ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME AMAZON Some vacations are so unique that they seem to have been designed specifically to indulge your personal sense of adventure and quest for the unexpected. On this grand tour through the scattered jewels of the aquamarine Caribbean and deep into the mysterious Amazon, you will return with memories that paint an unforgettable picture. From Santarém, cruise down the Tapajós and Amazon rivers to observe the unique phenomenon known as the Meeting of the Waters. Trace the history of the Amazonian rubber boom at a Manaus rubber museum in the heart of the jungle.

Day 1, Mon, Nov 5, Miami
Day 2, Tue, Nov 6, Cruise the Bahamian Waters (#1 of 10)
Day 3, Wed, Nov 7, Cruise the Atlantic Ocean (#2 of 10)
Day 4, Thu, Nov 8, Gustavia, St Barts (tender) skip?
Day 5, Fri, Nov 9, Castries, St Lucia
Day 6, Sat, Nov 10, St. George’s, Grenada
Day 7, Sun, Nov 11, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
Day 8, Mon, Nov 12, Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#3 of 10)
Day 9, Tue, Nov 13, Cruising the Coast of Brazil (#4 of 10)
Day 10, Wed, Nov 14, Cruising the Amazon River (#5 of 10)
Day 11, Thu, Nov 15, Santarem, Brazil
Day 12, Fri, Nov 16, Boca Da Valera, Brazil (tender)
Day 13, Sat, Nov 17, Manaus, Brazil (overnight)
Day 14, Sun, Nov 18, Manaus, Brazil
Day 15, Mon, Nov 19, Parintins, Brazil (tender)
Day 16, Tue, Nov 20, Alter Do Chao, Brazil (tender)
Day 17, Wed, Nov 21, Cruising the Amazon River (#6 of 10)
Day 18, Thu, Nov 22, Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#7 of 10)
Day 19, Fri, Nov 23, Devil’s Island, French Guiana (tender)
Day 20, Sat, Nov 24, Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#8 of 10)
Day 21, Sun, Nov 25, Bridgetown, Barbados
Day 22, Mon, Nov 26, St. John’s, Antigua
Day 23, Tue, Nov 27, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Day 24, Wed, Nov 28, Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#9 of 10)
Day 25, Thu, Nov 29, Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#10 of 10)
Day 26, Fri, Nov 30, Miami
The Barge, Oceania "SIRENA"

Day 1, Mon, Nov 5 Miami (5PM)
I'm doing my own air, and assuming the usual Miami round-trip air schedule, and transfer (included) to the barge. Catch another VERY early StuporShuttle pickup about 5:00.

United 399IAH – Miami7:25A - 10:47A2:22

Fly to Miami, meet the Oceania representative and head towards the terminal to board the SIRENA, but where we had to sit around for a while before they let us on for limited activity: go to the feeding trough. My “Cell/stable stall/stateroom” where I will be living for almost a month is a category C2, their least expensive, least convenient kennel with an outside view: #4011, deck 4, starboard, far forward. The Destination Services desk will also be open as soon as embarkation begins to take shore excursion reservations and answer any questions you may have. We have the mandatory fire drill at 5, and eventually we will depart at 5PM or so. Then it is time for another visit to the feeding trough at 6:30. As usual with Oceania, all meals in the Terrace Café are buffet.

Day 2, Tue, Nov 6 Cruise the Bahamian Waters (#1 of 10)
It is actually 8 days AT SEA plus 2 days cruising the Amazon River.

Day 3, Wed, Nov 7 Cruise the Atlantic Ocean (#2 of 10)

Day 4, Thu, Nov 8 Gustavia, St Barts (tender) (12PM – 7PM)
One of the Caribbean’s true gems, St. Barts is where Riviera chic meets Caribbean cool. Day-trippers come from nearby islands for the duty-free shopping, excellent dining and to lounge on the soft, white sands in a secluded palm-fringed cove. Tour Fort Gustav and Fort Carl, historic reminders of Sweden’s short-lived Caribbean possession - but that's not offered. I've been here twice before and the excursion I took here was very poor and no other excursions of interest are offered, and tendering is required, so I'll just stay onboard.

Day 5, Fri, Nov 9 Castries, St Lucia (12PM – 8PM)
Castries is the capital, commercial center and main cruise port of St Lucia. Founded by the French in about 1768, it changed hands in the earlier 1800’s, when the British made the town a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, overlooking the harbor. Today, the port offers something for everyone. Bargain hunters can head over to the duty-free shops at Pointe Seraphine; Castries Waterworks Forest Reserve allows visitors a rare glimpse of rain forest flora and fauna; and, for those looking for a fun day trip, a visit to the Grand Pitons or a hike up to Fort Charlotte on Morne Fortune offer beautiful vistas and historical perspective.

