Expert Review: Aria Amazon Cruise in Peru
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We were recently fortunate enough to experience the Aria Amazon luxury cruise in the Peru Amazon. Our cruise was the 4 day/ 3 night program starting from Iquitos and finishing in Nauta. The itinerary traveled upriver to the confluence of the Maranon and Ucayali rivers, then continued up the Maranon River and into the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. It started with being welcomed by the guides and staff upon arrival to the Iquitos airport. We took the recommended flight schedule, so arrived at the same time as most of the other guests. The cruise staff tagged everyone’s luggage and packed it into one of the transport vehicles. Everyone boarded the air-conditioned vans where snacks and beverages were offered as we went on our way.
Aria Amazon Cruise Expert Review
Our first stop was the Manatee Rescue Center, where we observed and learned about a variety of rescue animals that were at various stages of rehabilitation or preparation for re-introduction to their natural habitats. It was interesting to see some of the animals up close, and to learn about how much effort was put into trying to help maintain the delicate balance in the local environment. We were then taken to a restaurant in downtown Iquitos to have lunch. Along the way the guides told us a bit about Iquitos and our upcoming cruise experience. After finishing lunch we had a few minutes to have a look around the plaza area before being transferred to the port of Iquitos to board the ship.
Once on board there was an orientation in the lounge to explain a few things to us and to allow the guests to briefly introduce themselves to one another. Then there was a quick safety drill, where we all returned to our cabins to retrieve our life vests and report to the skiff-boarding area when the alarm was sounded. After that it was off to the dining room for dinner.
The dining room was set up with a variety of seating options, so some guests could have a table for one or two if they wanted, while others could sit in groups of 4 or more. Dinners were served individually at each table, while breakfasts and lunches were buffet style. Meals were delicious and well-presented, and extra servings were always brought upon request. All of the staff provided excellent service throughout, and they did their best to remember each guest’s name and food and drink preferences or needs. Snacks and beverages were always available in the lounge, as well as on the skiffs during each outing. When returning to the ship after each excursion, the crew was waiting to provide assistance and offer fresh juices made from a variety of local fruits.
Cabins were spacious, with large comfortable beds facing floor to ceiling windows to enjoy views of the river. Each has its own climate control, a lock-box to store valuables in, a wardrobe to hang clothes in, and a small couch for lounging. Amenities such as shampoo, soap, hair dryer, robes and slippers were all provided. Some vibration was noticeable when the boat was navigating, but that is pretty standard for small river boat cruises with such an exclusive number of cabins, and it did not bother us at all.
There was no shortage of things to do during the cruise, both on and off the boat. Spa and massage services are offered at an additional cost for those that want to relax. An exercise room with cardio equipment is available for more active guests. Tablets loaded with entertainment options such as movies and games are available for use, as are board games. Sunrise yoga or meditation sessions are offered in the lounge. The sun deck provided a nice outdoor area to enjoy the view or relax in the cool-water jacuzzi. Some guests may even choose to skip an excursion in favor of enjoying some of these on-board amenities.
Each afternoon or evening there was usually some kind of activity or discussion taking place in the air-conditioned lounge on the top deck, and the bartender was always available to prepare a variety of juices or cocktails. One afternoon the chef offered a step-by-step presentation on how to prepare a popular Amazonian dish, and the bartender showed how to prepare the famous Pisco Sour cocktail. Some guests even had the chance to help with the preparation in both cases. There was of course a tasting afterwards.
The excursions were not something to be missed, though, either. A good variety of unique excursions were scheduled throughout the itinerary. In addition, the excursion skiffs were well-equipped with comfortable seats and heavy ponchos in case of rain, which made it easier to focus on the wildlife. Rains are common to encounter at some point, but fortunately they are usually relatively brief. We found that having small waterproof bags was helpful in those moments, though.
Some mornings guests are offered the option to join the guides for a sunrise excursion to do some bird-watching before breakfast. One morning there was an extended outing that included breakfast on the skiffs in a secluded lagoon, surrounded by the sights and sounds of a variety of birds. We had the opportunity to paddle along on wooden canoes, guided by children from a nearby village. A few of us also went for a swim in the river near the village. A visit to, and tour of, another local village was part of one of the other excursions. That allowed us to get a glimpse into what some of the locals lived like, and to meet and chat with some of them. Some guests brought school supplies or other helpful items to donate while there. They of course consulted the cruise guides first to be sure of the most appropriate manner to give such items. Fishing for piranhas was the focus of another excursion. To find good spots for this we explored some very narrow tributaries and channels of the flooded forest. We also went on a short hike through the jungle to get a closer look at some of the flora and fauna. That was when the humidity was the most intense, and we got quite drenched from some rains at the end of the hike, but it was worth it to see some of the flora and fauna up close.
On the final day of the cruise the transfer dropped us all off at the Iquitos airport in time for the recommended flight back to Lima. Most guests had provided the staff with their flight confirmation information, so the check-in for the flight was already handled by the staff.
We had an excellent time on our Aria Amazon cruise. Four days was just enough to experience a good variety of excursions. It was a busy four days, though. Travelers that have time for a longer cruise might prefer to have some extra time to settle in a bit more, perhaps make use of the spa and other amenities, and of course enjoy more wildlife viewing opportunities. For more information about booking the Aria Amazon cruise, please contact us or call 1-888-215-3555.