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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Bucket list cruise to see the Amazon River. The whole experience far exceeded all expectations. First time with Fred Olsen Right from the start everything was very well organised. The staff were all very attentive and it was service with ... Read More
Bucket list cruise to see the Amazon River. The whole experience far exceeded all expectations. First time with Fred Olsen Right from the start everything was very well organised. The staff were all very attentive and it was service with a smile through out the whole cruise. Nightmare journey home not good having to fly from Manaus to Barbados to chance crew and refuel as we couldn't get off plane and then more delays because of lack of paper work! I didn't consider this to be Fred Olens fault or even the airline! I felt the size of the ship was just perfect I have been on larger ships but much prefer the size of Braemar. One thing I particularly liked was that there were no problems on deck finding a sunbed especially on sea days it never felt crowded. Dining in the Grampian Restaurant was perfect, a great atmosphere and great service. Good choice of food perfectly cooked and presented. The pool restaurant was also a favourite for lunch time. We used all the restaurants and found them all equally as good. we did not use the grill, felt the extra charge was excessive when the other restaurants were so good. Entertainment was excellent, something for everyone. The ports of call were all very interesting and the tours we went on were all good value for money and exceptionally well organised. Presentations regarding ports of call prior to arriving were particularly good and very imformative. If you didn't get to see it live you could catch up on tv in cabin. A great cruise and would definately book with Fred Olsen again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My first ever cruise which was a trip with my parents and brother as a special family trip and despite my reservations I really enjoyed cruising. Infact I would go again. We had an inside cabin which was actually not too bad. I missed ... Read More
My first ever cruise which was a trip with my parents and brother as a special family trip and despite my reservations I really enjoyed cruising. Infact I would go again. We had an inside cabin which was actually not too bad. I missed having no natural light but storage was fine and beds very comfortable. The ship, crew and trips were all excellent and I found very little to criticise. The food was fabulous and so much of it you feel compelled to eat far too much. We were looked after extremely well by all the staff. There was a good choice of entertainment throughout the day and the Daily News was great as you could see in advance what was on and pick and choose your activities. The ship (Braemar)was great and the excursions was a real amazing experience. What we saw on the excursions was fabulous even though a few of the trips were perhaps a little contrived and too busy. Fred Olsen runs a very smooth operation and when the inbound flight from Manchester was delayed and we had an extra day on the ship (what a hardship for us) they handled it extremely well and we were all kept informed and able to enjoy the extra day in Manaus. The treatments in the spa were amazing. I even tried to learn bridge. The games room down below with no windows was not ideal though. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise as a means to pursue something different. Having boated on rivers for many years we thought cruising the Amazon would be a good extension of the activity. We looked forward to seeing the cities, wildlife and the notion ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a means to pursue something different. Having boated on rivers for many years we thought cruising the Amazon would be a good extension of the activity. We looked forward to seeing the cities, wildlife and the notion of seeing piranha fish. Embarkation was very smooth and they lived up to expectations. Our room was clean and well stocked with fruit and beverages. Out butler arrived and per our wishes supplied us with our favorites. As a matter of course he was always there for us and since we were traveling with a third person in another cabin, he hooked us up with canapes or dinner for three whenever we wished. It would be difficult to come up with a complaint and we tipped him accordingly. The cruise started off well enough with a stop at Devil's Island. This turned out to be quite good if not the best stop along the itinerary. The remnants of the penal colony are still standing and testify to the harsh conditions. There is a hotel on the island but we would have been hard pressed to stay there having seen it. Other stops yielded a perspective that Brazil has quite a bit of cleanup and pollution work in front of itself. At one stop, no activity was offered and the shore concierge couldn't suggest a reason to leave the boat so we didn't. We were lucky enough to spot pink dolphins from the Panorama Lounge that day, but if there's nothing to do, why stop there. The Restaurant was our favorite dining spot although we did enjoy going to La Dame a couple of times. Having a menue that changed at La Dame while we were aboard for 16 nights would have been a great improvement. We also ate at The Grill once and decided not to go a second time. The hot stone cooking while unique, generated quite a bit of smoke. On a hot sultry night with no wind it can make one person at a table of four very uncomfortable depending on which way the smoke blows. The pool bar lunch while tasting good, lacked service. We noted staff standing around in conversation quite a bit. On one occasion we waited a quite a while, and nothing happened until we got up to go to The Restaurant. We continued on our way at that point in spite of a very apologetic server. We ate at La Terrazza 2 nights, but the food was quite repetitive from both their own dinner menu and The Restaurant's lunch and dinner menus, and we preferred the atmosphere and service at The Restaurant. Disembarkation did not go as smoothly, starting late, requiring waiting in line numerous times (each time waiting for our color to be called before being allowed to wait in line), and eventually needing to drag all of our luggage to a parking lot and load it onto the seats in a small passenger bus for transport to the cruise terminal. Perhaps it was because we were the last ship to arrive in port that morning, and were last in line. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We wanted to try a more upscale cruise line. Everything was more than we had expected. The food was excellent and all the staff everywhere on the ship were friendly, learned ur names and were eager to help. Our Butler was at our ... Read More
We wanted to try a more upscale cruise line. Everything was more than we had expected. The food was excellent and all the staff everywhere on the ship were friendly, learned ur names and were eager to help. Our Butler was at our service and our room was always very clean and in order. We met some nice people from around the world and made some new friends. I must also mention there were no lines anywhere. What a pleasure that was. The cruise director made a point to speak to everyone and even had dinner with us one night. Sailing on a smaller ship without all the masses really makes a difference and I hope that I will be able to do it again soon. I would choose Silver Seas for sure and would try to make it a longer cruise. Thank you Silver Seas for my wonderful trip! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We sailed from Barbados to Barbados on the Silver Spirit from 20th November to 8th December 2016 to the Amazon. Silversea is our favourite cruise line and we are loyal Venetian members. However standards have fallen considerably despite ... Read More
