Amazon Cruise Safety Guide
| Cruise Tips
Travelling to the Amazon rainforest is a remarkable experience that's best seen through an Amazon river cruise. Cruising through the Amazon's small creeks and tributaries fully immerses you with the impressive flora and fauna of the forest. There is, however, some important safety information you should know before taking an Amazon cruise. When traveling in the Amazon there are some dangers and risks to be aware of. However, there are a number of ways that you can protect yourself and ensure your Amazon cruise is both enjoyable and safe. From dealing with the nature of the jungle to travelling through the cities of South America, it's always best to be prepared.
Before you set off on a cruise, read through our comprehensive safety guide to an Amazon Cruise, covering cruise safety, recommended medicines and vaccines and general safety advice for the Amazon region and get ready for your trip to the most beautiful landscape in the world:
Most boats have first aid + CPR trained staff on board, as well as health professionals who help in the local villages, with first aid supplies on every boat. Before you begin a cruise there will be a safety briefing for all guests, to ensure everyone understands the safety procedures when on board the boat. After which you can ask questions of our expert crew and guides if you have any further concerns.
On most cruises there are trained professionals who have lived and worked in the region for most of their life. These crew members know the ins and outs of the boat and the jungle itself, there's nothing they won't be able to answer or help with. With their knowledge of every season and climate change, our guides and crew understand how to adapt activities and itineraries to ensure they are entirely safe to do, especially if there is a sudden weather change. For example, if there is excessive flooding that prevents a hiking activity the crew will adjust the schedule accordingly or change the activity if need be.
Our experienced guides communicate with one another via radio throughout any excursions in the water or through the jungle, this not only provides a location for the group to other guides but can also be used to let guides know of any potential dangerous wildlife or terrain. What's more, these eagle-eyed guides know exactly how spot a dangerous situation and how to avoid them. Be aware that most Amazonian wildlife is more scared of you that you are of it, and so you should always show any creatures you come across respect by remaining quiet and calm. If you provoke an animal it may react negatively to protect itself. By keeping quiet you will also increase your chances of wildlife spotting! Our crews provide guests with Wellington boots for walks through the jungle to avoid any bites or stings from creatures on the ground.
The large Amazon River is constantly moving and changing course, and so captains of Amazon riverboats have been specially trained and operate with specific licenses on the river. They are highly-skilled and knowledgeable about the river, but also use high-tech equipment such as GPS and sonar in case of an emergency. Captains follow strict Amazon River speed limits for all of the boats they operate on the river. For a large vessel the speed limit is up to 30 knots per hour and for a skiff boats, used for excursions, boats can reach no more than 10 knots per hour. In case of emergency, crews are equipped with emergency flares and signals, as well as VHF and UHF radios. If a serious evacuation is required, floatplanes and speedboats will be used to abandon the vessel.
Every river boat contains the following safety precautions:
- First aid supplies
- First aid trained professionals
- Satellite phone for emergency calls
- Life vests for all passengers on board (these must be warn during all skiff excursions)
- Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers
- Life boats
- Some cruises (luxury) also have a safe deposit box
- Emergency flares and signals
- Some cruises have armed guards (ask us for details if you are concerned)
All riverboats undergo checks and regulated dry-dock periods for maintenance, to ensure every boat is safe and secure for passengers.
You may also notice on your cruise through the Amazon River that some boats are occupied by armed guards. Some of these vessels may also have guards dressed in civilian clothes, such as the Aqua, Aria and Delfins, and you may see others with police protection on board, the Aqua and Aria. This is in reaction to two incidents that took place on Aqua Expeditions ships, when armed bandits stormed the ship and robbed passengers on board. As a result Aqua and many other cruise companies on the Amazon River have increased their security measures to prevent such attacks. All cruise companies have different security procedures and personnel, which are always changing. If you have concerns about a particular vessel, ask us for updated information.
