Luxury Aria Amazon cruise interviewSophie Barber - Travel Consultant
Our Real Latin America Expert
Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.
Travel Consultant Sophie Barber recently travelled to Peru with her partner, and we caught up with her for a short chat about her trip.
Where did you go and what cruise did you do?
I went to the Peruvian Amazon and I did the Aria cruise which was a three night luxury cruise on the Amazon River.
When did you go?
I went in September which is the low water season, high water season is a bit later in the year, lasting until June. I think both seasons have got their merits so whenever you visit you're going to see wildlife and have a fantastic time.
How many cabins are there on the boat?
There are 16 cabins for 32 people, one cabin on top of the other. I was on the lower deck, personally I don't really think there's much difference between the upper and lower decks. The cabins are exactly the same size, all with huge picture windows.
Is there any luggage size or weight restrictions?
No but they do recommend to take soft bags rather than hard suitcases as it’s just easier for people to carry on and off the boat. I actually took a hard suitcase that weighed tons so it doesn’t really matter.
What was the day to day routine like?
So usually it was an early morning start to try and see the wildlife at the best time of day. There would be two excursions a day, sometimes three and then you'd come back to the boat for lunch and have an afternoon just to relax. Maybe go up to the observation deck or have a nap in your cabin.
What kind of excursions did you do?
The excursions were mainly by skiffs out on the different waterways where you could see pink river dolphins, and various different type of bird life. There were also jungle walks that we did some of which went to communities so you didn’t see quite as much wildlife, but then other excursions where you were really deep into the jungle.
Which was your favourite excursion?
Probably seeing the pink dolphins, but that’s mainly because I’ve been to the Amazon before so I’m used to the jungle excursions. But for Rick, my boyfriend who I went with, he loved every single excursion we went on and thought that everything was just amazing.
If you don’t want to do a particular excursion is there enough to keep you entertained on the boat?
I can't see why you wouldn't do any of excursions particularly as it's only a short cruise for three nights .
What was the food like on the boat?
It was really great. There was a real focus on not only Peruvian cuisine but Amazonian cuisine as well, ranging from using vegetables that they found in the jungle, or herbs and spices to fresh fish from the river. In terms of serving; it was a buffet breakfast and lunch and then dinner was served at the table.
Do you get to interact with the crew much at meal time? Did you meet the captain?
Not during meals. We did see him twice, once when he welcomed us and once when he did the farewell. You don't really interact with the crew during meals it's just that the guests that you mingle with.
Are families welcome onboard? Is there an age limit to anyone going on a trip like this?
No there isn't, and families are welcome. I wouldn’t recommend it for young kids but on our cruise there was an 86 year old lady and it was just amazing seeing her on the excursions. She was kayaking, canoeing, doing the jungles walks, everything. It was really great.
What was the most essential item you needed on this cruise?
Bug spray. Although we didn't actually get that many mosquitoes, I got a total of two or maybe three bites. Sun protection is definitely needed as well as it can get really warm in the jungle.
How does Aria Amazon guarantee sustainable travel in the Amazon?
They use a lot of eco friendly products on board. For example they limit the use of plastic and every cabin has glass bottles which are refilled with water and there's also water refill stations all over the ship. They work very closely with local communities which was really evident in the trips that we took.
And finally, what was your most memorable moment of the trip?
I was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of wildlife I saw. Having been to other Amazon lodges in other parts of Latin America, I was really impressed to see not only a lot of birdlife but poisoned dart frogs, manatees, pink river dolphins, grey river dolphins, three-toed sloths and monkeys. It was really impressive.