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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:

What does my all-inclusive cruise price include?

Aqua Expeditions cruise rates include all meals, soft drinks, selected Premium wine, sparkling wine and craft beer with meals, Design Suite accommodations, excursions with Aqua Expeditions 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.  Breakfast and lunch will be available on your last day and are included in the rate. Bikes and Kayaks are also included on your Amazon adventure. One great advantage of our “all inclusive” rates is that you will know in advance exactly how much your Aqua Expeditions vacation will cost. Your only extra expenses will be airfare, visas, drinks, boutique purchases,  spa services and gratuities.

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. 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 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.

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 cruise documents?

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

Should I buy travel insurance?

Travelers on the Aria Amazon 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. 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.

How old do you have to be to cruise with Aqua Expeditions ?

The minimum age to travel with Aqua Expeditions is seven. Passengers must be at least 18 years of age to travel without their parents or guardians. If any occupant in the cabin is under 18, then a passenger at least 25 years old must be booked in the cabin with them. The only exception is that children under age 18 may be allowed to have their own cabin if they are in a connected suite shared by their parents or guardians.

Do you welcome families with children?

Yes, we welcome families with children, as long as they are age seven or older. Four of our suites per cruise are interconnected to cater for families. An accommodation for one child or additional adult is available. Our naturalist guides are very friendly with kids and all of our staff will provide the necessary care for your family.

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

No, all of our departures are guaranteed. Please review our current list of available departures for our 3,4 and 7-night cruises.

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 our Amazon Cruises. Please bring comfortable walking shoes, lightweight long pants and long sleeved shirts for our excursions, as well as a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, extra socks, mosquito repellant with DEET, and of course, your camera, with charger and extra batteries. You may wish to include some small 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. We also provide waterproof ponchos with hoods to protect against rain. There will be hairdryers available in every suite.

How much luggage may 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. LAN for example, allows 23 kilos (50 pounds) of checked luggage and 8 kilos (17 pounds) of carry-on baggage in Economy Class.

Aqua Expeditions porters are available at both the airport and pier. They will make sure that your bags arrive at the embarkation point. As soon as you have identified your luggage, our 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:] 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.

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

A shore excursion can be anything from exploring remote tributaries by skiff, 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 exertion, but most travelers who are reasonably fit will have no trouble participating in every excursion.

Passengers will be divided into three groups of eight people for shore excursions, with each group led by an Aqua Expeditions trained naturalist guide. Guides will rotate among the groups, so that each passenger can benefit from their specialized knowledge. Our guides speak fluent English, and one speaks French and another speaks German. 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 6 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 speedboats are equipped with 4 stroke low-emission engines and are in constant radio communication with the main vessel. Each boat has capacity for eight passengers, plus guide and launch pilot.

Excursions last two to three hours, allowing plenty of time to explore, learn about and photograph the abundant wildlife. Land excursions involve disembarking on dry riverbank, however for your safety, your guide and skiff driver will always be available to 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. Getting in and out of the skiffs occasionally requires some physical effort. Our naturalist guides are always here to help you. 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.

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. We do however actively encourage our guests to consider pre- and post-cruise travel around Peru. Our Aqua Expeditions team will be happy to share our recommendations for these independent explorations.

Are Aria Amazon cabins assigned in advance?

A Design Suite will be assigned to you when we confirm your reservation. All suites are described and numbered in our Deck Plan [hyperlink]. You may request a specific cabin depending on your preference and we will assign it if available. In order to ensure the optimum safety and comfort of all our passengers, we allow a maximum of three people in each suite.

Do all suites include an Amazon River view?

Yes, all suites have outward-facing panoramic windows, giving every cabin a river view. If you choose to leave the blackout curtains pulled back, the dawn light will awaken you in the mornings, as Amazonia life and wildlife begins anew.

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

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

Do you have cell, satellite or internet connectivity on board?

Internet is not available on the Aria Amazon, though guests traveling with Blackberry, iPhone and other mobile roaming devices report connectivity in more developed areas along our journey.

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.

Do you have laundry services on board?

There is no laundry service.

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.

What health and safety precautions are taken on board the Aria Amazon?

No particular vaccines are required for Peru, but some are strongly advised, such as anti-malaria medication and yellow fever shots for travel to the Amazon Basin. We suggest that you consult your physician before your departure regarding travel health and preventative measures, and check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website for the latest information. If you plan to extend your Peru journey to Cusco and Machu Picchu, ask your doctor about medication for altitude sickness.

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 crewmember’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.

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 or MasterCard.

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. It is allowed only in the Outdoor Lounge and on the Observation Deck. If you want to smoke here, 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.

What if I have special dietary needs?

If you have special dietary requests, we strongly encourage you 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 product’s 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 d’ 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.

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

Please contact the Cruise Director.

What is Peru’s time zone?

The time in Peru is one hour behind Eastern Standard Time in the United States.

What currency is used in Peru?

The Nuevo Sol (New Sol) is the official currency of Peru. One dollar equals about 2.6 New Soles.

How do I protect myself against mosquitoes in the rainforest?

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

• 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.