The Amalotus was new so no excuses in most areas of comment. The ships hold approx 126 people however for the second time this season there was only 26. What an absolute blessing, when it is full the restaurants and lounge areas would have been extremely uncomfortable.
You would think with so few people on board that there might have been a friendly atmosphere for travelling however stubborn, older people of any nationality always makes for a challenge.
The company APT has many strict rules about how to board the ship and disembark for excursions etc, however the old people we travelled with arrogantly and dangerously refused to wear their life jackets because "I have a boat at home and never wear one "etc etc what they failed to realise with all their wisdom and life experience that they then place others at risk and would in an emergency expect other to come to their safety in a risk situation. Not acceptable the rules are their for everyone know and accept this before you go or don't go!
APT also sells these cruises to any one over the age of 40, this is a myth, if you are under 55 you will feel like you have made a huge mistake and also you will not be made to feel welcome, old people are bullies and treat other adults as children to get their own way -- it's a sad fact that left us wondering at what age do old people become so nasty and manipulative
The ship looks new as it still should, the first lunch on arrival was a buffet and a la carte, salads, fruit feature as the best options, the desserts as mentioned in some other reviews are not worth looking forward to, small selection, unimaginative there was obviously no pastry chef on board, fresh fruit and poor quality pastries are the best you can hope for kind of like cheap supermarket fare.
Knowing this we took chocolate and our own goodies for deserts
The lobby shop is a waste of time, loads of rubbish that you can pick up anywhere at markets, nothing to provide a memory of your trip and nothing of any value
APT has failed on the sundeck, it is furnished with old crabby cane furniture, it is already mouldy, there is no music no atmosphere and bad decor and the bar area is not what they presented in their brochure photographs -- misleading but that's the way that operate!
We had a suite, very dark they have not incorporated the colours and fabrics of the Vietnam/ Cambodian culture, a missed opportunity there
The bar has a drink each night for everyone that is complimentary, it was about 50/50 as to whether this is drinkable, mostly very strong made of local spirits, however drinks were cheap anyway approx $6-$8 for a cocktail
The aircon in our suite was terrific and much needed, due to their being less people on board getting access to the DVD library and the interest was not too much of a problem
The balcony area had 2 chairs in the suite but only one for other cabins- what a stupid thing to do, a romantic cruise down the Mekong and only one of you and sit outside for the view- another example of cost cutting and bad planning, the amenities in the suites were cheap rubbish, in an effort to appear ECO friendly the 5 star extras you are paying for have been sacrificed.
The bathroom was great wood panelling a huge bath with jets and spacious shower the linen was good quality the bed comfortable
The chefs are Indonesian and from the Philippines, so no flair to food simple only.
Breakfast is also a simple meal so special choices here pretty much less than you would have in your own home, the restaurant has no atmosphere no music just a silent room - another missed opportunity
The floors in the rooms are fake wood and due to the extreme heat are already starting to warp and buckle, every small every simple hut along the Mekong has cable TV and satellite service however APT cannot get an antenna or dish to provide this service
We did our own thing on excursions which made it possible to fit in more and get a better feel for where ever we were, if you are capable of only shuffling along stay with the guide, again this was not a trip for people who were not physically active, but again like so many of these trips old sick people with less mobility provide challenges and delays for staff and other travellers- please do not do this, some trips state that you need to be mobile for a reason and climbing off and on small rocky boats is precarious.
The evacuation procedure was not done until the afternoon of the second day so just lucky we did not sink on the first?? What is with cruise ships their first priority should always be safety -- you are on your own anyway as only a handful of staff speak any English
The breakfast buffet has kid's cereals on it -- why? There were no kids on board thank goodness -- please cruise companies cater to the adults who are paying 5 star prices
The sheets in your cabin are not changed daily you would need to request this- and don't forget this cruise is sold as a 5 star experience, if this is what you want you will have to ask for it
They ran out of tea bags lucky that I had brought some of my own?????
Again great planning- who is thinking of what the guests need
We bought bunches of flowers at the local markets and put them in our cabin as the cruise will not do this for you even though you are in a suite, and you will have to fight to get a vase to put them in- good luck
The seafood was for the most part excellent and all of the fresh fruit- no rich food at all so great for a diet plan when you remember the absence of dessert temptations.
Because most of the places you are visiting both in Vietnam and Cambodia have no differences in terms of attractions and scenery you will visit 3 silk weaving places and several identical markets and 3 floating villages, - hard to maintain the same enthusiasm but that's where you are in the world and that is all there is to see , the small villages are a massive step back in time, no electricity some of them and horse and cart for transport but all the people are friendly and there is a percentage that want a piece of you -- you are a wealthy tourist right?
The guides provide an Ok service, they really need to be able to communicate properly one of ours would tell different groups of people different times for departure so some would be stressed out and some relaxed- they would sometimes change the times for breakfast and not tell you- hopeless, if you question these confusing practices you could be accused of being racist and well we know how defensive that response is and how unnecessary
The ship docks midstream every night except at phom penh
The Cambodian guide straight out lied about his countries history in an attempt to hide his kings' actions during their very famous genocide, now why would a guide do that you have to ask yourself, the guides have their hands out for tips frequently and they don't always deserve it
Despite all being poor they have a university education are well travelled and would be quite happy for you to sponsor them.
Because you are travelling with geriatrics you will miss out on the most special places for example, Oudong one of the ancient capital city in Cambodia, we decided to go here and give a miss the visit to yet another newly built temple
What a great decision thanks to our own research a special amazing place don't miss it if you have the chance we walked around as much as we could -- beautiful
APT changed our free choice dinners in both destinations to inferior restaurant options leaving us very disappointed -- no explanation of course just suck it up
The ship may be new but is badly built in Vietnam and they are famous for their poor quality build and it is furnished with dated examples of Asian furniture sale stock, it will age and deteriorate quickly
The scenery remains unchanged for the whole trip so I guess the idea of doing this trip is to enjoy the cruise which you will have trouble doing when it is full, the public areas like many river cruise ships do not cater for all on board so your cabin takes on a higher importance.
Also having seen hours and hours and hours of Cambodia by bus I can tell you that there is nothing of any interest there, bad roads, no facilities, no infrastructure you are better off spending a week in Siem reap and doing day trips around there and also spend a few days at least in phnon penh it's a great fun city with easy access to museums and the killing fields and do a Mekong river cruise from there for the day -- its easy, plenty of good quality, affordable river cruise ships, they provide meals and then you have seen all there is to see.
This cruise is touted as the thing you must do after European river cruising however -- think very hard about what you expect and measure that against what you are going to get, you do your cruising mostly at night anyway when its pitch black and there are no views. Honestly if I had my time over I would do what I have suggested above.