We just returned from Holland's Valpo to Rio. Please see my postings on this topic and Holland America for my comments.
We found (with a few exceptions) that in cities my husband and I prefer to tour without a group. Using the information from the port lectures, a good map and a Fodors or Frommers guidebook, we had no difficulty in Punta Arenas, Falklands, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rio. If you'd like specifics on what we did in any of these ports please e-mail me.
Shore excursions that WERE worthwhile were: Tango Show in BA (but not the dinner) and Trekking in Ushuaia.
I was on Ryndam (Holland America) for Dec. l-l8 Rio To Valpo cruise. Since I was solo I took most of the Ship tours however did some ports on my own and worked out fine. Montevideo, Punta Arenas (did on my own) As to Buenos Aires took the Barbeque Ranch Tour (great) - the City Highlights and the Tango Show (without dinner).. in Ushraia the Lake Alpine Drive was not worth $69 -- nice scenery but if you have been to Canadian Rockies, etc. that is much prettier-- long dusty road for 4 hours on the bus- you get off at one little Souvenier Place and see one lake - that's it.. I got to Rio the 2nd day (late) so only had time for a 3 hour taxi drive over the city- have his name if you are interested- great guide and reasonable price and reliable. Don't count on the Falklands- rough seas and we never got in.. I heard from reliable sources on HA that they very seldom get in... (Holland America does not emphasize this enough- its a marketing strategy).. to make you think you are going to get in... if the sea is calmer on the day you are to be in Falklands-- the problem is that its not enough time to unload all the tenders!!! which is a pain.. and if sea is rough before you get there-- that is what the problem is-- one ship might get in the whole winter... so do not buy any tickets or plan anything for that-- if you happen to get in- take the $l0 shuttle bus to see the Penguins or just "roam around the small town on your own"-- don't pre-buy any tour ticket.. Anything else you need specifically let me know-- will be happy to send information but do not want to bore you with lots of stuff you do not need!! firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so-o-o much for the info on S.A. We don't go to Rio but the other info is great! Especially about the Falklands. Any info at all is appreciated as you know there is little information on the boards. We have found 3-4 other couples going and are trying to do some group touring on our own. It's a little difficult arranging but hopefully something can be worked out. Have a great next cruise!!! Carol