By Jana Jones, Cruise Critic contributor
At first glance, Jayavarman resembles a Mississippi-style riverboat. At second glance, you realize how far off the mark you are. The balconies on every cabin, the open aft deck with its white canopies and the sleek, retro-looking funnel set you straight. In fact, even though it's decidedly Indochinoise, the Jayavarman resembles a tropical version of the great French ocean liner Normandie, with a sharp prow and curved aft. This ship, all 700 tons, aims to offer over-the-top luxury in a style reminiscent of Indochine/French Colonial design with Khmer artifacts.
Cruising between Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jayavarman sails two-, three-, four- and seven-night journeys through the Mekong Delta and along the Mekong River. The 27 cabins -- whether superior, deluxe or one of two junior suites -- are enormous by river vessel standards. The superior rooms are 218 square feet (21 square meters), deluxe are 260 square feet (24 square meters), and the junior suites are 280 square feet (26 square meters). Junior suites include Jacuzzi tubs and forward-facing, wrap-around balconies.
Each cabin has a mini-bar, individual climate control, coffee- and tea-making facilities, a double vanity in the bathroom, robes and slippers. Twenty-four-hour room service is available.
The ship also features a spa (Apsara), offering Asian-style massages and holistic beauty treatments.
Club 1930, the aft-located "funnel bar," is situated under furled white canopies, creating an ideal spot to relax with cocktails while viewing the sunset, surrounded by music of the region. Just forward of Club 1930 is Indochine, the large, windowed dining room that serves regional specialties for breakfast, lunch and supper. A sun deck provides both open-air and covered resting areas with Balinese beds, Vietnamese massages in a private tented area and showers. An onboard library offers iPods for passenger use, an Internet station, books and magazines. There is also a small boutique shop.
The longer cruises' routes start in either Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) -- known as the Paris of the East -- or Siem Reap, gateway to Angkor Wat, one of the world's iconic temples. The seven-night cruises include a port stop in Phnom Penh, with its striking French Colonial architecture. Four-night voyages travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, three-night cruises sail between Saigon and Phnom Penh, and the two-night "taster" cruises explore the Mekong Delta.