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16 Mandalay to Asia Cruise Reviews

It is difficult to express just how wonderful the Strand Cruise was. From go to whoa, the trip was sumptuous and salubrious. From the seamless booking system and assistance from the Strand Hotel to being escorted from my hotel to the ... Read More
It is difficult to express just how wonderful the Strand Cruise was. From go to whoa, the trip was sumptuous and salubrious. From the seamless booking system and assistance from the Strand Hotel to being escorted from my hotel to the vessel, the entire check-in process was flawless. The vessel resembles a floating palace and continues the chic colonial style that can be found at the gorgeous Strand Hotel in Yangon. The cabins are spacious and well-appointed, and all have marvellous views of the Irrawaddy. The staff are superb and the attention to detail is flawless. They truly make you feel welcome and well looked after. Throughout the entire experience, you are cocooned in luxury and comfort. In terms of food and drink, I do confess to having high standards, yet time and time again, the cruise exceeded them. Every meal was exquisite and beautifully prepared by professional chefs. The evening cocktails and wine selection were also first class. This, in summary, is the cruise to ruin all other cruises for you. It is second to none, and a must-do for a complete Myanmar experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We are a group of 4 senior citizens and wanted to see Myanmar. We booked this cruise after looking at The Pandaws and others. We wanted something that felt Asian in design but was full service and luxurious. It was EVEN BETTER than we ... Read More
We are a group of 4 senior citizens and wanted to see Myanmar. We booked this cruise after looking at The Pandaws and others. We wanted something that felt Asian in design but was full service and luxurious. It was EVEN BETTER than we could have imagined. The rooms were spacious and finished in teak and lovely weavings and linens. The crew was about 3 crew to 1 of us. They treated us like Kings. My husband gets tired and has some mobility problems. They assigned 2 personal guides to him to literally help him up Pagodas with an arm on each side--no extra charge. The food was delicious and the service was "over-the top". I don't generally take the time to write reviews, but this cruise deserves to be highlighted. After the cruise we returned to Yangon for a couple days and next to Angkor Wat, but the Belmond Governor's Residence--5 star--is really yukky compared to the cruise we just came off of. Thanks Heritage Cruise Line. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was the best holiday I have ever had. The country of Myanmar is fascinating; the Burmese people are unassuming and friendly, and the culture of the country well preserved and wonderful. The service on the ship was world class yet ... Read More
This was the best holiday I have ever had. The country of Myanmar is fascinating; the Burmese people are unassuming and friendly, and the culture of the country well preserved and wonderful. The service on the ship was world class yet relaxed. The staff could not have done more to assist passengers. They were ultra professional and capable, but genuinely friendly too - more so than I have ever encountered with cruises. The no-gratuity policy means that interactions are genuine and staff were courteous and warm because they meant it. I traveled with my mother who is elderly and arthritic. They quietly allocated an assistant to her during tours, who had been trained by the tour guides and was skilled and extremely patient about assisting on rough ground or towards a seat for a rest. The food was excellent, with high quality locally sourced ingredients and a delicious variety of regional dishes. There was a wide choice of dishes; both hot and delicious local cold salads. It was almost impossible not to eat too much! The dining room seating was flexible, so that guests could sit together or in pairs as they chose, and staff even moved table settings to facilitate this. The criuse director and two tour guides traveled with us and were really excellent in explaining historical, cultural and socio-economic details. They were completely professional. very very knowledgeable, and were prepared to interact with us outwith their official tour times. Tours were impeccably planned and organised, interesting and varied. Guests appreciated the timetabling, whereby there were one or two tours per day, but with a generous rest time in the middle of the day, which was cleverly organised to co-incide with the boat moving onwards. That was we could rest on deck and see local sights/way of life in rural areas as we traveled. The holiday was therefore stimulating but relaxing too (often cruises are more hectic and the boat moves on during the night). The entertainment was fun and lighthearted, but not glitzy. There was a Burmese puppet show, local dancers, a film showing, etc. This was just right for sensible-minded adults. Overall the ship's organisation, standard of service and attention to detail was faultless. I cannot not praise staff enough and would highly recommend this holiday. It would be wise to go to Myanmar now, before westernization creeps in. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
More tourists should experience the culture and delightful people in this Country which needs to improve its economy and it infrastructure. The Scenic experience is second to none and the cabins, dining and services on the tour were ... Read More
