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5 South America River Cruise Reviews

WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, ... Read More
WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, we expected the best, but were surprised to find it even surpassed our expectations! I can tell you now, that we can't wait to book another ocean cruise with Viking. We have been on many other ocean going cruises with a variety of companies... but this was the BEST! The entire crew from room attendants up to officers ingratiated themselves being so helpful, happy, while also very professional. The numerous restaurants had not only quality food, but choices beyond our belief!! Even with a 22 day sail, we could not experience all they offered. We enjoyed the he excellent guest lecturers- all had very interesting programs. Entertainment aboard was varied and very much appreciated. There was always a variety of choices, and all very professional. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I had always wanted to visit the Amazon and this was the perfect way to do it. It is an excellent ship, great guides and wonderful flora and fauna. We also visited villages and learned about life on the Amazon. The most amazing thing ... Read More
I had always wanted to visit the Amazon and this was the perfect way to do it. It is an excellent ship, great guides and wonderful flora and fauna. We also visited villages and learned about life on the Amazon. The most amazing thing was seeing the river at just under high water and being able to explore the area by skiff. It was hard to imagine that it all be dry land in a few months. The bird life was plentiful and we saw monkeys, sloths, bats, snakes, lizards dolphins. We had daily skin explorations, swam in the Amazon, kayaked on some of the tributaries, went on several hikes in the jungle, visited a Shaman and a village where we learned about interesting enrichment project to empower women. Many of our guides were from the area and brought their knowledge and affection for the area to all of us. Each evening we had a talk on the history and culture of the area as well as its natural history. The food was plentiful and reflected local cuisine. We had a fun pre boarding lunch in Iquitos on a floating restaurant - yummy food - and visited a manatee rescue facility on the way back to the plane to Lima. It was a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We were on the Aria Amazon with a university alumni travel program, so everyone on the boat was with our group. I mention this mostly because the excursions and day-to-day activities were enhanced by knowing everyone. People without an ... Read More
We were on the Aria Amazon with a university alumni travel program, so everyone on the boat was with our group. I mention this mostly because the excursions and day-to-day activities were enhanced by knowing everyone. People without an interest in getting to know the other passengers might find the social nature of these cruises a bit daunting. We arrived in Iquitos by plane from Lima--and returned that way. Then by bus to and from the Aria Amazon upon embarkation and disembarkation... We were all adults--no kids. I believe the Aria does not take children under 7, and I can see why: the nature of the daily excursions would be less interesting for younger people. To continue: the boat. What can I say...a beautiful vessel. Some reviewers mentioned noise at night while traveling, but we did not find this to be the case at all. We were on the 2nd deck, so I asked people on the 1st deck if the engine noise disrupted sleep, and no one had a problem. So maybe other reviewers were really light sleepers? All suites are the same. Floor to ceiling windows, light and bright. Sizable rooms with enormous and super comfy beds. A/C in rooms is individually controlled. Good toilet/shower/sink set up to minimize maneuvering for using the bathroom. Public rooms were a good-sized bar area on the top deck and the restaurant. The staff is justifiably proud of its cuisine, which is the best of Peruvian food (the Aria line was started by a chef). Seafood fans are especially fortunate on this cruise. There were spa facilities and services on the Aria, but I did not use them. The Peruvian Amazon region is more bio-diverse (or so I hear) than its counterparts in other countries, so soak it in, because it's under continual environmental threat. The guides are the BEST. They knew were to find wildlife, and we pretty much saw it all--monkeys, abundant birdlife, caiman, pink dolphins, piranha, and yes, an anaconda. All excursions were made on flat-bottomed boats with powerful outboard motors (5-6 boats fit the group). About the anaconda: I'm snake phobic, but managed to cower in the back of the excursion boat while others posed with an anaconda that the guides found. One excursion was a trek in the rainforest, which I skipped--it was too hot and humid for the activity for me; all other adventures were on the water. Our group made one stop at a local village to visit the school and with a guide interpreting we were able to visit one of the residents in his home. The Amazon's social mission is to help the indigenous people in the area, so passengers were encouraged to purchase from a pre-existing stock of school supplies and fishing gear to hand over to the village teacher, who then distributed donations among the children and parents. This stop was probably one of the most meaningful events of the cruise--albeit a sobering one. Before returning to Lima, we had a small side trip to a manatee rescue center. Fun--amazing animals, and very threatened. The entire staff on the ship was professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. They made it a point to learn everyone's name and offer personal service. Now caveats: 1. Insects. Of course. It's the Amazon. Wear Permathen-treated clothing and wear insect repellent, and you should be fine. The Aria supplies insect repellent as you get into and out of expedition craft, but you will probably want to bring your own. 2. Water. Don't drink out of the tap and take care with brushing teeth, etc. The Aria supplies everyone with a very nice aluminum water bottle which can be refilled from a drinking water station on the vessel. This avoids having to use plastic bottles. 3. To be honest, just about everyone in our group got turista at some point, so come prepared with Lomatil or something similar. We also had a prescription for an antibiotic to be used in case of diarrhea, and did use it when we had stomach problems. People prone to stomach distress may wish to avoid some vegetables or fruits served only after washing. There is an EMT on board for passengers who have other symptoms. Luckily no one in our group was out of commission for long. 4. Of course it's hot and sticky, but the Aria is fully air conditioned. When on excursions, once the expedition boats got moving during our day-trips, the heat was less oppressive. I am a person who HATES heat and humidity more than most, but I managed. You will probably want to wear a hat when outside, as the sun is quite strong. 5. There is no wifi. Unplug. All in all, the Aria was just about the best way to see the Peruvian Amazon. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
