Expert Aboard: Delfin Amazon Cruises Review

May 25, 2023 • Arielle Lightcap

Read Delfin Amazon cruises reviews from our experts who’ve been, as well as Delfin cruise reviews from our travelers. Learn the nuances of these three riverboats in the Amazon and why you might want to get aboard. Hear from AdventureSmith Specialist Arielle Lightcap who sailed aboard the Delfin III and toured all the ships, and find additional insights from Specialist Andrew Browning who sailed aboard the Delfin I a few years prior.

ON THIS PAGE Delfin Amazon Cruises Reviews:
Choosing Your Ship
Choosing Your Cabin
A Review of the Food
Favorite Excursions
Who Is This Trip For?
More Delfin Amazon Cruise Reviews & Comments

Choosing Your Delfin Ship

If you’re looking to sail aboard the Delfin fleet on an Amazon cruise, first and foremost you’ll want to understand some key differences about these three ships. And also know that no matter which you choose, you are in good hands. Each ship is a part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux, meaning they are individually owned (in this case by a single family) and devoted to creating a better world through cuisine and hospitality.

After seeing each of the boats, I’m slightly partial to the 43-guest Delfin III, but it all depends on your individual needs. The Delfin III is the largest of the fleet which allows passengers to find a private nook to hang out between excursions. It’s also the only ship with a communal plunge pool. Since the Delfin III is the newest of the fleet, I felt it was the most modern and upscale.

The Delfin I reminds me of a houseboat that would be prefect for a family charter. Since it carries just 8 passengers, it is perhaps the most exclusive and intimate cruise you can take in the Peruvian Amazon. It features private plunge pools in two of the suites. Though it has only 4 cabins, it can accommodate up to 12 guests by making each cabin a triple. My coworker Andrew was aboard this ship and raved about the cool dips he was able to take from his suite, as well as additional photography opportunities from his private deck.

Finally, there is the 28-guest Delfin II. This middle-ground ship is my recommendation for those looking to cruise longer since it offers a 10-day Upper Amazon cruise itinerary that uniquely puts National Geographic experts on board for an even more in-depth exploration of the jungle.

The Peruvian Amazon Delfin fleet all cruise the river side by side. From L to R: Delfin III, Delfin I, Delfin II
L to R: Delfin III, Delfin I, Delfin II

Choosing Your Cabin

From the moment I stepped on board I was impressed by how well adorned all of these boats are. Even the cabin hallways smell good! These ships aren’t so upscale that they feel out of place, but I could tell the owners care about making their guests comfortable.

My cabin on Delfin III was on the Upper Deck, which I would recommend over the Main Deck because it seemed to be quieter and more private since the rooms are elevated on the ship. The upper deck cabins are also closer to the dining room, lecture lounge and sundeck. You can consider Corner and Owner’s Suites on this ship if you want some extra amenities and bonuses like a complimentary spa treatment.

On Delfin I, there’s less to choose from with only 4 suites (all with private balconies and the same general layout), but the biggest difference is that the Deluxe Suites (the two on the lower deck), have little plunge pools on your private balcony. These refreshing pools are perfect for two passengers and are incredible when you return from jungle excursions.

Delfin II has the unique feature of several inter-connecting suites so this ship could be a great choice for larger families.


One-on-one advice from experts
who’ve been there

A Review of the Food Aboard Delfin

Meals on any Delfin riverboat feature locally sourced ingredients that are prepared according to a menu made by a renowned Peruvian chef. For breakfast, expect sharable plates of various fresh fruits, meats, cheeses, juices and bread, along with eggs made to order and additional dishes that change each day. Lunches are three-course meals that are lighter than what is served at dinner. The four-course dinners are healthy with excellent presentation. Many dishes feature exotic fruits from the tropics as well as locally caught fish. Passengers who are accustomed to eating in fine restaurants will be absolutely thrilled with the meals on this cruise.

A highlight on my cruise was a cooking class with the chef and a pisco sour class with the bartenders—quite refreshing during the heat of the day! It was interesting to learn about local foods and how they are incorporated into the ship’s dining experience, a big part of why these ships were welcomed into the prestigious Relais & Châteaux. The ship also sources its décor from the local communities, which adds to its connection to the region.

