If a trip to the Amazon is on your bucket list, then a great way to experience the jungle atmosphere is to pair it with a voyage on the spectacular Sea Dream II. The company classifies the Sea Dream as “yachting, not cruising” and I was convinced after only a few days. Many of the cruise lines claim to do Amazon cruises but they only sail in as far as Manaus, Brazil but this was where the journey actually started heading towards Peru. There were just under 90 passengers onboard with 93 crew members so you can imagine how well we were taken care of.
The service level was the best I’ve ever experienced on a ship and the display of food would rival any five star restaurant. Chef Tomaz was very helpful in providing alternate dining options for my non-dairy diet and went above and beyond, creating a special soup for me everyday (they also offered many gluten free options too) He could be seen in the morning overseeing breakfast orders and was always very approachable. There was a small buffet area with fruits/cheese/desserts that we were welcomed to, but a staff member was always waiting nearby to carry your plate back to your table.
One of the great features of this ship (and the identical Sea Dream I) is their marina which is accessible from the stern. They would deploy the zodiacs which were stored at the bow and load us in for our daily adventures. Swimming in the Amazon – why yes you can! Not in the muddy waters but in the black water tributaries that were found everywhere as we motored along. One day we were able to get into the water with the pink dolphins (who are grey when they are born but turn pink as they age) and they were just as curious about us as we were thrilled to see them.
We visited a few villages along the way and met the locals who looked happy and healthy even though they were living in such remote places only accessible by boats. Their whole lives are based around the river and it was fascinating to see how they lived. They have to build their homes on stilts due to the rising water levels. We were invited into the home of an elderly midwife who gave us an acai berry drink, lovingly mixed with sugar (and ants!), which we drank to show our gratitude.
A trip to Monkey Island had us all laughing like little children when the squirrel monkeys would dive from the trees onto us, landing on our heads or shoulders and jumping from one person to the other.
The zodiacs were also used to take us out on expeditions in the jungle and the four guides that we had along with us were so informative and passionate about the Amazonian area, made us appreciate all the different species we were able to see.
During the day, the guides were able to spot birds, reptiles and animals embedded in the foliage that had us straining our eyes to focus on. I was thankful for a new camera purchase that had a great zoom lens to capture many pictures including the one of a sloth hanging out in the trees. One day we paddled through the reeds to completely immerse ourselves with surrounding vines and were treated to sounds like being at a symphony with the instruments consisting of birds chirping, monkeys squealing and frogs croaking – it was breathtaking.
We were lucky on the night expeditions as the full moon illuminated the zodiacs through the darkness where flashlights would light up the eerie eyeballs of the caimans in the water. The guides were fearless of the river and many times would thrust their hand into it and pull up a snake, frog and even a small caiman for us to photograph.
As we neared the end of our voyage, an unforgettable day was celebrated as we had breakfast in Brazil, lunch in Columbia and dinner in Peru. Disembarking in Inquitos, we were very sad to say goodbye to the hardworking staff on the Sea Dream II plus the new friends that we shared many amazing adventures with.