Private touring with Silversea Cruises in Brazil

ONBOARD THE SILVER SHADOW -- The standard coach tour to Sao Paulo, Brazil, features a stop in one of the city's most prominent art museums.

But on our Silver Shadow shore excursion, our guide, Vincent Rizzo, took us instead to Pinocoteca do Estado, a funky museum filled with modern art created by Brazilian artists.

In the museum's outdoor cafe, Rizzo treated us to a powerful Brazilian coffee. Then, on to lunch.

"Have you eaten at a rodizio?" Rizzo asked before directing the driver to

one of Brazil's unique eat-till-you-burst steakhouses, where we blended into the local crowd.

Silversea Cruises caters some of the most affluent travelers on the high seas. So, when the Silver Shadow sailed into Santos, the gateway port to the sprawling metropolis of Sao Paulo, it was no surprise that several couples skipped the bus tour and opted for a private car.

Bronwyn Turner, the ship's shore excursion director, said a private car, driver and guide costs $520 for a full day in Sao Paulo. A group of nine friends, meanwhile, ordered a minibus.

The Silversea shore excursion desk can help clients put together last-minute tour plans; the line contracts with licensed, reputable, local guides.

"We can make private arrangements in any port," Turner said. "Obviously, in some [small] ports with 20 houses, it's a bit different."

Turner said clients who want to wait until they're on board to arrange shore excursions should let the excursion director know a day or two in advance.

"We give a deadline, but we always have people that morning" asking for a private car and driver, Turner said. "I always try to find one." -- R.T.

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