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4 Hanoi to Asia Cruise Reviews

We took the land package also. Hanoi-Ha Long Bay-Siem Reap and after cruise Saigon. The land package is not to be missed! First-AMA is a delight to work with.  We needed to add an extra day and had a few questions and had 5star service. ... Read More
We took the land package also. Hanoi-Ha Long Bay-Siem Reap and after cruise Saigon. The land package is not to be missed! First-AMA is a delight to work with.  We needed to add an extra day and had a few questions and had 5star service. Second- pace was great. Saw a lot, didn't feel like rushed and could see in depth with a lot of variety but not so slow to be bored. There was a lot of uneven walking and getting on and off launches, so would be impossible if wheelchair bound or slow cane walker. Getting on and off the boats and up the hill sides were augmented by a gauntlet of the ship's crew with availability of lots of helping hands. Third- lots of choices of things to do every day. AM and PM- often 2 or 3 choises for AM and then again in PM. We had one land tour and cruise tour director Mr. Thai- start to end. He was awesome. Everything ran smoothly. He was everywhere at once and I swear he knew where all of us were by name at every moment. Lots of interactions multiple times a day- what did you like, guides, any problems etc. Accommodations on Indochina Sails on Ha Long Bay were great. Beside the National Geographic views, Tai Chai in AM, a very entertaining "Gear Guys" movie in PM riding motorcycles the length of Vietnam, carving demonstrations and very good food. Beach and cave adventure. All in 24hrs. Siem Reap one of the wonders of the world- go and see sunrise or later if want to sleep in. Guides top notch. Cruise boat new. Luxurious with hard woods and kept spotless. Never felt cramped and lots of seating and areas to be. Lots of space for the "hermits" and lots of friendly people to socialize with. We had a midpriced room on he second deck and never felt cramped. Not TV but DVDs (I never turned it on). On the cruise ,Wifi variable and not very frequent depending on if near a town and when everyone on- not able to access. I did get my emails and wrote sends which went out eventually but not in "real" time.. Really you are out in nowhere. Nice to be unplugged. 5 star service otherwise. Only disappointment to us was the food. Not much local cuisine at dinner. But some at breakfast and lunch with buffets. Breakfast a buffet- egg station and hot Asian Soup. Lunch 1/2 buffet with ordered soup and main course. Dinner totally ordered. The American food was what would expect on a 5 star cruise. We don't drink but lots of free alcohol, soft drinks, water and juices all day long. Wine is imported so only free at dinner- we did not try but people seemed to like it. The crew kept all the glasses full. Lots of MSG use by the cook, I was told by the head of food service- so was on my own to avoid but I am used to avoiding even in US-so no hot soups, sauces etc. I got no headaches as long as I kept with the Asian salads, cold fruit soups and nonsauced foods. As between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I did not expect to see families. One family with well behaved older grade school kids, one just married mid 20 yr olds and the rest 50+ with no frail elderly. I don't see how we could have seen what we saw if we hadn't taken this cruise. A very luxurious, safe adventure in a 3rd world country. Note AMA uses going downstream and APT (mostly Australians) use going upstream. I am told the menu is different -more Asian food and more spicy food with the Australian APT. Marguerite is run by the same shipping company and is a narrower ship. About 2ft in each room. Tourmore uses this ship and often Australian tourists. I am not sure if uses the same catering or tour company. I would definitely consider AMA again for a place I can't manage independently easily as Russia. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Preface: I am a 'hard marker' and very critical where I think the tour operator could be better. Having said, I have absolutely ***NO*** substantive criticisms to make after our 2 week tour, starting in Hanoi. Our guide met us ... Read More
Preface: I am a 'hard marker' and very critical where I think the tour operator could be better. Having said, I have absolutely ***NO*** substantive criticisms to make after our 2 week tour, starting in Hanoi. Our guide met us at Hanoi airport late at night (having met other straggling incomers during the day) and this set a precedent for individual and collective caring under his shepherding for the next 2 weeks -- nothing short of superlative. From Florence Nightingale to facilitator to problem-solver to advice on restaurants to guiding itself, Thien's leadership was beyond-ordinary. We all felt very well looked-after and safe. If I have a criticism, it could be the micro-management of one's time so as to get everyone organized for each side-trip. However, if we weren't time-managed, we would never have seen and experienced as much of the sites and the local culture as we did in the time available. Take one's pick! As a previous commentator said (and I agree with just about 100% of what he said, (and I'm trying not to repeat it), there were some 'dodgy' landings in remote locations, but staff did their best. If you have disabilities, double-check before you leave. The side-trips they chose for us sounded very ho-hum in some instances (snack factory, brick plant???) but none of them was to be decried after the event. They have carefully chosen those that exemplify the local customs and everyday working lives of the locals to very good effect. If you go, don't opt out! You may be nicely surprised! There are many, many bright young children who (especially in Cambodia) are short of good teaching (largely because of the extermination of the professional, middle-classes by Pol Pot). Whereas I became a little "orphanaged-out" and not a little pressured as to the generosity I could willingly bestow to thoro'ly deserving causes, even I (as a hard-nosed bastard with Scottish blood) found my heart and soul touched. so much so that I plan to return a year hence to teach, as a volunteer, English & whatever else they can draw from me as a reasonably widely educated person in my 70s. If you don't want your heart and soul touched, don't go on these side-trips, but I challenge you! As to the "main-course" visits, such as Angkor Wat itself, museums, obligatory national monuments, etc., hang in there! The guides were very accomplished in informing you of the histories concerning each, and -- if you are willing to learn -- each paints a pixel in the big picture of what has forged these countries. Expect to come back exhausted, yet fulfilled, better educated and appreciative of these historic cultures and their evolution to the present day. R.K. Thank you Viking, and especially to our Thien. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