(EXCURSION 1) STL-009 Panoramic View 3 hours
This tour is ideal for those who wish to enjoy the full beauty of St. Lucia at a leisurely pace with minimal walking. Leaving by coach from the pier, you'll first drive through the town of Castries where various points of interest will be pointed out by your local guide before making the winding drive up The Morne for a wonderful panoramic view of the city, the harbor and even as far away as the neighboring island of Martinique! Continuing upward, you'll travel to the Morne complex to view the Inniskilling Monument, which was erected in honor of the 27th Inniskilling Regiment who captured the Morne from the French for the British in 1796. This area is also home to one of St. Lucia's highest educational institutions, the OECS Secretariat, as well as the island's main television station.

A short drive away is Caribelle Batik, where a brief stop gives you the opportunity to see an artist creating distinctive works of art by using hot wax. Perhaps you'll want to shop for one of her special treasures before it's time to leave. Your tour next journeys along scenic secondary roads that run through the hills skirting the city, passing through colorful small communities and providing picturesque views of both the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts of the island.

Your next stop is at a view point within the community of La Guerre, where you will have a spectacular view of what was once the largest banana plantation on the island, the Marquis Estate. From here, it's onward through other quaint communities while making your way to Monchy, where a magnificent view of Rodney Bay and Pigeon Island greets you before entering Stony Hill, the private residence of Dr. Sony and his wife Cynthia. Your gracious hosts will happily chat with you and regal you with many fascinating stories of island life while opening their garden for your enjoyment. You are welcome to stroll around the grounds or simply sit and appreciate the peaceful tranquility from one of several seats scattered around the garden, or a comfortable lounge overlooking the inviting pool. Not to be missed is a tour of their lovely house where you can enjoy a cool refreshing drink and sweet savory treats before it's time to head back to the ship.

Please note: This tour includes a limited amount of walking and steps.

(Alternate) STL-007 Island Splendor 3 hours
Driving away from your familiar surroundings, plunge into the fun that this tour offers. Leisurely driving through our capital city of Castries, bypass our local Market, Cathedral, Derek Walcott Square and Central Library, while learning the interesting facts about them all!

Your next stop is La Toc Battery, an authentic 19th century British fort built to defend the island against foreign invasion of the vital coaling stations of St. Lucia. La Toc offers a fabulous representation of the British military in the late 19th century. You will see dimly lit tunnels, a shell store, an original shell lift and old ventilation shafts.

Travelling on you will pass banana plantations set between undulating hills before stopping for a brief visit in the rustic village of Anse La Raye with tiny wooden houses - some 100 years old. Enjoy the country scenery as you travel towards beautiful Marigot Bay. This tranquil blue lagoon is a paradise surrounded by green hills and a palm-ringed shoreline. Marigot Bay is an exceptionally beautiful natural yacht harbour and a haven for all. Three words capture its setting: "magical", "exotic" and "idyllic".

St. Marks is an old colonial style house, which is strategically placed high up in the hills and offers a panoramic view. Capture the magnificence of the Castries harbor amidst the deep blue sea with a green backdrop. On a clear day, view Martinique out in the distance along the northern coastline. Enjoy some typical Creole snacks and a tasty rum punch or fruit juice after your tour of this colonial home. As the bus descends Morne Fortune, you are sure to return "home" with a smile.

Please note: There are steps at La Toc Battery as well as St. Mark's (25) from the ground floor to first floor. Menu items are subject to change and may vary.

Day 6, Sat, Nov 10 St. George’s, Grenada (8AM – 9PM)
Whether you enjoy climbing waterfalls or simply relaxing on sun-kissed beaches, you will find that the capital of Grenada has something for everyone. From the moment you arrive, you will not only be charmed by a colorful mix of colonial architecture set on lush vegetation, but also be enchanted by the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg. Be sure to visit one of the many spice estates or shop for exotic spices in the Market Square.

(EXCURSION 2) GND-006 Mountain Rainforest, Grand Etang, Annandale 4 hours
Experience the natural beauty of Grenada on this tour that has you visiting historical sites as well as the peaceful rainforest and beautiful waterfalls. Your tour begins by traveling through Grenada's quaint capital of George's Town, with its aromatic spice markets and red-tiled roofs. Taking the western main road to Gouyave, you will pass through the villages of Grand Mal and Happy Hill before arriving at Beauseajour Bay. This Bay gained recognition as being one of the bays the United States frogmen landed on during the military intervention led by U.S. Forces on October 25, 1983. From Beausejour, your journey continues through Brizan, Concord, Marigot and Grand Roy before arriving at the Dougaldston Spice Estate - a historical monument of Grenada's past and the site of your first stop.

From here, you will next make your way to Gouyave, which is Grenada's fishing village, and described as the town that never sleeps. During a stop here, you will have the opportunity to visit the Nutmeg Receiving Station.