We sailed from Barbados to Barbados on the Silver Spirit from 20th November to 8th December 2016 to the Amazon. Silversea is our favourite cruise line and we are loyal Venetian members. However standards have fallen considerably despite there being only 153 passengers on board. Silversea was known for staff who addressed passengers by their names. No more. A fellow passenger proved it after fifteen days on board. The waiter and barman did not know his nor his wife's name despite being frequent Silvetsea passengers. Do crew not care to learn the names of passengers over two weeks? A shame as that small detail which made passengers feel at home has been forgotten over the years. Bring back the tradition with regular staff training and check ups. The food menus now repeat over three days for lunch. Why? While on food, the menus are non creative, the chips soggy and the meats overdone despite orders for medium or rare cuts. The bread is sub standard, served cold and can be at least warmed for the guests. Imagine cool soup and colder bread. The Seshin menu and food quality is not to standard. Why have fresh sushi and sashimi on a menu when the fish is obviously refrigerated? Best to stick to Pan Asian, South Asian or Far Eastern food. This said The Champagne, Stars and Poolside Hot Stones Grill is superb. The saving grace these days in Silversea are the staff like Cruise Director Moss Hills, the service staff from the butlers to the waiters and bar personnel who go all out to make a passengers stay comfortable and luxurious. On the other hand the Hotel Director Maurius cared not to reach out to passengers nor even wish them a simple Good Morning on the decks. This despite a friendly Captain Mino Pontello and Chief Engineer who made an appearance daily on the decks to greet passengers. This is a critique only to improve our favourite cruise line. Please pull your socks up and revert to your once excellent standard. We sail in a few days on the Silver Whisper through the Panama Canal from Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco and hopefully Silversea will have set a renewed standard over the festive season and for 2017. As true well wishers of Silversea, looking forward to excellent service henceforth. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
My wife and I have just returned from 2 months on Adonia. Initially for the 28 Amazon cruise then 28 day western Caribbean countries followed by the Leeward Islands. The ship is getting very tired now, The paintwork, or lack of it, on ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from 2 months on Adonia. Initially for the 28 Amazon cruise then 28 day western Caribbean countries followed by the Leeward Islands. The ship is getting very tired now, The paintwork, or lack of it, on the hull means when there is more than one ship in port we crept away with shame. It really is that bad. Fixtures and fittings and general accommodation cleanliness are as might be expected. We last travelled on Adonia on her Asian excursion in Jan 2014. The food has now improved significantly and the waiters did a reasonable job in the Pacific Restaurant. At last the curries in the Conservatory are of a good standard. Not great but much improved. The entertainment was the usual rehash of the stage productions and second string artists. What really became annoying was the insistance of putting on early shows for second sitting diners. It misses the point entirely of having a later second sitting where its possible to wind down from the day, relax and have a drink prior to dinner. The Amazon cruise is something you are probably only going to do once. The river itself is impressive but little wildlife is observable. We booked a private tour in Santarem with Gil Serique. (Find him on tripadvisor) He is expensive but his enthusiasm and knowledge are worth every penny. This is most noteable when compared with the P&O offered tour. Its pointless going into too much detail about our entire cruise experience as the move to Fathom means it has little relevance for the future. The Captain repeatedly reminded us that it was still a P&O ship and would return. I guess it will probably still remain in the Caribbean undertaking short island cruises. We have been used to Adonia on longer, adventurous, port ground breaking sailings. This will be unlikely in the future. As this is the largest ship we normally go for, it will probably be our last P&O cruise despite our Ligurian loyalty rating. We are booked on Pacific Princess for her round the world cruise 2017. Alas Ocean Princess is being removed from the Princess fleet. Sad times indeed, especially when Adonia was at last getting it mostly right. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2014
Day 1 By way of an introduction, we are a middle aged couple (I call 64 middle aged) originally from the UK however, we relocated to a lovely Mediterranean island called Cyprus ten years ago. This is our 6th Silversea cruise we have not ... Read More
Day 1 By way of an introduction, we are a middle aged couple (I call 64 middle aged) originally from the UK however, we relocated to a lovely Mediterranean island called Cyprus ten years ago. This is our 6th Silversea cruise we have not cruised with any other cruise line, this is our second time on the Whisper. Monday 24th November: After a long trip from Europe (Cyprus) we finally arrived in sunny Barbados. We took a short taxi ride from the airport for our one night’s pre cruise stay at the Hilton Hotel Bridgetown, a comfortable hotel with our room overlooking the sea. The next morning we looked over the bay to see the Whisper docked and no doubt unloading passengers from its cruise. At 13.00hrs (Tuesday) we left the hotel for the short drive to the dock to board the Silver Whisper for our 17 day trip down the Amazon. The drive from the hotel in a private taxi costs 20 Barbadian dollars, about 10US. Arriving dockside boarding was fast and efficient as usual with Silversea. As you may know by now you have to fill in an Ebola questionnaire (countries visited). By 13.45 we were sitting comfortably on the pool deck enjoyed cool beer and a classic burger, we know how to live! At 14.00hrs we were informed our suite (651) was ready. On entering the suit our pre ordered drinks were ready, happy days. We sat on our sunny veranda enjoying a Prosecco while awaiting our suitcases. We don’t sail until 23.00hrs so plenty of time to relax and chill out. Bags arrived, unpacked introduced to butler, and ironed the crumpled shirts, muster drill 17.30. The muster drill went OK as usual, 15 minutes is not much to ensure our safety while on board. Bit of a rush to our “meet and mingle” which was a bit of a letdown. With only six invited, two people couldn't make it but we met one other lovely couple from the US. So onto our first eating experience of the cruise. We decided to eat under the stars so we chose hot rocks on the pool deck. Great service, had a juicy rib eye and king prawns, washed down with a Chilean red wine which was not to my taste, but plenty more to choose from. After a night cap of a rather large Remy Martin it was off to bed, early night to catch up on lost sleep. Hope we are not boring the pants of fellow cruisers? Please ask if you have any questions, I will try and answer them for you. Looking forward to day two already! Day 2 Wednesday. Are we having fun yet??? YES WE ARE! Thank you for your kind comments on Cruise critic. Can I apologize from the outset; I am useless at downloading pictures so it’s the narrative only folks. Stats: 331 passengers on board. 