Founded in the early 16th century, Buenos Aires was transformed from a colonial port into a cosmopolitan metropolis - the "Paris of the South" - by the cattle boom of the 1880s. As in the American West, boom was followed by bust. But that did not stop Buenos Aires from becoming the city it is today. With its air of haunted grandeur, Buenos Aires is a place of icy intellect and smoldering passion. It is a city where the elegant Colon Theater, one of the world's great opera houses, stands in counterpoint to the working class barrios that gave birth to the tango. Perhaps the city's enigmas and contradictions are best embodied by its two most famous citizens - the reclusive librarian and literary genius Jorge Luis Borges and the showgirl turned First Lady, Evita Peron.
The "Paris of the South" flaunts its European heritage. One of the pleasures of Buenos Aires is simply absorbing its charm and flavor, from Parisian-style confiterias - cafés - to the city's popular tango clubs.
Nestled between the continent's two giants, Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is the second smallest country in South America. More than half of the nation's population of three million reside in the capital of Montevideo, located at Uruguay's southernmost point on the Rio de la Plata. Although small in size, Uruguay has proven to be big-hearted - the country is one of the most literate nations in the world while Montevideo is one of South America's most interesting and cosmopolitan capitals.
Montevideo is a charming city made up of 19th-century Beaux Arts buildings, parks, and historical monuments.
Falkland Islands (Stanley)
Capital of the Falklands since 1845, tiny Stanley lies on the windswept tip of East Falkland Island. The Falklands long served as a way station for ships, particularly whalers, bound to and from Cape Horn. The islands' rigorous environment is immediately apparent: Stanley Harbor is dotted with the hulks of vessels that succumbed to the fierce winds and waves of the South Atlantic. While their strategic location led to important roles in both World Wars, the islands are best remembered as the cause of the 1982 war between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Today, travelers increasingly journey to the islands to view their rich assortment of bird and marine life.
Colorful houses occupy the low rolling moorland bordering Stanley Harbor. Stanley's climate resembles London's - cool and rainy though summer visitors are often blessed with clear, sunny skies.
Note: Stanley is an anchorage port. Guests transfer to shore via ship's tender.
Antarctic Peninsula (Scenic Cruising)
The most isolated continent on earth, this rugged landscape is some 1,200 miles long and reaches beyond the Arctic Circle. Its shores are comprised of unusually sculpted icebergs, blue-tinged glaciers, majestic mountain peaks and a steep ice shelf that continues to shrink at an alarming rate.
Though the peninsula is covered in icy tundra, it actually features the mildest climate in Antarctica, the perfect environment for hosting the only flowering plants on the entire continent, Antarctic Hair Grass and Antarctic Pearlwort. In addition, the icy waters surrounding the peninsula cater to various species of seals, penguins and seabirds, including the Cape Pigeon, the American Sheathbill and the Antarctic Tern.
Enjoy your scenic cruise in this remote area of the world - it's a breathtaking wonderland nestled in nature's frosty embrace.
Note: Antarctic Peninsula is a scenic cruising site. Ships will slowly travel past while a knowledgeable port lecturer points out significant sites you'll be able to see from onboard.
Cape Horn (Scenic Cruising)
Located on Chile's Isla Hornos in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, Cape Horn is widely considered to be the southernmost tip of South America. The culmination of the Andes mountain range, the legendary Cape is prone to unpredictably strong winds, choppy waters, icebergs and rogue waves - none of which phase the Princess ships that sail here. Nevertheless, hazardous maritime conditions have protected the rocky region from human settlement, so you'll enjoy the same views as the earliest explorers discovered centuries ago. Unusual rock formations with deep grooves and granite cliffs covered in trees are its signature features.
Navigating around the Cape was a near-impossible feat for sailors who braved its intense winds and treacherous waters in the 17th century. However, those fortunate enough to return from a successful trip were entitled to numerous benefits, including dining with one foot on the dinner table and wearing a gold loop earring to boast of their seafaring victory.
Though Cape Horn became a significant trade route between the 18th and early 20th centuries, the opening of the Panama Canal rendered this route obsolete - but that hasn't prevented adventurers from recreational journeys to the Cape, or the bragging rights that come along with them!
Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego), Argentina
Magellan called it Tierra del Fuego, "the Land of Fire," having seen flames rising from the darkened islands. For over three centuries, the name struck fear in the hearts of mariners. Howling headwinds, mountainous seas and rocky coastlines spelled a sudden end to many voyages. Today, Ushuaia, a former Argentine penal colony, serves as your gateway to this wilderness where snow-capped mountains plummet to the icy waters of the Beagle Channel.
In the late 19th century, Reverend Thomas Bridges spent years working with local tribes, compiling a dictionary of their Yaghan tongue. The work outlived the Yaghan: by the beginning of the 20th century, they had succumbed to disease.
Punta Arenas, Chile
Punta Arenas lies atop rolling hills, looking out over the Strait of Magellan. In the days before the Panama Canal, this was a major port as ships plied the waters of Cape Horn. Punta Arenas remains a prosperous town today, thanks to its rich natural resources. The city is also the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, a maze of fjords, rivers, steppes, and mountains to the north. To the south lies the great frozen mass of Antarctica. Adventure awaits in any direction at this port located near the end of the earth.
Across the Strait of Magellan lies Tierra del Fuego, the lonely, windswept island discovered by Magellan in 1520. The region was settled by Yugoslavian and English sheep ranchers in the 19th century.
Santiago ( San Antonio), Chile
Nestled between rolling hills topped with colorful houses and meandering coastal dunes, the bustling city of San Antonio enjoys its reputation as the gateway to Chile's central valley and the capital of Santiago. With a population of over five million people, Santiago sprawls at the feet of the snow-capped Andes. Inland lies the sun-kissed wine regions of Casablanca and Maipo Maipo Valley, Chile's internationally renowned wine district.