More tourists should experience the culture and delightful people in this Country which needs to improve its economy and it infrastructure. The Scenic experience is second to none and the cabins, dining and services on the tour were exceptional. Many of our friends don’t know much about Myanmar and are now very interested in visiting this Country and are looking at a Scenic cruise down the Irrawaddy River based on our recommendation. We enjoyed this trip as much as the the Scenic river cruise in the south of France and Spain. Very different experiences but amazing opportunities to enjoy wonderful interactions and to learn more about their rich history and religion. It was sobering to learn that only one third of the population have access to electricity however the infrastructure is slowly being installed across the Country. Our boat, the Scenic Aura was only launched in 2016 and was beautifully appointed and maximum guests of 44 on board meant that we had amazing service. We strongly recommend a visit to Myanmar to experience the Burmese culture and history. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
I'd been to Burma 21 years ago on business. And got arrested. And met the General running the country. But that's another story. What I saw then made me want to return. So pleased I did, with my wife this time. We are ... Read More
I'd been to Burma 21 years ago on business. And got arrested. And met the General running the country. But that's another story. What I saw then made me want to return. So pleased I did, with my wife this time. We are Scenic regulars and appreciate the fact they make a holiday effortless. And so it was this time on our Road from Mandalay on Aura. Yes, the song is road TO Mandalay - but we sailed downstream. And that's my first fault. The song says "... see the flying fishes play". No flying fish! But then there aren't any on the Irrawaddy. By now you can probably guess I'm striving to find faults. Aura has spacious cabins and with only 36 guests (it can take 42) the dinning room was never crowded. In fact you got to know everybody on the boat. Great camaraderie. Good food selection, though I would have preferred more fruit choices at breakfast, but excellent omelettes. I'm picky about food but while the lunch and dinner choices were more limited than on the European river cruises I didn't starve. As for all the crew - best we've ever experienced on any vessel, sea or river, anywhere in the world - they have genuine smiles and never say No. Other people have commented about being helped ashore and having shoes cleaned on return. It's all true. We were very fortunate that when we visited the home for the young novice monks and nuns a kind sponsor had brought them gifts and provided lunch, and that later we were at festival time and experienced the collection of alms for the monks with processions noisily filling the streets. We travelled by pony and trap, horse-drawn carts, tri-cycles, boats to watch the sunset over the world's longest wooden bridge. All so different. And don't miss the balloon flight over Bagan. At the end of the cruise the seven hour coach ride to Yangon from Prome was something I would not want to do again, though the bus was Business Class. Other cruise lines go all the way to Yangon. We were told that was boring. But I'd have been happy to be bored on the boat for a day or two. Scenic need to rethink this. Now my second fault. We stayed the first night in Mandalay at the Mandalay Hills Hotel. Lovely room. Amazing grounds. Bibulous Welcome Dinner. The cruise (ok bus ride) ended in Yangon. A couple of nights at the one year old Pan Pacific Hotel. Very modern hotel with excellent rooms and food - and toilets where the seat cover rises as you enter the bathroom, has a quick pre-whatever flush, a fan to remove odours and water jets to wash various parts of the anatomy. I had to take a video (not actually in use). And that leads me to my second fault. Not at the Pan Pacific (where I would really have enjoyed the dinner buffet), but to the Farewell Dinner at an old colonial hotel called The Strand. Food choice limited. Drinks ... one glass of wine. You paid for a second or third. So the real Scenic had gone. Ridiculous. Finally, to our Cruise Director Tin Pa Pa Min - you were the best ever. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We chose this cruise as we were staying in the Strand Hotel in Yangon and wanted a similar level of opulence and comfort - we were not disappointed. The ship is a relatively new custom-built vessel, we really appreciated the small size and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we were staying in the Strand Hotel in Yangon and wanted a similar level of opulence and comfort - we were not disappointed. The ship is a relatively new custom-built vessel, we really appreciated the small size and attention to detail when fitting out the interior with traditional décor. From the moment we were picked up at our hotel in Mandalay we were treated to impeccable service from all staff. Neville the cruise manager scheduled the entire trip perfectly. The on shore excursions were interesting and showed off the best that Myanmar has to offer-the small size of the ship allowed it to dock almost anywhere. The excursions were kept to a reasonable length given the heat and were not physically demanding as transport was seamlessly arranged at each stop (we loved the air conditioned buses with iced water and cool towels). On the ship, Bart ensured we were