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You’ve surely heard of Brazil — Latin America’s most expansive, diverse nation — but you haven’t seen anything unless you’ve experienced it on a small ship ocean cruise with Vantage Travel. In 2022, we invite you to explore the best of Brazil, from the verdure reaches of the Amazon to the cultural and historical riches of Rio de Janeiro.
On this journey, you’ll witness unparalleled wildlife in the Amazon — from monkeys to vibrant macaws — and explore Brazil’s iconic, colonial cities like Fortaleza and the UNESCO-listed Salvador, while experiencing the country’s unique Afro-Brazilian cultures. If you’re looking for a lesser-seen side of Brazil, this is it!
With 22 included features and Cultural Discoveries, you’ll also encounter wildly underrated locations, including the Amazon’s Meeting of the Waters, the breathtaking Armação dos Búzios, and colorful markets selling luscious fruits to feijoada and cachaça — Brazil’s famous fermented sugar cane with an intoxicating twist.
Throughout this journey, you'll have ample opportunity to indulge in the amenities of the 5-star Ocean Explorer, including a top-deck hot tub, a massage parlor, and onboard lecturers that will enlighten you every step of the way. Enjoy the service on an onboard Concierge who can precure tickets to your desired onshore excursion or help organize a special dinner for you and your travel companions. Toast with fellow travelers as you try your hand at the ancient art of hot-rock cooking. And thanks to the size of our small ship— while you’ll have to tender inland in some ports — in most we’ll dock onshore, allowing you to walk right off the ship and spend more time in the heart of your destination. Join Vantage and experience a more intimate side of Brazil you never imagined before — amid comfort you won’t believe!
If you're interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination cruise America’s Explorer: Montréal to Buenos Aires. Explore more and save.
Fly to Manaus, Brazil
Fly overnight to Sao Paolo on Day 1, and then to Manaus on Day 2 (arrival times will vary). Spend the rest of your day at leisure to relax and recuperate from your travels. Or, depart earlier for a thrilling pre-trip extension in the Amazon jungle.
Discover Manaus, gateway to the Amazon
Ease into your day this morning after your long journey. You might find that Manaus has a fascinating contradictory feel; it is a city in the middle of a jungle, and despite its size, it is only accessible in a practical sense by boat or plane. And though seafaring vessels dock here, the ocean is 900 miles away. It’s all part of the intrigue of the Amazon! After lunch on your own, get acquainted with the largest city in the Amazon basin during an included tour that features the Manaus Opera House. This stunning vision in pink — opened in 1896 at the height of the rubber barons’ prosperity — was built with European bricks, French glass, and Italian marble. Conclude your tour with a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.
Browse the Municipal Market and embark Ocean Explorer
If you’re in the market for exotic fruits, Amazon herbal medicines, and local handicrafts, you’ll love rubbing elbows with the people of Manaus during a visit to the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa. Fashioned after the Les Halles market of Paris in 1882, it is the city’s oldest market and a scintillating way to immerse yourself in the culture. Produce from the surrounding countryside and fish from the river are delivered every morning. Cross the street to see how all these goods arrived—aboard the armada of fishing boats and cargo boats bobbing on the Amazon’s waters.
After time to absorb it all, and an included lunch, you’ll continue to the Ocean Explorer and begin your small ship ocean cruise. From a top-deck hot tub to a hot-rock cooking restaurant to an onboard Concierge at your service — this ship has it all. While today we will have to tender to our ship, in most port cities the ship will berth, meaning you can walk on and off and spend less time tendering and more time exploring. There’ll be time to settle in and perhaps have a drink on deck and give Manaus one final glimpse before your Amazon expedition. In the dining room tonight, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner.
Get to know Parintins and Boca dos Botos
Continue taking in the Amazon’s splendor as we visit Parintins. Located just west of Santarém, this town is renowned for its Brazilian folkloric festival, the Festival de Parintins, or Parintins Folklore Festival, second only to Carnival. Today, you’ll explore this municipality, which is known for its rich biodiversity. Due to its central location in the Amazonas, during low tide you’ll discover its riverside beaches along the Uaicurapá River and the Amazon.