Your tour next takes you over the spectacular Belvedere Road, passing through verdant growths of cocoa, nutmeg, banana and various other spices on your way to shimmering Grand Etang Lake which is found in the central part of the island. This cobalt blue, lake which exists in the crater of an extinct volcano, is situated a breathtaking 1,900 feet above sea level. During your visit, you will have time to for a refreshing drink at the Park's Visitors' Center. Your descent from Grand Etang follows a route through magnificent hanging carpets of green mountain fern as you drive to Annandale Falls. Exiting your coach, a short but steep walk brings you to a green paradise of rushing water and hanging ferns. At Annandale, some of Grenada's 450 species of flowering and medicinal plants and spices can be seen.

Your return trip to St. George's has you traveling through the villages of Snug Corner, Beaulieu, Tempe and up Marrast Hill to the St. George's Pier where your tour concludes.

Please note: This tour involves approximately 1 hour of moderate walking with a steep uphill to negotiate at Annandale.

(alternate) GND-004 Discover Grenada 7 ½ hours (lunch)
This comprehensive full-day tour provides the perfect opportunity to experience Grenada's most notable sights. Your day begins at the pier where you will set off in your coach for Fort Frederick. The construction of the fort began by the French in 1779 and completed by the British in 1783. A chain of forts (Fort Matthew, Fort Lucas, and Fort Adolphus) adjoining Fort Frederick are said to be connected by a network of underground tunnels. Large underground cisterns which held water for Her Majesty's troops are still in use today. The Fort's ideal location situated on a ridge that rises 800 feet above sea level, offers visitors superb panoramic views of the horseshoe shaped harbor, Fort George, picturesque St. George's and Richmond Hill Prisons.

From Fort Frederick, your tour continues up hill, passing through the villages of Tempe, Beaulieu and Snug Corner to Grand Etang. Marvel at the magnificent hanging carpets of green mountain ferns while en route to Grand Etang, located in the central part of the island. This cobalt blue, lake which exists in the crater of an extinct volcano, is situated a breathtaking 1,900 feet above sea level. During your visit, you will have time to for a refreshing drink at the Park's Visitors' Center. Your journey next travels to the River Antoine Estate, where you will view the oldest functioning water wheel in the Western hemisphere and experience the age old rum making process. At the end of your guided tour, you will be treated to a sample of their rum.

Next comes a true Grenadian moment, the experience of relaxing and dining at the unique and impressive Belmont Estate. The Estate is one of the oldest functioning plantations in Grenada and dates back to the 1700s. During your visit, you will have a guided tour of the Coca Fermentary and the Estate's museum. Following your guided tour, enjoy a delicious buffet lunch at the Estate before it's time to re-join your coach for the afternoon segment of your tour.

Making your way toward Victoria, you will pass through town of Sauteurs and see the Carib's Leap, a prominent point of historical interest which your guide will point out, as well as pass through the villages of Chantimele and Union. From Victoria, you will proceed to the town of Gouyave, which is the island's largest fishing village and is also described as the town that never sleeps. At Gouyave, a visit will be made at the Dougaldston Spice Estate - a historical monument of Grenada's past. Your return route has you traveling through Grand Roy and Marigot before reaching Concord, the site of your final stop at the Concord Water Falls.

Everything good must come to an end, and as you draw near to the St. George's port, you will pass through the villages of Brizan and Beauseaur - one of the bays the United States frogmen landed on during the military intervention led by the U.S. forces on October 25, 1983, and then Happy Hill and Grand Mal.

Please note: This tour involves approximately 3 1/2 hours of moderate/strenuous walking/standing.

Day 7, Sun, Nov 11 Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago (7AM – 4PM)
THANKSGIVING DAY. Discover colorful Port of Spain with its rich multicultural heritage, skyscrapers, lush gardens, and early 20th Century mansions. Explore The Savannah, a vast 260-acre park and its orchid house. Indulge in a chilled fresh coconut from one of the park’s vendors. Visit the National Museum and Art Gallery, The Red House and The Magnificent Seven, a row of beautifully restored mansions dating from the Colonial era. Admire the clock tower in the Queen’s Royal College. Frederick St. offers fabulous restaurants, galleries and world-class shopping. Look for local artwork, fine clothing and other unique souvenirs. Enjoy fresh seafood, roti or callaloo while moving to the rhythm of Calypso music in this dynamic setting.

(EXCURSION 3) PST-004 Asa Wright Nature Center 6 hours (lunch)
Visit the spectacular Asa Wright Nature Center, a protected paradise of nearly 1,500 mountainous acres that supports an incredible diversity of wildlife, especially tropical birds. Depart from the pier and begin a scenic drive east into the heart of Trinidad. Along the way you'll pass through rainforests, mountain passes, and cocoa and coffee plantations. Nature rules here, and Trinidad has ensured that it will remain protected, especially the pristine Arima and Aripo valleys, where you'll find the Asa Wright Nature Center.