182 UK, US 48 (damn yanks get everywhere) 27 Australians and a full range of other Internationals. After a very comfortable sleep we awoke very early and had hot coffee delivered to our room to start the day. The ship sailed at 23.00hrs last night, not that I noticed I was in dream land by then! We are due to dock at Bequia (pronounced Beckway,) at 08.00hrs. Beckway is the Carib word for “island in the cloud” part of Vincent and the Grenadines. The Island is the largest and most populous of the 32 Islands and Cays that makes up the Grenadines. Just a quick note to mention the internet. We opted for the all singing all dancing package unlimited for 272 US dollars. Up to now it appears to be working fine, a tad slow this morning is that because we are at sea? The only down side is you can only have once device on at a time so, you have to log off and your Partner logs on, bit of a pain but hey ho in the bigger picture. Exercise: A nasty word for some, but in an attempt to keep the weight down we went for a brisk walk around the deck for an hour, bit shaky while at sea but we are determined to stick with it, (right let’s see how long that lasts?) Well enough of that walking nonsense!!! It’s a balmy 29 degrees, lovely sunny day. For those interested its 9 laps per mile on the top deck. We are now docked off Admiralty Bay one of the prettiest anchorages in the Caribbean. The capital is Port Elizabeth, a tiny town with Bars and shops where you can buy handmade souvenirs; we will go later this morning by tender. I think there are three launderettes on board with 3 washers and driers in each, only one iron though. We don’t have the free laundry privileges yet! Mrs Fudge gets a mention here, she is off already to get our first wash load done, good girl. We are lucky, there is one only a few doors down, does not open until 08.00hrs. Well that’s breakfast over and done with, full English for me, eggs Benedict for Mrs Fudge. Shore excursions: For those who chose to do, if you have not prebooked any excursions make sure you book as you arrive on the ship. You should book a day or two in advance to avoid disappointment, we have booked for a rum/beach 3.30hrs trip tomorrow, hope we get at least one free sample??? The trip to shore was OK but not much to see and do. The whole experience was one hour, nice to leave the ship however to stretch the legs. After a light lunch its sun bathing time, going through the cocktail list slowly. We had a pleasant afternoon in the sun on the pool deck however, although there was plenty of staff on duty, in over four hours we were not asked for a drink, I had to go to the bar three times, okay four times. We had a most enjoyable evening meal in La Terrazza but, the maître de gave us a mild rebuke for arriving thirty minutes early for dinner, naughty Mr and Mrs Fudge. Another night sailing, 23.00hrs to St. Georges docking at 07.00hrs. Day 3 Thursday. Port of St Georges, Grenada. Happy Thanks giving to all our American Cruisers. Nutmeg, Cloves, Cocoa, those heady aromas fill the night air in Grenada. Only 21 miles long and 12 miles wide the isle of spices, a tropical gem of lush rain forests and white sand beaches. St Georges is one of the most picturesque harbours you could wish to find. Grenada’s Grand Anse beach is one of the regions finest beaches. The Island has friendly hospitable people and enough good shopping, restaurants, historical sites and natural wonders to make it a popular port of call. About one third of Grenada’s visitors arrive by cruise ship and that number continues to grow each year. Grenada’s capitol is a bustling West Indian city, narrow streets lined with shops; wind up, down, and across steep hills. Brick warehouses cling to the waterfront, and pastel painted homes rise from the waterfront and disappear into steep Green hills. We are on our first excursion this morning. 3hrs 30 minutes to the rum distillery combined with time on the beach. (59US Dollars) I hear what you are saying, we are cheapskates. So, after a leisurely breakfast in our suite (a first for us) very nice it was too, served by our charming butler Janice, after our daily exercise of course, we are now looking forward to soaking up the Grenada hospitality, the population is about 110,000. The on shore trip was well worth the 59US. 15 minute drive to the Rum distillery, great tour about one hour. The distillery was formed in 1937 and makes between 350/400 thousand bottles a year, yes, we did get a taster! Onto a lovely white private sandy beach, complimentary sun loungers, two complimentary drinks, fantastic setting. Called at the shopping mall on the way back, the locals are so friendly and warm. You do feel very safe here, everyone is polite and helpful, the drawback is we sail at 16.00hrs, could have spent all day here. 13.00hrs, back on deck, more eating and drinking, you would think we were forced into this life style? Lovely sunny day once again, Mrs Fudge is getting a nice tan! It’s our first formal night this evening, a chance for Mrs Fudge to look fantastic in her best frock. Just a little ditty, our Captain on this cruise is Luigi Rutigliano, a lovely guy; we sailed down the Panama Canal in 2012 under his captaincy. After a formal introduction with our Captain Luigi and senior members of the crew in the theatre we had a very pleasant evening with a couple from Sweden. Unfortunately their luggage never arrived before we set sail; they are remarkably cool about it, what a start to the voyage! After dinner we returned to the theatre and were entertained by “the voices” three female and three male singers. They sang a range of classical songs from West End shows, a very nice end to the day. Day 4 Friday We sailed from Grenada at 16.00hrs yesterday en route to Devils Island; it’s a long sailing almost two solid days at sea so we are looking to occupy ourselves on board. So long as I keep Mrs Fudge away from the boutique that will be fine (lol) We have met a lecturer called Peter Damisch who we met previously on a cruise to the Antarctic in February 2013. A really nice guy, very knowledgeable, we are attending a lecture this morning about real pirates, should be interesting? Unfortunately it clashes with a bridge tour but we have done that before. Please note: I said earlier you must keep one eye on excursions and remember to fill out the appropriate form in plenty of time, even the complimentary tours; we almost missed out on Devils Island tomorrow because there is limited capacity on the tenders. The lecture was very good indeed, very informative, quite surprising how many myths there are surrounding piracy, frightening though in the bad old days. Well, I didn’t stop Mrs Fudge finding the boutique!!! I know there have been discussions on the forum about the boutique, but really it is very top dollar. It has changed beyond all recognition from the old style, everyone in there was making comment (negatively) about it, the guy serving looked most embarrassed, and I hasten to add we walked straight out. There was a cooking demonstration this morning by one of the top chefs on board. We have been invited to dine with the cruise consultant this evening in an attempt to resurrect our meet and mingle; Mrs Fudge wants to know why we are eating with the staff? (lol) The sailing in the past 24hrs has been kind, nice sunny morning but cloudy this afternoon, there is a galley tour later today for those interested. Although we are not there yet, here is brief description of Devil’s Island. Devil’s Island From 1852 to 1948 the main penal colonies were established on the three French lles du Salut to hold the most notorious criminals and political outcasts. Those who were sentenced to seven or more years and survived were required to remain in French Guiana for life. Of 80,000 prisoners sent to the Islands some 50,000 died here. The prisoners were left mainly unguarded due to strong currents and sharks making it almost impossible to escape. Devil’s Island is but one of the infamous penal colonies