What We Did Aboard

All ships and itineraries explore the Pacaya Samaria Reserve by skiff, on foot and by kayak, covering different sections of the Marañon, Ucuyali and Amazon Rivers. Our daily excursions occurred in the early morning when the birds and wildlife were most active. 

From the back of the skiff 4 guests face the naturalist guide who is at the front holding a map giving a talk.

We would embark by skiff as early as 6:00am up small tributaries as the forest would awaken around us. We spotted a wide variety of birds from the water, and our expert guide was knowledgeable and patient as he helped everyone see what he was spotting among the jungle foliage.

Each day, we would return to the vessel as the daytime heat increased, and the crew would always have fresh, ice-cold juices waiting for our arrival. The captain would then set course for our next location along the rivers as we enjoyed some downtime to relax before lunch. Afternoon excursions also happened daily and usually ended with us coming back to the Delfin around sunset.

Andrew’s Favorite Moments from His Delfin I Amazon Cruise:

Highlights from my 4-day voyage were spotting primates during the jungle walks, fishing for piranhas with basic poles with pieces of meat as bait, shooting amazing reflection photos and visiting the small village of Pedro Miguel. 

My favorite afternoon excursion was when we took a skiff up a calm tributary to find that the crew had launched kayaks for us to paddle with the current down a calm and reflective section of river. We could take our time paddling in the shade of the jungle as birds settled in for the night and amphibians emerged from resting in the day. I loved paddling around and checking out the shoreline, pausing to take photos of my fellow travelers as the current gently brought us downstream to meet the skiff and crew. 

Arielle’s Favorite Moments her Delfin III Amazon Cruise:

My first evening on the ship I joined a skiff ride into a smaller river off the main Maranon River. For about 2 hours we explored along the river’s edge searching for wildlife and it did not disappoint. We saw monkeys, a two-toed sloth and so many birds. We also took a few moments of silence to listen to the sounds of the jungle. Another highlight for me was my first sighting of the pink river dolphin, and a jungle walk ended with a series of hanging bridges that tested my stability and challenged my confidence with heights. I also really enjoyed looking at the flora of the jungle, which is very different from my home in the mountains.

Two women wearing wide brimmed hats walk down a suspension bridge through the canopy of the Peruvian Amazon.

On the final day, I disembarked the ship and transferred back to Iquitos where we had one last stop at a manatee rescue and rehabilitation center. The center’s role is to rescue not only manatees but also other exotic animals that people illegally kept as pets and to bring awareness to animal poaching and exotic animal trade. The goal is to reintroduce the animals and birds into the wild if possible.

During a Delfin cruise a male traveler knees down to pet the head of a manatee at the manatee rescue and rehabilitation center in Iquitos, Peru.

This special stop is included on any Delfin cruise and leaves you with a sense of purpose and connection to the animals of the region, and helps you understand the importance of keeping them safe. We met scientists and volunteers at the facility, and many travelers will have the opportunity to feed manatees while there. My group didn’t get to, but Andrew’s aboard Delfin I were each able to feed the manatees from a bottle and also some bananas and leaves. “This was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget,” Andrew said. 

Who Is a Good Fit for These Ships?

I would recommend a Delfin cruise to anyone interested in learning more about the Peruvian Amazon with guides who grew up in the area. The connection the Delfin boats have to the region is unlike any other; the Peruvian Amazon is all that they do. And the founders/owners established this company to fulfill their dream of sharing the beauty of the Amazon. You will feel their special touch no doubt and have a true jungle safari experience in the most comfortable and stylish of accommodations. There are other Amazon cruise ship accommodations that might technically be a step up in luxury, but I believe these ships offer the full authentic package.

Brightly colored wood and thatch houses on stilts in a small local village of Pedro Miguel in the Peruvian Amazon.
Photo by Andrew Browning

To view more photos from these trips, see Andrew’s Delfin I Amazon Cruise Facebook album and Arielle’s Delfin III Facebook album.

Read more Amazon cruise reviews, comment with your own Delfin Amazon cruise reviews or view testimonials from our traveling clients who’ve been aboard below.

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