We are an Australian retired couple who in recent years have travelled extensively in Europe including a number of ocean and river cruises. Our standards and expectations are high. In selecting a trip we are looking for good food, stylish cabin and a port/tour intensive itinerary .. we rarely use on board ship facilities such as spa, pool or go to entertainment.
The trip on Amalotus exceeded our expectations and is more highly rated than our two recent luxury river cruises in Europe.
All aspects of the tour were exceptionally well organised and executed from embarkation in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to dis-embarkation for Siem Reap. Tours ran like clock work.
Dining on Amalotus was very good. Travel in Asia is an opportunity to explore new things. There was a wide variety of western and asian selections. At lunch there was an 'activity station' where meals were cooked on order ...this provided an opportunity to try new noodle dishes and other local specialities. The only area where there was mild disappointment was deserts where pastries and tarts tended to be a little dry. The included beer and wines are perfectly acceptable (like an Australian table/cask wine) and there is a small varied wine list. Only a small number of people on our trip seemed to be using the wine list.
Cabins are well appointed. There is no satellite TV but a comprehensive DVD movie collection is available. Critically the air conditioning worked really well.
The most outstanding aspect of the trip is the tours. The variety is really good with just the right amount of time being spent in each place. Other reviews of Amalotus and the sister ship La Margeurite describe the tours in detail so I will not repeat the same information. The tour guides English was excellent and they very much engaged with their groups with a great sense of humour and fun. Passengers were divided into groups at check in for embarkation and these were the tour groups. However unlike a previous reviewer we did not find these groups were rigid and saw some people changing groups without any issues. Many unique experiences were available from ox cart rides thru a small village and the paddy fields to visiting markets, seeing Buddhist monks seeking alms , a Buddhist blessing and understanding some of the terrible conflicts people have endured.
Aside from the actual tours on most days there was exceptional sight seeing from the boat as it moved along.
Technology .. there is free wifi in the lounge(no option for cabin). We found this worked really well in general with only a couple of black spots.
Take something for the children but not sweets (dentists are expensive) ...school items, pens, paper and toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes are very welcome.
Travel from Saigon to Siem Reap if there is a choice ...in this direction the river sight seeing just gets better and better each day.
If you plan to travel extensively it is worth investing in some secure luggage such as a back pack, camera strap, ladies carry bag and wallet. This will ensure you feel secure in markets and crowded areas as your personal possessions will not be easily slashed or pick pocketed.
Take some insect repellent for the room .... there were one or two bugs that found their way in at night. Also take personal insect repellent including a small spray for the backpack on outings.