Setting sail from Rio de Janeiro
The carnival capital of the world, Rio de Janeiro needs little introduction. We can think of few cities in the world that are able to compete when it comes to location: hugging the beautiful sandy shore and surrounded by jungle-clad islands and mountains, including the iconic Corcovado, the setting for Brazil's most vibrant city is simply breathtaking. Strut your stuff on Copacabana beach, shimmy to the rhythms of samba and bossa nova, or just drink in the view from the feet of Christ the Redeemer - Rio is truly a destination to be savoured.
Copacabana is the city’s most famous beach, and a must-visit, but we prefer Ipanema for its more upmarket vibe.
Once just a sleepy fishing village on a picturesque peninsula, Búzios was put firmly on the map by Brigitte Bardot, who holidayed here in the 1960s. These days it’s an upmarket beach destination, with a host of luxury hotels, sophisticated restaurants and chic boutiques.
Colourful Salvador is Brazil’s third biggest city and a vibrant centre for Afro-Brazilian culture, with frequent festivals that fill the streets with music and dancing. The historic core of the old city is the biggest tourist magnet, where elegant, brightly hued colonial buildings line the cobbled streets.
Natal takes its name from the Portuguese word for Christmas, since the city was founded on Christmas Day in 1599. The local tourist industry is focused mostly on the region’s beautiful beaches, and a buggy ride along the huge sand dunes is a popular activity.
Situated on Brazil’s northeastern coast, the sprawling city of Fortaleza is best known for its beaches and nightlife, and it’s also a major seaport. There isn’t a huge amount in the way of sights, though the Mercado Central is good for shopping and there are some nice beach bars along the Praia do Futuro.
French Guiana: Devil's Island
The Iles de Salut, a trio of islands more popularly known as Devil’s Island, were the site of a French penal colony which gained notoriety thanks to the harsh treatment of inmates. As well as the overgrown ruins of the prison, which closed in 1953, the islands are today also home to a surprisingly rich variety of wildlife.
There’s more to Barbados than just beaches; the delightful colonial architecture of the old garrison in Bridgetown, the capital, is fully deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage status, and the island interior is littered with old sugar plantations and natural wonders such as Harrison’s Cave.
Saint Lucia: Castries
Castries, Saint Lucia’s diminutive capital, is home to some interesting markets and colonial buildings. The island’s highlights are situated elsewhere, however, and we’d recommend either heading south towards Soufrière, where the iconic Piton mountains guard a beautiful bay, or north to the bars, restaurants and beaches of Rodney Bay.
Antigua and Barbuda: St John's
Antigua is famously home to 365 beaches - one for every day of the year - and there is an undeniable allure to the many white sand coves dotted along the coast. The capital, St John’s, is worth a look, but if you’ve got time to visit the south coast you’ll find historic Nelson’s Dockyard a lot more interesting.
Saint Kitts and Nevis: Saint Kitts
Laid back and low key, Saint Kitts is an island typified by rolling green hills, characterful beach bars and the lingering remnants of the sugar cane trade that once dominated here. Attractions include the UNESCO-listed Brimstone Hill fortress, the 18-mile Scenic Railway and the faded Georgian elegance of the capital, Basseterre.
Nassau, the lively Bahamian capital, is home to duty free shopping, a burgeoning restaurant scene and elegant Georgian architecture. There are some interesting museums where you can learn about the pirates and slave traders of yesteryear, and the surrounding coastline boasts some truly stunning beaches.
United States: Miami
Downtown Miami is a destination in its own right, with a host of world class galleries, but it's still Miami Beach that draws the biggest crowds. The Art Deco district around South Beach is very much back in vogue, with new restaurants, bars and luxury developments sprouting up all over the place.
The crumbling colonial mansions, the classic American cars, the cigars, the music drifting through the air… There's nowhere quite like Havana, and while it’s true that things are changing, this isn’t always a bad thing; the culinary scene has improved immeasurably in recent years with the rise of 'paladares' (small, privately owned restaurants).
Cozumel first made its name as an off the beaten track destination for divers, thanks to the crystalline waters and low key beach vibe. These days the cat is very much out of the bag, but get away from the craft shops and jewellery stores of the busy port and you’ll find a welcoming island community that is still authentically Mexican.
Mexico: Costa Maya
The port at Costa Maya is a purpose-built facility for cruise passengers, with amenities including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. The neighbouring village of Mahahual will give you a slightly more authentic taste of the Yucatán, and the ruined Mayan city of Chacchoben is an hour’s drive away.
Belize: Harvest Caye
Guatemala: Santo Tomas de Castilla
Roatán is the largest and busiest of the Bay Islands, which sit off the coast of Honduras in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. It’s a fantastic destination for divers and snorkellers, with a stunning reef just offshore, and also boasts some lovely beaches.
Costa Rica: Limon
The Ecuadorian port of Manta is known as the “tuna capital of the world”, and you’ll see plenty of fishing boats as you arrive. The beach is a popular destination for local tourists, but you may find that the nearby town of Montecristi, home of the Panama hat, makes for a more interesting excursion.
Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city and most important commercial centre, and acts as the gateway to the Pacific coast and the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands. It’s a busy, buzzing sort of place, centred around the pleasant riverfront Malecón promenade.
Peru: Trujillo (Salaverry)
Salaverry is the nearest port to Trujillo, northern Peru’s most important city. Located amongst the verdant Andean foothills, Trujillo is home to a host of beautiful colonial buildings, and is also known for the spectacular nearby ruins of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America.
Arriving in Lima (Callao)
Peru's underrated capital enjoys a fine setting on the Pacific coast, and the handsome colonial-era buildings surrounding the Plaza de Armas give clues to Lima's distinguished history. For three centuries this was the capital of the Spanish Americas, when the city grew rich on the back of plundered Inca gold. Modern Lima can be a little hectic, the roads often clogged with traffic, but the historic centre has an undeniable charm to it, and in recent years a clutch of innovative restaurants have helped to put Peruvian cuisine on the map.
The pre-Columbian citadel of Pachacamac is a must see, just a few miles from the city and a key Inca site.
Your home from home
Small enough to operate fascinating port-intensive itineraries, but with the space for dining options, comfortable accommodation and more, sister ships Insignia, Nautica, Regatta and Sirena are for many the perfect size.
What we love
These four boutique style sister ships carry just 684 guests apiece, with a comfortable, relaxed country house style and plenty of intimate corners. We love the alternative restaurants - Oceania is rightly renowned for great food - and the pretty little library up on deck 10.
|Crew||400 International Staff|
|Style||On Oceania it's all about the time spent ashore, so back on board it's relaxed and unpretentious, with no dressing up. Open seating throughout creates an atmosphere which is friendly and sociable.|
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite hotel in Rio
We like the Belmond Copacabana Palace – go for the upper floor suites for great views over the ocean.
The extraordinary thing is that right by the city is the Tijuca Forest, great for a four wheel drive tour in acres of lush mountainous national park.
Where to stay in Lima
We like the Country Club Lima Hotel for a bit of colonial style.
See more of Peru
Travel south from Lima to Nazca to see the extraordinary Nazca Lines – well worth the journey, and stay on at the beach if you have time to spare.