By David Wishart, Cruise Critic Contributor
Pandaw II looks like a big toy boat but is in fact a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.
It has a covered sun deck and two passenger decks with 24 cabins of 170 square feet. All have twin beds, air-conditioning and French windows with a table and two wicker chairs outside on the walk-around deck. Bathrooms have good showers, bathrobes, hair dryers, and slippers are provided. Cabins also have desks and safes. There is an onboard laundry and crew clean shoes after excursions.
Passengers spend their leisure time on the sun deck, where they can take in the sights from teak loungers and get drinks from a bar. The upper deck also has a viewing area forward and an air-conditioned bar. There is an open-bridge policy.
Meals are served in the main deck restaurant, with large, floor to ceiling windows. Breakfast is buffet style but preceded by coffee, tea and light bites on the sun deck for early risers. Lunch is served either buffet style or standard sit-down, while dinners are four-course affairs. Produce is fresh, regional and seasonal. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer and domestic spirits are complimentary.
There is Wi-Fi, which is often slow due to the remote areas traveled. However, guides can help find Internet shops in some of the riverside towns.
Pandaw II has two guides who give briefings at cocktail hour every night, and accompany all excursions, which are daily and free. Some local entertainment is offered, such as folkloric dancing and puppet shows. Tipping is optional.
Overnights usually involve stopping at a riverbank and securing the ship with lines attached to stakes hammered into the sand. Sometimes part of the gangway is little more than a plank and sandbags, making this a difficult trip for those with disabilities. But plenty of willing crew hands are always there to assist. Most passengers see Pandaw as a world away from conventional cruising and take such measures in stride.
We joined the Pandaw 11 for a 10 night Mandalay to Prome cruise following an 8 day land tour of Burma ( Myanmar) all put together by Trailfinders. We visited Yangon, Inle Lake and Kalaw , all absolutely beautiful with the latter two being ...continue
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The cruise started with a busstransfer from Yangon to Prome where we boarded the Pandaw II. From the very first minute the crew took care of us in a wonderful way. We was served a drink, our shoes where cleaned and they took our bagage to our ...continue