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FAQ’s: Amazon River Cruises

Aqua Expeditions welcomes you to contact us to discuss your questions regarding a luxury cruise aboard the Aria Amazon. You may also find thorough answers and information regarding your concerns here:

 

 

Why should I book my cruise with Aqua Expeditions?

Aqua Expeditions pioneered the concept of ultra-luxurious small ship cruises on the Peruvian stretch of the Amazon River, always with the intention to take this uniquely intimate “eye level cruising” experience to other great rivers of the world.  Our first ship, the Aqua Amazon immediately began to sell out, as word spread about the possibility to enjoy supremely luxurious accommodations and fine dining while exploring some of the most remote, wildlife rich areas of the Amazon River. Beyond building this stylish and safe cruising vessel, founder Francesco Galli Zugaro identified local guides who knew every animal, bird and tree of the Amazon jungle—most had grown up there. These Aqua Expeditions guides provide life changing travel and educational experiences for our guests. His success was so great that almost immediately he began construction on a second boat, the Aria Amazon, which also sails the Amazon. Demand from satisfied passengers who wanted the same luxury in other river destinations led to the creation of the Aqua Mekong which sails between Cambodia and Vietnam.

What does my all-inclusive Amazon River Cruise price include?

Our rates include all meals, non-alcoholic drinks, selected wines and beer, design suite accommodations, excursions with knowledgeable naturalist guides, the Pacaya Samiria Reserve entrance fee, onboard lectures, and evening entertainment. We will provide transportation from/to the airport if you arrive and depart on our recommended flights. One great advantage is that you will know in advance exactly how much your vacation will cost. Your only extra expenses will be airfare, cocktails, boutique purchases, massages service and gratuities.

Will I be comfortable aboard the Aria Amazon?

Yes. The Aria Amazon was completely refreshed with new upgrades from bed linens to state-of-the-art lighting. The 45 meter (147 foot) long Aria was designed by the innovative Peruvian architect Jordi Puig. Extremely generous dining and lounging areas include an outdoor river facing Jacuzzi. Floor to ceiling windows face the Amazon River in the ship’s 16 Design Suites, each measuring 23 square meters (250 square feet). Four suites can interconnect for families. Upgrades to the spa include new decor for enhanced relaxation. This striking black hulled ship accommodates a maximum of 32 guests plus 27 crew including a paramedic and four English-speaking naturalist guides. Aqua Expeditions highly experienced river pilots and the most rigorous cruise ship standards ensure smooth travel and safety on the waters of the Peruvian Amazon.

Is it better to book the Aria Amazon early or can I book on short notice?

One defining advantage of the Aria Amazon is its small capacity compared with other river cruises or a river lodge. Thus we recommend our guests book early, especially if your desired travel dates are not flexible. People typically book their Aqua Expeditions Amazon River Cruise at least 10 to 18 months in advance, however we will always do our best to accommodate your desired cruise dates.

When will I receive my River Cruise confirmation documents?

You will receive an email confirmation 90 days prior to the start date of your cruise. Your travel confirmation and cruise ticket will be sent to you following your final payment. We ask that you read these terms and conditions prior to arrival.

Do you offer honeymoon packages?

We believe that sailing the Amazon offers an atmosphere that’s just right for romance. Imagine enjoying a gourmet dinner for two after a day in the jungle or sharing a bottle of champagne while watching the sun set over the world’s mightiest river, or waking up in your California king-sized bed to see the colors of the jungle through your panoramic window, or snapping photos of each other in the midst of the rainforest. Additionally, we offer special amenities for honeymooners. For more information, please contact our reservations team at reservations@aquaexpeditions.com.

Do you accept group bookings? Are charters available? What About Special rates and discounts?

Yes, we accept both group bookings and charters. Please request our charter terms and conditions and rates for further information. There are no other special rates such as senior citizens, family, or late-booking discounts.

Should I buy travel insurance? Is it worth it?

Travelers are strongly advised to purchase trip cancellation insurance, which will reimburse the cost of air tickets and other non-refundable trip payments. International medical, baggage loss, and delay insurance are also recommended. Unfortunately, if you miss the vessel because of a weather-related flight cancellation, we will not reimburse the cost of the reservation, since flight cancellations are beyond our control and we have to comply with our schedules. If the Aria Amazon is not able to sail (i.e. due to force majeure or mechanical failure), Aqua Expeditions reserves the right to substitute another vessel. If the travelers do not take this option, Aqua Expeditions reserves the right to cancel the trip upon a refund pro rata per cruise night not used or, as an alternative, will offer credit toward a future cruise on the Aria Amazon.

How old do you have to be to cruise on the Aria Amazon?

