First-Ever Luxury River Cruises to Set Sail on Colombia’s Magdalena River

AmaWaterways will be the first and only cruise line sailing this inland waterway of Colombia when the journeys launch in 2024.

Sunset over the colonial coastal city of Cartegena, Colombia

The Magdalena River cruises all either begin or end in the colonial coastal city of Cartegena.

Photo by Shutterstock

The Magdalena River is part of Colombia’s lifeblood. Flowing northward nearly 1,000 miles along the western side of the country before spilling into the Caribbean Sea, the waterway has served as a critical transport link throughout history. Today, it connects numerous towns and cities, snaking through a region with impressive biodiversity—more than 150 mammals, 1,900 bird species, and 300 reptiles, amphibians, and fish are found in and along the Magdalena. And in 2024, travelers will for the first time be able to experience this rich waterway from the comfort and convenience of luxury river cruise ships.

Upscale river cruise line AmaWaterways has announced that it is building two new river cruise vessels specifically for the Magdelena River, where it plans to set sail in 2024. The move marks the first time a major river cruise line will explore this region of the world. The sister ships, AmaMagdelena (setting sail on March 30, 2024) and AmaMelodia (launching on June 19, 2024), will operate one of two seven-night itineraries that sail deep into Colombia’s interior.

The two itineraries, dubbed “Wonders of Colombia” and “Magic of Colombia,” will each sail between Cartagena and Barranquilla—the main difference between the two sailings will be that they each start and end in reverse ports. Highlights of both itineraries will include participating in walking tours and jazz performances in historical cities, like Mompox (a UNESCO World Heritage site known for colonial buildings that mix Spanish and Indigenous characteristics); scanning the riverbanks for some 2,000 birds species, many of which are endemic to Colombia; and visiting Palenque, known for its Mayan ruins and for being the first “free city” in the Americas, as it was founded by those who fled slavery in colonial times.

An aerial view of Mompox, a town along the Magdalena River in Colombia

Among the lesser-known treasures of the Magdalena River is the UNESCO World Heritage town of Mompox.

Photo by Shutterstock

There will also be the option to add on three nights precruise in Medellin, Colombia, where travelers will have the opportunity to explore the thriving coffee and street art scenes, and three nights postcruise in Panama City, Panama, where guests will visit the Panama Canal and Chagres National Park.

Each of the sister ships will be able to accommodate 60 passengers. Staterooms will range from 237 square feet—for a cabin that features a double bed, desk, seating area with two armchairs, and a patio—to 510-square-foot Grand Suites that will include a second bathroom with a soaking tub, and a second larger seating area. Both vessels will also have one main restaurant, a second, smaller specialty dining venue, a pool, a small fitness center, and a spa and salon that will offer hair, nail, and massage treatments.

Fares for both itineraries start at $3,599 per person, based on double occupancy.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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