The twin cities of Coquimbo and La Serena have prospered in recent years from the growing popularity of Chile's seacoast resorts. Your ship will dock at Coquimbo, renowned in South America for the harvest of seafood brought in daily by brightly colored fishing boats, and for its casino, which is open nightly during the southern summer. Nearby La Serena was founded in 1544, and still boasts many beautifully preserved and restored Spanish colonial buildings such at its 16th century cathedral presiding over the Plaza de Armas.
Inland, the rich fields and orchards of the Elqui Valley provide a bounty of fresh fruit and fine wine grapes, while on the slopes nearby, astronomers take advantage of the clear, dry air to photograph the heavens through huge telescopes. The little river town of Vicuna was the birthplace of Nobel prize poet Gabriela Mistral.