It was our first trip on a SeaDream cruise ship... and it was the company's first time (maiden voyage) visiting 'The Amazon.' First, it must be said, the absolutely BEST part sailing with SeaDream are it's wonderful ... Read More
It was our first trip on a SeaDream cruise ship... and it was the company's first time (maiden voyage) visiting 'The Amazon.' First, it must be said, the absolutely BEST part sailing with SeaDream are it's wonderful passengers. They are by far the company's greatest asset, and some of the nicest, most fun-loving folks you will encounter on ANY cruise ship. And SeaDream crew members (on the whole) are as well great fun and very professional. As for the company... it can and SHOULD be better... there were numerous lapses. NOT a good thing for a line charging TOP dollar for what is touted as a high end cruise product. It all starts with the ships... and both SeaDream I & II are OLD... what was passable 30 years ago does not work well in today's world (even with some upgrades)!! - cabins are far too small... for those use to and familiar with larger ships they are substantially smaller... and the area around the bed(s) is particularly tight.... and in today's market, high end clients want cabins with balcony's.. SeaDream ships DON'T have any... not even the owners suite ! .... bathrooms are ridiculously tiny.. and there is a fairly high step up to enter the bath.. toes get banged quite often.... closet and bathroom doors are not secured by any restraining hardware.. very annoying when ship is rolling.. this requires just a simple solution and is totally unacceptable.... the boat sauna is for 1 person only.. even if you are not claustrophobic.. a hot steam in this small space will change that... and SeaDream ships are lacking in inside common areas... limited bar/lounge areas to accommodate guests... also, the library on-board is very limited... bring a good selection of ebooks... (larger ships again have it much better... all major pluses with bigger, newer ships). - extra charges for many services are prevalent... and would appear to be an integral part of company policy.... some of the shore excursions are priced exceptionally high... $160.00 pp for a one hour local 'native' performance was agreed by many to be exorbitant. - excursion tours are at times poorly managed and executed.. planning is below par for a high end cruise line.. there were missed opportunities to attend important local festivals on shore due to what seemed little or no advanced research or planning.... emphasis on critically important stops was lacking... I.E. missing only opportunity to see virgin forest because no emphasis was placed on that excursion by those in charge... a desirable village tour was cancelled... and several guests were given no choice and did not do any of the scheduled zodiac tours as a result... all so we could get to a 'shopping' experience on schedule... missed out at another magical night at the carnival festival in Santorum... as we arrived a few hours too late.... a real disappointment was never getting to see a true portion of the old growth virgin Amazon forest ... an old growth tree remaining here and there but that's all... the one stop that we had a chance was not at all properly presented and no one was made aware of what they were missing... extremely frustrating! !! - pool water was unsightly after several days use.. pool water did not appear to be filtered.. and was not able to be changed until a larger port was reached after several days of additional sailing.... insect and a/c were major issues... in a climate that the ships is normally not accustomed to sailing... some of the common areas were exceptionally cold at times... numerous passengers were in agreement. - food is mostly passable but not great... same for the 'complimentary' wines.. prompting purchase of dinner wines on several occasions... it really should be better on both counts considering the high cost of the cruise... dinner starts serving at 7:30, catering exclusively to those passengers who like to eat later in the evening... after dinner all 3 bars on-board were not scheduled to open till 9:30.. as a result passengers at times were left to force an issue to find a bartender to get an after dinner drink... under the pressure, they somewhat conceded and altered the time to 9:00 ... without being asked passengers are over-poured wines at lunch and dinner ... not a good policy. (again, major pluses in all matters on other high end cruise lines) - PA announcements for the most part are non-existent ... (and those that are given don't go into the cabins) passengers are left asking questions about basic goings-on... and on several occasions passengers were given unwarranted misleading information as excuses for events... many grumbled about being given obviously dubious information. - expedition lecturers came on board later than they should have... and they are not used adequately for guests hungry for excursion and Amazon information, and were left to play movie trivia in the afternoon to pass time... very little at all was discussed regarding the future problems and critical nature of the Amazon's future.. this was most surprising and disappointing... SeaDream is looking to make a Med or Caribbean trip of the Amazon, in that regard they are a 'fish out of water.' - attitude on-board is that we want you to be happy... but we really do not believe we should be hearing any complaints... and unhappy guests were talked to out in the open common dining areas by the captain of all people...