off the lles du Salut archipelago. On the almost inaccessible Devil’s Island political prisoners such as Alfred Dreyfus were held in isolation. The prisoner who became world famous was Henri Chamere, immortalized in the movie Papillon for supposedly being the only convict ever to have escaped the “Green Hell”. Pathways allow you to walk around the Island in about 45 minutes, among the overgrown prison cells and other buildings. Recent renovations include a small museum; the trip to the Island is complementary. Day 5 Saturday After a pleasant evening last night with our new friends and Enzo the SS cruise consultant, we ate in the MDR after which we had an early night. Still sailing of course towards Devil’s Island, we should anchor off there around mid-day. More exercise and a lighter breakfast than usual, I’m sure my waistline is expanding by the hour not the day!! Looking forward to another night on the pool deck tonight “hot rocks”. We do like this option because it’s very informal and you get to cook your own food the way you like it, no complaints if you overcook it or ruin it! Arrived just off the Island about mid day, nice cocktail reception and band on the pool deck by SS followed by a really nice lunch, (Lobster risotto) was one of the dishes, very humid here which was what we expected. We were under the impression we were actually visiting Devil’s Island, in fact you are taken to the Island next door Ile Royal. After a tender ride of ten minutes you have at least 2/3 hours to wander at your own leisure. Warning: If you are infirm or unsteady on your feet you may not appreciate the climbing. There is a path you can walk around the Island but it can be quite steep for those with those with walking difficulties, a good pair of walking shoes or training shoes is highly recommended. Unfortunately one person took a really nasty fall, we hope he is OK? Once on the Island there is a hotel/bar, museum, church, souvenir shop (expensive) old cell ruins and plenty of wildlife to see. We spent almost two hours exploring the Island and enjoyed the adventure. SS still offer the fruit punch on the dockside before rejoining the tender. We set sail at 1800hrs bound for Macapa, another day at sea this evening and Sunday docking at 07.00hrs Monday morning. Cloudy afternoon but just enough time for another “insane” cocktail. Another juicy rib eye steak rounded off another great day on the Whisper. Day 6 Sunday A lazy day on the ship beckons: A mad rush for the sun beds, the sea is calm, the temperature is between 29/32c partly cloudy. All hell let loose this morning when someone reserved a sun bed then did not occupy it for some time. Another couple came along and turfed the other person’s goods off. The ship’s crew were called to settle the matter. It is very rude to reserve a sunbed and then leave it unattended for a long time, selfish in my humble opinion. Another pleasant lunch followed by water volley ball in the salty pool. A poolside quiz to guess how many miles the ship has travelled between point A to point B, I was out by some 300 miles, glad I am not steering the ship!!! (lol) By 16.00hrs and a drink (or two) afternoon clouds roll in, it’s time for a siesta in the comfort of our own suite. Looking forward to the La Terrazza this evening, a really pleasant atmosphere in there, making sure we do not get there too early and risk having our knuckles wrapped again! Our next port of call is Macapa, purely to clear the Brazilian authorities, this is what I call the business end of our cruise, it’s been a nice trip thus far, but really the Amazon is what we came to experience. We then move onto Satarem, I have included a brief description of our stay there. Santarem The first settlement in Santarem was a Jesuit mission built in 1661. The next arrivals consisted of a group of confederate refugees. They came to Santarem after the American civil war in the hope of creating a new slaving state. Few of them stayed very long but they left their mark in certain family and trade names. In the 1920’s during the rubber boom, Henry Ford spent 80million US dollars to establish an enormous rubber plantation for the production of car tyres. The project ended in disaster when many of the workers died of malaria and Ford realized there were too many obstacles to overcome Today it is the third largest City in the Amazon, one of the major attractions is the “meeting of the waters”. Day 7 Monday Finally in Brazil, just docked in the Amazon delta while we receive clearance from the Brazilian authorities. Lovely hot day already, clear skies, no bugs to talk of yet thankfully. The “International sun bed Incident” seems to have blown over, boy do we get exciting days while on board, let’s see what today entertainment is? Mrs Fudge looks resplendent in her Hawaiian frock this morning for breakfast. Fashion: For the ladies who like to treat themselves, there is a guy on the pool deck making handmade specialist Italian sandals, prices start at 380US dollars (yikes). One lady has already had three pairs made. Golf enthusiasts: Later in the cruise Silversea are offering a round of golf at a Hotel resort actually in the Amazon. Now, I am a very keen golfer however, at 499US Dollars I can forgo my golf for three weeks. Mrs. Fudge is trying to encourage me to play but I think it’s because she has one eye on the sandals. (lol) One of the Chefs sculptured a Dolphin out of a huge piece of ice on deck in about 25 minutes very clever indeed, kept the punters occupied. For seasoned cruisers out there you will know that on this cruise if you cross the equator, Silversea recognise this by carrying out a ceremony on board. It begins, “you are hereby summoned to the court of King Neptune” The entertainment team were in full costume and asked for six volunteers to take part in the mock ceremony. Yours truly duly obliged and was subjected to a court hearing. As the Silver Whisper sails across the oceans of the world there are promises that we are sworn to keep. When we cross the great divide between the North and South we respect King Neptune of the deep. So today we ask king Neptune, to bless the Silver Whisper as we cross the Equator line once more. The sinners (me) must confess and their punishment is due as they submit to King Neptune and his law. Consequently the whole ship and the crew witnessed a ceremony never seen before. We received a certificate from Silversea to commemorate the event. The sun continues to shine, 33 degrees today, lots of happy smiling faces consuming lots of lovely bubbly. This evening we experienced another first, dining in our suite. At 19.30hrs dead on time there was a knock on our door and our evening meal arrived. We chose something different a Beef Curry, very nice it was to washed down with a cool bottle of Pinot Grigio. The food was fantastic; as good as you can get in the MDR or any of the restaurants, a big thank you to the staff of Silversea. Day 8 Tuesday As ever Silversea arrive punctual in Santarem, actually 30 minutes earlier than planned, docking at 07.30hrs. There are at least three shore excursions to choose from, but we decided to do our own thing today. There are complimentary shuttle buses running from the quay side into town every thirty minutes, another opportunity for local sightseeing and to stretch the legs. We are still on top of our exercise routine thankfully; Mrs Fudge even did an extra 4 laps this morning!!! It’s a light breakfast today in our suite; we will be leaving the ship dollars in hand in case we see something to buy? After a 15 minute bus ride we arrived in town. A hustle/bustling noisy but friendly place where you did feel safe to walk around. Lots of shops most selling local goods, I.e. clothes, footwear, supermarkets, chemist/pharmacy. We did shop in one supermarket who did not take US dollars, however we did find a