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Client Blog: Brent and Margo's Amazon and Caribbean cruise adventure


After their last incredible trip to Brazil, inspiring adventurers Margot and Brent returned to Manaus via São Paulo to embark on their Viking cruise, journeying around Brazil and onto the Caribbean...


 

After an excellent check-in at Heathrow and an overnight flight, the nearly three-hour ordeal getting through customs and immigration in São Paulo was a wee bit challenging. We were then met by an English-speaking guide who escorted us to a taxi for what should have been a 45-minute ride.


Initially, we were pleased to sit down and relax, enjoying the sights of São Paulo. However, after two hours of dodging traffic jams and the driver frequently using his navigation system to find a better route, we were still nowhere near the Radisson Blu.


Welcome to Brazil’s big cities!



In need of a comfort break and after managing to communicate this to our driver via a call to his friend, we stopped at a lovely hotel somewhere in the city to use the facilities!


We finally arrived at the Radisson Blu mid-afternoon, checked in and caught up on some much-needed sleep. However, with a transfer back to the airport early the next morning, we unfortunately didn’t get to spend much time at the hotel or in the city.



The following morning, we arrived at the airport very early for our Latam Airlines flight to Manaus. However, our transport problems continued, and though we made the flight, it soon became apparent that our suitcases hadn’t!


The ground agents were very helpful, and we finally got the transfer to the ship. The other passengers were very supportive and understanding.


Viking was also helpful in tracking and monitoring the progress of our cases, offering us free laundry services, travel kits and $150 onboard credit for our troubles. Sadly, we couldn’t spend it on clothes as the ship’s shops had to be closed while in Brazilian waters.


Fortunately, we were able to venture ashore to a local shop, where, with lots of sign language, we managed to obtain some bits to tide us over until our luggage hopefully caught up with us.



Staying near the ship for news felt sensible, but it meant we didn’t have a chance to do any sightseeing in Manaus. With the extremely heavy rain, that wasn’t such a bad thing, as some excursions were called off.


The Viking Sea is a beautiful ship, featuring a very clean and sleek Scandinavian design throughout. The wonderful staff at all levels provided fantastic attention to detail. The food was excellent at all the restaurants and cafes, and we enjoyed the complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks.


The 'house' wine was especially good, and the crew were happy for us to bring any alcohol purchased ashore onboard and to dinner.



The entertainment was the only minor disappointment; it was very subdued in the bars, and the shows in the theatre lacked a bit of sparkle. It seemed the performers were directed on the type of music to play, and most of it was a bit too 'old' for us and the friends we had made. On the other hand, the lecturers and their sessions were exceptional, informative and very amusing.


The shore excursions included boi-bumbá dancing in Parintins, northeastern Brazil - an amazing show with wonderful costumes and brilliant dancing. This traditional folk dance brings together human, animal and mythological characters in a vibrant theatrical performance.



Devil’s Island in French Guiana was also interesting, even though it rained very hard and the sea for the small tender boat that transported passengers to and from the ship was a bit choppy for some.



Our luggage finally arrived on day four in Santarém, shortly before we left the Amazon en route to the Atlantic Ocean and headed for the Caribbean.


Santarém

Barbados was beautiful, and we hugely enjoyed a beach break and swim.


Barbados

Next was St. Lucia, where we were eagerly anticipating a catamaran trip, but sadly, the choppy seas had other ideas.


It was great to return to Antigua before our final stop in Puerto Rico, where we visited the Castillo and strolled around the coast and shops.



Disembarkation was very controlled and efficient, and we quickly arrived at the airport for our transfer to Miami to catch our flight to London. The flight was really good; the aircraft was reasonably new and we had plenty of room.


We thoroughly enjoyed our latest South America and Caribbean trip, but we both decided that perhaps four flights are just too many now, as we don’t bounce back as quickly from the longer ones anymore!


Thank you, Gillian, as always, for your fantastic guidance and support. Here are a few things I would recommend to fellow travellers in Brazil:


Margo’s Tips


  • Make sure all your medication is in your hand luggage

  • Take a phrasebook (our phones had no signal and were of no help)

  • Just take US dollars

  • Ensure your transfers speak English

  • Keep documentation in printed form; don’t rely on phones (see above!)

  • Take more than one credit/ debit card

  • Check ATM machines are dispensing USD, not Caribbean dollars, as they are not as transferrable between some islands



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