We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the Amazon River and island hop in the Caribbean both of which we had never done. This was our second Viking cruise having done the Viking Homelands the year before and done other cruises in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean with another company.
This cruise was unique keeping in mind that new world ports such as those on the Amazon do NOT have a long history(at least with european settlements) and Brazil has a very different standard of living and culture. Poverty is very evident on city tours and the crime rate in Brazil is on the increase right now. Buses may not be air conditioned, could break down, get caught in city traffic, for example. Local authorities may not let you go into areas unsupervised for safety reasons, and organizing shore excursions in general with local authorities is understandably complex in this region and a real chore for any cruise excursion team. The river is also complex and varies in height and the captain had to take the ship way out to sea to avoid shallow waters and then buck the current back up to Belem. Since the river was low this time of year we had to anchor miles below Belem.
We had to be careful with our water use on the Amazon since the silt in the river can gum up the water filtration process. This meant not using the laundromat while on the river and not taking hotel showers. We all did fine and we were back to normal once out of the river. Remember this trip is an adventure for travelers(in a posh way) to an area which is unfamiliar to most of us. Do your research on the area before you go and know what to expect. I think Viking did an outstanding job and kept to its usual high standards. This cruise line really cares about your having the best experience on board and off.Viking strives to be the best and as far as I'm concerned it is the best.
Since my wife is somewhat immobile I did at least one excursion in every port as a single. The excursions I chose were the ones that involved jungle treks, birdwatching(early morning off Manaus),caiman spotting(at night), up the Guama River behind Belem and mostly on a Catamaran, swimming and snorkeling in the Caribbean. They were all great fun and very interesting.I know the natural history trips had all good guides.
We were luckily able to get into Port du Salut, French Guiana and saw the remains of the prison of Papillon and Alfred Dreyfus. Apparently 80,000 french prisoners died or disappeared on this beautiful set of islands. Tropical paradise? It was when we were there.
My wife was very happy staying on board reading either in the explorers lounge or on our veranda while being treated like a queen by the wonderful staff of the Viking Sea.
The food we considered to be the best at sea on any ship. We went to Manfredi's four times and the Chef's table three times, ate at the restaurant, world cafe, and Mamsen's. They were all terrific. I only just learned that Viking Sea has 99 chefs and one executive chef for 930 passengers plus crew.
Lectures were stimulating from two historians, a biologist, an anthropologist, and a political science professor.
Cruise director was busy keeping people entertained with trivia contests, name that song, and a boat building contest to be tested in the main pool, for example.
The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas. It was fun to go hear the piano player or a duet and have a drink on the main atrium before dinner.
Entertainment was very good with the Viking Singers doing beetle songs mostly. I don't expect a full broadway show or celebrity on a viking cruise.
There were many sea days on this trip which we liked. Many of them were traveling the 1000 miles up and down the Amazon allowing one to enjoy and appreciate the vastness of this river basin with its very wide expanse as well as its thick jungle appearance along its banks with an occasional hut or cattle ranch. Temperatures averaged 82 degrees with a breeze or under clouds. It was much more comfortable than I expected. The sea days also allow you to enjoy the large number of subtle amenities on the Viking Sea.
I also had two very professional massages which took out all the kinks and enjoyed the fabulous spa when I could. Wow!
This was a great experience I will always remember thanks to the Viking Sea and Viking Cruises.
Bed was very comfortable. Lots of room. Plenty of storage space
Interesting to see the remarkable recovery from Hurricane Maria
Great sail on the way back from snorkeling areaView All 119 Catamaran Tour Reviews
Good snorkeling expedition to swim with sea turtlesView All 77 Snorkeling Reviews
Caiman spotting was done from small canoes at night. Our native guide grabbed a spotted Caiman and allowed us to see it close up.
This was an early morning bird watching expedition with Brazilian ornithologists. We confirmed 34 species in a short amount of time. Great trip and professionally done.
We saw the meeting of the waters as we came in to Manaus from the ship. Interesting but not much to it. Returned to ecological park for back river tour.
This was up river on the Rio Negro. Interesting tour through the jungle showing ways natives and others would survive in the forest.
We saw at least seven sperm whales which meant a great time for all. The whales were sighted right out to sea from the Petons with rain showers coming over them. It was a primeval scene and something to see!
Great sail back to St Johns from Turner beach noting all the beaches and resorts along the shoreline.
A great overview of Antigua from St Johns to English Harbor, Nelsons dockyard to Shirley heights down through the rainforest to Turners Beach to board catamaran.
Well run catamaran with safe and good equipment. It took us snorkeling
Best snorkeling(out of three) for the whole cruise. This was right across from Charlotte Amelie to an island two coves (turtle and shipwreck). There was calm and very clear water. We saw leatherback turtles among other fish. Well run with very knowledgable guides.