Established in 1967 as one of the Caribbean's first nature centers, it comprises nearly 1,500 acres of mainly forested land in Trinidad's mountainous Northern Range. A leader in ecotourism long before the word was even coined Asa Wright is home to thousands of species of birds, mammals, butterflies and flowering plants.

Accompanied by a naturalist guide, who'll point out the wildlife, you'll follow meandering walkways into the forest, where there's no telling what you'll see. Ornate hawk-eagles nest near the main house, golden-headed manikins dart through the trees, and the bell-like call of the bearded bellbird can be heard continuously. Not to be outdone, countless butterflies usually flit from flower to flower, iguanas perch in the trees, and nine-banded armadillos roam the forest floor digging for food.

Even if you prefer to stay in the estate house and just watch the birds in the feeders, it's an immensely rewarding experience. Following a bountiful buffet lunch at the center, you'll drive back to the pier.

Please note: This tour includes approximately 75-minutes of moderate walking/hiking plus any additional walking at the guests' discretion during free time. Guests should be in good physical condition.

Day 8, Mon, Nov 12 Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#3 of 10)

Day 9, Tue, Nov 13 Cruising the Coast of Brazil (#4 of 10)

Day 10, Wed, Nov 14 Cruising the Amazon River (#5 of 10)
But maybe there will be something interesting to see.

Day 11, Thu, Nov 15 Santarem, Brazil (9AM – 6PM)
The first settlement in Santarem was a Jesuit mission built in 1661. Today, Santarem is one of the Amazon's most important trading centers, and is rich in legend and nature. The town is situated at the point where the Tapajos and the Amazon waters meet. This is called the "Wedding of the Waters" and is one of Santarem's major attractions. The lakes and forests of this area are home to numerous species of birds, particularly the white egret.

(EXCURSION 4) STR-002 River Tour, Eco Maica Lake 3 ½ hours
This is a rare opportunity for you to explore the ecosystem of the Amazon on board a special riverboat. The lakes and vegetation of this section of the Amazon are home to numerous species of unique flora. You'll depart on a local boat for a leisurely, hour-long cruise down two beautiful rivers, the Tapajos and Amazonas. The "Meeting of the Waters" takes place near Santarem, where the waters of the two rivers run side by side and can be clearly seen., each bearing its own individual color. You'll then approach the entrance of Maica Lake, where native homes and local vegetation can be seen. Your boat will anchor at the entrance of Maica Lake, and if river conditions permit, your guide will distribute line and bait and teach you how to fish for the voracious and fearsome piranha.

Please note: This tour includes limited walking but guests must be able to enter and exit the tour boat with limited assistance. Although the boats have a PA system, the noise of the engine may make hearing the narration by your guide difficult; however, opportunities will present themselves for question and answer dialogue with your guide.

(alternate) STR-001 S. City Highlights 3 ½ hours
This tour focuses on the highlights of Santarem, a city with a history that dates back to 1661. Today, it is one of the Amazon's most important trading centers and is rich in legend and nature. Begin with a drive along the bustling waterfront of Santarem where boats from all over the Amazon dock. As boats are the main mode of transportation for people in this region, it is common to see both passenger and cargo vessels transporting many different products to the market. Continue on to visit Santarem's Cathedral and the Town Hall Museum which displays valuable pottery made by the Tupaiu Indians.

Next, drive to a native village and visit the Casa da Farinha where you can see the extraction of rubber from rubber trees as well as seeing other native trees and plants.

Please note: This tour includes a moderate amount of walking. The tour sequence may vary and it is important to note that in this under-developed destination, the best available coaches are often old and do not have air-conditioning. In the event the Town Hall museum is not available, it will be replaced with a visit to the Sacred Art Museum.

Day 12, Fri, Nov 16 Boca Da Valera, Brazil (tender) (8AM – 2PM)
We travel to experience life beyond the ordinary. Nestled on a 400 ft hill overlooking the Amazon, Boca Da Valeria is an Indian village located between Parintins and Santarem. This is an opportunity for you to wander at leisure through the small settlement or simply relax on board and take in up-close views of the rich equatorial vegetation from the ship. Ashore, you will find log canoes, grass huts, and a life of hunting and fishing unchanged since the time of the early explorers. Please be advised that due to the under-developed nature of this destination, organized tours are not available.

