The South American cruise season officially ended last week with the arrival of Japan’s Asuka II, a fitting super luxury superlative to highlight another record year for both Argentina and Uruguay cruises. Passengers aboard the Japanese luxury liner paid up to $80,000 for the 100-day cruise from Kobe to South Africa, the Caribbean and here in the Southern Cone.
The phenomenal growth in cruise ship traffic in both Argentina and Uruguay is thanks in part to the arrival of ships like the Asuka II from other corners of the globe and the continued lengthening of the season from a tight two-month summer window (January/February) to a seven-month calendar stretching from late spring to early fall (November to May).
According to MINTUR, 213 cruise ships docked in Uruguay ports this season, 24% more than the 171 ships that arrived last year and a far cry from the 50 arrivals just seven years ago. The 300,000 cruise ship passengers were split evenly between the Ports of Montevideo and Punta del Este, a 8% increase over the 278,000 Uruguay arrivals during the 2010-2011 Season.
The numbers were equally robust in Argentina where 161 ships brought over 425,000 passengers to the new Port of Buenos Aires, a 23% increase over the 345,000 BA cruise arrivals last year. 81% of those passengers were foreign tourists including 26% from Europe and 15% from the United States. Based on the 168 arrivals confirmed already, Argentina officials are already forecasting 500,000 cruise ship passengers in Buenos Aires in 2012-13. (Full Story in Spanish)
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