from the terminal, simply walk to Avenida Independencia in the town center and ask for directions.

Otherwise, take a taxi at the terminal. Additionally, there is also a tourism kiosk in the plaza offering useful information including maps, profile brochures, flyers, etc.

Be Aware

Local authorities frown upon some products carried ashore by tourists. Typically, bringing fresh food and or dairy products ashore is a bad idea. In fact, any kind of fresh food or dairy products will be confiscated and dumped upon arrival.

Additionally, it is important to realize that in most places, even many tourist attractions, signs and brochures are not in English.

Popular Attractions

The City Center: Yes, the city center has much to offer visitors. Visitors will find two museums, Palacio Sara Braun (museum and national landmark) as well as Museo Regional de Magallanes. There is also the Plaza Munoz Gamero -- a plaza featuring a bronze statue of Ferdinand Magellan.

Cementerio Municipal: Strangely enough, the Cementerio Municipal is one of Punta Arena’s top attractions. It’s a rather fascinating cemetery with magnificent and finely sculpted graves.

For the history buffs, there is the Braun mansion, built in the 1890s and offering an antique and classic French look and feel.

Dining Options

La Tasca: With an extensive menu, La Tasca offers a wide selection of culinary choices. A Spanish restaurant, as its name suggests, La Tasca overlooks Plaza Munoz Gamero and offers standard Spanish specialties such as salmon ceviche, Patagonian lamb and centolla.

Puerto Viejo: An urban oasis in a quaint town, Puerto Viejo is an all glass and wood nautically designed restaurant. This restaurant specializes in seafood and offers salad, eel, crab, lobster, etc. Specialties include Chilean sea bass and corvine.

Served by a number of cruise liners including Holland Ameirca and Oceania, Punta Aernas is a quaint destination that offers a number of attractive features all in one place. A great location for the history buffs and those who like adventure, Puntas Arenas is a cruise destination for the cruise lover.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Chile   

August 20, 2014
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