1. How old do you have to be to travel without a guardian? Passengers must be at least 21 years of age to travel without their parents or guardians. If any occupant in the cabin is under 21, then a passenger at least 25 years old must be booked in the cabin with them. The only exception is that children under age 21 may be allowed to have their own cabin if they are in a connected suite shared by their parents or guardians. 2. What’s the minimum age to travel on the Aria Amazon? The minimum age is seven.

Do you welcome families with children?

Yes, we welcome families with children, as long as they are seven or over. Four of our suites are interconnected to cater to families. And accommodation for a child or an additional adult is available. Kindly note that all our activities and excursions (piranha fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, jungle walk, skiff excursion, village visit, local market visit, manatee rescue center visit and cooking lesson), except biking, are recommended for children over seven, as long as they are always supervised by a parent or a designated adult. Biking is not recommended for children. If children have the height requirements to ride adult bicycles, exceptions can be made, but under strict supervision of a parent or a designated adult.

Do you need a minimum of passengers to guarantee my departure date?

No, all of our departures are guaranteed. You can find the chart of fixed departures on our website under the Cruise Dates and Rates section.

Do I need any shots before traveling to the Amazon?

Malaria medication and yellow fever shots are not required for travelers coming into the region, however they are recommended. Please consult your physician.

What should I pack?

Life is casual aboard the Aria Amazon. Bring comfortable walking shoes, light-weight long pants and long-sleeved tops for excursions, a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, extra socks, mosquito repellant with DEET, and of course, your camera, with charger and extra batteries. Don’t forget to include some items that you can give away to the locals (t-shirts, pens and paper are especially prized). During meals in the dining room we ask our guests to wear casual clothing and shoes. We provide rubber boots for wetland excursions and recommend taking comfortable walking shoes. We also provide waterproof ponchos with hoods to protect against rain. There will be hairdryers available in every suite. Our vessel has 220-volt outlets in the staterooms so you should be able to use your shaver with a converter if necessary.

How much luggage can I bring? Are there porters available at the airport and the pier?

We allow you to bring as much luggage as you like, but suggest the use of soft suitcases/bags for easy storage. How much you bring, however, may be determined by the airlines, which have limits on both checked and carry-on baggage. LATAM for example, allows 20 kilos (44 pounds) of checked luggage and 8 kilos (18 pounds) of carry-on baggage. Porters are available at both the airport and pier. They will make sure that your bags arrive at the Aria Amazon embarkation point. As soon as you have identified your luggage, porters will take your suitcases to your suite.

Should I bring gifts to give away to the locals?

Aqua Expeditions guests enjoy passing out small gifts from home when we visit local villages. We strongly advise sharing t-shirts, pens and paper instead of cash or candy. Aqua Expeditions also participates with Pack for a Purpose [HYPERLINK: http://www.packforapurpose.org/docs/countries/peru/aqua-expeditions.shtml] in collecting small medical items from overseas of particular use to the Amazon villages we visit.

For our guests who prefer to pack light, Aqua Expeditions created three Donation Kits: hygiene, school supplies and fishing. Each contains items of the greatest use and value to our Amazonia neighbors. These kits are available for purchase in the Aria Amazon boutique. By purchasing these for distribution in the villages we visit, our guests help in meaningful, effective ways.

Which itinerary do you think is the best and why?

We offer three, four and seven-night itineraries. The three and seven-night itineraries start sailing every Friday and the four-night itinerary every Monday. Which you choose will really depend on how much time you have, and how long you want to spend exploring the Amazon region. That said, we recommend the seven-night itinerary, since you will experience our complete Amazon journey. It will take you on the Amazon itself, as well as on two powerful tributaries: The Marañon and the Ucayali, and to hidden black water lakes. The 3-night high water season itinerary will take you from Iquitos along the Amazon River to Nauta, followed by the Marañon River and estuaries. The 4-night high and low water season itinerary also starts in Iquitos, but we will take you by land transportation to Nauta where you will board our vessel, and then you will explore the Ucayali River and the Amazon River and tributaries. The 7-night journey is the sum of the 3- and 4-night itineraries. If you wish to extend your time in Peru, we will be happy to recommend our preferred tour operators to arrange your pre-or post-cruise land packages at the time you book with us.

What is a shore excursion? How physically challenging are they?

A shore excursion can be anything from exploring remote tributaries to spotting monkeys and birds along a jungle trail, from visiting a local village to fishing on one of Amazonia’s beautiful lakes. They vary in level of difficulty, but most travelers who are reasonably fit will have no trouble participating in every excursion.

Passengers will be divided into three groups of eight to 10 people for shore excursions, with each group led by a trained and knowledgeable naturalist guide. Guides will rotate among the groups, so that each passenger can benefit from their specialized knowledge. Our guides speak fluent English.

We recommend that groups requiring any other language bring a translator, if necessary. Each evening, your guides will brief you on what to expect on the next day’s excursions. Typically, we will navigate the Amazon River or one of its tributaries at night, arriving in a new location, for a new adventure, in the early morning. Passengers opting to go on the early morning excursions will get a wakeup call at approximately 5 a.m.

