Why go to Manaus?
As far up the Amazon River as an ocean-going cruise ship can get, base for exploration upriver
Hot and humid, the city itself has only a few cultural attractions
A great place for a river-and-jungle tour, less ideal for independent wandering ashore
Manaus Cruise Port Facilities?
The dock is connected to the shore by a covered bridge, and then a new, high-end (and delightfully air-conditioned) shopping center, Hidroviaria International Terminal. H. Stern and other upscale retailers are well represented; there's also a bar and an Internet/phone center. But a quick exit brings passengers immediately onto the streets of the city.
Good to Know?
The heat and humidity. The city has no real differentiation between seasons; it is either rainy season or not, but it is always hot and humid. Also, Manaus is on a hill, so walking anywhere means walking uphill. Wear loose clothing (shorts and T-shirts are fine) and a hat, use sunscreen liberally, drink lots of your own bottled water, and take occasional breaks from walking. And a related warning: Cultural buildings are either not air-conditioned or only minimally so.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The real (or reais). ATM's are usually found in bank lobbies, especially along the Rua 24 de Maio; there are none in the market areas. Many ATM's take only cards with credit card logos. Unless you plan on spending a lot of cash in restaurants or shops, you can survive with a small supply of U.S. currency. Most cultural sights take both reals and dollars. And even in the markets, someone is always eager to exchange dollars for the local currency.
The official language is Brazilian Portuguese. Although not many residents speak English, the attendants in most attractions do. There always seems to be someone nearby in the markets to translate as needed.
Where You're Docked?
Ships dock at the Porto Flutuante (floating docks), an ingenious structure that rises and falls with the greatly fluctuating river level. A stone retaining wall at the end of the bridge from the dock indicates the high water marks from 1902, when it was built. The town begins at the docks. Check out the number and sizes of riverboats that are docked with your ship; Manaus is the market center for the entire Amazon region, and river dwellers travel up to five days to buy supplies there.