Best Small Ship Cruising Spots in South America

It’s no secret that South America is the world’s most enticing, varied, and utterly captivating continent of all. If you’re a lover of magnificent nature, fascinating foreign cultures and enthralling history then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding destination. Exploring Small Ship Cruising through South America’s is a phenomenal way to experience the continent from a completely different angle. So ditch those 4WDs, expedition trucks, horses and donkeys, and come discover the most awe-inspiring South America cruising spots of all. From the darkest depths of the Amazon to the startling and spellbinding isolation of Antarctica, South America is cruising at its very best.


Galapagos Islands

Floating happily off the western coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are the bomb of South America’s cruising scene. Literally bursting with enigmatic and unique wildlife, from birds that can’t fly, to iguanas who can swim, seals that play, turtles that’ll outlive us all, and an indecent amount of boobies (of the feathered kind), the Galapagos are arguably the most coveted cruising destination in the world if wildlife and WOW-landscapes are what you seek. If Darwin concocted his Theory of Evolution after just one visit…imagine what you can achieve on an unforgettable Galapagos cruise?
Your journey can begin either in Quito or Guayaquil, from where you’ll fly straight into the heart of the Galapagos archipelago and board your ship. South America small ship cruises in the Galapagos range between four and 12 days with a selection of boats to suit all budgets.



The end of the world as we know – or at least – the southernmost cruise destination of all; Antarctica boasts some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet. Vertiginous icebergs, barren islands, a kaleidoscope of hardy creatures and a chance to tackle some of Nature’s most arduous climate: a cruise in Antarctica is bound to leave a lasting impression. Kayak through fjords, sail alongside humpback whales, waddle with penguins and come face to face with the most imposing landscapes you’ll ever see. Cruising Antarctica is an unrivalled bucket-list adventure and the most unique South America cruising spots of all. You can join cruises starting in Chile, Argentina, Australia or New Zealand, or fly to King George Island – just off the northern coast of the Antarctica peninsula – from anywhere in the South America continent.



The southern tip of South America is an incredibly beautiful destination, boasting a stunning fusion of Antarctica harshness with almost tropical lusciousness. Astonishing granite peaks, verdant forests, imposing glaciers and rugged landscapes are Patagonia’s most famous calling cards, and although exploring this part of the continent by land can be tough going to say the least, cruising through it on a small ship is pure awesomeness. Spend your days meandering through Chilean and Argentinian fjords and trekking atop glaciers, and your evenings in the warm comfort of your ship – because 21st-century explorations need not be all about suffering!

Whether on a three-day Glacier Expedition and Ushuaia round-trip, or an eight-day adventure to retrace Darwin’s steps through the Beagle Channel and to Cape Horn, a Patagonia cruise is an exhilarating experience.



If all this talk of glaciers, gale force winds and barren landscapes is enough to give you the nipple-freeze, then rest assured that South America offers you plenty of balmy cruising options as well. So swap penguins for sloths, whales for anacondas and icebergs for rainforests, and delve deep into the Amazon aboard a luxury boat instead. Trust us that your senses will be just as thrilled!

An unforgettable river cruise in the Amazon is as romantic as it sounds, with gorgeous riverboats offering the comfort of air-conditioned cabins (an absolute godsend in the Amazon!) with the excitement of overland tours. Daily canoe expeditions allow you the chance to delve through smaller tributaries in search of elusive wildlife, reach secluded coves and beaches from where you can swim, and connect with indigenous tribes which still live in the world’s most famous rainforest.

You can explore the deepest corners of the Amazon in Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, with each destination offering unique highlights, wildlife encounters and unforgettable memories. If you want to really unplug from our hectic, modern world then there’s no better choice than this superlative South America cruising spot.

Yes, you could laze away your days aboard some luxury yacht, watching the world go by from a comfortable distance. Or you could roll up those sleeves, join an expedition cruise in South America and live the world instead.

And don’t worry…stunning landscapes, delectable epicurean delights and delicious sundowners are still very much included.

To learn more about small ship cruising, check out the choices that Chimu Adventures offer.

Author: Laura Pattara

“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”