MONTEVIDEO – The Uruguayan resort city of Punta del Este marked the start over the weekend of the 2014-2015 cruise ship season by offering visitors going ashore a food festival, bicycle tours and other activities.
Cruise ship passengers going ashore on Sunday morning enjoyed warm weather and hospitality in Punta del Este, one of the main tourist destinations in Uruguay.
Tourists coming off the ships were treated to the Boulevard Gourmet, a traveling food festival offering culinary delights from various upscale restaurants, National Tourism Office director Benjamin Liberoff told Efe.
Visitors had the option of sampling various foods or going on guided bike tours of the peninsula, an activity offered to tourists for the past two seasons in Punta del Este.
“About 70 percent of the passengers got off to learn about the city,” Liberoff said, adding that one ship carried mostly Argentine passengers while the other had mainly European passengers.
The captains of the ships participated in the official ceremony marking the start of cruise ship season, which started on Nov. 12 in Montevideo.
The number of cruise ship arrivals is expected to fall this year due to the “problems in the region,” Liberoff said.
Arrivals are expected to rebound next season because Norwegian Cruise Line, which dropped Punta del Este as a port of call, plans to return to the resort city, Liberoff said.
Cruises “are a stable tourist activity in Uruguay that continue to provide many benefits,” Liberoff said.
During the 2012-2013 season, Uruguay welcomed 223 cruise ships and 412,000 tourists who went ashore, of whom 76 percent were Brazilians and Argentines, a figure that was up 16.5 percent from the 2011-2012 season.