money exchange place. Understandably English was not widely spoken, it was difficult to converse. We only stayed one hour as most people did, not a great deal to see however, it was a pleasant change to being on deck. Just to let you all know, you may remember in the past you could purchase toiletries on board, they are now hidden away in a small cupboard and the stock is very limited indeed. This town maybe the only time you have to replace your own requirements for the rest of the cruise. After a very nice lunch in La Terrazza it’s time to chill out on the pool deck. The cocktail list is getting smaller, the “Silver Spirit” was nice but, I keep returning to the Insane, a real favourite. Another lovely meal in the MDR, certainly more little bugs around in the evening. Half way through the cruise already and so much to enjoy and see. Day 9 Wednesday Today we dock at Boca Da Valeria, the gateway to Manaus. Located between Santarem and Manaus, Boca Da Valeria is the entrance to the Valeria Channel (Boca meaning mouth) the channel leads to Lake Valeria, which marks the border between the States of Amazonas and Para. While the ship is at anchor, a colourful picture unfolds as canoes with the local population come out to meet the ship, providing additional excitement to our Amazon experience. There are no facilities to operate any organized excursions. Approx 75 people live in this village, surrounded by the great rain forest of the Amazon basin. Life here is a startling contrast to life in Brazil’s modern Amazonian cities of Santarem and Manaus. Tips: The sun is extremely hot now, please remember to pack plenty of sun block, the temperature is well into 37/38c or over 100f. Also, it is very wise to pack repellent spray, the bugs are definitely here and biting. Because we are docked off a remote Island, the ship advises that it is customary to offer small gifts such as pens, pencils, sketchbooks Etc. We would have packed such items had we know beforehand. We did supply soft drinks, Silversea pens, Bvlgari soap, and Virgin airlines upper class toilet bag! We took an early morning tender to the Island. We were greeted by two lines of children all ready to personally escort you around the Island. The whole tour took about 30 minutes; we passed a small church, a school and a few wooden shacks. I don't think I have seen so many children in one location; it seemed like hundreds, in fact there are hundreds, all smiling, and of course looking for small gifts. Silversea say the Island has about 75 inhabitants, more like 750; the population has obviously grown since the last census. (lol) Local boat trips are offered on their motorized canoes, the going rate is about 5US dollars for 30 or 60 minutes, a trip around the Island. We did not take this offer in the morning however; friends of ours did the trip and persuaded us to return in the afternoon to do it, it was the best 5US Dollars we have spent in my lifetime! This trip is a MUST for this stop, fantastic scenery, wildlife, and an experience never to be forgotten, 60 minutes of pure heaven. Why Silversea don’t promote this I have no idea? Pink dolphins appeared around the ship during the day. Tonight is Venetian night which is of course a formal night, another opportunity for Mrs. Fudge to wear a nice frock and all her finery, weighed down with diamonds and jewellery. There are 182 Venetian guests on board, one couple with over 600 days with SS, two couples with over 250 and quite a few with over 100, SS must be doing something right! Day 10 Thursday The days are flying by now, getting fatter by the day but really who cares, you don’t cruise for 17 days and not expect to put on a pound or two, still managed to get into my penguin suit last night though! Still on an overnight/morning sailing heading for Anavilhanas, the world’s largest river archipelago. About 60 miles upstream from Manaus lies the world’s largest river archipelago. There are hundreds of Islands, covered in thick vegetation, with a myriad of small creeks all formed by the ever changing waters and the seasons. When the Rio Negro is low, White sand beaches are revealed, as well as the roots and trunks of the trees. As a natural paradise, it allows visitors to experience the unique ecology of the Amazon including an amazing variety of vegetation and fauna, such as monkeys, sloth and exotic birds that make their habitat in the tropical forest. History: In 1981 it was promoted to the category of Ecological Station, and since then it is part of the group of Conservation Unities of the lower Rio Negro. In 2008 it promoted to National Park status. Forgot to mention last evening in the MDR they had a band playing all through the dinner. Unless my memory is failing I don’t recall that happening on any of our other cruises? What was even more strange is that the male escorts on board were visiting each table and asking for partners to dance, this was during the meal. Not wishing to sound like a spoil sport but, it did stifle the art of conversation. Apparently this does not happen on all the other ships, but its proving so popular they may extend it. Did you know? The average depth of the Amazon is 20 mtrs, although it can reach 75 mtrs in places. The Whisper only needs 7 mtrs draft. Another odd fact is rather morbid: If unfortunately someone passes away while in this region, the Brazilian Authorities are a nightmare to deal with, the paperwork and cost apparently is prohibitive, I will be sticking to water today to keep sober (that’s a lie) 12.30 We finally dock off shore 60 miles North of Manaus. Today is the only day SS cannot offer an alternative to their excursion: You can swim with the dolphins and visit a local village for 179 US dollars, (3 hrs) the rest of us stay on board to consume even more Insane cocktails and eat huge steaks. Apparently at least half the guests or more on board will be taking the excursion. Local boats are already moored alongside to convey the guests to their destination. It was like a ghost ship in the afternoon, the bartender was almost bored! Unfortunately feedback from those who went on the trip was not good. Many people have lodged a complaint with SS that the trip was not good value for money; the first boat back was well within two and a half hours. At 18.00hrs we arrive at the very busy bustling port of Manaus, we dock in one of the most vibrant quaysides you have ever seen, local ferry boats line the quay side, greeted by many locals eager to capture the moment the Whisper arrives. Yet another first, (how many firsts can you have??) an evening in Le Champagne. SS do not miss a trick, the one and only telephone call we have had reminding us of our reservation in the restaurant. I have to admit though there is a waiting list so that’s understandable. I can understand why Le Champagne is so popular, with only Seven tables and so many guests the meal was outstanding, the scallops and lobster thermidor were just divine, the only down side was that a French couple came in and were adamant they had made a reservation, the lady did create a scene in the restaurant but was politely turned away. We are here for approx two full days, happy days for Mrs Fudge to catch up on shopping! Mr. Fudge will be hiding the credit card (lol) she tells me she is only here to purchase genuine Brazil nuts, let’s see how that pans out shall we? Day11 Friday Manaus Manaus is the capitol of the state of Amazonas and the hub of the whole Amazon region. Located on the banks of the Rio Negro the meeting of the waters takes place four miles from Manaus, where the Rio Solimoes meets the Rio Negro to become the Amazon. The city we see today is primarily a product of the rubber boom. When steam navigation in the 19th century opened up the jungle, it spurred the rubber industry and mass immigration. Under governor Eduardo Riberto the famous