Day 13, Sat, Nov 17 Manaus, Brazil (8AM – overnight)
Manaus, the “Paris of the Jungle,” is the capital of Brazil’s state of Amazonas. The former river village rests along the left bank of the Rio Negro, which merges with the mighty Amazon. Carved from the dense jungle by rubber barons in the 19th century, Manaus has become an ideal starting or ending point for visitors to the mid-Amazon region. Riverboats can be taken through the myriad of tributaries, estuaries and small creeks, where the richest wildlife can be seen. Attractions include the stunning Renaissance-style Opera House and the Customs House, prefabricated in Liverpool England complete with clock tower and known as “Little Big Ben.”

(EXCURSION 5) MAO-008 River, Rubber, Museum, Native Village 5 hours
Enjoy a leisurely cruise up the Rio Negro to watch tribal rituals in a jungle village and then learn about Brazil’s early 20th-century rubber boom at a nearby rubber plantation. After boarding your river boat at the pier, you will cruise up the wide, slow-moving Rio Negro, a river whose jet-black color comes from the decomposition of organic matter in the water. Although the Rio Negro looks murky, it is one of the world’s cleanest rivers. As you cruise upstream, you should see an abundance of wildlife, especially tropical birds such as macaws, toucans and parakeets. You might even spot sloths and howler monkeys on the way to the small tribal village of Tupé in the Amazon rainforest.

Upon arriving, you will watch several rituals that the village shaman and members of the Dessana tribe will perform. Chances are, they will be wearing headdresses, body paint and garlands made from leaves as they show you around the village and describe their traditional way of life.

From Tupé, you’ll continue by boat to visit the Seringal Felicidade, located on the left bank of the Tarumã Mirim Creek part of the river. Your guide will offer a brief introduction to the rubber industry here; then, you’ll have time to walk the trails and learn firsthand the history of the rubber boom, which took place around the turn of the 20th century. Discover how the Golden Era began and hear about the incredible money made at the expense of the seringueiros, or rubber tappers, who lived and worked in appalling conditions and faced very real danger from snakes and other predators. You will also learn about the simple economic principles that eventually brought the Brazilian rubber industry to its knees.

The Rubber Museum opened in 2002 in the middle of the jungle, and is a replica rubber estate inspired by Portuguese writer Ferreira de Castro’s best-selling book The Jungle. The facility has been used as background scenery for many wide- and small-screen productions depicting the boom era in rubber. The plantation also features some Brazil nut trees and is decorated with articles and equipment used in the rubber industry heyday. Following this enlightening jungle adventure, you will cruise back down the Rio Negro and return to the pier.

Please note: This tour includes just over 2 hours of moderate to strenuous walking/standing over some uneven and sandy terrain. Boarding the river boat requires negotiating a gangplank and some steps with limited assistance. Travel time in the boat is approximately 2 1/2 hours. Participants should be in good physical condition. Weather appropriate light-weight clothing to include a waterproof outer layer as this is the rainy season. There are no restroom facilities available on the riverboat; however, there are restrooms at the Rubber Museum. While your guide will do his/her best to speak English, please keep in mind that the limited tourism infrastructure of Manaus is part of the city’s charm. Participants are encouraged to eat a hearty breakfast or bring an energy/granola bar along, as this tour includes no meal.

Day 14, Sun, Nov 18 Manaus, Brazil (- 5PM)
Continue exploration of Manaus and the area.

(Excursion 6) MAO-009 The Best of Manaus 6 ½ hours (lunch) extra cost $$$
See both ends of the cultural spectrum by observing wildlife at jungle research center and zoo and then browsing one of the world’s grandest opera houses. After departing from the pier, you will soon pass several Manaus landmarks, including the more than 100-year-old prefabricated Customs House and the palatial home of an early 20th-century rubber baron. Upon entering the jungle surrounding Manaus, you will follow the inky waters of the Rio Negro and continue on to the open-air museum and Amazonian research station Bosque da Ciencia.

Here you will observe endangered manatee, caimans in ponds, otters and electric eels, all of which live in the waters of the Amazon River and its countless tributaries. There is also a botanical garden full of exotic orchids at the research center and jungle animals such as squirrel monkeys and sloths living on the grounds.

Continuing on, you will drive to the Military Zoo where you will see more wildlife. The zoo is maintained by the Brazilian army in an effort to protect endangered species. Opened in 1969, the zoo serves as a safe haven for animals such as jaguars, tapirs and pied tamarins that have been rescued from hunters and animal traffickers.

Next, enjoy a tasty buffet lunch at a local barbeque restaurant before resuming your tour with a visit to Manaus’ most iconic landmark, the lavish Teatro Amazonas opera house. Built in 1896 during the rubber boom, this ornate Renaissance-style theater was constructed with materials from all over Europe, including Carrara marble, French roof tiles and Murano chandeliers. It’s an architectural gem and the acoustics are still perfect. Performances here range from single guitar concerts to entire ballet companies and philharmonic orchestras. Following your visit, you will have some time to take photos in the adjacent square before transferring back to the pier.

