By Jackie Holland
From little boats to large liners, all manner of vessels cruise along the Amazon River through Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. Here is a selection of ships of different sizes and levels of luxury, and the facilities and activities they offer.
Options in Peru include the luxurious small ship Delfin I. Completely refurbished in 2010, this classic river vessel accommodates 12 passengers and 13 crew. Four large suites have panoramic terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows, and two boast whirlpools. On the top deck, there’s a lounge area, bar and entertainment centre. Activities ashore include jungle treks, paddle boarding, walking across one of the world’s longest canopy walkways and a visit to an animal rescue centre. Returning from the wilderness, guests enjoy candlelit Relais & Châteaux cuisine served on sparkling china and fine wine pairings.
A five-day cruise aboard Delfin I, starting in Iquitos, Peru, costs from US$5,500pp (£4,197), full-board, including drinks and all excursions (flights extra). Delfin Amazon Cruises (00 51 1 7190998;delfinamazoncruises.com).
Amazon Clipper Premium
Amazon Clipper Cruises offers trips on traditional riverboats with the fleet’s 32-passenger MV Premium offering air-conditioned en-suite cabins with twin or queen-size beds. Buffet-style food is served in the dining room, and there is an entertainment area featuring a lectures room, library, bar, whirlpools and outdoor showers. On the fourth floor, the sundeck provides panoramic views. Activities include exploring in motor launches and on foot with naturalist guides, guided nocturnal outings, swimming in the river and visiting local settlements.
A six-day Amazon and River Negro Clipper Cruise on board MV Premium departing Manaus on various dates from August to November 2019, costs from US$1,875pp (£1,407), excluding flights (00 55 92 36561246; amazonclipper.com.br).
Motor Yacht Tucano
If you’re willing to sacrifice utter luxury for an adventurous, wildlife-focused expedition cruise, the Motor Yacht Tucano and its fleet of exploration craft can take you deep into the Brazilian rainforest where you are unlikely to see any other boats. Designed in the style of a 19th-century steamer with wood panels and brass fittings and accommodating 18 passengers, the vessel is surprisingly roomy with plenty of windows, a generous salon/dining room, an observation deck and nine en suite air-conditioned cabins. Wholesome Amazonian cuisine is prepared on board using locally sourced produce. This cruise is informative and active, with several excursions off the boat every day led by Tucano’s resident naturalists.
Brazil Nature Tours’ six-night Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon expedition cruise aboard the Motor Yacht Tucano departs Manaus on Saturdays throughout the year, from US$3,150pp (£2,396), flights extra (00 55 67 3042 4659; brazilnaturetours.com).
Launched in 2013, the 40-passenger MV Anakonda is the only first-class ship sailing the Amazon in Ecuador. This light and airy floating boutique hotel boasts 18 stylish suites, an observation deck with alfresco lounge and two Jacuzzis. Other facilities include a bar, lounge and dining room where a wide variety of cuisine is served. The crew of 25 includes a purser, paramedic, four expert English-speaking naturalist guides and four local guides to accompany you on rowing or walking expeditions at least twice a day.
12-night Natural Wonders of the Amazon and Galapagos aboard MV Anakonda from £7,495pp full-board, including flights (020 7752 0000; noble-caledonia.co.uk), departs London on 24 February 2020.
Iberostar Grand Amazon
On the 148-passenger Iberostar Grand Amazon passengers enjoy the modern conveniences on a luxury cruise ship, including bars, two restaurants, a convenience store, two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, disco, massage room, gym and more. The vessel also has a wheelchair-accessible cabin and a lift to all five decks. A wide range of activities includes lectures, shows, folklore evenings, bingo and live music. Guests can embark on excursions for piranha fishing, caiman and pink dolphin watching, motorboat trips around flooded forests and tours of local villages.
An eight-day cruise aboard the Iberostar Grand Amazon costs from US$1,928 (£1,484) all-inclusive (flights extra), departing Manaus, Brazil, on various dates from March to December (00 1 888 215 3555;rainforestcruises.com)
If you want to go big, Cunard’s Queen Victoria – the largest passenger ship ever to dock in Manaus, Brazil – can take you 1,000 miles along the Amazon. As one of her 2,061 passengers, you’ll enjoy spacious decks, endless entertainment, luxurious accommodation and an array of dining choices. Activities include croquet on the Games Deck, entertainment in the Royal Court Theatre and dancing in the ballroom. Other pursuits include painting, learning salsa and guest lectures. The ship has six dining venues and a speciality option, the theme of which changes every few nights. There’s live music all over the ship and an array of bars. Excursions include rainforest walks, boat trips, visits to Indian villages and an evening at the Manaus Opera House.
Queen Victoria’s 20-night cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Rio, departing January 21, 2020, costs from £2,899pp, drinks and excursions extra (0344 338 8648; cunard.com).
The 930-passenger Viking Star is an all-veranda ship featuring modern Scandinavian design and rooms with king-sized beds, large showers, heated bathroom floors, LCD televisions and 24-hour room service. There’s a Nordic spa and a heated main pool with a retractable roof where you can watch movies on a giant poolside screen. Torshavn is a lively music venue and the Explorers’ Lounge boasts two-storey panoramic windows for maximum views. Viking Star offers a choice of eight dining venues and all meals are complimentary, including specialty restaurants (apart from Chef’s Table) and house wine, beer and soft drinks served at lunch and dinner. Excursions include piranha fishing, nature walks and folklore performances.
Viking’s 22-day From the Caribbean to the Amazon voyage departs San Juan (Puerto Rico) aboard Viking Star on November 29, 2020. From £5,790pp, all-inclusive, including flights and 10 guided tours (0800 298 9700; vikingcruises.co.uk)