Ever felt frustrated when the airfare you were looking at and hadn't booked increased in price within an hour? Well, airlines are not the only ones that have ever-changing fares.
My research on Buquebus ferry prices proved just that! I wanted tickets for Colonia del Sacramento, a historic city in Uruguay to Buenos Aires. I was also looking for ferry tickets from Montevideo to Buenos Aires. Buquebus prices are dependent on the number of paid passengers per trip, time of travel, and the type of boat.
There are two options. Choose a three-hour or a one hour 15 minute express ferry.
The express (an hour 15 minutes) is available seven days a week during peak times. It sits 500 passengers. The express boat has two classes of service - tourist and first class. There is only a slight difference in price, about $18 per person. First class passengers sit in an exclusive lounge with plusher chairs, and they get complimentary wine and soft drinks.
The three-hour boat runs from Monday to Saturday. It can carry vehicles and passengers. Passengers are allowed to walk on the deck during the three-hour ride.
It cost more to go on the express ferry. The same day round trip ticket is cheaper than an open-ended ticket, and on the same day fixed return ticket.
When I first inquired about prices at the local Buquebus office in Punta Carretas, located opposite the Punta Carretas shopping mall, the price was 734 Uruguayan pesos (about $26) per person. Two weeks later the price had gone up to 899 pesos ($32). The sales agent said it would go up again when the ferry reached a certain capacity. That meant, those who had purchased the tickets earlier got a better price than me.
Since it was just an hour ride and it was mid-day, we made the decision to stay in tourist class. Tourist class passengers are not allowed into the first class lounge. You can upgrade to the first class in the ferry if there are seats available.
The departure dates can be changed one day before departure with a penalty of US$18.
Buquebus services are available from Montevideo to Buenos Aires too. The three-hour express ride costs 1485 pesos (about $52) per person. It was only 734 pesos ($26) when I first inquired.
For our return trip, we took the express ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia and transferred to Buquebus bus from Colonia to Montevideo. The bus ride takes about two and a half hours. We paid 1357 pesos ($48) per person for the combination of ferry and bus from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.
Traveling by ferry and bus is easy between Uruguay and Argentina. The long distance buses in Uruguay are safe, clean and convenient. The ferry terminals are set up just like an airport terminal in both cities. The express boat has a duty free shop and a cafe that sells sandwiches, quiche, cookies, snacks, coffee, and all types of cold and hot drinks.
The only setback with Buquebus buses is they don't have WiFi!
5 helpful tips
1. Reserve your tickets at Buquebus booth in Tres Cruces Bus Terminal, Buquebus in Montevideo Port or Buquebus Punta Carretas on Dr. Hector Miranda 2443. We bought ours at the Punta Carretas Buquebus office in front of Punta Carretas Shopping Center.
2. Get your tickets early.
3. You must bring your passport for reservation and purchase the tickets. Americans no longer need to pay the Argentinian reciprocity fee of $160.
4. Immigration officers for both countries are in the same immigration booth. If you are in Uruguay, first show your documents to the Uruguayan immigration officers. Then go on to the Argentinian side. The officers usually sit next to each other. It is the same on your way back from Buenos Aires to Colonia.
5. You must arrive at least 30 minutes before departure.
6. There are no assigned seats for tourist class.
For more information, go to buquebus.com.uy
This is an updated article. The original was published on May 25, 2013.