Please note: This tour includes approximately 2 1/2 hours of moderate walking/standing that includes some uneven surfaces and steps to negotiate. While your guide will do his/her best to speak English, please keep in mind that the limited tourism infrastructure of Manaus is part of the city’s charm, and we kindly ask for your patience with any language difficulties you may encounter.

or MAO-003 Meeting of the Waters Cruise 4 ½ hours
Begin with a scenic riverboat cruise on the Rio Negro toward a small cluster of islands. At a convenient landing stage, you will switch to motorized canoes and cruise the narrow channels in the tropical forest, affording a closer look at this equatorial forest land. Cruise through Lake January and admire the giant water lilies, Victoria Regia, if the river's level permits. An English naturalist named them after Queen Victoria. These plants have huge leaves, measuring as much as six feet across. After returning to the landing, you will re-board your riverboat and proceed down river for an opportunity to view the Meeting of the Waters. This natural phenomenon occurs when the dark, clear waters of the Rio Negro and the muddy, yellow waters of the Solimões River flow side by side for several miles before merging. Where these two rivers meet is the official starting point of the Amazon.

Please note: There is minimal walking on this tour but guests must be able to enter and exit the riverboat (by gangplank) and motorized canoes with limited assistance. If not able to board the motorized canoe, you may be asked to remain on the main riverboat. There is no guarantee you will see the Water Lilies.

Day 15, Mon, Nov 19 Parintins, Brazil (tender) (11AM – 7PM)
The small village of Parintins on Tupinambarana Island is situated in the largest river archipelago of the mid-Amazon. Steeped in centuries-old Indian culture, this village is celebrates an annual “Boi Bumba” festival. The yearly folkloric festival, considered second only to Carnival in Rio, is held in June but the townspeople reenact the festival for visitors throughout the year.

(EXCURSION 7) PAR-002 Parintins Highlights 2 hours
Drive about the charming island city of Parintins visiting its landmarks, most of which revolve around its flamboyant annual folk festival. Depart from the pier and before long you will begin passing through an unusual residential area where the houses are painted either red or blue. The red houses belong to residents who favor the Garantido bull in the city’s annual boi-bumba folk festival; the blue houses are for those who prefer the more capricious bull, known as Caprichoso. The symbol of the bull, which celebrates Parintins’ ranching roots, first gained prominence in 1913 when singers in bull costumes roamed the streets performing.

The epicenter of the festival is the Bumbodromo arena, which you will see is shaped like the head of a bull. The arena holds 35,000 people but Parintins’ population swells to more than four times that during the festival so imagine the spectacle throughout the city.

As you continue to drive through Parintins, you may notice public phone booths shaped like bullheads and an unexpectedly large number of vehicles painted red or blue. However, the new cathedral is refreshingly devoid of bull symbolism. You can’t miss its distinctive clock tower, which stands nearby as the city’s tallest structure.

Still, you can’t completely escape the influence of the boi-bumba festival. As a final stop, you will visit the factory where some of the huge, outlandish floats are being constructed for the next festival. Afterwards, you will return to the pier.

Please note: This tour includes approximately 1-hour of easy walking/standing. Guests are advised that Parintins has a developing tourist infrastructure and therefore; tour options, qualified guides and availability of tour vehicles is limited.

(EXCURSION 8) PAR-001 Boi Bumba Folk Show 1 hour
Experience a taste of Amazonian folklore and festivity during this exclusive exhibit of the Boi-Bumba celebration. The people of Parintins exude a vibrant glow of beauty, happiness and pride in their culture as they carry on a part of their rich tradition that is rooted in a 19th-century fable.

Tender from the ship to the floating port and a short walk across the floating bridge will take you to the modern and full air-conditioned Parintins Convention Center, where a festive atmosphere awaits and a delicious caipirinha drink welcomes you as the air of excitement and anticipation rises. You will then be led to the seating area to enjoy this very special presentation.

With song and dance, the performers will celebrate the joy of life in a mesmerizing display of revelry. The captivating story of the Boi-Bumba will unfold before you, with the " Sinhazinha da Fazenda" and "Cunha-Poranga", two of the most beautiful performers; intriguing man-made bull - the "Paje" the medicine man of the tribe and many other actors of this enchanting tale. With colorful costumes and "Bumba" sounds this is truly a feast for eyes and ears.

At the conclusion of this traditional performance, you will have an opportunity to appreciate the lavishly designed costumes, and possibly meet the performers from the show. This spectacular performance is an event that should not be missed! Loud, rhythmic music can be expected. You will return to the floating pier for the short tender trip back to your ship.

Please note: This tour is capacity controlled, as the venue holds 380 guests. There is an approximately 15 minute walk (approx. 500 meters) to get to and from the venue. There is no transport available to transfer guests so you must be able to walk up to 500 meters to reach the venue in order to participate in this tour. The venue is air conditioned.