The ARIA AMAZON is equipped with four auxiliary aluminum skiffs that will take passengers along the waterways or ferry them to the landing point for onshore excursions. These comfortable speed boats are equipped with 4 stroke low-emission engines and constant radio communication with the main vessel. Each boat has capacity for eight-10 passengers, plus guide and launch pilot. Excursions last three to four hours, allowing plenty of time to explore, listen to your guide’s explanation, and photograph the abundant wildlife. While most excursions involve “dry” landings, some require “wet” landings, where you will have to step into water that may reach as high as your knees and then wade to shore.

Your guide and skiff driver will assist you. When the excursions are in the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, we follow marked trails, walking at a leisurely pace for up to one hour. Guests should be in good physical health in order to be able to make the most of their Amazon cruise. The daily nature excursions may include walking on irregular terrain and getting in and out of the skiffs occasionally requires some physical effort. We provide rubber boots for wetland excursions and recommend taking comfortable walking shoes for walking on the dry paths. We also provide waterproof ponchos with hoods to protect against rain.

Is there any guide who speaks another foreign language on the Aria Amazon Cruise?

You can request guides speaking German, French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish. If you wish to request a specific language guide for your cruise, please let us know no less than 30 days prior departure. Please note all non-English-speaking guides are subject to availability and for an additional fee, except for Spanish-speaking guides.

Instead of going on an organized shore excursion, can we go off on our own?

For safety reasons, Aria Amazon passengers are required to be with one of our naturalist guides whenever they are on land during our cruise.

Will I get bored? Feel confined? What if I don’t want to go on an excursion?

No. Being in the Amazon gives you a feeling of being completely transported to a new world. Every day will be packed with discoveries as you explore remote places, spot unusual wildlife, and meet with local native people. The Aria Amazon is like a luxurious floating boutique hotel, and is large enough, with ample public areas, that you will never feel confined. If there are days when you choose not to go onshore for an exciting jungle expedition, you can stay onboard the Aria Amazon. Lie back in a lounge chair, breathe in the Amazon air, soak up the sun, read a good book, watch the ever-changing view, and simply experience total relaxation in the heart of the Amazon jungle.

What if I don’t want to take an excursion or participate in activities?

This would probably not be the case, because we are sure that you will want to take advantage of all excursions to explore everything that this thrilling unexplored part of the world has to offer. That said, you are free to skip any excursions that you want. You are welcome to stay aboard the vessel and rest, visit the boutique and purchase some souvenirs, or just relax at the outdoor lounge or observation deck.

Are suites assigned in advance?

A suite will be assigned to you when we confirm your reservation. All suites are described and numbered in our Deck Plan document. You may request a specific suite depending on your preference and we will assign it if available.

How many people can I get into my suite?

In order to ensure the optimum safety and comfort of all our passengers, we allow a maximum of three people in three suites.

Are all suites river view?

Yes, all suites have outward-facing panoramic windows, giving every cabin a river view. The dawn light will awaken you in the mornings, and you can see what the weather is like without leaving your suite.

Is there any difference between the lower and upper-deck suites?

Dimensions and all features are exactly the same for both decks.

What services are available onboard?

If you need to contact your home or office for any emergency, the Aria Amazon is equipped with a satellite phone. The cost of your call can be paid directly on board. We will inform you, prior to calling, of the current price of an international call. We do not have Internet connections onboard the vessel. For cellular phone contact you may need a special telephone that can operate on a foreign signal. Please check with your carrier. However, keep in mind that most areas outside Iquitos are so remote that you will be unable to get a signal. There is no laundry service. We have a paramedic on board at all times plus first-aid trained staff can handle minor scrapes, bites or sprains. There are no handicapped facilities.

What type of medical capabilities do you have on board?

We have a paramedic on board at all times plus our first-aid trained staff can handle minor scrapes, bites or sprains. There are no handicapped facilities.

Do you have safety equipment on board?

Once all the passengers have boarded, the crew will conduct a mandatory safety drill. Please be sure to check exactly where the life vests are located in your cabin. Memorize your way to the deck in case an emergency should arise. Consult your Cruise Director or Guide regarding any questions you may have. Life vests are provided for use while onboard the skiffs and you are required to wear them. Always hold the guide or crew member’s hand while embarking or disembarking, since the boat ladder and deck may be wet and slippery. It is important for us to verify that all our passengers are on board prior to departure. There is a check list in the reception area that you must sign upon returning from every visit.

What precautions should I take to prevent crime while traveling in Peru?

Peru is well known for its warm, hospitable people. However, when traveling in large cities, visitors should be cautious about pickpockets and street crime, as they would be anywhere in the world. Keep your belongings close (don’t keep valuables in a backpack) and avoid wearing flashy or expensive jewelry.

