Anakonda and Manatee cruises winner of WCA

Ecuador is a small, compact and exclusive destination in South America, chock-full of charm and biodiversity, and home to the best Amazon expedition cruise line in Latin America.

The World Cruise Awards is a prestigious recognition program that rewards excellence worldwide in the tourism industry, and it has awarded the only cruise line in the Ecuadorian Amazon region as the best river cruise line in Latin America for the second consecutive year.

With a successful sustainability model, Anakonda Amazon Cruises, a family own company, operates in line with international quality standards in the Amazon region of this incredible country. Known as the “Amazon Sustainability Circle”, this model involves more than 18 local indigenous communities that live along the Napo River and offers authentic cultural experiences to guests in one of the planet’s most biodiverse locations, the Yasuní National Park.

The main purpose of this sustainability program is the development and protection of the area through the conservation of its ancestral cultures, its ecosystem, and endangered species such as the Charapas Turtle and pink river dolphins. It acts as a bridge between words, joining the Amazon and the modern world, allowing visitors from different parts of the world to discover the pristine and exclusive Ecuadorian Amazon in comfort and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


This “Amazon Sustainability Circle” has become a key ecotourism model promoting conservation in the area, where communities are encouraged to protect native species and maintain their cultures and traditions, which they in turn are proud to share with tourists. Furthermore, more than 50% of the cruise crew is local, and guides are native naturalist experts. Thanks to their innate warmth, work ethic and profound knowledge about this destination, the cruise operation has consistently exceeded guest expectations.

anakonda cruise crew

The success of this sustainable ecotourism model is based on the experience of their CEO, Raúl Garcia, with more than 40 years of exploration of the Ecuadorian Amazon. His adventures began in the mid-1970s when he travelled to the Ecuadorian Amazon to embark on a whole new adventure as the General Manager of the first Ecuadorian Amazon cruise vessel in history. In this place, he met and shared with the local communities during long walks exploring the area, developing a deep and respectful friendship. They taught him about the incredible wonders hidden in the Amazon world, and “El Capi”, short for “The Captain” as everybody knows him, simply understood that the true owners and main stakeholders of this magical world are these people, and naturally, an operation without their involvement was never an option for him.​

Anakonda amazonian experience

“El Capi” firmly believes that working closely with local communities is an important part of preserving the Amazon rainforest. “We could always do our operation without them, but it would be a spiritless operation”, says Raúl, who emphasizes the balance required to include local communities without offering them as part of his product, which is why he developed this collaborative model that these communities directly benefit from.

Captain with amazonian native people

This is how Raúl, together with his wife Martha and son Diego, and their constant hard work, have achieved an operation with international impact that offers exclusive experiences in Ecuador, and for which they have been recognized by the World Cruise Awards in the following categories:

  • Latin America’s Best River Cruise Line
  • Latin America’s Best River Cruise Ship with Manatee Amazon Explorer  
  • Latin America’s Best River Cruise Suite with Deluxe Suite Manatee Amazon Explorer

The Manatee Amazon Explorer is Anakonda Amazon Cruises’ Luxury-Adventure vessel, and was inspired by the conservation of one of the Amazon’s most important endangered species, the noble Manatee, and represents the fundamental role of biodiversity in the balance of the Ecuadorian Amazon’s pristine ecosystem. The refined decor in each of the Manatee’s suites creates an inviting space for guests to discover the splendid biodiversity awaiting them on each expedition, where they will have the opportunity to meet these noble guardian spirits of the rainforest.

The combination of a magical location and a luxurious experience offered by these Amazon expedition cruises allows them to put Ecuador on the map as an international cruise destination on par with other countries like Peru and Brazil.

While roughly 2% of the Amazon region lies within Ecuador, this relatively small portion is one of the most pristine and diverse places in South America and possibly the world, which in combination with the enchanted Galápagos Islands, creates a set of fantastic experiences that make Ecuador an attractive destination.