Day 16, Tue, Nov 20 Alter Do Chao, Brazil (tender) (8AM – 4PM)
Twenty-five miles from the city of Santarém in Brazil is the Amazon River community of Alter Do Chao, named after the flat-topped hill that provides a natural backdrop. This small island is located on the Rio Tapajos, offering quaint cottages along the white-sand beaches lined with leafy palm trees. Thanks to its Indian handicrafts, lush vegetation, turquoise lagoon and amazingly clear water, Alter Do Chão has become a popular destination for travelers. Please be advised that due to the under-developed nature of this destination, organized tours are not available.

Day 17, Wed, Nov 21 Cruising the Amazon River (#6 of 10)
Again, maybe there will be something interesting to see.

Day 18, Thu, Nov 22 Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#7 of 10)

Day 19, Fri, Nov 23 Devil’s Island, French Guiana (tender) (8AM – 5PM)

French Guiana is best known for the infamous penal colony to which convicts and undesirables were deported from France. For a long time the small archipelago was known by the name of “Devil’s Island.” The notorious convict settlements were built in 1852. Today, discover a lush, green landscape, where tropical foliage has grown over the old prison buildings and softened their aspect from forbidding to quaint. The most famous prisoners were Alfred Dreyfus, the French Army officer falsely convicted of treason, and Henri Charrière, who was immortalized in the movie “Papillon” for supposedly being the only convict to escape from “the Green Hell.” Please be advised that due to the under-developed nature of this destination, organized tours are not available.

Day 20, Sat, Nov 24 Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#8 of 10)

Day 21, Sun, Nov 25 Bridgetown, Barbados (8AM - 5PM)
The island of Barbados is rimmed with mile after mile of pristine beaches. The eastern edge, rugged and hilly, lies on the Atlantic Ocean. The west coast, washed by the calmer leeward sea has most of the resort hotels. It is here that you will find the capital, Bridgetown, and older colonial settlements. Tour the meticulously restored 17th-century Sunbury Plantation House or admire the spectacular views from Gun Hill Signal Station. Adventures abound at sea by catamaran or Atlantis submersible and on land by an off-road island safari. Not to miss delicacies include the sweet and tender flying fish, washed down with a glass of Barbados’ famous Mount Gay rum.

(EXCURSION 9) BDS-6200 Capture Barbados Photo Tour 4 hours
Capture the pristine natural beauty of Barbados during this half-day photo tour with renowned Barbadian photographer Ronnie Carrington. Accompanied by Ronnie Carrington, you will depart the pier for your photo tour through Barbados. Ronnie is a leading Barbadian photographer and television producer who is renowned for his stunning and thought-provoking black and white images. He has documented on film many aspects of life in Barbados and the wider Caribbean, and is recognized as a national and international photographic exhibitor and judge. Ronnie's work has also appeared in magazines, on calendars and on his own line of postcards, and he regularly teaches photography courses at regional and national institutions.

Along the way, Ronnie will provide you with photographic tips and interesting information about the island in a fresh, exciting and interactive manner. Highlights during your photo tour will include visits to Sandy Lane Estate, St. Thomas Parish Church, the ancient Scotland District, Barclay's Park and Bathsheba, perhaps the island's most picturesque locale.

A refreshing drink will be offered in one of the traditional rum shops along the route, and a brief stop will be made at Barclay's Park before re-boarding your coach for the return drive to the pier.

Day 22, Mon, Nov 26 St. John’s, Antigua (12PM – 7PM)
Touting 365 beaches, most protected by coral reefs; a ring of forts; and quaint Colonial architecture, Antigua, and particularly St. John’s, is a classic example of the British Caribbean. Sites to see include St. John’s Cathedral, destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt on the same spot at least three times, the last time in 1845; and the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda, which, in addition to island history, also offers a fascinating exhibition of semiprecious stones. For a stroll in nature, make your way to Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, or the nature trail to Shirley Heights. St. John’s offers several hot spots for nightlife and live music. And be sure to stop at a local restaurant to taste the buttery “flying fish,” unique to this part of the Caribbean.

(EXCURSION 10) SJH-001 Best of Antigua 3 ½ hours
Antigua has a beautiful national park in which lies the famous English Harbor and Nelson's Dockyard, named after Horatio Nelson. Journey through the center of the island and appreciate the history, architecture, music and culture that this unique place has to offer. Drive past quaint villages where old churches, rum shops and small chattel houses showcase the West Indian style and culture. Your first stop will be at Dow's Hill, offering one of the best panoramic views on the island - perfect for taking photos. Take a short guided tour of the area and enjoy a multimedia presentation at the onsite visitors' center. From here, you will proceed to the Blockhouse Ruins, standing 446 feet above the Atlantic Ocean on a sheer cliff. In 1787, this was a principal lookout post for the British. The remains of the powder magazine, gun platforms, water catchment, officer's barracks and 32-pound cannon can be seen. You can also see the prestigious St. James Club on Marmora Bay and the home of musician Eric Clapton.

