Overview of 32-Guest Small Ship
The Queen Violeta is a 32-passenger riverboat that sails 6-night cruises of the Upper Amazon River in Peru for Canadian travel company G Adventures. The ship was built in 2006/2007 and refurbished in 2010. G Adventures charters the boat from the Peruvian company that owns her. The Queen Violeta is constructed of steel and Amazonian hardwoods and is designed like a traditional Amazon riverboat, with four passenger decks and cabins with doors to the outside. Her most distinctive feature is the use of polished wooden floors in all the cabins, dining room, and the enclosed lounge on the top deck.
G Adventures' nine-day "Amazon Adventure" cruise tour starts and ends in Lima. Passengers overnight in Lima before flying to Iquitos to join the 120-ton Queen Violeta. The six-night cruise travels up the Amazon and Marañon Rivers from Iquitos, stopping along the way for guests to ride in small skiffs to explore the small rivers flowing into the Amazon and hike parts of the massive Amazonian rainforest. In addition, the passengers learn about the peoples of the Amazon basin by visiting small settlements along the river and touring the towns of Nauta and Iquitos. It's a great cruise tour for hearty adventurers who love the out of doors, wildlife, and unique cultures. After the cruise, guests fly back to Lima for another overnight before flying home.
Let's take a tour of the Queen Violeta Amazon riverboat.
The 16 cabins on the Queen Violeta all have a door to an outside walkway and a large picture window. They also have individual air conditioning units, hot and cold water 24-hours a day, a shelving unit for storage, two nightstands with lamps, chair, and either twin or queen-sized beds. Electricity in the cabins is 110-volt, with North American-style, three-pronged outlets.
The riverboat has three cabin categories. The Standard Cabins (Double or Twin) are on deck 1, and the Superior Twins are on deck 2. The biggest difference between the cabins (other than the location) is the tub/shower combination in the Superior Twins versus the shower-only in the Standard Cabins. The Superior Cabins are also slightly larger. Since the ship is very small, all cabins are located near the dining room, lounges, and disembarkation area where passengers board the skiffs each day for shore excursions. The Queen Violeta does not have an elevator, so guests must be able to climb flights of stairs between the deck 1 disembarkation area, the deck 2 dining room, and deck 3 and 4 outdoor lounges.
The polished wooden floors in the cabins are the nicest feature; other than that, the accommodations are pretty basic. The cabins do not have a hair dryer, closet, television, telephone, Internet connectivity, or bathroom toiletries (other than soap and shampoo). Since clothing gets wet due to rain or humidity, adding hooks to the cabins to hang up damp clothing and the towels would be a nice touch.
Like the hotels I've stayed at in Lima, guests are asked to not flush toilet paper, but to use the provided covered trash can. The stewards come into the cabin at least two or three times a day to empty the trash and clean up. Passengers are also told to use the provided bottled water to brush their teeth and drink since the tap water is not potable. Although the cabins are spartan compared to what I've seen on other ships, the cabin was clean and the air conditioning worked great. Like other river ships, guests are off the boat much of the day exploring, and they tend to congregate in the lounges when onboard. So, I didn't hear anyone complain about their accommodations. Given how everyone (including me) wants to always be in touch via the Internet or telephone, it was surprisingly refreshing to not be connected for the 6-night cruise.
Iquitos is one of the world's largest cities that is inaccessible by road. All travelers and goods must arrive via airplane or barge. Most goods arrive from Lima after a 24-hour truck ride to Pulcallpa, followed by one-week on a barge down the Ucayali and Amazon Rivers to Iquitos. This means that food is either obtained locally (like fresh fruit and fish) or is very expensive. Given the remoteness of the area, the food served on the Queen Violeta on our Amazon riverboat cruise tour was very good, with a lot of diversity.
The dining room is on deck 2 and has panoramic windows on both sides and the polished wooden floor. Tables are set for six, and seating is open. Although the meals are casual, cloth napkins and tablecloths are used. The waiters and bartender serve juice, water, and drinks at the tables. The dining room doubles as the indoor lounge.
All the meals on the Queen Violeta are casual, served buffet-style, and include both traditional cruise fare and Peruvian or South American dishes. Breakfast always features fruit, eggs, bacon and/or sausages, breads and fruit juices. Lunch includes a selection of two types of meat, rice and potatoes, salads, vegetables, and desserts. The ice cream was a popular dessert item, and we all had a good laugh when we saw an ice cream truck on one of the river barges! Dinner also features two types of meat, rice and potatoes, salads, vegetables, and desserts. (Peruvians always have both rice and potatoes served at every meal.) Fish and chicken were the two most prevalent types of meat. One night, the chef even pan-fried the piranha we caught while fishing as an extra dish at dinner.
Outdoor Deck Areas
The top two decks on the Queen Violeta are outdoor covered lounges. On deck 3 aft is an open air lounge with chairs and outdoor carpeting. Many passengers congregate in this area during the afternoon siesta time of Amazon River cruise tours, but others just enjoy watching the river. Deck 3 forward has a lounge with chairs and windows. Since it is somewhat enclosed, this lounge has the nice wooden flooring seen in the indoor areas. Deck 4 aft has a covered area with four hammocks, perfect for napping. Deck 4 forward has a covered deck, but no chairs. It's a good spot for watching the river scenery.
In addition to the delicious meals, the crew always leaves sweet and salty snacks out on the bar for between-meal snacking, and the ship has a 24-hour self-serve coffee/tea cart. There's a cooler with cold soft drinks and beer, and guests are on the honor system to record their drinks on a tablet left on the bar.
The bartender has the ingredients to make a nice selection of mixed drinks, but those incorporating Peruvian brandy (Pisco) like Pisco sours or Chilcanos were the most requested. Guests can also purchase South American wines by the bottle and carry them over from day to day.
The dining room on deck 2 also serves as the indoor lounge on the Queen Violeta. The back wall has a detailed map of the area, and guests can often be found checking out the ship's location or the next destination on the river. The naturalist also uses the lounge for briefings on the daily schedule or other topics. In the evenings before dinner on the Amazon riverboat cruise tours, three of the crew (the naturalist and two waiters) are transformed into the "Chunky Monkeys" and entertain the guests with music and song during happy hour. It's great fun, and they are talented!
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.