Buquebus is a relatively inexpensive ferry that we took to go from Buenos Aires to Argentina to Montevideo in Uruguay, and was probably one of the most relaxing laid-back experiences we have had in years.The ferries run daily, and a trip on the early morning non-stop ferry takes about 3 hours, making it an excellent option for those who wish to travel between the two cities for a day trip or longer. While we did have a couple of issues in the planning stage (likely due to my limited Spanish speaking skills), the overall process was quite easy. Here’s my guide to making it a smooth sailing experience for your family!
Purchasing the Buquebus tickets
I booked the tickets online and encountered a few glitches – partially I suspect because of language barriers, and partially because of my Internet server. I do have to say the company responded to both my Facebook and Twitter messages within hours and clarified the process, which was helpful.
After reviewing the different options for travel between the two cities, some of which were more budget friendly, we opted to take the pricier route since it was shorter (three hours versus eight hours) and would not tire out our special needs son.
We also chose to purchase First Class tickets, even though they were $20 pricier than economy class (at our time of booking) because they guaranteed wider seating with ample legroom, as well as a waiting lounge in case the ferry was delayed.
We were told to arrive an hour before departure time, which was 7:15 a.m. The company check-in was fast and efficient, so we did not have to wait in any line; however, it was a different story at the immigration gate. There were incredibly long unorganized queues and no one to ask for any help or disability accommodations. The Argentinian authorities require travelers to be photographed and fingerprinted each time you enter and exit the country, so it takes awhile to get through this process.
Once cleared by immigration, boarding the ferry went smoothly. Due to the long wait at immigration, we skipped the waiting lounge and headed straight to our First Class seats.
The First Class boasts reclining, leather, captain-style seating with plenty of legroom and space to “park” individual carry-ons and bags though Buquebus offers a service to check your luggage if you wish.
The Economy class seats are fabric covered, which makes them look incredibly similar to an airline seat, but overall has more padding and leg space. There are additional seating areas on the boat for people who wish to look outside or sit and chat with friends.
In the morning, the crew welcomes you with complimentary coffee and cookies, but we were told they do offer drinks (including alcoholic beverages) during the rest of the day. Many travelers brought their own foods and snacks, but the boat has a cafeteria that offers an array of sandwiches, salads, cakes and snacks for purchase.
The ferry offers several expensive claw machines and video games consoles in case there are any antsy children on board eager to be occupied. There is also a Duty-Free store on board if you need to pick up a last minute toy. Most kids we saw had Game Boys, books or coloring pages to keep them busy, and in our case, we brought iPads for our children to play games.
Unfortunately, the Buquebus did not have WiFi or power outlets, so be sure your electronic devices are fully charged and get extra batteries before you get onboard.
When the ferry reaches Montevideo, you will see crowds gathering at the exits, but don’t be tempted to join them since you’ll end up standing forever in a chaotic line. Per company regulation, passengers with cars are let off first, which is a process that can take up to 20 minutes.
Autism Travel Tips
Overall, the experience was a good one, and there are some additional considerations for the family with a child with autism. Though both Economy and First Class seats looked and felt comfortable, First Class has that waiting lounge that could become priceless if you have a need to wait for longer periods of time with your child.
When choosing a seat to opt for a window seat, all the way to the front especially if your child is sensitive to smells.
Unfortunately, people were still smoking on board despite several no smoking signs. If your child is a picky eater, you can bring your own food onboard (no one checks) or purchase items at the ferry’s cafeteria.
Remember to bring something to your travelers like coloring/reading books, games or electronic devices but be aware there are no outlets to recharge them.
Based on our experience, plan to arrive on the early side at the terminal and leave the ferry among the last if your child hates standing in lines.
Have you and your family taken the Buquebus?
What was your experience like and what tips would you add?