Take a drive to Shirley Heights Lookout, the southernmost point in Antigua. Be sure to enjoy the sweeping views of the harbor and ocean far below. On a clear day, you may even be able to see the volcanic island of Montserrat, located 28 miles out to sea.

Conclude your fun day with a visit to Nelson's Dockyard Village, one of the most popular attractions in the eastern Caribbean. This naval base was built in 1725 to provide a base for a squadron of ships patrolling the West Indies to maintain England's sea power. The Georgian naval dockyards are still in use today. Enjoy a complimentary beverage at an 18th-century inn, and explore the museum, mystery pillars and bakery. Admire the sleek yachts tied to the old stone quay before you return to the ship.

Day 23, Tue, Nov 27 San Juan, Puerto Rico (12PM – 9PM)
11/2017: Due to massive damage from the Hurricanes now only a year ago in 2017, I would expect that Oceania would change the cruise sequence and not go to Puerto Rico. And if they do, I would I would NOT go on the excursion below due to massive forestation damage. And the cities, including San Juan, have been so heavily damaged that there probably isn't much to see there also. So what is the alternative? Maybe back to the Dominican Republic?

Puerto Rico's first inhabitants were the Taino Indians, who encountered Columbus in 1493. The Spanish quickly settled, defending their territory against the Dutch and British. This is evident by the imposing fortresses of Old San Juan, namely the El Morro Castle, dominating the old section of this capital city. In 1897, Spain declared Puerto Rico an autonomous state. Spain later ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. and residents were granted American citizenship in 1917.

(EXCURSION 11) SJU-003 Rainforest Nature Walk 4 ¼ hours I'll PASS on this
Explore the flora and fauna of Puerto Rico's idyllic rainforest during scenic visits to El Yunque and El Portal. Depart from the pier for the transfer to the Caribbean National Forest, a 28,000-acre rainforest and bird sanctuary that comprises 75% of the virgin forests left in Puerto Rico, and is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. The region's substantial annual rainfall helps sustain 50 types of ferns, 20 varieties of wild orchids and 250 species of trees, some over 1,000 years old and 100 feet tall. El Yunque, named for its 3,500-foot anvil-shaped peak, is situated within the forest.

Day 24, Wed, Nov 28 Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#9 of 10)

Day 25, Thu, Nov 29 Cruising the Atlantic Ocean (#10 of 10)

Day 26, Fri, Nov 30 Miami (7AM)
Time to escape and take that usual flight home. Up at 5:30 (4:30 Houston time) to dress and take the elevator up 5 decks for the 6AM visit to the feeding trough. Arrive back in Miami and are called to disembark about 8:30 and transfer (included) to the airport about 10. Since I have an earlier flight this time, maybe I can go ahead and get signed in and dump my luggage. “Only” about 5 hours until flight time.

United 631Miami – IAH3:00P - 4:55P2:55

Arrive back home about 5 but due to evening traffic I probably won’t get home until 6:30 or 7. It is only 25 days until Christmas.

The "Barge" - the SIRENA

The ship is the SIRENA, sister ship to the REGATTA from 2016, and the INSIGNIA from the LAX-CANAL-MIAMI trip earlier this year. It carries 684 cattle. It is the same ship I was just on for the "Cuba" cruise. I chose a “C2 Deluxe Ocean View” cabin, 165 square feet which is about the same as the Veranda cabin on the Regatta, but minus the veranda but with a large porthole window – not the usual small round porthole.

My "Kennel" is #4011, far forward, starboard.

OCEANIA (and others?) CRUISES:
Cruise 1 – 2016 Western Caribbean – Caribbean Charisma --- REGATTA, 684 cattle
Cruise 2 – 2016 Eastern Caribbean – Heart of the Caribbean --- RIVIERA, 1250 cattle

Cruise 3 - 2018 APR Seaside Sojourn --- MARINA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 4 – 2018 JUN LAX - Miami – East Meets West --- INSIGNIA, 684 cattle
Cruise 5 - 2018 OCT Cuba (8 days) --- SIRENA, 684 cattle
Cruise 6 - 2018 NOV Amazon (26 days) --- SIRENA, 684 cattle

Cruise 7 - 2019 JAN Reefs and Ruins (11 days) --- RIVIERA, 1250 cattle
Cruise 8 - 2020 to be determined
Cruise 9 - 2021 to be determined
Cruise X – 2020/21 Rode Skalur / HAL --- Zuiderdam, 2000+ cattle