Medicines and Vaccines
Some passengers may suffer with illnesses that may be caused by the environment or from just being on a boat. These are usually totally preventable and should not be issue if you take the right medications/precautions before your trip. You should always consult your physician before travelling to the Amazon, explain where you are going and when, and seek professional advice about which tablets/medications you need (if any). You physician will also be able to check that you are up to date with your vaccinations and advise you if you are taking any other medication. Be aware that is is very difficult to come by medicines in the Amazon, so be sure to take all of the precautions and bring a realistic supply of medicine for your trip. If you take a regular prescription drug make sure you have enough with you, as it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase your specific drug in the Amazon.
This isn't usually an issue, as the riverboats move very slowly and calmly through the waters of the Amazon – however, if you do suffer from motion sickness or have experienced it before, then it's best to be prepared and bring along some gravol just in case. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and dizziness, but our boats allow you to get some fresh Amazon air from the deck, which will usually help clear up any mild cases of motion sickness.
Yellow fever vaccine and Malaria
For visitors to the Amazon it's often advised that you take malaria pills, you usually have to take these for a few weeks before you leave so make sure you leave enough time to get a prescription from your doctor. Check with your physician to see if you are vaccinated for yellow fever, if not then seek advice and make sure you are covered. Be aware that some airports ask to see your vaccination certificate to prove you are covered, so make sure you bring this with you. You should also bring plenty of insect repellent with a high content of deet – this will help to prevent any mosquito bites. It's also advisable to bring along some hydrocortisone cream too, just in case you do get bitten by a nasty critter. Read our Malaria in the Amazon: Prevention and Treatment guide.
During your Amazon River tour you will almost certainly come across Piranha. In fact, most cruises allow you to fish for them. There are various myths about piranhas, such as how they can devour a human body or cattle in seconds. Fortunately, these myths are quite far from the truth, and we can assure Amazon Riverboat travelers that they face no significant threat from this otherwise tiny fish. Just remember to always respect the flora and fauna of the Amazon jungle.
That being said, there are other animals and critters in the Amazon jungle that are considered dangerous. Our Amazon cruise guides are trained to identify these animals and would never put anyone in danger. If you have a specific fear (say you're afraid of snakes), let your amazon guide know. Wellington boots are provided for jungle treks, they serve as protection from plants, insects and other critters.
General Safety Advice
South American people are renowned for being extremely friendly and hospitable, in fact many of its countries have been consistently voted in the top ten friendliest countries in the world. Despite this, like anywhere, crime can be an issue in some of the bigger cities and towns. You can help yourself by wearing modest clothing, without showing off any expensive jewelry or cell phones, and also by being aware of your surroundings. If you are carrying a backpack around a city or town make sure you aware of it at all times and make sure it is shut. If you can try avoid keeping your valuables in your backpack, too.
Keep valuables safe
It's best to keep cash and important documents, such as your ID and/or passport, in a zipped location that is always in your sight. Ideally valuables should be kept in a body wallet that can be strapped beneath your clothes, or in a purse that has a zipper and can be secured across your body. You can also lock away your valuables in one of our safety deposit boxes on board our luxury boats.
Be aware of distractions
If you are surrounded by lots of people and someone attempts to distract you by telling you that something is on your bag or by spraying something on you, be very aware of your belongings. Thieves in cities often work together and while one works to distract you, the others are already stealing from you. In this situation it's best to walk away quickly until you reach somewhere safe to stop.
Take a “safe taxi”
If you need to take a taxi in a city in South America be careful about calling a taxi on the street. It's much safer to ask the hotel or restaurant you are in to call you a “safe taxi” instead. If you aren't near a hotel or restaurant that you feel comfortable with, then use internationally known taxi companies, such as Uber, Easy Taxi or Cabify, to call a taxi. Download the app in advance from your hotel room, and order the taxi from your smartphone. These clever apps with pop up with the face and license plate of your driver to ensure you get into the right car.
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If you need any further information or have any questions about safety on an Amazon cruise then do not hesitate to contact us and we will help in anyway we can.