The recent decision by the ultra-premium travel brand Silversea to change homeporting (to the neighboring Chilean ports Puerto Williams (Navarino Island) and Punta Arenas) has shaken Ushuaia Argentina and the Tierra del Fuego archipelago at South America’s southernmost tip, shared by Argentina and Chile). Officials are complaining that the Argentinean government, despite promises, had failed to deliver the needed sanitary protocol for cruise ships and crew, as well as to announce when borders would be opened.
Ushuaia City officials recall that the government had authorized the Antarctic and bi-oceanic cruises from October 20 and pledged the decision had to be followed by a quick announcement of sanitary measures for visitors, crew, and ships, but less than a week before the “official” beginning of the 2021-2022 cruise season, the instructions had not arrived.
Furthermore, Silversea, belonging to the Royal Caribbean Group, moved its 3 ships, Silver Cloud, Silver Explorer, and Silver Wind to Punta Arenas supported by a release praising Chileans.
“Chile is a fantastic access gate with a stable infrastructure and excellent services.”
and went on to congratulate the government for its “unwavering dedication to reestablish sailing to the white continent in a secure, safe and enriching way”.
According to Roberto Murcia, head of Tierra del Fuego province Ports Department, the cruise company had anticipated their decision based on the fact that Chile, “had no restrictions for the access of foreigners”, and not because of costs/operational improvements compared to the Ushuaia port.
On August 24, an administrative decision from the Argentine cabinet's head, decided the gradual and safe return of bi-oceanic/Antarctic cruises as from October 20, “in the framework of sanitary measures at the moment of its implementation and subject to the recommendations to that effect, established by the national sanitary authority”.
However, Ushuaia officials point out that to this day there is no definition on "how to implement the opening of borders for the access of foreigners on tourism trips", and the specific sanitary demands for those who are boarding cruises in Port Ushuaia, nor any news referred to access protocols for the ships and crew to Argentina.
Likewise with the COVID vaccines certificate, negative PCR on the first arriving in Argentina, and a negative antigen test to disembark in Ushuaia.