Best Peruvian Amazon River Cruises

Peru South America

What is the best Amazon River cruise? There are many cruise options out there, and navigating the differences can be a bit of a daunting task. Plus, what’s best for one person may not be the best for another, which is why Knowmad Adventures specializes in custom trips that are unique to each traveler. Our detailed Amazon cruise comparison below keeps that in mind, and dives into the question ‘what are the best Amazon cruises,’ and discusses the most notable differences between them. 

This post focuses on Peru’s best Amazon River cruises, where the Ucayali River and Marañón River join to become the magnificent Amazon River. This allows you not only to see the Amazon River, but cruise back into smaller, pristine tributaries part of the unspoiled Pacaya Samiria National Reserve where wildlife is at its best. Cruises here focus on wildlife and nature, with opportunities to spot pink river dolphins, giant otters, sloths, manatees, caiman and a wide variety of monkeys & birds. They also incorporate culture, often with visits to indigenous communities, learning about their lifestyle. 

Cruises in the Amazon offer travelers a magnificent jungle & wildlife experience, while not sacrificing the comforts of a luxury hotel. When cruising the Amazon, your luxury 5-star hotel moves with you as you venture through the rainforest. After a day of zipping down the river in a zodiak boat, walking through the jungle, fishing for piranha, and searching the dark for caiman, you’ll return to a cool air-conditioned cabin before a delicious meal on board. 

My favorite of the jungle cruises in the Peruvian Amazon are Delfin’s vessels of varying sizes and amenities (Delfin I, II & III), and Aqua Expeditions vessels (Aria and Aqua Nera). All cruise through the same Pacaya Samiria National Reserve with very similar itineraries, so the comparisons come down mostly to specifications for each vessel. 

The Trip Specialists at Knowmad will help you navigate itinerary options and seasonal differences, coordinating Amazon & Machu Picchu travel for a holistic, seamless and safe experience, all at a guaranteed best value. Reach out at 612-315-2894 or by filling out the short form above. 




Delfin III The most affordable of the luxury Amazon cruises, Delfin III is a great choice for those looking to cruise the amazon on a very nice vessel, but achieve some savings as well. It is the largest of the vessels with space for up to 44 passengers. There are 4 different cabin types from the upper and lower suites offering floor to ceiling windows to corner suites with 90 degree floor to ceiling windows and the largest Owner Suite at the front of the ship on the second deck with 180 degree floor to ceiling windows. The Corner Suites and Owner Suites have added amenities like an included 30 minute massage and free laundry, a nice perk after exploring in the heat & humidity of the Amazon. As the most spacious ship, it also has the most amenities of Delfin’s boats with a small plunge pool on the upper deck, as well as a massage room & small gym. It has a spacious indoor lounge with floor to ceiling windows where you can enjoy a drink & air conditioning, while still enjoying the views as you cruise along. 

  • Size: 22 suites / Up to 44 passengers
  • Price Range: $925 to $1,300 per person per night, depending on duration & cabin type
  • Itineraries: 3 & 4 night itineraries (or combine them for 7 nights)

Pros: Least expensive of luxury Amazon cruises & Relais & Chateaux, ensuring a high level of food & wine with high-quality service, like all Delfin vessels. Will also waive the single supplement for up to 2 passengers on each departure, so book in advance as a single traveler. 

Cons: No connected cabins so more difficult for families with young kids. Along with Delfin II, highest guide to passenger ratio at max 15 passengers to 1 guide (the other three cruises are 8:1)


Delfin Amazon River Cruise

DELFIN II With 14 cabins on board, Delfin II is great for those looking for more amenities than what Delfin I offers, yet still a small & intimate experience. With several interconnected cabins and triples, they are a great option for families traveling with kids. There are also 4 spacious master suites with 180 degree panoramic windows for those looking for an upgrade option. 

  • Size: 14 suites / Up to 30 passengers
  • Price Range: $1,100 to $1,167 per person per night, depending on duration & cabin type
  • Itineraries: 3 & 4 night itineraries (or combine them for 7 nights)

Pros: Relais & Chateaux property like all Delfin vessels. Only one of Delfin’s vessels to have interconnected cabins. They will waive the single supplement for up to 2 passengers on each departure, so if booking far in advance, it can be a good choice for single travelers. Small exercise room and massage room.

Cons: Can fill up far in advance as it’s a common choice for large companies’ group trips where they charter out the whole vessel. 


DELFIN I Delfin I offers the most intimate Amazon cruise experience, with only 4 oversized suites, making it a perfect option as a charter for a family, a group of friends or for a couple looking for a more exclusive experience. All suites have spacious terraces, which make for the perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee listening to the birds and sounds of the jungle waking up or take in the colorful Amazon sunset as you watch pink river dolphins jump out of the water around you. Two of the suites even boast private cold water whirlpools on the terrace for a refreshing dip after a hot afternoon exploring the depths of the jungle. 

