Credit: Shutterstock

Salsa, penguins & waterfalls - South America & Antarctica with Fred. Olsen in 2023

Author: Sophie Chichester

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The past year and a half may have been all about the four walls of your home but it's time to look ahead to new horizons, and Fred. Olsen's South America & Antarctica sailing in 2023 offers just that.

Fred. Olsen has launched its brand new itinerary onboard cruise ship Balmoral for January 2023.

The 78-night cruise holiday sees guests encountering the vast opposites of Antarctica’s icy landscapes against South America’s vibrant history and cultures.

The trip is brimming with incredible opportunities to ogle amazing wildlife, famous historical monuments and jaw-dropping scenery.

Meanwhile, your ship, Balmoral, features 710 well-appointed cabins and suites plus a selection of comfortable lounges, bars and inviting public areas. There are three main dining areas where guests can enjoy tantalising menus prepared by expert chefs.

What’s more, guests are treated to an array of superb entertainment on offer throughout the day, from lectures and hobby classes to live cabaret and comedians, ensuring you can make the most of your time on board.

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So, what can you expect on Fred. Olsen's South America & Antarctica cruise as it takes in wish list experiences in Chile, Antarctica, Argentina, Brazil and beyond? Well, settle in…

The cruise starts in Southampton and stops off at the Azores before crossing the Atlantic to Bermuda and then Cuba. A perk of travelling with Fred. Olsen is that smaller ships like the Balmoral can call in at Havana, unlike larger vessels.

The land of rum, cigars and dancing, Cuba features vintage American cars, a historic old colonial town and immaculate beaches. What's more, visitors to Cuba can learn all about the Latin dance styles that originated here, from the Mambo and Cha Cha Cha to Salsa and Danzón. Oh, and be sure to sample a mojito!

Next up is Panama. Here you can delve into fortified Portobelo's history of explorers and privateers - the Panamanian city was named by Christopher Columbus and is claimed to be the final resting place of Sir Francis Drake.

The ship then heads for the famous Panama Canal. One of the world’s greatest feats of engineering, the canal stretches 48 miles across the continental divide, from Panama City on the Pacific side to Colón on the Atlantic side. While Balmoral passes through three locks - being lifted and lowered more than 170 feet in the process - you can relax on deck and witness the amazing mix of manmade construction and beautiful unspoilt scenery.

Guests then have the choice to fly to the Galapagos for an extended, immersive shore excursion during a stop in Ecuador. These islands offer some of the best wildlife viewings in the world and are known for their giant tortoises, penguins, the famous blue-footed boobie, sea lions, mockingbirds and the Galapagos Marine Iguana among many others.

Galapagos islands offer some of the best wildlife viewings in the world including sea lions. Credit: Shutterstock

Another tour worth taking is the overland trip to Machu Picchu as Balmoral sails into Peru. A 15th-century site, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. The historic sanctuary was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Chile is next on the agenda. Experience one of the driest places on Earth with a visit to Arica which once recorded the longest rain-less streak on record (a whopping 173 months) before travelling to Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A riot of colour and fun, the city is famous for its unique bohemian culture, brightly coloured houses and stunning seashores.

Back at sea, cruise the Patagonian Fjords. Surrounded by majestic glaciers and snow-capped peaks, these fjords off the Chilean coast are full of hidden lakes and waterfalls and are home to the Magellan penguins, dolphins, whales and stunning birdlife.

Passengers then sail around the rocky headland of Cape Horn via Ushuaia, Argentina – the most southerly city in the world located on Tierra del Fuego – before cruising to Antarctica. While there will be no ports of call on the peninsula, guests will be able to soak up the awe-inspiring majesty of the polar region where dramatic mountains, glaciers, icebergs and ocean are home to penguins, seals, birds and whales.

Fred. Olsen guests will be able to soak up the awe-inspiring majesty of Antarctica

There's more amazing wildlife to spot on the Falkland Islands. Commonly sighted birds include gentoo and king penguins and southern giant petrels.

Albatrosses are also in abundance here, specifically the black-browed albatross with their distinctive dark eye markings. Visitors to the Falklands can experience British life far from the homeland here (think red phone boxes and very English pubs), plus gain an insight into the Falklands war.

After a stop in Uruguay - where you can experience the Gaucho cowboy way of life - it's on to Argentina, home to many natural wonders including the spellbinding Iguazú Falls. The waterfalls, made up of 275 separate cascades crashing through sub-tropical jungle over a vast granite amphitheatre, are often considered to be Latin America’s most awe-inspiring natural sight.

Meanwhile, the city of Buenos Aires is a rich mix of European splendour and Latino passion. It boasts diverse architecture, a unique urban landscape and boulevards lined with cafes, shops and galleries.

Buenos Aires is infused with Latin passion, so it is the perfect place to delve into the culture and try something new. Credit: Shutterstock

The food scene in Buenos Aires is increasingly dynamic - don't miss the region's famously juicy steaks! Try out the Tango and gain an insight into the life of inspirational figure Eva ‘Evita’ Peron (the most important First Lady of the modern political age) during your visit.

Brazil is next on the itinerary. After a stop at the tropical island of Ilhabela, Balmoral calls in at Rio de Janeiro. The city, much loved for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, is home to the glorious 38-metre Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado.

There's also stunning Sugarloaf Mountain, a remarkable granite peak with cable cars to its summit. Why not embrace the Carnival spirit Rio is known for and try your hand at Samba dancing?

One of the final calls is Salvador. Originally the capital of Portugal's New World colony, Brazil’s ‘Capital of Happiness’ is a living museum of 17th and 18th-century architecture and gold-laden churches. It boasts beautiful beaches, too; sunworshippers should check out Porto de Barra.

Then, after calling at Cape Verde, Balmoral crosses the Atlantic once again, stopping at Tenerife in the Canary Islands before returning to Southampton.

Right, time for a cuppa.

Fred Olsen's mystery cruise that will keep you guessing until the very last moment. Credit: Fred Olsen
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