An elegant, boutique-style river cruiser, the Jayavarman is a blend of modern technology, French colonial design and Indochinese architecture, with 27 spacious, outside staterooms each with balcony and bath, offering cruises from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (or reverse). The sun deck features comfortable lounge chairs, with open areas to sunbathe and covered areas for shade. The restaurant serves both Asian and Western cuisine and the lounge offers cocktails and nightly entertainment.
Still, he adds, because the demand for that ship was so strong, “We added the Pandaw Cruises ships, which we’ve been working with for years and they’re more of a four-star. We’re adding another five-star ship for 2012 and that will be launched in January. I would have to say the Mekong cruises are probably the next Yangtze area. There are a lot of ships coming into the area and the classic itineraries are from Saigon to Angkor Wat or Siem Reap or reverse, they’re 7-night cruises. If anybody’s going to do that, book early because you’re not going to get on otherwise. And try to avoid the rainy season, which is June and July.”
Ney also points out that for those who don’t have the budget or the time to take the 7-night cruises, what you can do is take a Bassac boat on overnight cruises out of Saigon through the Mekong Delta. “They’re first class ships, they’re not run down or anything like that,” he explains, “and the Mekong Delta is a world in itself with all the different markets and the bustling of the people selling their goods. The villages on all the little islands are a great place to visit and it’s a great way to interact with the locals.”