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Paul June 27th, 2001 01:59 PM

South America 1/6/02
Sailing on Celebrity Mercury from Rio to Valparaiso on January 6, 2002. Any fellow passengers or any tips and information would be appreciated.

jc July 17th, 2001 04:52 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
thinking of doing it but the airfare seems really high to me... Let me know if you hear of any deals...

K.Bubb July 21st, 2001 11:26 PM

Re: South America 12/1/01
Need information about South America ports... on Ryndam (Holland America) Dec. 1st 2001 - what is weather like at that time... also ports - shopping - sightseeing and tours offered in all the ports for this cruise... Wild Majesty Explorer South America-- from Rio -- around Cape Horn and ending in Valpariso,Chile... thanks very much

Paul July 22nd, 2001 06:26 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
We just booked our airfare on Travelocity. American Airlines SFO to Miami, Miami to Rio, return from Santiago Chile, through Miami to SFO. Fare per person was $1,200, more than $500 per person less than Celebrity wanted for aifare, with no guarantee of airline or schedule.
We booked our January 6, 2002 sailing (Rio to Valparaiso) in April, and paid $1,500 per person for a cataegory 4 cabin (that's one category below veranda cabins) I think it's a steal for two weeks in South America.
Look around for air fares. There are lots of good deals out there.

Paul July 22nd, 2001 06:30 PM

Re: South America 12/1/01
Remember, it's summer in South America in December-January. Temps at the Cape could be as low as 40's, or pleasantly in the 60's. Rio and points north can be 80's and 90's

JRohde July 24th, 2001 11:46 AM

Re: South America 1/6/02
It sounds like you made a terrific buy on the cruise. We, too, made our own air on Expedia, going Denver-Miami-Rio-Iguazzu Falls-Buenos Aires. We cruise on the Renaissance R2 Buenos Aires to Valpariso around the Horn, then fly back Santiago-DFW-DEN. We too realized a considerable savings on the air, plus getting miles on AA and probably better service and connections. We will have to arrange for our own ground transfers in Buenos Aires and Santiago, however.
Have a great trip.


Paul July 24th, 2001 12:33 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
I guess we both saved quite a bit. At this point, we are planning to buy the cruise line's transfer from Valparaiso to Santiago. Since our flight leaves Santiago at 11 PM, we'll probably take the day tour of Santiago, then head to the airport. It is quite a ride from Valparaiso to Santiago, so I think we'll stick with the cruise line's transfer, rather than trying to arrange something on our own. It's not worth saving just a few dollars there by arranging our own.
Bon Voyage!!

Gerrie Ryan August 5th, 2001 10:49 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
I too thought the airfare was horrendously expensive. The cruise line quoted $1600, travel agent $1300 but went online on the South America web site and found Solar Tours and got same tickets, same airline, same plane for $880. I think even this was expensive but it was for prime holiday time 12-19 to 1-7. You might want to contact them. G

Paul August 6th, 2001 11:59 AM

Re: South America 12/1/01
Just another note, remember that as you approach Cape Horn, and get closer to the south pole, the daylight hours will increase significantly. There will be nearly 18 hours of daylight at that time of year.

pat August 9th, 2001 02:20 PM

Re: South America 12/1/01
We will be on this cruise with you. Are you doing a pre-stay in Rio? I have found a couple others that are going on this cruise also. Our biggest concern will be packing for the different climates. I do have some information that I have gotten from previous cruisers that I am willing to share. E-mail me.


Sharon August 23rd, 2001 09:04 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
Paul, That is a fantastic fare! Just today I phoned a TA here. We are very interested in the Feb03 cruise Carnival in Rio on the Mercury as well. I wonder if it is because this is a unique cruise and it is at carnival time, but my quote in CDN was $3039 plus $320 port taxes for cat 8. The TA was also told that it was filling up fairly quickly (sales ploy?). I am planning to use a CDN program called Air Miles for my airfare and am limited to flying in and out of Buenos Aires (otherwise I would need more than double the credits I have strived to earn). Would you be willing to pass along your travel savy? The cruise you choose sounds terrific!

