By David WIshart, Cruise Critic Contributor
Angkor Pandaw is a handsome two-deck riverboat, a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.
The upper deck with its walk-around promenade has six cabins of 170 square feet. All have twin beds, air-conditioning and French windows. Bathrooms have good showers, with bathrobes, hair dryers, and slippers provided. Cabins also have desks and safes. There is an onboard laundry and crew clean shoes after excursions. The main deck is similar with 10 cabins.
Passengers spend their leisure time on the covered upper deck, from where they can take in the sights of Asia going by from teak loungers. The upper deck also has a library, shop and a small covered deck. There is an open-bridge policy.
Meals are served in the air-conditioned upper deck restaurant affording panoramic views. 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, ice cream (available all day), beer and domestic spirits are complimentary and served at the bar on the upper deck.
There is wifi,,which is often slow due to the remote areas traveled. However, guides can help find internet shops in some of the riverside towns. Tipping is optional.
Angkor Pandaw has two guides who give briefings at cocktail hour every night on the upper deck, and accompany all excursions, which are daily and free. Some local entertainment is offered, such as folkloric dancing and puppet shows. DVDs and mini-players can be borrowed from the library.
Overnights often involve stopping in the middle of nowhere and securing the ship with lines attached to stakes hammered into the riverbank, Sometimes part of the gangway is little more than a plank, making this trip difficult 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.