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Silver Spirit - South and Central America Cruise Travel Log


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Pre-Cruise Weekend in Santiago, Chile
Santiago, Chile

View of Santiago, Chile from San Cristobal Hill

Santiago, Chile
South and Central America are fantastic cruise destinations, especially in the winter months when the weather is cold up north. Although many South American cruises focus on the east coast of the continent, a cruise along the west coast can also be fascinating.

We embarked on our Latin American journey on the Silversea Silver Spirit in Valparaiso and sailed for 14 days northwest along the coast of South and Central America. The following pages cover the activities onboard the Silver Spirit and in the Latin America ports of call:

The itinerary had an excellent mix of sea days and shore days. The days at sea allowed plenty of time to recharge before the next busy port day.

Our trip could have started on a bad note, but we got lucky. We flew to Santiago less than one week after a horrific earthquake struck the country, with the quake centered about 200 miles south of the capital. Although the Santiago airport terminal was closed due to a caved-in roof, most of the city was practically untouched. Some of the older buildings showed some damage, but hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites were open for business. Unfortunately, many of the Chilean wineries near Santiago, which often use old buildings for storage, suffered severe damage, with millions of liters of wine lost.

We used the Santiago hop-on, hop-off bus to tour and explore the city, stopping at San Cristobal in Barrio Bellavista, Plaza de Armas (main square), Mercado Central (market), and the modern mall at Parque Arauco.

A ride on the funicular to the top of the San Cristobal hill is a great way to admire the stunning views of the city, the large statue of the Virgin Mary, and the quaint church on the hilltop. Sipping a cold drink, we marveled at the numerous bicyclists, who had ridden the hour to the top, standing in line to order a mote con huesillos. This summer drink consists of a stewed dried peach served in a glass of peach juice, lots of light syrup, and several tablespoons of soft cooked wheat. Sounds awful, but looks worse. However, everywhere we went in Santiago we saw street vendors selling this popular dessert drink.

Plaza de Armas lies at the heart of the old city. This large plaza and the nearby surrounding area features government buildings, the main cathedral, the central post office, and several museums.

I always like to wander in city markets, and the Mercado Central of Santiago is a good one, filled with fish and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The mall at Parque Arauco is one of the largest in South America. Its modern construction and shops are an interesting contrast to the old city. In addition to over 350 shops, the mall has numerous restaurants, some in a large courtyard with live music.

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