Starting outside the port, you’ll get to know this incredible province, including Caprichoso Boi, Liberty Square, and Bumbódromo — where the annual festival is held. With the possibility of riding locally-decorated tricycles, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with locals. After visiting the cathedral and cruising along the shore, you’ll get to see Boca dos Botos, weather permitting. Hop on a zodiac boat for an afternoon cruise, where you'll see more local flora and fauna.
Piranha fishing and nature cruise out of Santarém
Arrive this morning at the confluence of the Amazon and Tapajós Rivers, where the city of Santarém rises on the banks. The people of this small market town rely on boats to get around; the 60 miles of white-sand beaches on the river have earned it the nickname “the Amazonian Caribbean.”
Spend the morning on a spectacular nature cruise, viewing a rare natural phenomenon along the river and learning how locals fish for the notorious piranha. You head downriver on a small local boat to witness the Meeting of the Waters, where the Amazon and the Tapajós converge. Each waterway has its own distinct color and they run side by side, one deep blue and one milky brown, for several miles. Soon, you arrive at Lake Maica, a natural outlet of the Amazon and home to abundant wildlife and birdlife. Your captain will cut the motor here so you can cast a line into the water in hopes of catching and releasing voracious piranha fish. Or, just sit back and take in the lush flora and plentiful fauna of the Amazon.
Amazon River and Brazil Coastal cruising
Lose yourself to the rhythm of the Amazon as you follow its course to the Atlantic. Consider that you’re drifting along waters that have flowed and gathered here from as far away as Peru and Bolivia. Its watershed covers 40% of the South American continent and the streams and brooks and lesser rivers that have spilled into the river you’re cruising have nourished the world’s largest rainforest. By the time it reaches the ocean, the Amazon fans out into an estuary that, by some accounts, stretches some 200 miles along the coast.
Relax on board as you sail the Brazilian coast. Take a dip in the hot tub as the forest drifts past, visit the spa, get a workout in the gym, and watch the river open up to the wide Atlantic Ocean from the observation lounge. At mealtime, savor incredible culinary creations thoughtfully prepared by your onboard chefs. In the evening, head up to the Observation Deck for some of the most magnificent stargazing you’re ever likely to experience. Over these three relaxing days, our onboard naturalists will keep you informed and enlightened about such wonders of the Amazon during fascinating discussions.
Discovering Fortaleza's countless cultural treasures
Around midday, you arrive in Fortaleza, capital of the Brazilian state of Ceará. Despite its size, there’s a light and airy quality to this culture-rich city kissed by soft-sand urban beaches and dotted with stately colonial-era buildings. You’ll tap into the city’s distinctive musical rhythms during an included tour that features the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral, adorned with stunning stained-glass windows; the José de Alencar Theater, named for the region’s beloved poet; a drive along the palm-fringed beach past the sophisticated residences of Aldeota; and a stop at the Espigão de Pedras bridge. You’ll also stop to peruse the countless cultural treasures at the Central Market, a lively emporium of Fortaleza’s handmade lace, embroidery, hammocks, and other crafts. There’ll be time to make the short stroll from the ship into downtown afterward.
Cruising coastal Brazil
Treat yourself to more of your ship’s amenities as you cruise around the easternmost coast of Brazil. Take advantage of this time to read a book from our library or enjoy a soothing massage at the spa. The time is yours! During your time at sea, onboard lecturers will captivate you with talks about Brazilian culture and history and our chefs will continue to amaze you with their culinary expertise.
Marvel at the colonial treasures of Salvador
Dock this morning in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil’s unparalleled colonial gem and the country’s former capital. Its colorful Renaissance city plan and outstanding new-world monuments earned it a prestigious place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your city tour passes Brazil’s famed lighthouse, the Farol da Barra. In the Pelourinho district (the Old Town), walk along charming cobbled lanes from the Municipal Square to Terreiro de Jesus square and view the splendid baroque cathedral, once the home of the largest Jesuit seminary outside Rome. Gaze upon its ornate interior, then visit Largo do Pelourinho Square and the San Francisco Church.
Conclude your tour with a demonstration of capoeira, a regional acrobatic dance that incorporates elements of the martial arts. Then there’ll be time to browse the paintings, pottery, beads, and handicrafts at the local market. This afternoon, enjoy another fascinating lecture on board.