Paul August 25th, 2001 12:35 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
I think part of it was just luck, and timing.
We started toying with the idea of a South America cruise after receiving a Cunard brochure. The cruise and ports of call sounded very exotic and interesting. The prices were prohibitive, for us-- over $7,000 per person. We started searching some of the discount cruise websites (esp. the travel section on AOL) in March of this year and studied and compared the fares, along with the cruise lines' sites. I think the economic slowdown at the beginning of the year had something to do with it too. We booked the cruise in April, a full 9 months prior to the cruise. It pays to book early. We got a category 4 stateroom (one level below veranda) for what is now being offered for an inside cabin.
We were going to purchase the cruise line's airfare package. Our early online investigations showed only a modest ($100-$200) savings by booking on our own. I did keep checking the online travel sites, and eventually I got the $1,200 fare. I guess you just have to keep checking those sites. The fares can, and do change constantly. We saved enough on the airfare to pay for all of the shore excursions we want to take.
The other thing we have going for us is the ability to be flexible in our schedule. The holiday cruise to the same ports is much more expensive than the one we booked, which begins on January 6, after the holiday crunch. The premium would also be applied to Carnaval time in Rio, when EVERYONE wants to be there. I guess I can sacrifice the crowds for a better value. I never was one to go with the crowds.
Call it savy, luck, or just good timing. I'm not sure which. Just be willing to spend some time investigating, and don't assume it's the final word. It doesn't cost anything to keep looking-- and it can save you a bundle!

Happy sailing,

Paul August 25th, 2001 12:53 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
Just one more note...
After all the online research we did, we made the cruise booking through Cruise Specialists, a great agency in Seattle, Washington. They were able to get us the same price (actually a few $ less) and we have the safety and convenience of an agent working for us. If there are any problems, it is better to have an agent in there pitching for you. I don't feel comfortable booking directly on some of these discount cruise sites. I like to have the security of calling my favorite agent (in this case, Shannon) and getting answers to my questions. I have a personal relationship with her, and I know I can call and speak to her directly. It's not like calling an 800 number, and taking the luck of the draw with whomever answers the phone. There is something to be said for peace of mind when spending a considerable amount of money, and traveling many thousands of miles.


Sharon August 28th, 2001 09:28 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
Hi Paul,

Thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate your time! Sorry I took so long to reply (moving our son to university).
I'm beginning to think you are so right about travelling at that time of year. I guess my number one priority was being able to use my air miles (a Canadian program) and hence the interest in the Carnival in Rio cruise. I have received quotes from two, quite different, travel agencies and they are EXACTLY the same. Checked the Celebrity web site and bingo, they ALL match. I guess I was just frustrated at hearing all of the "great deals" out there. I also never thought of the crowds. My family and I took a coach tour through Europe last August and the crowds! It was so much more pleasant going in past years in the quieter times and you actually get to see so much more. You also answered another of my questions----on line booking. I was interested to know if people had used them, which sites and with what experiences. I am, however like you, I do prefer to deal with a somewhat local trave agency. That said it took the TA at a Thomas Cook agency 8 days to get back to me with the quote. (that was after going in person and then calling her again after a week--I won't be using that agency)
Thanks again

Another Paul August 29th, 2001 03:51 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
I'm glad to babble on, and hope some of what I say can be helpful. By all means, try calling Cruise Specialists. Their toll-free number is 1-800-544-2469. My agent is Shannon. She has been great. They are in Seattle, Washington and I'm in San Francisco. She has always gotten back to me quickly with answers to all my questions. Usually the same day, if not in an hour or two. No, I do not work for them or get a commission. I just believe in using someone who provides great service. It's nice to deal with nice people.
Good luck!

Cynthia August 30th, 2001 07:45 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
I have used Cruise Specialists several times. They have been around a long time and are very reliable. Often they beat other prices especially with HAL.

Gaston Lux September 10th, 2001 05:55 PM

Re: South America 1/6/02
From the US you have direct non stops daily flights from Los Angeles LAX, Dallas DFW, Miami, and New York JFK. Most of the flights leaves from Miami.

One of the cheapest airlines is AeroContinente, flying from Miami to Santiago. Lan Chile is member of OneWorld alliance, like American Ailines. Traditionally the fares from the West Coast of US and Chile are very expensive. Perhaps the cheapest alternative is to fly to Mexico (in northern hemisphere is low season) and from there to Santiago.

If I can help you in any way, just send me a mail, cordially

Gaston Lux
Writer of Travel Guidebooks

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