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Setting sail from San Diego
Laid-back, friendly and blessed with near-perfect weather all year round, San Diego is one of America's most likeable cities. Enjoy a stroll through Balboa Park, dotted with beautiful Spanish Renaissance-style architecture, take a whale watching trip along the coast, or sample the nightlife of the trendy Gaslamp Quarter. The swells of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach attract a surfer crowd, while the Old Town has a strong Hispanic influence thanks to the city's proximity to the Mexican border. There are also plenty of family-friendly attractions, including Legoland, SeaWorld and the famous San Diego Zoo.
Spend time in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, and stop off at one of the rooftop bars for excellent views. Then to Balboa Park – one of the best in the world.
Mexico: Cabo San Lucas
The sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo sit at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The towns themselves are mostly given over to luxury hotels and boisterous nightlife, but the surrounding landscape is characterised by arid arroyos, bristly cacti and rocky coastal outcrops.
Mexico: Puerto Vallarta
The resort town of Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, has bags of charm in spite of its popularity. Spend some time exploring the pretty old town, with its cobbled streets and quirky boutiques, or relax on the beach. Humpback whales breed out in the bay during the winter months, and dolphins can be spotted year round.
It’s true that Acapulco has suffered from overdevelopment, and has lost some of its lustre since its heyday as a magnet for Hollywood stars. But it’s still a buzzing party town, and even the forest of high rise hotels can’t spoil the setting, a beautiful bay where the Sierra Madre mountains meet the Pacific Ocean.
Guatemala: Puerto Quetzal
Puerto Quetzal is the jumping off point for exploring the fascinating interior of Guatemala, and the highlight of this intriguing country has to be UNESCO-listed Antigua. This colourful colonial town, 90 minutes from the port, enjoys a spectacular setting against a backdrop of volcanoes, and is well worth the trip.
Nicaragua: San Juan del Sur
The beach town of San Juan del Sur is a popular hangout for surfers, and it’s a nice place to spend some time relaxing. If you’re looking for a more immersive cultural experience then it’s worth taking an excursion to the beautiful colonial town of Granada, an hour and half away on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.
Costa Rica: Puntarenas
Situated on a peculiarly shaped peninsula on the Gulf of Nicoya, Puntarenas is a popular weekend beach destination for residents of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The port itself is not pretty, but the beachfront Paseo de los Turistas is a nice place to relax with a drink or enjoy a seafood lunch.
Costa Rica: Quepos
The little town of Quepos is the gateway to Manuel Antonio National Park, a nature-lover’s paradise that’s home to monkeys, iguanas and the reclusive three-toed sloth. The area around Quepos also boasts some of the best beaches in Costa Rica, and the town itself has some nice restaurants.
Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city and most important commercial centre, and acts as the gateway to the Pacific coast and the wildlife haven of the Galapagos Islands. It’s a busy, buzzing sort of place, centred around the pleasant riverfront Malecón promenade.
Peru: Trujillo (Salaverry)
Salaverry is the nearest port to Trujillo, northern Peru’s most important city. Located amongst the verdant Andean foothills, Trujillo is home to a host of beautiful colonial buildings, and is also known for the spectacular nearby ruins of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America.
Arriving in Lima (Callao)
Peru's underrated capital enjoys a fine setting on the Pacific coast, and the handsome colonial-era buildings surrounding the Plaza de Armas give clues to Lima's distinguished history. For three centuries this was the capital of the Spanish Americas, when the city grew rich on the back of plundered Inca gold. Modern Lima can be a little hectic, the roads often clogged with traffic, but the historic centre has an undeniable charm to it, and in recent years a clutch of innovative restaurants have helped to put Peruvian cuisine on the map.
This is the hop-off point to fly to Cusco and Machu Picchu, which is obviously a must-do, but schedule time in Lima too if you can, it’s a fascinating city.
Your home from home
The intimate and popular Silver Cloud is reborn as a stylish expedition ship, following an extensive refurbishment in August 2017.
What we love
The lovely Silver Cloud is now part of Silversea's Expeditions fleet, with a reduced capacity, an ice-strengthened hull and 18 zodiacs making this one of the most luxurious expedition ships at sea.
|Capacity||260 guests (200 guests in polar regions)|
|Crew||208 International Staff|
|Style||Cosy, welcoming, stimulating, exciting - this ship has it all! If you enjoy the finer things in life but have an adventurous spirit, you will find yourself in congenial company on board.|
|Cruising speed||18 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite San Diego hotel
It’s about 20 miles north of central San Diego, but we have to recommend the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
If you are here in the summer or autumn, take the opportunity to go and find a blue whale leaving from San Diego’s Big Bay.
Where to stay in Lima
We like the Country Club Lima Hotel for a bit of colonial style.
See more of Peru
Travel south from Lima to Nazca to see the extraordinary Nazca Lines – well worth the journey, and stay on at the beach if you have time to spare.