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Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

Calhoun, Georgia
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Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

Since I didn’t find any information on how to take the Buquebus ferry and what to expect I thought others travelers would appreciate a report on our experience. Even my $25 guide book didn’t have much information.

We decided to go to the Buquebus terminal a couple of days ahead of time to buy tickets to Colonia. (I am only familiar with getting tickets in person at the terminal. Perhaps someone else could fill in the information of buying them elsewhere.) We didn’t want to take the chance of buying them the same day and finding out they were sold out. It is a good thing we did because our trip to Colonia was sold out. We went on a Wed. afternoon to buy tickets for Friday. We took a taxi to the terminal in Puerto Madero.

The Terminal

The terminal is very modern. It is like a small airport or cruise ship terminal. There is a baggage check in area, a nice area with tables with smoking and non-smoking, a snack bar, and a couple of shops.

The Process of Getting Your Tickets

When you enter the terminal there is a schedule of trips on the upper right wall. There is also an information booth in the front right hand corner. We chose the trip that left at 11:15 and returned at 18:30. All the times are 24 hour format. Be sure to note that Uruguay is one hour ahead. The departure time in Uruguay is their time. Be sure to pick the one hour Buquebus if you want the faster one. There was also a three hour trip.

Go to the back wall to the line in front of the sign Ventas (sales). Don’t go to the booth to the right. That is where you can change money before you go to Uruguay. We stood in line and found out we were in the wrong line when we reached the window. It isn’t clearly marked.

At the Ventas line you tell them which trip you want. They have to see your passport. You have a choice between first class and tourist class. We asked the difference and were told by the agent there really isn’t that much difference so we opted for the tourist. After you go through that process you go back to the front of the terminal and stand in line to pay at the Caja (cashier) Then you are issued a ticket that looks like an airline ticket. I believe that the round trip price was about $58 pp to Colonia.

Changing Money

As I mentioned before, there is a booth in the right hand back of the terminal next to Ventas. You can change Argentine pesos or US dollars to Uruguay pesos. We changed $250 dollars. The charge for changing was very minimal. I think we calculated about $2.50. We only spent $40 in Uruguay. We changed the money again in the terminal when we came back.

Departure

We were told to be there one hour before departure. There is an area to check luggage just like an airport. Many people had carry on luggage like you have on an airplane. There is a check in area like in an airport. It is on the left hand side where the baggage check in is. At the check in you are given a boarding pass. About 45 minutes before departure we got in line to go through immigration. We had to go through the process like any other time you go into another country. That means, of course, you must have your passport. Be sure to have the tourist card you originally were given when entering Argentina. They also will give you a new one for Uruguay you need to fill out before you get to the window. Be sure to have it when you leave to go back.

Once we entered the departure area, we noticed people were lining up to the right. Since there are no assigned seats we found out the reason for lining up was to get the best seats. Since we got into line immediately we were able to get a window seat. However, there were really no bad seats.

There is an enclosed walkway to the ferry like the ones to board ships. On the ferry we were pleased to find a beautiful, wide area like inside a plane but much better. There were three sections of seats. Two sections lined the sides with big windows. The middle section is elevated a few steps up with a wide area of seats. The seats are like airline seats but much bigger and plenty of leg room. They also reclined nicely. There was plenty of room to store your carry on under the seat in front of you. Two people can easily pass each other in the aisles. In the back there was an area with a few tables. There was a snack bar that sold sandwiches, soft drinks, coffee, tea, beer, wine and pastries. I bought a small bottle of champagne and a beer that was $8 on the way back for my husband and me—not a bargain, but nice after a hot day walking all over Colonia.

Duty Free Shop

Once we were underway, a small duty free shop opened. I decided to check it out. It was so small and there were so many people in it that I glanced in quickly and left. They were selling perfume, alcohol, cigarettes, and candy such as Toblerone and Nestle. The cigarettes and alcohol, especially American whiskey, seemed to be hot items. I was amused to see Worcheshire and barbeque sauce for sale. I didn’t get a chance to check prices, as I said, way too many people. It looked like they were giving everything away.

The Voyage

The trip over was very relaxing. It was easy to move around. There was no smoking. Since we were on a river there were virtually no waves, just a gentle rocking. The restrooms are like airline restrooms but about three times bigger. I checked out first class. The seats were the same. They are just in an area by themselves with fewer seats. There was no going out on deck for passengers as far as I saw. When Colonia came into sight, it was like sailing into port on a cruise ship. It is very picturesque.

In Colonia

Once we arrived in Colonia, we did pass by inspectors who seemed to be looking us over but we were able to get through there easily. Just outside the terminal is a Colonia tourist information booth. Since there were so many people lined up there we proceeded to walk straight up the street a few blocks to the main tourist information booth in town. (I read about it in my guide book.) As we left the Buquebus parking lot, we were handed a map of Colonia which we used all afternoon. (I have a more detailed review of Colonia in the Uruguay forum.) We went back to the terminal about an hour before departure. (Remember the departure is Uruguay time.) We again had to go through the immigrations procedure. There was a departure tax of about $10. I don’t remember exactly. We had to turn over the tourist card we had been given that morning.

