Tuesday, February 12th 2013 - 18:00 UTC

Punta Arenas cruise business picking up; 62.000 visitors expected this season

The cruise business has been picking up for the last three seasons and so far including January an estimated 31.000 visitors landed in Punta Arenas, extreme south of Chile, which represents a 7% increase over the previous season and 10% for international cruises, said the head of the Austral Port Authority, Ignacio Covacevich.

A cruise vessel approaching Punta Arenas

Several cruise vessels on a sunny busy day

Ignacio Covacevich head of Punta Arenas port authority

“In January this year we reached 31.000 visitors which is 7% more that in 2011/12 and so far because of bad weather we had one call cancelled, but two non scheduled turned up, so it’s steady and has been growing sustainedly for the last three seasons”, pointed out Covacevich who anticipated that the last cruise of the season is expected March 12.

Covacevich said that several intelligent government measures have helped with the hike in business, basically lowering the cost of port duties, services, piloting along the fiords, allowing casinos on board to operate in Chilean waters, plus the promotion campaigns.

“As port authority we are important in the first leg for visitors, which is landing, but from the port rails outwards you must have a good promotion of places to visit, abundant information, well instructed guides and an overall pleasant and honest attitude”, said Covacevich who estimated the current season will end with over 62.000 cruise visitors landing in Punta Arenas.

The local branch of Senatur (Chile’s Tourism Office), according to Covacevich is doing its job: well prepared staff, several languages, plenty of maps and information on guided tours. However cruise visitors are not always satisfied because of the distances to some of the places that most attract them.

In effect according to Senatur, visitors have a preference for the Milodon Cave, Torres del Paine national park, rookeries, whales’ sighting plus the local city tours, museums, money exchange houses and restaurants. Bus since at the most they spend one day in Punta Arenas, weather permitting, there is not enough time to travel to the parks and sighting marine life.

“Americans, Germans, English, Brazilians and Argentines are the most visitors we receive when the large international cruises call in Punta Arenas”, concluded the local port authority chief.

18 comments Feed

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1 Condorito (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 06:32 pm Report abuse
“several intelligent government measures have helped” - good to hear.

Personally I don't like cruises, they don't call in port long enough to see anything. In Punta Arenas, they arrive in the morning and you have to be back on the boat by evening. Torres del Paine is a 5 hour drive from port, so 10 hour round trip and it is the kind of place you need a few days to explore, not just a glimpse on a drive.

It is the same here in the beautiful province of Elqui. The cruise passengers only have time to get out and stretch their legs. No time to soak up the charms of the Elqui and Limari valleys.

No imagination, no adventure. (But thank you for your visit. )
2 CaptainSilver (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 07:04 pm Report abuse
A great alternative to Rg ports where they now abuse and bully frail British pensioners, cowards... Their loss Chile's gain!
3 Conqueror (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 07:04 pm Report abuse
Don't forget. Argieland is close by. Take a suitcase of grenades. Distribute to the local argie population. Leave them in suitable locations. Toilets. (If there any!) Sewers. Effluent works. Fire stations. Pumping stations. Water supplies. Communications. Remember, you get 10p for every pin you bring back!
4 briton (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 07:10 pm Report abuse
well, come the referendum,
and CFK may well take her rage out on chile,

you never know how her robotic mind works.
5 Brit Bob (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 07:41 pm Report abuse
Chile 1 - Argieland 0
6 ajoknoblauch (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 07:47 pm Report abuse
Condorito, the Elqui valley is close enough for a day trip from Coquimbo. The best cruise ship stops in Chile, though, are Valparaíso and Iquique (where sights like Humberstone are barely an hour away).
7 golfcronie (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 07:48 pm Report abuse
My understanding is that Argentina is is going to go into competition with the cruise companies. They wanted to advertise in the newspapers ( El Clarin, Buenos Aires Herald ) but advertising has been banned recently.
8 Shed-time (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 10:33 pm Report abuse
I've heard that Argentina's only floating boat is currently booked out to take another 5 heavily pregnant ladies to Antarctica, and a tank.
9 Condorito (#) Feb 12th, 2013 - 11:14 pm Report abuse
Yes you can get to the Elqui valley, but the charm of the Elqui valley is being able to take it slow and head way up to the villages like Alcohuaz and spend the night there. It has the clearest skies in the world and they are a sight to behold at night...with a bottle of the local Antakari.

