Asia

The Call of the River Cruise

written by | Posted on February 1st, 2012

“Vietnam and Cambodia offer an incredible array of interesting, historic and scenic destinations, especially along the Mekong River. We’re extremely proud to introduce a second ship there with the features and amenities of the MS AmaLotus,” says Rudi Schreiner, president, AMAWaterways.

And they also offer a considerable opportunity to experience the incredible history and culture of the two countries with land programs complementing the river cruise component. Launched in 2009, the Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong river cruise and land program is part of the AMAVoyage line of river cruise vacations, separate and distinct from the AMAWaterways European river cruise product.

The itinerary includes two nights in Hanoi followed by an overnight aboard a luxury junk in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, then a short flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, the gateway to Angkor Archeological Park. A 2-night stay there includes tours to Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, the Bayon and newly reopened Baphuon Temple.

From Siem Reap, guests embark on their 7-night cruise along the Mekong River from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Calls include Phnom Penh and numerous points of historical and scenic interest, including Kampong Chhnang, Oudong, Tan Chau, Sa Dec, Xeo Quyt and Cai Be. Guests will also visit floating markets, rainforests and Buddhist monasteries; ride an oxcart and a trishaw and participate in the delicate craft of rice-paper making, finishing it all off with an overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Cruise and land packages start at approximately $3,600, and fluctuate according to departure date.

A soon-to-be hot river cruise destination is going to be Myanmar, currently being served by Pandaw River Expeditions (800-798-4223; pandaw.com), which has 10 ships cruising Southeast Asian rivers and, like Victoria Cruises, is a major contractor in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Borneo, working with major river cruise and tour operator companies in those regions.

Historically, Pandaw is Myanmar’s original river cruise company and its 14-day The Irawaddy program will allow you to see virtually all of Myanmar—from Prome on the edge of the Delta, to Katha and the great 2nd Defile on the Upper Irrawaddy. Daily stops include tours of the historic capitals of Pagan with its 3,000 monuments, and Mandalay with its royal palace and many sites around the city, plus the lush teak forests around Prome, through the near desert of Middle Burma and then into the mountains of Upper Burma. Optional stays in Rangoon the capital with transfers and flights are offered as an add-on to the cruise, which is priced from $3,683.

Still another hot destination served by Pandaw is Borneo, the third largest island in the world after Greenland and Australia and the stuff of cultural legend. On the 8-night Into the Heart of Borneo program priced from $1,768, passengers will explore a region of this eastern Malaysian country where there is very little tourism due to the river’s remoteness and lack of facilities. The scenery is magnificent offering a total jungle experience with the rainforest tumbling into the fast flowing river. Highlights include soft treks in the jungle, visits to Iban long houses and side trips on the company’s expedition boat, the Pandaw Adventurer.