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 ... Read More
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. The greats: - 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! the in-betweens: - 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! Biggest tips: 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 Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
It may be worth noting that the author of these comments travels mainly to see other cultures up close, secondly to meet new people and lastly to see 'things and places'. After experiencing and seeing that the main tourist ... Read More
It may be worth noting that the author of these comments travels mainly to see other cultures up close, secondly to meet new people and lastly to see 'things and places'. After experiencing and seeing that the main tourist tracks in China used by big tour operators are almost totally westernized we decided to make our 'last ever' cruise down the Mekong in hopes that some of the old Asian culture still remains. We weren't disappointed. Since I'm a tall gangly guy we always buy three coach seats together for a little extra comfort. The Asian carriers are sometimes stumped by this and want to see the passport of Mr. Extra Seat. I was very surprised to see the big cost difference for different carriers for three round trip seats as opposed to going Eastbound. Check it out. We arrived in Hanoi a day early to recover from the flight over. The flight from Inchon was smooth and on time; about 10:30 PM Local. The VOA was no problem at all. Hand over your dollars at one window, get a receipt and go to another window to get passport stamped. All done in about 5 minutes. There's a honcho at the taxi stand who asks where we wanted to go and assigned us a van to the Sofitel. $18US for the four of us. The extra day at the Sofitel ($300+) was pre-paid via the internet … very nice hotel with a generous breakfast. I'll skip the days in Hanoi; they're covered elsewhere in this site and in the itinerary. The bus ride to Ha Long Bay seemed rather long, slow and kinda boring to me. I think they're in the first stage of construction to make it into a real highway which should be ready by who-knows-when. Along the way the guide kept his eye out for locals harvesting and thrashing rice and spied some right next to the 'highway'. We pulled over, piled out and gathered around the workers with cameras and iPhones snapping away. They went about their business stone-faced as if we were invisible. We were probably the 10th tourist group to gawk at them that day. Halong Bay and the junk was OK but I wasn't blown away like most. The 4 hour bus ride to Hanoi Airport the following day also seemed long and boring with a stop halfway for a bowl of soup at an unbelievably beautiful golf course. The incongruity of the beauty of that course amidst the backdrop of all that poverty was bizarre. I tried my sign language art 'talking' to the caddies while everyone else ate and then off again to the airport. The hotel at Siem Reap is a gem in every way…period. Every encounter I had with Cambodians was welcoming and friendly wether he/she was selling something or not. Angkor Wat has an average daily attendance of 30,000 souls at an average of $40US each. Do the math. That's well over $1,000,000 a/day and climbing. Where does it go? Certainly not into Angkor Wat. The intricate carving are in pitiful shape and mostly black with mildew and some of the walkways are just helter-skelter flat boulders. But … I fully expected to see scooter accidents aplenty in Hanoi and saw none. I expected to see tourists trip and fall at Angkor Wat and saw none. They say they can't remove the mildew because it would harm the sandstone. Baloney! I've seen 2000 yr. old sandstone Hindu temples in humid, back-country India that the gov't keeps almost pristine. One restroom for 30,000 people …. what the heck? Angkor Wat, The Great Pyramid and The Colosseum are in the shape they're in because 1) there's no incentive to improve the site as long as the tourist count keeps going up. Why change anything? and 2) I guess tourists want to see things as they've seen them for years in pictures. About 10 days before we left home we received a notice from AMA that the Marguerite would be boarded at Kampong Cham because of high water. I was livid. A 5 hour bus ride! Turns out I liked it. The bus was called a "VIP bus" and they weren't kidding. Silky smooth ride over a bumpy road and 3 across very comfy seats. I enjoyed seeing some of rural Cambodia that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. One stop on the way. The boat isn't a glamour queen but totally adequate in every way. We were on deck 2 with a useless, tiny "balcony" and we felt a little cramped, but no big deal. The meals were OK but I'll eat anything. I'm not a foodie. I always had the feeling that the kids working on the boat were doing the very best they could do whatever they were doing. Speaking of kids, if you take this trip try see how many locals you see that may be over 65. There ain't none. South Florida has been my home base for over 40 years so naturally I thought there was no level of heat or humidity that I couldn't deal with. Wrong. My age (73) probably has some bearing but the heat and humidity at every location had me soaked in 15 mins. and combined with the blazing sun had me dragging up the rear everywhere. I don't recall even a zephyr of a breeze the entire trip. It's obviously my problem because everyone else just soldiered on without a complaint even tho they too were totally soaked. My wife refuses to sweat. The hotel in Saigon is beyond first-rate and the food is great. One final note: My gut has always had a mind of it's own so I'm always a little anxious about long bus rides. One lomotil pill and half a Pepto tablet every morning and I'm in control. Makes traveling much, much easier.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013

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