Opera house and broad avenues were built. For the rich it was a place of sheer luxury, palaces and grandiose mansions were erected and time was passed with elaborate entertainment, dances and concerts. By the turn of the century it was an opulent metropolis run by elegant people who dressed and housed themselves as fashionably as their counterparts in any large European city. In 1899 saw Manaus as the first Brazilian city to have trolley buses and the second one to have electric streetlights. As a river port, Manaus presents an unforgettable spectacle. The cities most famous attraction is the Opera house, at a cost of 3 million US dollars and 17yrs of construction completed in 1896 it has recently gone through a restoration program and now shines once more in its original splendour. We have decided to “eat in” again this evening, we enjoyed the experience so much, fish cake Provencal, lamb curry and crème Brule, us Brits know how to push the boat out, all washed down with a nice bottle of Billy Billy, my favourite nine quid Australian Shiraz. There are still some nice touches on deck, the cool flannels, the fruit kebabs, there are some subtle changes to our previous cruises with SS but really minor changes, scones were not on the afternoon tea menu, (shock horror) and unusually not many of the staff know us by our names, not that it bothers us, still very polite though. Local Information: The walk from the ship to town is only 5 minutes. Once again it’s a very vibrant busy noisy city with lots of tourist tat on show. Unfortunately the local currency is hard to come by; most places do not accept US dollars. When we found the Opera house about 20 minutes walk from the ship, we did find one exchange place almost opposite there the name is PARCAM exchange, and there is also tourist information very close by. Once at the Opera house, you book a ticket, there are organised tours every 15 minutes or so with an English speaking guide. The cost is 20 real or 5 dollars for two people. There are concessions for those over 60, that includes me but not Mrs. Fudge. You know I do not upload photos, Google, Manaus-Iranduba Bridge over the river Negro, one of the most fantastic bridges we have ever seen, spectacular. Please note: There are excursions on offer by SS which cover all the sights you can visit, one is a half day tour for 119 US dollars including the Opera house. The visit to the Opera House is a MUST see, you cannot leave Manaus without seeing it. Stop press: No in dining for us tonight, the chef cannot make it! I thought SS was a “can do” cruise line, Mrs. Fudge is well upset and now has a huge big lip; we had better go into town and look for something to buy instead? We have still not found any Brazil nuts!!!!! Manaus is truly manic, so many people but you feel safe walking around, no hassle, no bother. The evening was complete with another hot rocks evening, not many on the pool deck. Day 12 Saturday An early start to the day, we have booked an excursion to the “meeting of the waters” Venturing into the Amazon tributaries offers an unforgettable up close look at the areas vast ecosystem. Our half day excursion explores the Islands and narrow channels of the tropical forest, included are a glimpse of the giant water lilies on Lake January and a look at a natural phenomenon, the meeting of the waters. The cost is 99dollars; it’s 4/4.5 duration. We leave at 08.30 should be an interesting trip. Before we left the ship the SS rep made mention of an unfortunate incident yesterday, a female guest had a gold necklace snatched from her while in town. I do realize this can happen in any big city not just here. It just reinforces how careful you have to be when leaving the ship to explore. The trip: We boarded a two deck type of ferry boat, the organizers are Amazon Explorers, and there were about 40 of us on board. Because we have two days here you can choose which day you want your trip(s) Top tip: Take a towel with you, on board there are cheap and cheery plastic seats, you get a numb backside after a while. There are drinks for sale on board, (free water) and the bathrooms are clean. Once on board there were two very good English speaking guides who talked about Manaus and the surrounding areas in general. Manaus has a population currently of 2.2 million, I’m sure 1.1 million are near the quay side! We sailed for just over 1 hour when we reached the meeting of the waters, a great photo opportunity as you would expect. After the meeting of the waters we sailed to a small Island called January Lake, we are now on the ship about 1hr 50mins. Once at the Island we transferred to small motorized canoes, about 10 persons to a boat, we then had about 40 minutes very close to the water and the land looking at the flora and fauna, this was a great experience. Looking at the houses on stilts was fascinating. Did you know? When the river rises it can raise up to about 17 metres, in 2009 it raised 30mtrs and caused floods and havoc. As you leave the Whisper look for a board on your left side, it shows you the height of all the water over the years. Once back to the ferry boat we had an opportunity to browse the local stalls to purchase local handicrafts Etc, visa is widely accepted as was US Dollars. After purchasing the statutory Brazil Amazon t shirt for 10 bucks it was back on board for the 45 minute sail back to the Whisper. We arrived back at the Whisper at 13.15 so almost 5hrs, well worth the money. We headed straight for Le Terrazza for a buffet lunch; the world and his wife were in there! By the time we got served to roast duck was finished as was the sushi, two of my favourites, a shrug of the shoulders meant there was no more coming, bread and jam it was then! After “lunch” we went in search of Brazil nuts for Mrs. Fudge, bearing in mind the ship sails at 6pm! We found a local indoor market, turn left off the quayside walk 400yds, a building with a red roof, hooray Brazil nuts, 10 real a bag. Armed with our nuts we headed back to the ship, as we got within 200yds the heavens’ opened with a dirty little shower, thankfully one of the SS staff was on hand with an umbrella. A wet afternoon but who cares, it’s a lovely cruise with lovely people, what is not to like with SS. We sail away at 6pm from Manaus, thank you for a lovely two day stay, your hospitality was outstanding, you are very welcoming city with warm and friendly people, onwards and upwards to our next port of call, Parintins. Once again an evening in the le Terrazza restaurant with a very nice couple we have met from Preston, true Northerners not like Southern softies (LOL) Day 13 Sunday We had a nice surprise when we left the restaurant last evening, the crew had decked out the stairwells with Christmas decorations and garlands, and it begins to put you in the festive mood. The small village of Parintins lies on Tupinambarana Island, which is part of a large river archipelago in the mid Amazon, 250 miles East of Manaus. In existence for two centuries, Parintins is rich in Indian culture that is represented in the celebrated annual Boi- Bumber festival. It has a population of 100,000 so it can't be that small! It is a ritual of magic, mystery, passion and faith that has been held here for over 80yrs, inspired by local legends. A stadium Bumbodromo was built in 1988 to accommodate the over 40,000 spectators that come and take part in the festival each year. Silversea has arranged an exclusive performance, enacting the show with all the exuberance and vibrancy normally displayed in the Parintins festival, unfortunately the power went out after 20minutes and that was that, end of the show. We docked at 11am, its tender transport should you wish to leave the ship, there is an excursion but we are doing a self exploration again today. A few of us have bandied together to hire a small boat to