  • Size: 4 suites / Up to 12 passengers
  • Price Range: $1,375 to $1,567 per person per night, depending on duration & cabin type
  • Itineraries: 3 & 4 night itineraries (or combine them for 7 nights)

Pros: The most personalized experience with just 8 guests on board. All of Delfin’s boats are Relais & Chateaux properties and it’s the only cruise with private whirlpools for 2 of the cabins and a canopy walkway excursion. Delfin I & II are the only ones with stand up paddleboards.

Cons: As a smaller vessel, it lacks some of the amenities of a larger ship like a gym space, massages or large common spaces. Most expensive vessel.



ARIA With the launch of their new vessel Aqua Nera, Aria will see a nice reduction in price come August 2020, bringing it close to the price range of Delfin II, and for a very nice luxury cruise and experience with some added amenities. Like Delfin II, Aria offers massages and a small exercise room, but also a refreshing jacuzzi on the sun deck.  With space for 32 passengers, its 16 suites boast floor to ceiling windows perfect for viewing the jungle from the comfort of your air-conditioned cabin. Aria combines some of the amenities of Delfin III with the more intimate size of Delfin II. It’s also a great option for families with triple rooms available as well as connected cabins. World renowned chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, whose Lima restaurant Malabar is rated top 50 of Latin American restaurants, created the menu for both Aria & Aqua Nera. Schiaffino’s speciality is creating unique dishes with ingredients from the Amazon jungle. 

  • Size: 16 suites / Up to 32 passengers
  • Price Range: $1175 to $1225 per person per night, depending on duration & cabin type
  • Itineraries: 3 & 4 night itineraries (or combine them for 7 nights)

Pros: Aria and Aqua Nera are the only vessels to offer a biking excursion. On their 3 & 7-night itineraries, guests will have the opportunity to bike around the town of Nauta. Most amenities for its size.

Cons: Along with Delfin II, one of the older vessels (built in 2010). A tad bit more expensive than Delfin II, but with more amenities. 


AQUA NERA Set to start sail in Fall 2020, Aqua Nera will be the newest and arguably most luxurious of Amazon vessels in Peru with amenities and common spaces that surpass its competition. Its sleek modern design spreads through 20 Design Suites, as well as a spacious indoor bar and lounge with floor to ceiling windows, a screening room with theater style seating, an outdoor cinema under the stars, a game room with pool table, outdoor plunge pool with private cabanas and outdoor bar, two spa treatment rooms and a small gym overlooking the river. Like Aria, the menu was crafted by chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, for a guaranteed exceptional dining experience. 

  • Size: 20 suites / up to 40 passengers
  • Price Range: $1,375 to $1,475 per person per night, depending on duration & cabin type
  • Itineraries: 3 & 4 night itineraries (or combine them for 7 nights)


Pros: Newest and most design forward facilities and cabins, triples and connecting suites available, most common spaces & amenities as well as free laundry service

Cons: This level of amenities don’t come free & Aqua Nera will be the most expensive after Delfin I.

If you’re interested in crafting an adventure combining several regions in South America, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Trip Specialists at 612-315-2894 or [email protected] to begin planning your trip today!



  •  If pairing your trip to the Amazon with a Machu Picchu trip, I suggest a minimum duration of 10 days but ideally more to do both destinations justice.
  • While the Amazon can work nicely on the front or back end of the trip, I tend to prefer it on the back end as it’s a more relaxing way to end your Peru vacation, cruising down the Amazon river from the comforts of a luxury boat.
  • There are non-stop flights between Cusco & Iquitos from July to November that operate only Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This only aligns with departure or arrival dates for Aria and some of Delfin I & Delfin II’s departures. If it works with your cruise dates, it’s best to use the Cusco to Iquitos flight that will have you arriving about one hour before the passengers on the flight from Lima. The Iquitos to Cusco flight departs before most cruises are dropping off passengers at the airport. Knowmad will help you arrange the best flights for your cruise & Machu Picchu itinerary.
  • Because of that limited flight schedule, most of the year and most days we recommend spending the night in Lima before flying to Iquitos the next day. It is possible to connect from Cusco to Lima to Iquitos in the same morning before the cruise, but it can be risky & requires a very early morning. It’s best to plan for your time in Lima, dining at some of its world renowned restaurants, between your Machu Picchu & Amazon trip.
  • Next, take a look here at some of our favorite Machu Picchu itineraries to compliment your Amazon & Machu Picchu vacation. 


Bottom line is all of these Amazon experiences are amazing. I hope this helps some out there wrestling with choosing the perfect luxury cruise for their ideal Amazon adventure vacation!

It is always Knowmad’s goal that our travelers feel prepared for and excited about their adventure to Peru and South America. If you have any questions we can help answer, or if you’d like to discuss planning your own adventure to Peru, give one of our Trip Specialists a call today at at 612-315-2894, or fill out the short form below to begin planning your personalized Peru itinerary.

Saludos, Renee

South America Travel - Renee DaviesRenee is a Trip Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She lived in Mexico for over 3 years and is excited to help Knowmad travelers discover the wonderful impact not just travel, but really experiencing a different country and culture can have on your life. Read Renee’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.