Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 day Incan Empires Cruise

JoeTourist is looking forward to taking yet another cruise later this year to South America.  Just as with our cruise aboard Volendam last year to the South Pacific, this cruise is with Holland America Line, however this time we are aboard their flagship Rotterdam.

Machu Picchu has always been on the list of places to see, so that will finally happen on this cruise, since we spend a total of 5 days in Peruvian ports.  The shore excursions offered by Holland America were fully booked by the time we decided to take this cruise (last month), so we booked a tour with a third party travel company with experience sending clients to Machu Picchu.  Bestway Tours and Safaris is a travel company based in Vancouver, Canada who is well-established and has the experience to provide us with a customized tour of both Machu Picchu itself as well as the Sacred Valley.

Even if the ship`s excursions were available, they cost twice as much for a tour which lasts a day less than what we are getting from doing the custom tour.  The first day we simply disembark in Callao-Lima and fly to Cusco.  Bestway originally offered us a tour of ruins close to Cusco, but we prefer to take it easy and see a bit of the sights of the city on our first day at high altitude.

The second day, we do a full day tour of the Sacred Valley, which will give us lots of time to see the sights without rushing around, and take in some of the local colour at the local markets. The third day we take the 3-hour scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes from where we take a coach transfer to South America’s most famous World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu. We will have lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, and have plenty of time to look around before we return to Cusco on the train in the afternoon.  This should be the highlight of the whole trip!  The following day we fly back to Lima and then drive down the coast to board the Rotterdam in Pisco.

Why choose this cruise? The same two reasons for selecting our last cruise: an interesting itinerary and low cost.

We embark in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, stop in 16 ports of call, transit the Panama Canal, and disembark in San Diego, California.  We visit a total of 10 countries in 30 days, of which five countries are new for me.

This particular cruise offers unbeatable value running at under US$100/day/person based on double occupancy.  I am traveling solo, however even with the Single Supplement and a modest cabin upgrade, the cruise portion of this trip is costing me only about $175/day - about half the usual cruise rates. I am budgeting under $300/day for the whole trip, including airfares, the Machu Picchu excursion, hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, and a generous allowance for fun aboard ship. As an added bonus, all the major costs of this trip are priced in US$. The US Dollar is weakening as compared with the Canadian Dollar, so I`m gaining a few percentage points when I actually go to pay for this trip!

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