We know. Buying online can be stressful. Especially when the site keeps switching languages and uses $ to represent three different currencies.
So are you ready to buy your ferry tickets from Buenos Aires to Montevideo or Colonia? Clear your evening, pour yourself a glass of Uruguayan red and follow the Guru.
Buquebus, Seacat and Colonia Express: three ferry companies, same destinations
There are three ferry companies sailing between Uruguay and Buenos Aires.
Only Buquebus offers a direct ferry to Montevideo. The other two companies, Seacat and Colonia Express, will take you by ferry to Colonia and then connecting bus to Montevideo, what we’ll call the ferry-bus combo. Buquebus also offers a ferry-bus combo.
In the past Colonia Express was the cheapest company, Buquebus the most expensive and Seacat somewhere in-between. The situation has changed. There is a fair diversity of possible combinations, and everything depends on your available time and budget.
Same $ symbol, three different currencies
Yup. Dollars, Uruguayan pesos and Argentinian pesos, all three use the $ symbol to denote their currency.
And their value is completely different: roughly, 1 US dollar is worth 15 Argentinian pesos and 30 Uruguayan pesos.
All three ferry companies have two websites – an Argentinian and a Uruguayan site. To find out which one you are using, look at the top right of the webpage (this is the point where you go research what the Uruguayan and Argentine flags look like).
Cheaper fares on Uruguayan versions of the sites
Researching this article we found that in general prices were lower on the Uruguayan sites.
We did find one exception: the Buquebus ferry-bus combo prices did not follow the rule. To save money, check both Buquebus sites.
Check out our analysis of ferry fares between Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
Finally! A consistently English language ferry website
Buquebus recently significantly improved their Argentina website which is now in English, German and Portuguese as well as Spanish.
Neither Seacat nor Colonia Express have true English language sites. Seacat teases you into thinking they have an English site. You start filling dates and destination and when you hit the “Next” button… WHAM! The site changes into Spanish. Colonia Express is even worse. Sigh.
The Buquebus Uruguayan site is in Spanish only. Remember how we said above that usually the Uruguay sites are cheaper? Sneaky, hey? So if you want to save cash, brush up on your Spanish travel vocabulary.
Smart pricing: Meet your new best friend, the incognito window
Buquebus has started using smart pricing so that when there’s high demand tickets are more expensive. Prices were recently four times higher for a Thursday trip at the start of a long holiday compared to a regular day.
The incognito window is a way to surf the internet without having your cookies tracked. After checking the Buquebus site a few times, you‘ll notice the price quoted starts to rise. Don’t panic. This is because your cookies have been tracked and price response is activated.
By using the incognito window you can beat the smart pricing. If your browser is Google Chrome, click on the top right options to find it or hit Ctrl+ shift+ N.
Buquebus economy fares – a species in danger of extinction
Checking prices on the Buquebus website we noticed that the cheapest fares were already sold out well in advance -except in the case of the direct ferry. To get an economy ticket plan to book in advance.
Book two weeks plus in advance
We’ve observed prices are higher when booking less than two weeks ahead of travel and during Uruguayan and Argentine holidays.
However you can’t really book much ahead. In testing we found tickets were not available later than five months in advance.
How the hell do you pronounce Buquebus?
Patience, patience and a good glass of red
The Buenos Aires-Uruguay ferry websites are certainly getting better (finally). However buying ferry tickets between Uruguay and Argentina is still not a seamless process. Expect hiccups along the way. Rejected credit cards or pending credit card payments are not uncommon.
We don’t suggest calling customer service unless you have the patience of a saint and hours to spare. Rather use email. Twitter and Facebook also get quick responses.
Recent purchases on Buquebus stayed in “pending payments” in our credit card system for several days but we received confirmation from the company of our tickets immediately.
Colonia Express rejected our UK credit cards after we had gone through the entire payment process. Fortunately we got quick responses after emailing customer support.
So, that’s it. Buy your ticket one night when you have nothing else to do but drink a good glass of Uruguayan tannat and hit the play button on the ultimate tangos playlist in Spotify.
Slowing down might not be such a bad idea after all.
This article was researched for Guru’Guay by Laura Fernandez