Zambezi Queen Review

-- / 5.0
Editor Rating
7 reviews
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Sue Bryant

Zambezi Queen is owned and operated by The Mantis Group, which has hotels and eco-lodges worldwide. The boat is also featured by luxury river cruise line AmaWaterways, which sells four nights onboard as part of extended Africa packages. The vessel itself is stunning, all done up in tasteful neutrals with African artwork, zebra rugs and faux (of course)-leopardskin cushions. Service is exceptional, the food is superb and there is an open bar serving quality South African wines.


Zambezi Queen doesn’t have air conditioning; each cabin has sliding shutters and mosquito screens, and comes with a fan. The whole upper deck lounge/dining area has mosquito screens, too, and is open to river breezes from end to end. At 10pm, the power switches to backup, the main lights go out and you fall asleep to the whirring of your fan, the noises of the African night and the occasional grunt of a hippo. Needless to say, with no lights for miles around, the stargazing is spectacular.


Don't expect a typical river cruise. The Zambezi Queen only sails a 25km stretch of the Chobe River and potters slowly between the same mid-river moorings all the time. There are no ports of call and no river traffic; there aren’t even any towns here apart from the nearby gateway of Kasane. Once you're out on the river, it's just vast expanses of open space.

Chilling Out

You can do a two-night, three-night or four-night itinerary (AmaWaterways passengers do the four-nighter). We'd say three is ideal; Zambezi Queen is so relaxing and the river so beautiful that we could have done with an extra day onboard, just gazing at the scenery, as we were away from the boat on a morning game drive and a separate sunset cruise for most of our middle day. You see elephants, hippos, crocs and birds all the time from the mother ship and we even spotted two leopards coming down to the river to drink.

African Time

You have to slow down in Africa and adjust expectations of service, understanding your accent and so on. The 47 Namibian crew on Zambezi Queen have been expertly trained by Vicky Nel, the South African hotel manager and were outstandingly professional, but these are very gentle people with their own particular hierarchy and on or off the boat, you can't speak fast, or get impatient, or bark orders, as you'll draw a blank. It's not as though winding down is difficult, in any case; it's amazing that this level of food, service and accommodation can be achieved in the middle of the African bush.


Passengers: 30
Crew: 47
Passenger to Crew: 0.64:1
Launched: 2009

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AmaWaterways Zambezi Queen Cruiser Reviews

AMA Stars of South Africa

Four nights on the Zambezi Queen as well as a ten day land package that included Capetown, Victoria Falls, Johannesburg and Tintswalo Safari Lodge.Read More

few6-10 Cruises

Age 70s

Wonderful ship and crew

After a night in Johannesburg we flew to Botswana to get on the Zambezi Queen for 4 nights. The reviews on this site were rather old so I didn’t know what to expect. The small ship was lovely.Read More

many10+ Cruises

Age 70s

Could not be better!

A plane rife took us to Kasone and the Chobe River where we picked up the Zambez Queen. Getting there is half the fun trying to navigate the immigration checkpoints for Botswana and Namibia.Read More

few6-10 Cruises

Age 70s

Zambezi queen

Great way of seeing the wildlife from another perspective. Incredible amount of elephants, hippopotamus, crocodiles seen from close This is not a cruise, but a boat safari and a hotel/boat The food was good the first 2 nights, not so much the last night the managers were very good ( Peter and Bernice) the staff was not friendly and not attentive at all, they had no customer service at all and had to be "coached" by Peter Would not serve well, seemed to be bothered at all times Also huge discrepancies between the "gratuities" requested of people showing cultural differences between Europe and America, should be set in advance so there is not question, also staff should be coached to be more "guest friendly "as they are not at allRead More

many10+ Cruises

Age 60s

AmaWaterways Fleet
57 reviews

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