The Sounds and Sites of Rio

Az The World Turns - Written by Bonnie MacLaird

Say the word “Rio” anywhere in the world and they’ll know you’re referring to Rio de Janeiro, the Cidade Maravilhosa of Brazil. Lush, tropical, vibrant, musical…all these adjectives come to mind when remembering Rio. All of Brazil is beautiful, but I’m enamored with the coast of Brazil. The beach towns along the coast are old and established, yet cater to the well-traveled with quaint hotels and plenty of boutique shopping. I felt like a discoverer the first time I visited the cobblestone streets of Parati, or Brigitte Bardot’s favorite town Buzios. But I’m a city-girl at heart and Rio steals it every time.

Christ The Redeemer, Rio


Rio is famous for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, but it is the music that is perhaps most iconic and lasting…and most notably the song The Girl from Ipanema, composed by Antonio “Tom” Carlos Jobim, who is considered one of the fathers of the Bossa Nova genre. In 1962 this song burst Rio de Janeiro onto the world stage. The lyrics were first written in Portuguese by the poet Vinicius de Moraes, and a year later in English by Norman Gimbel. Here’s a link to an iconic bilingual duet by Frank Sinatra & Tom Jobim.

Rio is one of those cities I can return to again and again, and never get bored. There’s always something new to discover. I’ve been 3 times in my life so far; the first time in the early 1970s and most recently a few years ago. It’s roughly a 9-hour flight from Miami but only one hour ahead so jet lag is not an issue.

I, like most of my generation, knew of Rio from old movies. It was a place of music and dancing, and, of course, romance. As a fan of old musicals and anything with dancing, I had seen “Flying Down to Rio” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers more times than I could count. There’s the scene of Ginger dancing on the wings of a bi-plane over Rio!
And I loved all the Road movies with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, so of course “The Road to Rio” is one of my favorites. This movie is perhaps especially relevant to this blog because the ‘boys’ stow-away on a cruise liner bound for Rio.

Check out this video of Bing and the Andrews Sisters singing “You Don’t Have to Know the Language” with lyrics that start out “Supposing you need a vacation? Brazil is the place you should be!”

Obviously a trip to Brazil wouldn’t be complete without enjoying plenty of music and dancing! On the upcoming 2014-2015 voyages to South America, Azamara Club Cruises is debuting a new “Cruise Global, Nights Local”SM evening tour in Rio called Live Music at the Rio Scenarium. On this small-group tour you’ll visit this renowned ‘temple of Samba’ to enjoy an evening of live music, dancing and caipirinhas.

There are plenty of traditional not-to-miss tourist sites, such as the beaches, Sugar Loaf, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado Mountain. But my newest favorite place to visit is Rio de Janeiro’s Jardim Botanico. This lush 350-acre park was founded in 1808 by the Prince Regent (the future King João VI of Portugal.) Today it is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that offers tourists and locals alike a shady respite from the hustle and bustle of Rio and its 6.3M population. The symbol of the Botanical Gardens is the Royal Palm Allee; one-quarter mile with 134 historic palms. In the Gardens you’ll find a rainforest, orchidarium, cactarium, fruit trees, and more plants than I can name. There’s also a very nice café, and of course plenty of benches. We didn’t hire a guide but next time we will!

Bing Crosby with Andrews Sisters in Road to Rio


Here are a few recommended voyages for visiting Rio:

November 27, 2014: 16 Night Costa to Copacabana Voyage
December 13, 2014: 9 Night Best of Brazil Voyage
January 27, 2015: 11 Night Argentina & Brazil Voyage
February 7, 2015: 12 Night Rio Carnival & Argentina Voyage

On the February 7, 2015 Rio Carnival Voyage, Azamara has special tickets to the Carnival festivities. Starting at $549 per person, they are not cheap but well worth the price. After all, how often do you get to Rio de Janeiro? Never enough, I say!

Bonnie MacLaird

Bonnie MacLaird is Azamara's Chief Blogging Officer. She has worked in the cruise industry for over 20 years and shares a passion for travel with Azamara guests. You can most often find Bonnie offering helpful tips and sharing Azamara news in the Cruise Critic online forum.

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