(most unusual no other senior officer had this responsibility) - SeaDream ships use common pathways as a walking/ jogging track.. disturbing to guests seated alongside these areas... (larger ships have designated running/ walking decks). - in the Port of Manaus there was free wi-fi ... on the boat it costs $35 a day, or $0.35 a min ($25 an HR)... (most other luxury lines include wi-fi for all returning passengers). - the time spend going from Barbados to Manaus is not worth the cost ... there is nothing happening (at sea) for too many days, and you are not really seeing or doing much of anything... most all guests agreed. - several important staff on-board do not fully understand their interactive roles with passengers... i.e. wine sommelier... activities director... and the captain.... and no one appeared really adequately in charge of the expedition guides...as a result planning and coordination of their expertise was very uneven at times. - pack the lightest light weight clothes you can bring... you and your clothing will be somewhat damp most all times, and lighter clothes will dry much quicker... there is no laundry on-board (as on other larger ships)... and SeaDream laundry costs are again very high. - having the same routine every evening (6:30 cocktail hour... dinner at 7:30) for 3 weeks becomes wearisome ... and there is no after dinner entertainment to break up the monotony (as on all larger ships)... most all activities on the various parts of the river are identical... and 3 weeks is a long time to be doing the same things over and over... zodiac tours became very repetitive ... birds-trees-water... village tours were a bit more diverse.. but not well organized and fewer in number than should have been.. and no meetings with truly indigenous peoples were scheduled while in Brazil... a very long stretch. As indicated, three weeks is far too long to be on a voyage with SeaDream. There are things to like (and most of their long time loyal cruisers believe sincerely in the company)... but for us, they are much outweighed by policies, mindset, and lack of ship's amenities. In hindsight, we might only have done a Manaus to Iquitos segment...but more than likely would have really looked to doing it with a more accomplished adventure travel company. As previously stated, the passengers and majority of the crew were absolutely wonderful... but in the final result, we came to experience 'the Amazon'... and in that regard we feel somewhat shortchanged by the overall SeaDream experience...(especially in consideration of its high cost). Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
My husband and I have cruised many times before and this was our third cruise with Fred Olsen. Having enjoyed our two previous FOCL voyages we had high expectations for this one and we were not disappointed. We flew from Manchester ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised many times before and this was our third cruise with Fred Olsen. Having enjoyed our two previous FOCL voyages we had high expectations for this one and we were not disappointed. We flew from Manchester to Bridgetown with Thomas Cook airlines and I have to say the whole embarkation procedure, from start to finish, was very streamlined and efficient. Once we'd checked in our bags at Manchester we didn't see them again until they were in our cabin. On arrival at Grantley Adams Airport we were off the plane, onto the bus and taken straight to the ship, bypassing all the usual airport queues. We boarded the Braemar just after 4.00pm and had our first glimpse of our cabin, a balcony one on Deck 7. While clean, comfortable and nicely decorated, our only complaint was that storage space was very limited; tiny wardrobes and drawers and very few shelves. The bathroom was also small but functional. The Braemar has a good choice of places to eat or drink. We were allocated the Grampian Restaurant on Deck 8 and the food was always very nice, well presented and well served by our smiling waiter. For breakfast and lunch we tended to frequent the more casual Palms Cafe on Deck 6, which also allowed you to eat your meals outside at the ship's stern, affording great sea views. There was also the Marquee Pool Bar, which served casual meals (fast food) and snacks as well as drinks. There was always an excellent choice of dishes on offer, as well as lots of salad, vegetables and fruits if you were going for the healthier option. To enjoy a drink, you could go to the Morning Light Pub (more like a normal lounge than a pub, I would say), the Lido Bar at the stern of the ship, the pool bar, the Observatory or the Skylark Club (which served as the nightclub and disco and hosted quizzed every night, and sometimes karaoke). The entertainment was, in general, geared towards the older (60+ cruiser) cruiser so while it was very good, it wasn't exceptional. There was a comedian who told ancient jokes, a magician who actually grew on me throughout his two performances, an old-fashioned singer (very Frank Sinatra or Matt Munro) as well as the Braemar Show Company and ship's orchestra. We tended to go to the Neptune lounge for the evening's cabaret, but there was also another show featured each night in the Coral Lounge, so at least you had a choice. We spent the first three days at sea en route to the Amazon and crossed the Equator at Macapa, for which the entertainment team put on a hilarious "Line Crossing Ceremony". Ports of call along the Amazon included Santarem, Parintins and Manaus on the way down (the ship stayed overnight in Manaus). Then on the way back north we dropped anchor at the tiny villages of Boca da Valeria and Alter do Chao. As we expected, some of the villages and towns were very primitive compared to what we're used to in Britain, but this was the whole point, and the attraction, of coming to the Amazon. The weather was very hot and humid and we did have some days where it rained all day, but was still warm. Well it was the rainforest after all, and it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the cruise; there was still plenty to do below decks. We found all of the staff and crew to be very friendly and polite and they smiled all the time. They would do anything to help. I would say that Fred Olsen Cruise lines do pride themselves on their excellent service and they did not let us down. We were also surprised and pleased at the complimentary drinks "on Fred" that pop up here and there; as well as the usual Captain's cocktail parties there were three occasions on which we had a free "champagne" breakfast as well as bottles of wine we won in the quiz. We had a brilliant cruise on a lovely little ship in unusual surroundings and will certainly cruise with Fred Olsen again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011

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