More relaxation with a day at sea along the Brazilian coast
The indulgent amenities of the Ocean Explorer are yours once again as you continue your southward expedition along Brazil’s coast. If you haven’t yet treated yourself to the spa, this is your time! And you’re sure to find the Observation Lounge the ideal spot for reflection as you ply the waters of the Atlantic. You’ll turn your attention again to Brazil’s colorful culture and history during an onboard lecture today.
Visit Vitória’s mountaintop convent
You have today to explore one of the oldest cities in Brazil and one of the nation’s best state capitals to live in. Vitória is set on Honey Island in Vitória Bay and enjoys a picturesque setting at the foot of sloping hills. Your included tour takes you to the mainland over the Third Bridge to Vila Velha, where the 16th-century Penha Convent has long stood as a symbol of faith from atop its high mountain perch. A shuttle takes you halfway up, and you can choose to walk the remaining 365 steps, or to enjoy the breathtaking 360 views from this vantage point. After a photo stop at a couple of the city’s urban beaches, pause at the Cooperativa da Paneleiras de Goiabeiras to see firsthand how local artisans bring shape to lovely clay pots. En route back to the ship, admire Vitória’s blend of old and new architecture in its downtown area. Back on board, attend another enlightening lecture from one of our experts.
Delight in the beaches of Armação dos Búzios
Enjoy a preview of Rio de Janeiro today when you call on Armação dos Búzios, the buzzing resort town favored by the glamorous jet-setters of the capital. Your ship will anchor offshore here, and you’ll be transported inland with either the use of tenders or zodiac crafts. French actress Brigitte Bardot made Búzios famous when she visited in 1964 and transformed the little fishing village into the St. Tropez of South America. Ever since, it is the place for members of high society to be seen. More than 23 beaches grace this peninsular region. On an included tour by open-air trolley, you’ll see many of them, including the wild and scenic Brava Beach, the pink sands of Forno Beach, and the unique rock formations of Point Lagoinha — known as the Brazilian Himalayas. There’ll be time to linger and to swim if you wish, after which you may browse the posh shops downtown.
This afternoon, you can spend more time on the water when you take our shipboard paddleboards or kayaks out to explore. Learn what cultural and historic treasures wait for you in Rio during today’s onboard lecture. Tonight, thrill to the beat of a lively samba show when local entertainers join you on board!
Disembark to explore Rio de Janeiro, the cidade maravilhosa!
Welcome to Rio! One of South America’s most thrilling and sophisticated cities, Brazil’s capital enjoys a breathtaking setting, ringed by long crescent beaches and towering monolithic mountains. No other city compares. You’ll bid farewell to your ship this morning and get to know the city on an included tour. Ascend to the spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain. The 124-foot soapstone figure has an arm span of 98 feet. Then, visit the cathedral and admire its modernist design inspired by Mayan pyramids. Head from the sacred to the footloose when you next visit Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches, celebrated in song and frequented by the city’s carefree party-goers. Enjoy lunch at a Rio institution — Confeitaria Colombo. The old-style café — set in a cavernous ballroom crowned with a stunning stained-glass ceiling — has been serving delicious meals and decadent desserts to local cariocas for 120 years. After this incredible dining experience, you'll check into your hotel.
Get an insider’s samba lesson and explore on your own
In Rio, the samba is more than music. Dance, clothing, and food are all crucial to this cherished piece of cultural heritage. This morning, you’ll go behind the scenes as you learn about the beloved music and even try out a few steps! Your afternoon is free to explore more of Rio on your own. Perhaps you'll explore the city's proliferation of street art, from the largest spray-paint mural in the world on Olympic Boulevard to the multicolored mosaic of Escadaria Selarón, or 'Selaron Steps'. Or, marvel at both the exteriors and the inner riches of landmarks such as the Museum of Tomorrow and the National Library of Brazil — the largest library in Latin America and 7th largest in the world.
Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Rio at your leisure and return home
If there is time, soak in more of Rio before you transfer to the airport for your flight home. If you are heading to Iguassu Falls on our optional post-trip extension, you depart earlier in the day.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.