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South America

Uruguay's Cruise Ports Reflect Massive Tourism Growth

Palacio Legislativo, Uruguary's legislative palace, is a major attraction in Montevideo. Credit: Felipe Restrepo Acosta, Wikimedia
Palacio Legislativo, Uruguary's legislative palace, is a major attraction in Montevideo. Credit: Felipe Restrepo Acosta, Wikimedia

Uruguay’s cruise ports are a clear example of the growth of South American cruises. They have more than 400,000 passengers who disembark there each year. 

Most Uruguayan cruises often see more than 200 stops in Port of Montevideo and more than 100 in Punta del Este.

Nestled between the continent’s two giants, Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America. More than half of the nation’s population of three million reside in the capital of Montevideo. It is at Uruguay’s southernmost point on the Rio de la Plata.

The best view of the city is from the top of town hall. The most prominent sites here are the statues of the country’s heroes scattered throughout the town. Although small in size, Uruguay has proven to be big-hearted with Montevideo being one of South America’s most interesting and cosmopolitan capitals.

The top excursions include visits to various sites in Uruguay, especially in Montevideo, the capital.

Montevideo Cruise Port

Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, exudes European charm and elegance, with broad boulevards, high fountains, stately squares, and sidewalk cafes. The great city maintains a low-key atmosphere despite its position as Uruguay’s commercial and political hub.

The port of Montevideo is ever consolidating its position as a port of embarkation and disembarkation for cruise ships.

As an example, one recent season saw the Grupo Costa company and its cruise ship Costa Fortuna, with a capacity for 2,470 passengers, making nine departures and eight arrivals. The company previously announced the cruise ship Grand Mistral will make 16 stops in Montevideo.

The past few years have certainly seen a significant increase in the number of companies, ships and stops made in Montevideo. The city currently receives visits from more than 20 cruise companies.

It is expected that future seasons will see familiar names such as Seabourn, Silversea, Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Hapag-Lloyd, Holland, Ibero Cruceros, Japan Grace, Aida, Pullmantur, MSC, Royal Caribbean Prestige Cruise, Princess, Regen and Swan Helenic arriving in the city, many of which have already been confirmed.

Common shore excursions include city tours for about $40 to $60 per person. Wine tours are popular shore excursions with prices ranging from $75 to $100 per month.

Punta del Este Cruise Port

Punta del Este
Punta del Este; credit: Juan Carlos Gonzalez

Though small, Punta del Este is the main tourist city in Uruguay housing the most exclusive resort in South America, the port of Punta del Este, a certain gateway to a dreamlike vacation.

Fashionable Punta del Este is one of the most world’s most appealing seaside resorts, its white sand beaches are popular with families and individual travellers alike.

Punta del Este features around 70 km of beautiful beaches, luxurious hotels, gourmet restaurants and shopping venues combine perfectly with wonderful scenery and tranquillity.

Since 2006, the port of Punta del Este has consistently played host to cruise ships from all over the world. To date, the area has successfully exceeded the expectations of many. To this end, cruise ship stops have increased considerably. While 2011 saw 78 cruise ships docked, there were 106 in 2012. Cruises include:

1. MSC Poesia (boarding in Buenos Aires, Argentina). Itinerary: Buenos Aires - Punta del Este - Ilhabela - Rio de Janeiro - Ilha

2. MSC Magnifica (boarding in Santos, Brazil). Itinerary: Santos - Punta del Este - Buenos Aires - Montevideo - Santos

Shore excursions are less common at Punta del Este than Montevideo. A typical city tour costs about $50 per person.

Other Uruguay Cruise Ports

Apart from these two destinations, there’s not much activity along the other, smaller ports of call in Uruguay. Although Punta del Diablo is a larger city, most visitors often stop in Punta del Este and then make their way to Punta del Diablo or any other points of interest.

Numerous top cruise ships choose Uruguay as a destination for several reasons. There is the security, the warmth and friendliness of its people. Of course, there is also easy access to wonderful things Uruguayan including multiple shopping options and splendid food, just to name some

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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