Since there are many reviews on this cruise, I'll try to confine this review to the things that perhaps weren't covered as much. My rating is a 4 overall, which places it between the 5 rating "toberua" (which seems a little overenthuiastic to me) and the 3 star
"Traveland Adventure" (which seemed a little low).
Organization: The trip was very well organized. All of the arrangements were smooth and all the connections worked without glitches. A hint -- they do take Amex in addition to cash. You just have to ask. It was fun to take a smaller boat to meet the Manatee where the river was deeper. This will take about 2 hours.
Demographics: Most of the people on the trip were older couples. On our particular cruise, the passengers were from Moscow, England, Ukraine, Netherlands, Germany, US. This made the trip extremely interesting and enjoyable. There were no children (I think kids would be bored).
Ship: The ship is now 10 years old. It's time for an update, but it is in acceptable condition and this didn't interfere in any way with our enjoyment of the trip. The rooms are VERY small, as are the bathrooms. We were on the top floor and had no problem with getting hot water whenever we wanted it for the shower. The AC works fine and is a welcome relief after being outside all day. There is a small outside deck to sit and enjoy the scenery on the top floor, a air conditioned lounge with TV and Internet, and a dining room for meals. On our particular cruise, there were only about 11 people. This worked out very well and made getting on and off the ship fairly efficient. The ship holds a maximum of 30 people. It seems as though they don't get this many people most weeks. My take is that it wouldn't be as comfortable with a full ship as it is fairly small.
Food. My husband and I thought the food was good. I was surprised that they had the variety of fresh foods, especially the variety of fruits and vegetables prepared in intersesting ways. They were very accommodating with preparing an alternate selection if you don't eat a particular food. A really nice touch was the fresh juice and snack that was waiting for us every time we came back from the excursions.
Staff. This is an area where they excel. They are all extremely accommodating and a pleasure to be around. The guides were knowledgeable and well educated. I do agree with one of the reviewers that one of the guides at times seemed to be ready for a break, but that could be no more than it was the at the end of his work shift.
Excursions. There are typically two excursions per day. Most of them involve walking, and some involve walking up and down stairs. It is hot. It is humid.Fortunately, they offered alternatives based on the passengers level of fitness. However, there is a certain base level of fitness that is required, as there is only one way to get on and off the ship. A couple of people on our trip that were not as mobile really struggled at certain times. You will spend a lot of time sitting on the small excursion boats. By the end of the week, most folks were talking about their sore rear ends. In addition to the nature, you will see a typical house that belongs to a staff member's sister (this was interesting), a government school on the river (also interesting) and a "typical" indigenous village (which seemed fairly contrived). One thing not to be missed is the tall tower that takes you to the top of a tree in the forest. It is over 200 steps and worth the climb.
What you see: Don't expect to go on this trip and see a massive amount of wildlife. The area of the river that is on the cruise is mostly inhabited with the exception of the area that is near the Peru border. We saw a decent variety of birds, a good amount of parrots on the clay lick, some monkeys, and one caiman. What you will see is absolutely beautiful flora and fauna as you go off the main river into the tributaries.
Overall Impression We had a great time. We found that several people (including us) included a Galapagos trip while we were in the country. Manage your expectations (this is not a luxury cruise but the price was a third of what we paid for the Galapagos cruise) and you won't be disappointed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Although expedition cruising by its very nature is characterized as adventurous, the safety of our staff and passengers is of paramount importance to us. The Manatee Amazon Explorer is fully equipped and maintained in order to handle the most challenging conditions and circumstances, and is manned by experienced and conscientious expedition staff and crew. The canoes used for daily shore landings are rugged and versatile and are operated responsibly by experienced personnel. Onboard you will be fully briefed on all pertinent safety issues and concerns, as well as our environmental policy; passengers also receive appropriate and detailed briefings before each landing. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Manatee Amazon Explorer Hotel Yasuni National Park
- Manatee Amazon Explorer Ecuador/Yasuni National Park