This shore excursion review is limited to the stops made on the Amazon River and is designed to provide feedback to anyone taking a similar cruise. Go to www.royalolympiccruises.com to review the actual tour descriptions and prices.
On our ROC Voyager Holiday Amazon Cruise of December 22, 2002 to January 6, 2003 there were three stops on the Amazon River. We were late at each stop and all the tours were rushed and in some cases the people didn’t get to see everything on the scheduled tour. A woman had a medical condition which required us to stop at Santarem to let her off before continuing on to the first stop. Once late, the pilots would not allow the ship to go any faster to make up time due to problems caused by the ship’s wake...
The first stop at Boca Da Valeria didn’t have a tour. We were tendered in to a community that is so small you can walk it in about an hour. Bring small items to give to the residents who will be dressed up in their native customs so you can take photos. They will also show you around their village. Gifts such as pencils, note pads, soap, small sewing kits and candy. HINT if you forget you can always raid the cabin for some items. This was a great stop except we were late and rushed and the sun set before I could get enough great photographs.
At Manaus in the morning we took the Half Day River Tour and in the afternoon we took the Manaus Opera House & City Tour. I booked before I left for the cruise, so I was locked in. I can recommend the half day river offered by the ship, but would recommend you get another couple or two for the city tour in the afternoon and do it on your own. It will be much cheaper and more flexible. You might also be able to do the river tour on your own, but I didn’t meet anyone who did. Again we were rushed for both tours and lost some of our tour time and didn’t see every thing. The boat used for the river tour had covered protection from the sun and toilets. They also provided free ice cold beer, soda and bottled water. Don’t expect to see too many jungle birds and animals on any of the tours; they have moved farther into the interior. While the Opera House is very beautiful, it was dark inside and no flash photos are allowed.
I received mixed reviews about the other tours and again much of the negative might be because all were cut short and rushed due to the ship being late. Others were disappointed and even suggested fraud on the part of the tour operators because they didn’t see and wildlife as promised. If you read the tour description, there is no mention of seeing any type of wildlife. Sometime our expectations are greater than our reality.
The most negative comments were about the “A Day at the Ariau Jungle Lodge” tour. I guess when you pay $330 for a couple and it goes bad the negatives start to fly.
The “Jungle Nature Walk” tour was also disappointing to a lot of people. No wildlife. I did get a positive comment from a passenger who has taken the same tour three times and he thought it was great.
On the last stop at Santarem, we took the “Eco River & Maica Lake” tour. Of the two river cruises, this one was the best. Again we were late and rushed and lost some tour time. The boat had a toilet and cover from the sun, as well as, free cold beer and bottled water. There is not enough time to do two tours at this stop, so I would recommend the river tour rather than the city tour. The walk from the pier to where the tour buses are located is a long hard up and down walk . There is a people stuttle, but I don't know how to connect with it.
In my last post, I described the pier at Manaus rather than Santarem. If You take a tour in Manaus which requires a regional boat, you board the boat not too far from the ship. However, if you want the city tour at Manaus, there is a hard walk to get to the taxi and bus parking arera. In Santarem if you take the river tour the boats also are right at the pier. Not sure about the city tour at Santarem. Sorry if I confused anyone.