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 21 included features and Cultural Discoveries, you’ll also encounter wildly underrated locations, including 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 Belém, Brazil
Fly overnight to Sao Paolo on Day 1, and then to Belém on Day 2 (arrival times will vary). Spend the rest of your day at leisure to relax and recuperate from your travels.
Discover Belém by boat
Following breakfast this morning, you’ll head out to enjoy a boat tour of the Amazon River, where you will see canoes, fishing boats, and other river-craft making their way along the tributaries that lead in and out of the rainforest. After crossing Combu Island, you will reach the Boa Vista do Acará jungle area where you can take part in a leisurely 45-minute guided walk through the jungle as your local guide points out the varied species of vegetation found here.
After the walk, you'll return to your hotel for an afternoon at your leisure and lunch on your own. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for dinner at the hotel.
Discover the best of Belém today and embark Ocean Explorer
You’ll start the day with breakfast at your hotel before checking out. Depart for a tour of beautiful Belém, beginning with a visit to Brazil’s largest open-air market: Ver-O-Peso Market. Take a guided walk through this sprawling market, one of the city’s most beloved landmarks encompassing four city blocks and filled with stalls offering traditional foods and artisanal goods such as handmade pottery, handicrafts, and clothing. You’ll find wholly original souvenirs and gifts here, including charms inspired by macumba, a form of voodoo practiced in Brazil.
From the market you’ll head to Forte do Castelo, a Portuguese military fortification that dates back to the early 17th century. It was constructed on the highest point of the city to protect the new colony against Dutch and French occupation.
After your fortress visit, you’ll continue on to the Emilio Goeldi Zoo & Botanical Park, 12-acre museum, zoo, and research centers dedicated to the study of indigenous Amazonian species from white-whiskered squirrel monkeys to anaconda and more. Boasting more than 1,500 samples of plant species and over 1,600 types of fruit trees that grow in the region, the facility also houses an aviary and small aquarium.
At the conclusion of your tour, you’ll head to the pier and board the Ocean Explorer to begin the cruise portion of your journey. You’ll have time to relax on board and acquaint yourself with your luxurious ocean vessel, before enjoying your first dinner on board tonight.
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.
Cultural charm in Recife
Spend time getting to know the Brazilian city of Recife, which has a long, rich history, dating back to its founding by the Portuguese in 1537. Today’s excursion will take you on a scenic drive through Old Recife before stopping at Republic Square where you’ll see the Governor’s Palace, Justice Hall, and St. Isabel Theater. Next, you’ll be taken to the historic town center of Olinda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site populated with dozens of centuries-old churches and colonial homes. Visit local artisans and shop for handcrafted items before heading to your next stop, São Bento Monastery. Enjoy a choir performance at the 17th-century baroque-style Capela Dourada – the Golden Chapel – and stroll down the hill to see colorful homes and Casa de Cultura, a former prison that has been converted into a market for local handicrafts. You’ll return to your ship in the afternoon.
A day of bliss and relaxation at sea
You have the day at sea to indulge in the amenities of the Ocean Explorer. Relax on the sun deck, visit the spa for a soothing treatment, or perhaps get a workout in the gym. 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.
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.