well fed and watered by a well-trained food and beverage team. The food was a mix of local and international cuisine and always of good quality-we really felt we were being treated to the best of the best. Breakfast was made to order every day - no standard buffet here! Lunch and dinner was served in a different location every day, one night we had a barbeque on a sandbank, other times we ate on deck on in the bar if we preferred. The small size of the ship allows for highly personalised service and we really enjoyed sharing our time with the wonderful staff. We also enjoyed some time by the pool and in the spa. There were also some interesting on-board activities such as a cooking demonstration and local dance performance. Every night there was a little gift in on our bed and we just received in the mail and additional gift of a beautiful set of prints of Myanmar - this truly was a cruise unlike any other with so many thoughtful touches thrown in. This was truly the experience of a lifetime and the best way to experience the interior of a beautiful and interesting country. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
The Scenic Aura should not be compared to the Space Ships operating on European waterways as some reviewers seem to do. Scenic have done really well creating this experience in Myanmar which is a difficult country to operate in. True, the ... Read More
The Scenic Aura should not be compared to the Space Ships operating on European waterways as some reviewers seem to do. Scenic have done really well creating this experience in Myanmar which is a difficult country to operate in. True, the build quality of the Aura is not the same as the European river boats, however you soon won’t notice because you’ll be under the charm of the excellent crew. Most of them are from Myanmar and are all very professional and friendly. The lounge, restaurant and food is all first class. They will soon get to know if you like a strong cappuccino at breakfast time or a cognac after dinner. Scenic have put together a number of itineraries involving the river cruise operating both up and downstream. We did the 18 day Mystical Myanmar downstream which includes Inle Lake and a 10 day river cruise. Inle Lake is well worth including if you have time and budget. There is also a cruise only option. The Aura has its two Royal Panorama Suites at the front and not the rear as on the European boats so you can watch the scenery unfold and if your budget allows then we thoroughly recommend at a generous 70 sqm including a large terrace with a Jacuzzi. In fact all of the 22 suites are very large. You need to be open minded with a sense of adventure to travel in Myanmar, however the visits to villages and towns along the Irrawaddy that have seen few tourists is very rewarding. The local people are curious, shy and very welcoming. The water level in the Irrawaddy varies significantly over the year and disembarking in the dry, hot months of March and April can be challenging if you don’t have good mobility, however the crew including the captain are always there to assist. The off-boat excursions are many and varied and you can choose to do them all or relax on board if you wish. It's a very active program and includes transport by walking, trishaw and horse & cart. The ship’s internet access along the river can be unreliable in places so one option is to buy a local SIM card when you arrive. We were told MPT is the operator with the best service coverage and it worked well for us. You will have a Myanmar number if you do this, however you can let the people back home know your temporary number. SIM cards are available at the airport or anywhere you see MPT, ooredoo or Teledor signs and they are very cheap. We bought a SIM card with 2.5G of data for about AUD$6.50. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
It has been a while since I returned from this trip but anytime thinking about our time in Myanmar, The Strand cruise is a highlight not to be missed. I still can remember many of crew members who always appeared with cheerful smile and ... Read More
It has been a while since I returned from this trip but anytime thinking about our time in Myanmar, The Strand cruise is a highlight not to be missed. I still can remember many of crew members who always appeared with cheerful smile and took such incredibly personal care to every single guest on board in professional and polite way. Everything was virtually perfect and flawless from the beginning till the goodbye. Though, personal opinion of mine, the farewell traditional show was well prepared and imbued with national identity, it was seemingly a quite long for my full attention. Foods and drinks are fresh and healthy but we hope we could eat better, newspaper (short version) with breaking news are provided upon every breakfast. Cabin was made up daily while we were on shore excursion. Anyway, I feel satisfied and enjoyable over the time on board. Strand did their excellent job from their heart that I could felt. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Our cruise was on the Upper Irrawaddy. This is our 3rd Pandaw cruise in 2 years. They epitomize the benefits and joys of Myanmar experience. The food is great, the itineraries are creative. We faced a couple of crises (caught on sand bars) ... Read More