Will I have access to a safe deposit box?

Yes. All cabins have safe deposit boxes with instructions for their use.

Can we drink the water aboard the Aria Amazon?

When you board the Aria Amazon, you will be supplied with a complimentary Aqua Expeditions water bottle that is yours to keep. Water refill stations are available throughout the vessels. We recommend that you do not drink the water from the faucet while on board.

Is motion sickness ever a problem?

Not really. On the surface, the Amazon main river looks more like open sea, with some waves, however we sail on some of the calmest waters in the world. In addition, our crew continually receives the most accurate weather information and navigates accordingly, which decreases the incidence of motion sickness for our guests. While navigating by skiff deeper into the flooded forest, the smaller tributaries take you to calm, mirrored water.

How do I pay for purchases on board? Do you accept cash?

You will be asked to sign for every cocktail and premium wine at the time you order it. Please keep track of your consumption of alcoholic beverages in order to avoid any confusion at the end of the cruise. You can pay your bar bill, as well as for any purchases in the boutique, either in U.S. dollars or with Visa, American Express, MasterCard or JCB.

What about tipping?

We are often asked what gratuity is appropriate for guides and crew, and our response is that the quality of service should determine the amount of any tip. From experience, we recommend an amount in the range of US $20 – $30 per passenger per day for the crew (to be divided among all the crew members) and between US $7 – $10 per passenger per day for the guides.

The total suggested tip for Aria Amazon staff on your trip would therefore be somewhere between US $81.00 – US $120.00 per passenger in total for those on a 3 night trip or US $108.00 – US $ 160.00 per passenger those on a 4 night trip. Envelopes are provided for your convenience.

Please note that these amounts are suggested levels of gratuities and that this is entirely at the discretion of our guests aboard the Aria Amazon.

Are there smoking areas?

Smoking is forbidden inside the Aria Amazon including e-cigarettes. It is allowed only in the Outdoor Lounge and on the Observation Deck. If you want to smoke in the outside lounge, please ask the bartender for an ashtray. Do not throw your cigarette stubs or ash into the Amazon River or its tributaries.

What’s the drinking age on the Aria Amazon?

You must be at least 18 years old to legally consume beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages in Peru and on the Aria Amazon.

Is the cuisine as good as I’ve been told? Can I get a special diet?

Yes, the food is world class. Travelers aboard the Aria Amazon will enjoy a menu of fresh, delicious Peruvian fare (with a bit of continental influence), whether served on board or out on an adventure. Dinner each evening promises to be a culinary feast for the senses, paired with select South American wines. Noted Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Peru’s top ten chefs, has created our menus. If you have special dietary requests, you need to inform Aqua Expeditions at the time of booking, or at least by 30 days prior to embarkation. Every effort will be made to cater to special dietary needs, and to accommodate special requests, subject to a given products’ availability in Peru

What if I don’t like my tablemates? Is room service available?

This is rarely a problem. However, if you wish to move to another table, please speak with the Maitre or Cruise Director. They will make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions…discretely and politely. Room service is not available but will be provided in the event of passenger illness.

What meals will be served on the last day of the cruise?

Breakfast and a box lunch will be available on your last day and are included in the rate.

Who should I contact if I have a special request while on board?

Please contact the Cruise Director.

What is there to do in Iquitos?

You will spend very little time in Iquitos, since your entire journey will be onboard the Aria Amazon and onshore along the Amazon River and its tributaries. However, the remote city of Iquitos, accessible only by river or air, will not disappoint. This bustling town, complete with a house built by Gustave Eiffel, was once a rich center of the rubber industry. You will tour Iquitos before heading to the airport for your return flight to Lima.

What is Peru’s time zone?

The time in Peru is the same as Eastern Standard Time in the United States.

What currency is used in Peru?

The Sol is the official currency of Peru. One dollar equals about three Soles.

How do I protect myself against mosquitoes in the rainforest?

From our experience, we recommend these options for keeping the mosquitoes away:

• Clothing bonded with permethrin, an ingredient used by the military to treat combat fatigues; mosquito repellent clothing has been shown to last for up to 70 washings. Keep in mind that exposed skin can still get bitten and that treated clothing should be washed separately.

• DEET remains the most effective repellent on the market. Look for products with at least 30 per cent (10 per cent for children) of the active ingredient, such as Ultrathon lotion. DEET shouldn´t be used on irritated skin or under clothing.

• Other repellents recommended by the U.S. Centers of Diseases Control are Picadrin, the active ingredient in Cutter Advanced Sport spray.

• For non-chemical bug protection, cover up with long-sleeve shirts, long pants and netted hats.

Do you have insect repellent and sunscreen protection available?

We recommend that you bring your own. These products will also be available for sale in our onboard boutique.