Summary

I was very impressed by the efficiency and comfort of the Buquebus. The trip was a pleasure. Knowing what I do now, I wish we had gone to Colonia and spent the night.

Buenos AIres
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1. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

Reina you are a Queen writting reviews !

I´ll love to have visitors like you in my boat tours :).

Next time you come down here give me a call or e-mail me.

Was food on board acceptable ?

I have taken that trip to Colonia and Montevideo many many times, when the river is rough ,its a terrible trip ...pax in the bathroom throwing up...feeling really bad...and so ...When walking in the boat its like in those movies where you zig zag from one point to another, kids crying ....:)

Buenos AIres
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2. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

I have also spent some night too in Colonia. Its a relaxing and laid back spot. Including a short visit to Carmelo may be fun too.

Buenos AIres
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3. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

I stayed at this hotel in Colonia Suiza ( 15 minutes from Colonia).

http://www.hotelnirvana.com/ingles/home.htm

Its "so relaxing" that can be stressing :)

Calhoun, Georgia
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4. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

Santi,

I'll be sure to let you know when we come back. I mentioned taking your boat tour before we went because someone was asking if anyone was interested in sharing a tour and my husband wasn't interested. He's basically interested in vacationing in the city. Now that we have been to BA he's more open to getting out of the city on day trips. The trip to Colonia was our day trip this vacation. Just now when I explained it he said, "That sounds pretty cool." He acts like he never heard me explain it the first time.

As for the food on the ferry, I didn't have any. We had cappuccinos on the way and the champagne and beer on the way back. The sandwiches I saw looked like the prepackaged kind sold here in convenience stores or in vending machines. They probably were alright, but we had been spoiled by so many good meals in Buenos Aires. There were Havana alfajores and other pastries. I don't think there would be any problem with bringing your own food with you to eat on the boat. The seats, as you know, have trays that come down like to ones on the back of airline seats.

I have been seasick before. It is awful. Rough passage could have ruined a beautiful day.

The cab driver who took us to the Buquebus told us about Colonia Suiza. He recommended hiring a horse drawn carriage to go around to the cheese farms. I would like to look into that in the future.

We find we have to go to a place the first time in order to know what we want to do the next time.

Abilene, Texas
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for Buenos Aires
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5. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

thanks for taking the time to post the details of your trip.

Did you take the fast or the slow ferry? The fast version takes 45 mintues, the slower boat takes 3 hours. I have found the slower boat offers better seats, but takes 6 hours total round trip. }

Calhoun, Georgia
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6. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

We took the hour trip. I thought the seats were great. If I find the ticket stubs I will post which boat it was. I haven't unpacked everything yet.

Montecito, CA
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7. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

I just got back and took the one hour ferry and paid a few extra dollars for first class. Not sure it was worth it.

You get a first class lounge waiting room in BsAs, but there is nothing like that at the Colonia end so that was no real value. The first class seats are on the top deck and are only two seats across and you have nice big windows but there is little to see other than a large expanse of gray water.

And everyone crowds into the immigration lines which are long at both ends of the trip, so there was no advantage to first class there either.

Be sure to get to the departure about an hour before it leaves Colonia as the immigration lines were intense.

I found regular shopping to be very cheap there so change some money into their currency and just plain shop for regular things in their stores: food, shoes, clothing etc even mate mug souveniers were cheaper in the grocery stores than in the tourist areas.

The passage was very smooth the day I took it. It was primarily a strolling experience with lots of pretty streets to walk and walk but not much more. It was a quiet change of pace from the city.

If I had to chose only one, I would take the train to Tigre and stroll those pretty and quiet streets instead of Colonia for the same type of get away experience. The train to Tigre was only 90 cents compared to the 70 or so dollars on the fast ferry.

Both took an hour. Both led to quiet, historic and pretty small little towns. The trip on the train was far more interesting than the boat ride as it took you past very elegant neighborhoods and even the summer Presidential mansion in Isidro/Nunez.

Buenos AIres
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8. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

The tour "Tigre Delta" is a nice n cheap tour to take anyday other than saturdays and sundays, unless you "love" crowds.

Can´t be compared to Colonia, thats much nicer than Tigre (in my humble opinion).

Isla Martin Garcia is another GREAT option for days tours from BA .

Calhoun, Georgia
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9. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

A review I wrote of Colonia is now up. I posted 35 photos. The first one is of the Buquebus. I will try to add some more of the terminal and the inside of the ferry now that I have a review to attach them to. Click on the camera icon at the top.

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g298066-d3…

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Taking the Buquebus Ferry from BA to Uruguay

Excellent photos, Reina! I might just have to tweak my itinerary a bit to include an overnight in Colonia.