Our cruise was on the Upper Irrawaddy. This is our 3rd Pandaw cruise in 2 years. They epitomize the benefits and joys of Myanmar experience. The food is great, the itineraries are creative. We faced a couple of crises (caught on sand bars) and the crew is empowered to find solutions. The staff are friendly to the point of knowing passengers quite intimately which guarantees a personalized service, especially at meal times. This does NOT have ocean liner evening options. Pandaw takes you into the heart and soul of this country whose citizens are probably the nicest people on this planet. Despite having already done the Chindwin River cruise last year and Halong Bay/Red River out of Hanoi this year, we have been reminded of why Pandaw fulfills our river cruise needs. We almost certainly will return next year for another Pandaw experience. Children would not find this satisfactory. The clientele on all of our Pandaw cruises have been 'Senior' or close to it. The excursions are not particularly demanding but are VERY rewarding. One day, we found ourselves in the middle of a wedding and a funeral, just a few minutes apart and were urged - by the parties involved - to join them and participate. The interaction and opportunity to meet the Burmans is truly the highlight of our Myanmar experiences. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Upon booking, the fare seemed expensive. Although when I saw the gorgeous boat, experienced the dedicated personal service, and met the lovely folks who look after you exceedingly well, the fare seemed like a bargain! Everything is ... Read More
Upon booking, the fare seemed expensive. Although when I saw the gorgeous boat, experienced the dedicated personal service, and met the lovely folks who look after you exceedingly well, the fare seemed like a bargain! Everything is included except ultra- top shelf liquor. Even then, the low price will shock you. $4 for a glass of 12 year old single malt! The ship is virtually new, very intimate, and feels like a private club. The hospitality of the crew is over the top. If you're accustomed to being pampered, you'll be happy. If you're not, prepare to be spoiled. There is truly nothing that can be improved. Neville and Helene, the managers, are wonderful people, and will tailor the itinerary according to your desires. The arranged tours were unique and well curated. I was in awe the entire time. Myanmar is a fascinating destination. I encourage you to stay a few extra days in Mandalay, Bagan, or Yangon. It feels un-touristed and is blissfully 'rustic'. Returning to your floating cocoon at the end of the day is most welcome! Don't hesitate to book, you won't soon forget the experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We sought the opportunity to explore Myanmar before the western world changes it forever. APT's Irrawaddy cruise on RV Samatha looked like a great option to achieve the objective. Apart from three detracting matters (two of which ... Read More
We sought the opportunity to explore Myanmar before the western world changes it forever. APT's Irrawaddy cruise on RV Samatha looked like a great option to achieve the objective. Apart from three detracting matters (two of which coincidentally took place after the review questionnaires had been submitted!), this cruise would have been rated "excellent". Service delivered by crew (particularly Zin Mar, Lynn, Than, Myo, Bo, Muppet and Thet Thet) was exceptional. Cruise Director (San) and his guide (Clement) provided great information and entertainment. Cleanliness throughout the vessel was exceptional, and food and beverage quality and range could not be questioned. All of these aspects exceeded any expectation we had - brilliant. But, the three detracting features were considerable. Firstly, the ship crew (responsible for daily sun deck preparation) would do so between 5:30 and 6am daily. This entailed significantly heavy walking above the main cabin deck, banging of deck rails removing insects from overnight, wiping down and dragging deck furniture across the deck. When raised with the Hotel Manager, we were told that the matter would be addressed with the ship crew - but nothing changed. Very annoying. Secondly, through the final full day when docked in Yangon, the Engineer took a decision to address some water filter matters. This resulted in showering water (taken directly from the somewhat dirty Irrawaddy river) remaining very dirty for approximately eight hours - including the period through which preparation for final night celebrations were required. We'd been told the shower water was taken directly from the river, but sufficiently filtered for safety. The water we were delivered on this day could only, in our opinion, represent a considerable health risk. This wasn't good enough. Finally, our personal itinerary from APT stated we'd be transferred on disembarkation day to the Sule Shangri La hotel, and subsequently to the airport, given our onward flight was not until 5:30pm. When disembarkation arrangements were made on RV Samatha, the process changed to us not being transferred to the hotel, but rather advised we could stay in the Samatha lounge until our 2pm transfer directly to the hotel (we were two of eight people affected by this). Whilst this wasn't our preferred option, we nonetheless accepted it. However, it seems the next cruise (back to Mandalay) had been booked by a private tour group, and the organiser of that group appeared to take complete control of the vessel from around 11:30am. This person didn't want our remaining group to be visible to oncoming passengers. We were "banished" to the restaurant area first, and then into the private dining area in order that we were out of the way, and not visible. It felt a little like house arrest. Only