For anyone considering this trip, my recommendation is to do it! I think this was a great way to see a complex area, and some of the independent travelers I met on the way were jealous of the things I was able to see by travelling on the River.
First off, I would like to give the bad parts... This was my 2nd River Cruise, the first being a Uniworld Cruise in Russia, which was a fabulous trip and my only comparison.
- I was disappointed in the lack of Internet. I feel petty in saying this, but I was part of a Medical Conference, and considering that I had satellite Internet in the middle of no where Russia...having the ability on this trip to handle no more than 5 Ipads while sitting in a city of 2 million seems pathetic.
- Same could be said for TV- though I never use it, it seems silly to have one in each state room and have no channels..
A note on people with disabilities...I think that as long as you do not need a wheelchair, this trip is doable. I was concerned about the lack of an elevator on the boat- that is how difficult it is for me to get around- yet with a lot of help, I was able to do almost all of the excursions. The idea of walking up the dirt steps of a river bank were intimidating, but with a line of crew helping me, it was easy as cake. The buses also had nice short steps in and out. The temple climbing of Siem Reap, excursions on Halong Bay, and the "gentle slope" up to Wat Hanchey were the most difficult, but the guides were great at letting me know what they thought I would be able to do.
- I thought the food was great. My favorite being the lunch salad buffet- I could eat just that every day, and forget a main course. I enjoyed the free local beer, and the white wine not so bad, just try not to be picky! The evening desserts were the only disappointment, but with the delicious fruits the rest of the day more than made up for that- I did fine with less sweets!
- The staff were amazing- especially in the dining room. By Day 2 they already knew my preferences.
- Amazing guides, Amazing Cruise Director Thoai who saw a giant group of us through 2 weeks of transfers, flight, changes, etc
- for our land portion, we had simply Amazing Stays at Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi, and the Sofitel Siem Reap- awesome hotels that deserve 1 week stay themselves. Sheraton in Ho Chi Minh City also a pleasant surprise- in a great location, amazing food and views!
- My favorite parts of the tour were: Hanoi, Siem Reap, Kampong Cham area of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Working our way south, I felt that the trip became more repetitive, and the Mekong Delta was disappointing- I am not sure if this was just that the other areas were so good, or that this area was lacking for tours
- I agree with others that the tour groups should be divided by speed/ abilities- so the slow did not have to worry about being slow, and the fast could see more and be happy
- I was solo, stayed on the lower deck. I loved my room, even though I did not have a balcony like the others- I was only in the room to sleep, so this was fine. My only complaint about this level was the noise- as the crew also live/ function off of this level, so I heard a lot of traffic go by. Also, the first room I checked out (005) smelled like diesel so I could not stand that.. The shower was always hot, the bed very comfortable, the AC very strong, the room was very adequate in size for 1 person!
If you are going all this way - definitely do a Land tour.
I could have done without HaLong Bay, but Siem Reap, Hanoi, and more time in Ho Chi Minh were great ideas.
I liked going North to South, it was a culture shock to start in Hanoi and end in the modern Saigon, but I liked it that way. It also helped me build up to the humidity