Frequently asked questions which we hope answer your initial queries.
Q. What type of boat is the "Alyson" and how long is it?
A. Alyson is a regional hotel boat constructed in wood especially for tourism and is about 20 metres/60foot long.
Q. What accommodation does the Alyson offer?
A. All cabins are above deck, have the same size, air conditioning, (not 24hrs), opening windows, private bathrooms. Four cabins have a double bed with a pullout over-head bed so they can accommodate a couple, couple + youngster, or two singles. The three other cabins are similar but have 4 single beds. We comfortably take 12-16 passengers but, for example on student trips, we can take more passengers using hammocks.
Q. Where do you go?
A. We operate from Manaus and can navigate from Santarem up to Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira or Leticia. We principally sail on the Rio Negro as overall this has most interesting flora and fauna, beautiful scenery and few mosquitoes. All prices quoted allow for an average of eight hours cruising per day and our average speed is 13km/hr. Tourist canoes are provided with sufficient gasoline for use in the vicinity of the main boat. The minimum charter period is 3 days. We used to describe set tours but nearly all our tours have been tailor-made to suit the groups requirements.
Q. What facilities do you have on board?
A. We have a large observation top deck, The middle deck has a restaurant/lounge with 42"TV. DVD . CD, ipod inputs, GPS and sonar dislays The bar is well stocked and drinks are kept cool in large refrigerators. The lower deck has the kitchens with refrigeration services. Water is from our own artesian well and we avoid taking on others water. Q. Can you tell us a bit about the boats engineering?
A. The hull houses the 114hp 6 cylinder MWM propulsion unit with ZF transmission and the electrical energy is from a 15kVA Onan marine gen-set. There is also a 600A battery bank which provides basic services when the gen -set is off. The capacity of the combined diesel tanks is 2500 litres and gives a range of 1500 km without refuelling or extra fuel drums. Navigation equipment is by Furano and NSA. The engineering is supervised by myself, a retired European Charted Engineer.
Q. Do you have any canoes?
A. We have 4 fishing skiffs, a bit wider and more comfortable than canoes, and a 9m 16 seater wooden canoe popular for its stability. There are 5 Yamaha outboard motors from 15 to 25hp. We have sufficient fishing equipment for tourists but enthusiasts should bring their own.
Q. Do you supply guides?
A. Yes we normally use local English/Portuguese speaking guides but for some more scientifically based trips we have academic professionals at extra cost.
Q. OK sounds good up to now, so what does it cost, whats included and whats extra?
A. The charge per calender day is $150 per person for the first 8 passengers and $120 per person for a further eight passengers using the 4 berth cabins. There is always one more day than nights so for example an 8 day voyage with 7 nights is charged as 8 days. We need a minimum of 4 people to start a voyage and some restrictions on distances may apply. We provide an "open bar".for cooled water, succos, refrigerants, cocktails, and beers all included in this price. It doesn't include fine wines or specialist liqueurs but these can be pre-purchased for you. This free self service "open bar" is a feature normally offered only on expensive ships. A glass of table wine is provided at the evening meal.Three large thermos containers provide hot coffee , hot milk, and hot water. Personal laundry can be done by arrangement but there are wash bowls and clothes lines on the top deckfor your own use. So nearly everything is taken care of and you need l ittle cash for other items. Obviously included is accommodation, food, drinks, local guides, tourist canoe, gasoline and airport to boat transfers. Not included are academic professional guides, special permits, and long distance diesel or gasoline requirements.
Q. What about tips?
A. Well firstly tipping is not compulsory or it becomes a service charge. We provide passengers with three envelopes so that at the end of the voyage you may make a donation. One is for your tourist or fishing guide, one for the cook, and the other is for the marine crew . Please do not tip crew individually.
Q.What if I want to do a Peacock bass fishing trip in the season?
A.That's no problem with our fleet of motorised fishing skiffs with a driver/guide. With two anglers sharing a skiff the charge is only $60 per angler per day on top of our economic tourist rate. This may you save you thousands compared to what our competitors charge. Some anglers fish for giant catfish and we have had record results.
Q.Hey, What about a bit of discount?
A. We researched our competitors prices fairly extensively and priced competitevely despite the higher quality of our accomodation and facilities . A couple occupying a cabin may also bring a youngster under 18 years, son, daughter or grandchild for example, free of charge. (others charge 50%) For voyages involving low or high milage or long term charter please ask for a quotation.
Q. What features do you think makes your boat stand out over the others?
A. The overall comfort , facilities, competent guides, but most importantly the internationally aclaimed high standard of food preparation personally supervised by a director .A director always accompany each voyage to ensure its success.
Q. OK you've got me convinced, so how do I pay?
A. Well money is a good solution which can be by bank transfer, Visa or MasterCard. Half when booking and the other half 30 days before the start of a voyage. A reservation is only pencilled in till a deposit is made. The boat never sails unpaid.
Q. What if I or or my fellow passengers need special requirements or diets?
A. Were flexible on most things and have experience on various special diets.(e.g. gluten or peannut/soya free) but we should have advance notice.
Q. If I book a voyage will it be an exclusive charter?
A. Yes if you have booked 12 places or negotiated a whole boat charter. Otherwise we have a list of individual enquirers waiting to join voyages for, birdwatching, fishing, fish collecting, photography and general tourism. This has worked well in the past and allows people from different regions to socialise and exchange life's experiences.
Q. What happens if your boat is disabled before or during a voyage?
A. As we carry a good range of spares and tools we can quickly make most repairs but there are repair yards at most towns on the river system. In the event of us not being able to expedite a repair a replacement boat of a similar specification would be substituted. Most minor repairs can be done while you are out exploring in the canoes so would not spoil a voyage.There are also the options of a tug or even a couple of our canoes can tow our boat downstream at a reasonable rate. We know where the village satellite phones are as well as our own cellular phones and ships radio to call for assistance. The Alyson however, is a well maintained boat using well tested technology.
Q. I've just thought, what about insurance?
A. The Alyson being a professional tourist boat is registered with the Ministry of Tourism and the Brazilian Navy (Capatania) who regularly inspect for safety and certification.The safety equipment conforms to the local regulations which are in line with international regulations. We have their compulsory basic insurance but the amounts are rather low compared to western standards. Our liability is restricted to this basic insurance. Passengers taken ill are responsible for all costs incurred and we advise separate travel insurance which includes float plane recovery. All destinations, qualified crew members and passengers are registered with the Capatania for each voyage. Cruising on the Rio Negro is relatively safe and the Alyson has an impeccable safety record, but you never know. ( FOR PASSENGER SAFETY ALWAYS ASK FOR A SIGHT OF THESE CERTIFICATES)
Q. E.mail is OK but can I speak to you personally by phone if I have more queries?
A. Yes, I speak English (because I am) on +55-92-9107-5700. Faxes may be sent to our UK office which has more reliable reception on +44 1908 542149. Overall E.mail seems to be the preferred choice of most and we are firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: John Chalmers Email:email@example.com