explore. Well the idea of the small boat never transpired! We could not find one boat owner to take us anywhere. Not a lost cause however, we took the 5 minute tender ride to the town and were greeted by the local tourist guys. We were asked to go on a three wheel bicycle ride, two persons to each bike, it’s a 1 hour ride around town; we negotiated the cost from 10US Dollars per person to 10 for two. What a great idea this was, 7 of us went in a group, you visit 4 places of interest. First a church (closed) secondly a huge new stadium which holds a bull fighting festival, then onto a coral built in 1988 it’s a rehearsal for the main stadium which is sponsored by Coca Cola. What is strange that the stadium is Blue, the only place in the world where the cola signs are in Blue, Red is not allowed in there? The whole hour was a real hoot, especially in a group; the town was literally a ghost town even though it was a Sunday. Back on board for lunch around the pool deck, back to lovely sunny days, 102 degrees in the hot sun, we sail at 17.30 for our next port of call. At last! Another pleasant evening “in suite” dining experience, SS finally acknowledged you can order the same day and still present a very decent meal, we decided the dress code was casual, in fact very casual. Day 14 Monday We have our last land trip today, a place called Alta do Chao. This is a very brief stop, we don’t dock until 08.00hrs and we sail by 12.30pm. Already the cruise is winding down; we are beginning to receive our disembarkation notices and other paperwork to ensure we have a comfortable finish to our holiday. This village enjoys a lovely location amid lush vegetation above the Tapajos River. The small settlement consists of rustic native cottages dotting the fringe of a tropical forest. Thanks to its beautiful sandy beach and the rivers amazingly clear water it has become a popular local weekend resort. During our call we take the tender ashore and enjoy a refreshing swim or explore the village. The village has a good selection of indigenous art and crafts, many of the items are from the now closed museum, local souvenirs can be purchased and the village can be explored on your own. For sun worshipers, what a fun morning that was! Arrived on shore bright and early to a wonderful white sandy beach as described by SS. There is a beach to your right as you leave the tender, but we were directed to an even nicer beach. Go on the walkway to the top, turn immediately left, go 200mtrs to an unspoiled beach with shallow fresh water to swim. Don’t forget to take a bottle of your favourite tipple with you, we had a nice bottle of Prosecco, another couple took a bottle of Rose. We were joined on the beach by the Master of the ship Luigi, we had yet another photo opportunity, and I asked the captain, “Why can’t we stay until 4pm? As quick as a flash, he replied “what time is your flight”? Our last day ashore was very pleasant indeed relaxing under the sun. Clean environment with friendly locals, dollars are once again accepted if you buy late souvenirs or nick knacks. For those seasoned SS cruisers you may like to know that SS will not be hosting a pool deck BBQ. Of all the SS cruises we have been on SS do not operate one on the Brazil cruise. The official line is the hot climate, the bugs, the inclement weather, Etc Etc. For us it is a disappointment, one of the highlights of the cruise in my humble opinion, oh well there are other options. Another grill night tonight with four newly formed friends, the rib eye steaks are very nice as is the Billy Billy Red wine; it’s a tough life on SS. We looked at the temperature for the UK, 4/5 degrees, freezing cold; thank heavens we return to Cyprus, not as hot as here but very pleasant. Our 5 cats will be so pleased to see our suitcases, and we hope us of course? With our cruise almost at an end, with all the land excursions over, it will be difficult to write anything you seasoned cruisers don't already know. I have mentioned most of life on board and the Whisper in particular. Please feel free to fire off any questions you have about the cruise or the Whisper, I will try my best to answer them. This blog is dedicated to the most a wonderful lady Judy Abbott, who we had the pleasure to meet on the Silver Cloud in 2011, one of Silverseas most memorable Cruise directors. Day 15 Tuesday Thank you all for your kind comments, I also enjoy reading Cruise Critic, I have gleaned some valuable information from other travellers. The Captain is racing along to meet our deadline in Barbados; today’s highlight is a British Pub lunch in the restaurant after pool volleyball at 11am. The guy making the sandals is doing a roaring trade; thankfully Mrs. Fudge is not tempted! Well, the highlight of the cruise: A sing along at the British Pub event, soggy fish and chips, limp Steak and Ale pie washed down with Newcastle Brown Ale (and another insane) The voices sang good old traditional songs, Summer Holiday, my old mans a dustman, get me to the church on time, pack up you troubles in your old kit bag. I can hear you all tapping your feet already and humming the songs. Are we having fun, or are we having fun??? We were joined by a lovely couple from Sweden who were totally perplexed by the whole event, but they did join in, good for them. Nothing to tempt us for the main restaurant menu this evening so it’s a Pizza in our suite with friends. Day 16 Wednesday Oh my god, almost the end of the cruise: Did you know? The Amazon is 18 miles wide at its widest point wherever that is? Allegedly, we have consumed 25% more Red wine than on any other Amazon cruise, boy the Brits can drink can’t they! According to the Cruise director SS will not be holding any BBQ nights on any of the cruise ships because the food is outside and needs refrigerators Etc. Our last formal evening this evening, an invitation to sit with the International Hostess, time to put on our best finery. A fun afternoon around the pool deck with even more pool volley ball, how much excitement can we have??? The Captain has indicated a pretty large swell this evening during dinner should be fun! As usual the Masters fair well get together in the show lounge with most of the staff and crew, music from Andrea Bocelli singing “time to say goodbye” there won’t be a dry eye on the ship. Last day of fun tomorrow and then packing!! All good things must come to an end. Day 17 Thursday That’s it folks, all over bar the shouting. We have met some wonderful people, made some new friends, seen some fabulous places and would without a doubt recommend this cruise to anyone. We have just completed the statutory SS questionnaire, most of our feedback was very positive indeed, one or two minor hiccups which you would expect on any holiday/cruise experience. Overall we do love SS, are we tempted to “jump ship” to another cruise line? We are very tempted, only to compare prices/quality Etc. Happy cruising to those who have booked a future cruise, you never know we may cross each other’s paths? I am sorely tempted to book a future cruise while on board; we have of course booked the “floating deposit” for a future cruise. The cases are almost packed; we vacate the suite by 08.00hrs, slung off the ship by 10.00hrs, off to the Hilton Hotel to spend the day before our Virgin Airlines flight at 18.30hrs. Of course we may be there earlier to take advantage of the business class lounge. Good bye and bon voyage... Your good friends Mr. and Mrs. Fudge.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2013
Our arrival at Barbados was handled smoothly an the tours and port stops in Grenada and Trinidad were very good. We thought the ship was looking its age and not suprised is was due a refit.The food quality was average but service very ... Read More
