Many people envision a tropical destination as remote, untouched, and exquisitely beautiful, and an Amazon cruise can be all those things. A unique choice for a cruise vacation, the Amazon River is rapidly becoming the highlight of many South American cruises.
When to Take an Amazon Cruise
Voyages that include the Amazon in their itineraries are typically scheduled during the winter season, from October through March. Because of the region's extreme latitude (the equator runs through the Amazon River delta), this makes it a pleasantly warm destination from northern ports, though prospective passengers should be aware the holiday cruises are the most popular and sell out quickly.
An Amazon cruise can be as short as a mere ten days or as long as a month, depending on the other ports of call involved in the overall itinerary. Major cruise lines often include Amazon ports with other South American voyages, or as part of world cruises, though passengers are permitted to choose the select portion of the world itinerary that peaks their interest. There is a mix of one-way and round-trip voyages available, though one-way journeys are more popular and allow passengers to experience a greater variety of destinations.
Because an Amazon cruise appeals to seasoned cruisers, upscale cruise lines frequently offer the jungle destination as part of their regular rotation. On the other hand, because of its distance from popular Caribbean ports, the Amazon River is not an option for most mainstream cruise lines that cater to first-time cruisers or individuals less interested in the overall destination. Princess Cruises offers a selection of Amazon destinations on a variety of their voyages, while Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Seabourn Cruises, and Silversea Cruises are luxury lines that offer a more limited though no less enjoyable range of options. Holland America frequently includes the Amazon during its world cruises.
Embarkation Ports for Amazon Cruises
Because the Amazon is such a southerly destination, embarkation ports are typically outside the United States, particularly for shorter itineraries. San Juan, Puerto Rico is a popular starting point, as is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil along with Manaus, Brazil (also a favorite port of call for round-trip voyages). United States embarkation ports include:
- Miami, Florida: The largest cruise port in the world, Miami hosts dozens of ships and thousands of passengers each week on a variety of unique voyages. In addition to the Amazon, passengers leaving from Miami might visit eastern or western Caribbean ports, the Bahamas, Key West, or any number of destinations.
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Just north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale hosts a larger percentage of luxury cruise lines whose itinerary options may include Bermuda, Canada, the Panama Canal, or Aruba.
Because Amazon itineraries can be quite limited, interested passengers should consult a travel agent for current options and itineraries.
Ports of Call for Amazon Cruises
Amazon voyages often include southern Caribbean ports such as the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, French Guiana, and the Dominican Republic. Along the river itself, however, the most popular ports of call are:
- Manuas, Brazil: Deep inside the Brazilian jungles, this city's history is based on the rubber harvests of years past, and today it thrives as a cruise port by offering numerous historical and ecological tourist attractions.
- Boca Do Valerio, Brazil: This remote fishing village far upriver houses fewer than 100 individuals, but they are welcoming to tourists and offer tours of their homes or handmade craft explanations to interested passengers (a trinket such as a pencil or baseball cap is appreciated compensation).
- Parintins, Brazil: Accessible only by air or water, this isolated village offers passengers a true insight into jungle cultures that have remained unchanged for centuries.
- Santarem, Brazil: Nearly 500 miles upriver where the Amazon joins the Rio Tapajos, passengers can find authentic artisan demonstrations at this port city, the third largest along the Amazon.
- Alter Do Chao, Brazil: Southwest of Santarem, the snow white beaches at this destination make it a welcome respite for passengers interested in relaxation and isolation.
While deep in the Amazon jungle, passengers can experience a number of shore excursions such as canopy tours, river cruises, eco tours, jungle treks, and visits to rubber plantations. For less adventurous activities, city highlight tours and shopping excursions are also offered.
For an exciting and unique destination, many cruise passengers consider taking an Amazon cruise. With a rich culture and exquisite landscape, the region is rapidly becoming one of the most popular South American destinations.