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  #1 (permalink)  
Old January 8th, 2002, 03:03 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2000
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Default South America/Current Situation

We are sailing on the Norwegian Dream 17 Feb from Santiago to Buenos Aires - any update on the effects of current situation - we are staying on in BA for five days after ships arrival 3 March
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old January 9th, 2002, 09:35 PM
Kitty Bubb
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

All I can say is have plenty of US dollars (cash) for B.A. they would not accept credit cards there in December... just got back from Holland America Ryndam Dec. l8th... Do not know about current situation.. suggest you ask Travel Agent or Cruise Line. Travelers checks were okay. kittyicky@aol.com
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Old January 10th, 2002, 02:21 AM
Cathy Lawie-Phillips
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

Thanks Kitty, will get the American Dollars - do they have money machines (ie hole in the wall where you put your cash card/credit card in to get local currency) for things like taxis and meals?
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Old January 23rd, 2002, 11:54 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 451
Default Re: South America/Current Situation

Just back from Celebrity Mercury Rio to Valparaiso with an overnight in Buenos Aires. All was quiet on our stop, and the people were wonderful. No problems encountered on our stay. We did use US dollars where we shopped, or credit cards. Some stores would not take charge cards, some would not take US dollars. Each store had it's own policy, since the value of the currency was changing so quickly.
It is a beautiful city with wonderful people. Relax and enjoy
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Old January 26th, 2002, 03:45 PM
jeff lefcourt
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

i am sailing on the mercury on feb 17, buenos aires to valparaiso. could you please share with me some info on interesting shore excursions to take? did you use shore excusions from celebrity or book on your own? any recommendations? thanks so much for your input and assistance.
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Old January 28th, 2002, 01:57 PM
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

Take a 3/4 hour familiarization tour around Buenos Aries and then you do not need and further excursions. Taxis are much cheaper and you can stop where you like. Buses are cheaper yet and go everywhere.

You can do everything you want in most other ports on your own if you can deal with van services or radio taxis (pay in advance). Learn some Spanish, a small guide will do. Attend the lessons on ship. There is little English apart from hotels and airports. This is one trip where research ahead is needed as the ports are not well known. Puerto Montt is a good place to shop, try not to insult sellers whilst slung with expensive cameras, off expensive ships quibbling over a few pesos. We can speak Spanish and were horrified, still am horrified at the true American behaviour in what are essentially third world towns and cities.

Except Santiago and Buenos Aires, all ports are small and overwhelmed by large cruise ships. If you hire a taxi all day, buy him lunch. Try to fit in and do try to learn a few phrases. How terribly stupid to stand on street and berate a native because he does no speak your language.
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Old January 29th, 2002, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

HI- we are sailing of 2/17 and would like to know your opinions. did you take the ship's excursions or go on your own? which ones did you take? how was the weather? were you able to go to falkland islands? any info would be greatly appreciatiated. thanks
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Old January 30th, 2002, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

Seems several of us are going 2/17. We are also on Mercury. Can't wait. Are leaving 2/12 and going to the falls first. Got our visa and yellow fever shot so we can go into Brazil around the falls. Would also love to hear any comments. Do you know if anyone was able to take the flight over Antarctic and was it worth the price? Would love to do that but not with it being so iffy.
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Old February 16th, 2002, 11:05 AM
William LEE
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Default Re: South America/Current Situation

The New York Times, February 17, 2002

Argentine Tourism Pins Hopes on Devalued Peso

BUENOS AIRES -- UNTIL early January, Argentina was perhaps the most expensive country in Latin America for tourists. But it has become dramatically cheaper as a result of an almost 50 percent devaluation of the peso, which for more than a decade had been fixed at one to one with the American dollar.

"Our economic situation continues to be complicated and our image abroad is not favorable, but the prices are now much more attractive, and we hope that will help overcome whatever hesitation foreign travelers may have," said Marco Palacios, president of the Argentine Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies.

The currency devaluation and the resignation of President Fernando de la R˙a on Dec. 20 were preceded by several days of mass street demonstrations and even food riots in working-class suburbs of the capital that left 27 people dead. On Jan. 3, the State Department issued an announcement cautioning American visitors that "the political, social and security situation is likely to remain fluid" and that they "should avoid large public gatherings."

The statement was still in effect at press time on Feb. 11, but Argentine officials argue that it is no longer necessary and say that they are lobbying Washington to rescind it. "The end of December was difficult, but that has all been overcome," said Daniel Scioli, the government's Secretary of Tourism. "Social peace has returned, and Argentines have their arms open wide to receive foreign visitors."

Demonstrations continue periodically here in the capital, but they take place at specified times in two locations (on the squares in front of Congress and the Presidential Palace) and are not anti-American in character. There has been no unrest reported in the areas that have traditionally been tourist favorites: Patagonia, including the ski resort and lake district of Bariloche, and the Iguaš˙ Falls, on the northern border with Brazil and Paraguay.

"I was here right around Christmas and found this place so expensive and so chaotic that I decided I'd be better off hanging out in Brazil for a while," said Ellen Marchese, a Pennsylvanian on a yearlong backpacker's tour of Latin America, as she waited outside a currency exchange on Calle Florida in Buenos Aires late last month. "But the situation seems to have calmed down now, and it's amazing how much cheaper everything seems."

To replace the "one peso equals one dollar" policy that had been in place since 1991, Argentina initially opted for a complicated dual exchange rate: 1.40 pesos to the dollar for foreign trade and a free floating rate for most other transactions, including tourism. On Feb. 3, however, a decision was made to simplify things by abandoning the fixed rate and letting the peso float, or find its value on the open market.

During the first few weeks after abandoning the one-to-one policy, the floating exchange rate was running as high as two pesos to the dollar, making the cost of a restaurant meal in early February half of what it was barely a month before. But economists foresee an even greater slippage of the peso throughout 2002, with many of them predicting that the Argentine currency will end the year trading at about 2.70 to the dollar.

Of course, the end of the one peso, one dollar system means that American visitors must once again translate prices from pesos. Exchange rates now fluctuate daily, too, so to get the best rate for their money, visitors should check the financial pages of the Buenos Aires Herald, an English-language paper published here.

In addition, the collapse of the Argentine economy has led several provinces to issue bonds that are used as an alternative legal tender. When they make change, owners of stores and restaurants often try to foist this scrip, which can be easily counterfeited, on unsuspecting tourists. Complaints have been common, so under no circumstances should a visitor accept the bonds, known as patacones or lecops, as change: always insist on receiving pesos and only pesos.

Another consequence of the devaluation has been to force Argentines to stay at home. A strong peso had encouraged them to become inveterate travelers to Europe and the United States; and the money spent by Argentines abroad far exceeded that spent by visitors to Argentina: $5.5 billion versus just over $3 billion in 2000, according to Mr. Palacios.

But the average Argentine can no longer afford foreign travel, and with the Southern Hemisphere summer vacation season in full swing, that means local resorts and attractions, such as Mar del Plata, are more crowded than they have been in recent years, especially on weekends. "There are plenty of empty rooms, but in terms of both availability and prices, the best deals are to be found during the week," said Oscar Ghezzi, president of the national hotel association.
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