Our arrival at Barbados was handled smoothly an the tours and port stops in Grenada and Trinidad were very good. We thought the ship was looking its age and not suprised is was due a refit.The food quality was average but service very good. The trouble started when we headed for South America. We were late arriving in Surinam due to Tides. I would have thought the tides would have been known in advance. The next stop was cancelled because of rough sea (I think mainly late arrival). In Belem we moored in the middle of the river using local boats as tenders. Our trip to shore was hampered by sitting on plastic patio chairs which moved about on deck due to the swell, two persons fell off on the return journey. An excursion to the rain forest for three and a half hours ended up taking over seven hours due to late leaving, towing in a broken down tour boat and the captain of the tender refusing to tie up to the ship as his boat had been damaged earlier. The next tour also was delayed. At a stop at a native village we were told we could take pictures of the children with their pets, this turned out to be baby animals from the jungle,(peccaries, sloths, cayman, lizards etc. So much for conservation, Saga should not encourage this. The flight back to UK was delayed with little information why. On complaining to Saga we had a very dismissive letter saying it was all beyond their control. My second letter to them was not answered. My first and last Saga cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
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: December 2011
My husband and I have cruised 25 weeks primarily on windjammer tall sailing ships. We love the adventure and ability to get to know the other passengers and crew that a tall ship allows. We also have enjoyed cruises on small OAT ships and ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised 25 weeks primarily on windjammer tall sailing ships. We love the adventure and ability to get to know the other passengers and crew that a tall ship allows. We also have enjoyed cruises on small OAT ships and Grand Circle river boats. We started hearing about Azamara and all reports we read were positive so we decided to give try it thinking that it was a onetime thing as the ship that large would be too big for our taste. Boy, were we ever wrong -- we enjoyed every aspect of our Azamara Journey cruise. We purchased a package that had us flying into Barbados on the day of embarkation. All travel went smoothly including the transfer to the ship. Embarkation was a breeze. The only thing that was a bit disappointing in the whole 14 days was that we were not escorted to our cabin, or even to the elevator. But we had no trouble finding our way. Our veranda cabin was small but very comfortable with a love seat, desk and 2 chairs & a small table on the veranda. The bathroom was tight but had adequate shelf space for us to put all our toiletries. The ship can have close to 700 passengers but on this trip there were only 167 passengers on the 1st part of the trip. Journey was large enough to have all the amenities such as fine dining, pool, theatre, casino, piano bar that anyone could want yet it still had a small ship feel. The food and service in all of the restaurants was spectacular and we enjoyed the included boutique wines. We ate in both Prime C and Aqualina and had wonderful meals but honestly the food was just as good in the main Discoveries restaurant. There is a dress code mostly enforced in Discoveries and definitely enforced in Prime C and Aqualina. Most days we ate breakfast and lunch in the more casual Windows Cafe and the food was very good there also, just not much change day to day in the options. We had 7 sea days and had been concerned that we would get bored. Not a problem! We enjoyed relaxing by the pool, exercising in the fitness center or walking on the top deck jogging path. We played trivia and even bingo and had lots of fun doing both. And we enjoyed sitting on our veranda and reading. One day I went to the spa for a scalp massage that was wonderful. It is impossible to say enough good things about the staff and service. Everyone was friendly, helpful and professional. I asked our cabin steward on the 2nd day if I could have our ice refreshed around 3 in the afternoon and each day after that promptly at 3pm we had fresh ice. Our cabin was spotless. The service in all of the restaurants was exceptional. The activities staff all knew us and called us by name by the middle of the trip. On a couple of occasions the captain asked me if I was enjoying the trip. The shore excursions staff was also extremely helpful and friendly. We attended the shows every night. Some were the ship entertainers and others were guest entertainers including a comic, a magician and a pianist. It wasn't Broadway but it was fun and definitely entertaining. The ship's band was very good and on several occasions we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink in Looking Glass while listening to them. In Belem we did a 4 hour river trip in the Amazon delta that included a walk in the rain forest. The river part of the excursion was interesting seeing the houses on stilts but the rain forest was a little disappointing in spite of the excellent naturalist that lead our group. We never got far enough away to be out of range of a radio that was playing loudly in a small village. Still, I'm glad we did this tour. In Fortaleza we walked around on our own from the shuttle drop off point. It was a shopping day and so the market area where we were was very crowed and dirty. It was difficult to get across the street and the cathedral we wanted to visit was closed. It was not especially enjoyable. Friends who did the city tour I think had a more interesting day. We did the dune buggy tour in Natal. It was ridiculously expensive but it was so much fun that it was one of the highlights of our trip. The giant sand dunes go for miles. We stopped along the way to do a zip line into a lake and ended up swimming at the beach. I recommend the trip but do think the cost at $269 is way too high. In Recife we did a city tour that was very enjoyable. We walked around on our own in Salvador de Bahia. From where the ship was docked it was eazy to get to the elevator to the Upper City. As it was a rainy day our walk was brief. If you do this on your own know that you must have Brazilian money to use the elevator. Buzios is a small very upscale seaside town. It was fun to just walk along the sea wall and people watch. Be prepared to spend lots of money if you do buy anything in Buzios. We stopped at a seaside restaurant and had 1 glass of wine, 1 beer and an appetizer and it was $60. Still, it was such a beautiful setting I'm glad we did it. We were tendered in Burzios and there were big swells and some difficulty getting the tenders to & from the shore. In Rio do Janeiro we joined 3 other people for a private tour that started with pick up at the port at 9am and had drop off at the airport at 7pm for our 10pm flight to Miami. It was a perfect way to end the trip. We disembarked in Rio de Janeiro and it was very busy as there were several large ships also disembarking at the same time. In spite of that it was a very easy process because there was a crew member to assist at every step of the way including guiding us around congestion points and lines we did not have to go through. It was an amazingly easy and organized disembarkation. Everything about our trip was exceptional but the real star is the crew. Each and every crew member from the captain to our cabins stewards were friendly, engaging and honestly seemed to want to do whatever they could to help us have a wonderful vacation. We are already planning our next Azamara cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2011
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

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