Humberton is interesting, but it wouldn't make my list of the 10 best places to visit in the Atacama...all of which are missed by cruise passengers.
10 Frank (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 05:56 am Report abuse
OK....lets see your list.....
11 Sergio Vega (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 11:36 am Report abuse
What a difference when somebody makes it´s duties......!!!
That´s is the difference between just a Gvt. and a good Gvt.....
Unfortunately, cruises haven´t time enough to passengers can visit those incredibles sites we have in Chile, specially in the Patagonic Magallanes Region....where the Americas begin....(if you turn the map up).
Well done, Chilean authorities and Magallanes inhabitants....even with the world economic trouble we are growing up with our tourism business. The same with the Argentine people, this year we have had an big increase with the visitors from the neighbors cities to buy all kind of electronic stuff, clothes and even Argentine food from our duty free zone using their credit cards to pay because is the only way they have to get foreing currecncy....the Arg$ is received also but at a lor rate of CL$ 65 = Arg$ 1 when one year ago it was CL$ 120 = Arg$ 1......Each day better to other side of the wire....Sorry about because the real people from Argentine is good people like us, specially the Patagonians, gentle and friendly with the tourist.....we have a lot of links with them, starting with the migratory issue last century from Chile to Argentina (now the switch has changed) so it means to much family connections between both countries....Hope they can change their fate and became a successful country again as soon as possible.
12 ManRod (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 01:30 pm Report abuse
right decision. In the Chilean Patagonia there is anyway much more to see than on the Argentine one, which is 90% covered with plane and grey steppe/veld.

On the Chilean side you find endless Fjörds, Green and virgin forests, not only one but uncountable amount of discovered and undiscovered glaciers, being Glacier Pio the biggest one in the world except the poles and Greenland (Perito Moreno looks like an cocktail ice cube compared to...). The most bizarre Mountain landscapes with The Torres del Paine National Park. And much, much more...
13 Condorito (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 02:43 pm Report abuse
In no particular order:

- reserva natural las vicuñas
- salar de surire
- lago chungara
- village of san pedro
- el tatio
- laguna miscanti
- la quebrada de jerez
- los monjes de tara
- valle de la luna
- the night sky from the desert or one of the observatories
- laguna verde (just over the boarder in Bolivia)
- laguna cejar
- the Altiplanic villages - Caspana, Chiu Chiu, etc
- El gigante de Atacama
then there are the secret places whose locations I cannot reveal for their own protection:
- ruins of 2000 year old village
- the dinosaur footprints in rock
- the fosilised whale cemetery
- beach where sea turtles lay their eggs
14 CaptainSilver (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 03:05 pm Report abuse
#13 Thankyou for the list. I have been to Agentina, The Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic on a cruise, but IMO cruises are not a good way to see places and meet the people. I have heard that Chile is a brilliant country to visit and intend to visit next year so I will have a look on the map to identify places. After the harrassment that the Argentineans inflicted on British tourist and all the hate that seems to emanate from there about the Falklands Argentina is now off our list. There was a lot of admiration for Chile here in Britain regarding those brave miners and the rescue effort and a lot of unease and opposition to Britain being involved with dictators, Thatcher was not admired by many. I look forward to next year.
15 Condorito (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 03:24 pm Report abuse
IMO by far the best way to see Chile is fly and self drive. For example fly from Santiago up to Calama, hire a 4x4, bring a GPS and you're off. Book accommodation ahead if travelling in Jan / Feb and at any time of year if staying in San Pedro (a must). 5 or 6 days based in San Pedro to see the amazing sights. Then fly south to the lakes or torres del paine and self-drive again.

The flights, hire car and accommodation will cost about the same as a cruise, but you will see so much more...and meet locals other than my pumiferous cousins circling the port.
16 Frank (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 08:08 pm Report abuse
Thanks for that Condorito, I will try to get up there this austral autumn. I must plead guilty to never having been north of Valdivia apart from a few short stays in Santiago. Cheers
17 Brit Bob (#) Feb 13th, 2013 - 08:32 pm Report abuse
Argentina's loss is Chile's gain. Oh uncle Festor - you ripped up that hydrocarbons agreement - now it's going to flow into Uruguay
18 row82 (#) Feb 14th, 2013 - 03:32 pm Report abuse
Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom? YES or NO


Join the debate on www.facebook.com/Britain1592

Falkland Islands Desire the Right!

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