when our transfer arrived were we "allowed" to leave the enclosed private dining area for disembarkation. It should be added that it's entirely understandable the private tour group sought this level of isolation - but extremely disappointing that APT effectively created this situation by not transferring us to the hotel in the first instance. We'd gladly recommend APT's Myanmar experience - but now being aware of these three detracting matters we'd certainly explore alternative providers if the opportunity arose again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Relaxing way to visit Burma. This holiday was booked through Travelmarvel on a full board basis and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The boat was modern and immaculately clean and all staff could not do enough for us, even cleaning our shoes ... Read More
Relaxing way to visit Burma. This holiday was booked through Travelmarvel on a full board basis and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The boat was modern and immaculately clean and all staff could not do enough for us, even cleaning our shoes every day. The food was five star and the choice was amazing. Wine and beer was served freely in the restaurant and was of very good quality. The cabins were spacious with comfy beds and good air conditioning. The sun deck had plenty of shade on hot days and was a nice place to watch the world go by as we cruised downriver in the afternoons. Sightseeing was at a comfortable pace, usually in the morning, and the staff all helped us on and off the boat. We cannot fault the service and hospitality on the Princess Panhwar. The staff soon became friends who were keen to share the history and culture of their beautiful country and also their hope for a democratic government in the future. We felt totally safe the whole time we were there and would encourage others to visit before it changes too much. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Our third time on a Belmond ship and as before it was a wonderful experience. The food was excellent, great variety and plenty of it. The restaurant was well set out and tables varied from two seats to eight. The staff on the ship ... Read More
Our third time on a Belmond ship and as before it was a wonderful experience. The food was excellent, great variety and plenty of it. The restaurant was well set out and tables varied from two seats to eight. The staff on the ship could not have been more helpful - nothing was too much trouble for them and they went out of their way to help. Cabins were spotless as were the corridors. There's a shop for some souvenirs if you want it. We went ashore every day and visited some interesting places and some remote places. On returning to the ship there was a shoe cleaning service (needed as some of the roads were unmade). Everywhere we were looked after and the guides were great - enough information to make it interesting but not too much to make it boring. We cannot praise Belmond too highly - can't wait for our next trip with them! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
I have been on three previous Viking river cruises and just love them. Am no longer interested in ocean cruises now that I have done the river ones. Our program director was the best, Mu Mu. She engaged all of his daily and the crew ... Read More
I have been on three previous Viking river cruises and just love them. Am no longer interested in ocean cruises now that I have done the river ones. Our program director was the best, Mu Mu. She engaged all of his daily and the crew as well with singing and dancing. We loved her. We were so lucky to have 14 of us passengers and 28 crew members. truly pampered and spoiled. The food was excellent, not spicy, which was very helpful. presentation was wonderful and service was great. Loved all the daily tours we took with the wonderful air conditioned buses. Dominique the hotel manager was wonderful as well. My only suggestion is that the young lady who was the massage therapist got a bit too personal along our buttocks. It wasn't intentional but we Western ladies are a bit more reserved and we did mention it to each other. We would have liked for the air conditioning unit to go down to 15 deg. C. It was unusually hot during that week, l00 every day and it was difficult for the unit to keep up. Our rooms were lovely and the boat was also spotless and the service was wonderful. Our drivers were very careful and I appreciate having two crew members come along on each of our tours. It kept me from wandering off into the paths of the motorbikes!! I really loved Bagan and the last shrine with the 582,000 Buddha images. Also appreciated all the cold water on hand. Would highly recommend this cruise to my friends. In fact, two sets of friends have already come to see me, look at my pictures and inquired about our trip. Next stop Amazon or Ganges!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Where does one start? Well, first of all the welcome at the airport followed by a sumptuous champagne breakfast by the side of the river before being taken to the ship. What strikes one first of all is the amazing smiles of all around, ... Read More
Where does one start? Well, first of all the welcome at the airport followed by a sumptuous champagne breakfast by the side of the river before being taken to the ship. What strikes one first of all is the amazing smiles of all around, nothing is ever too much for them without being too over the top, it comes naturally to them and is not "forced". The ship is modern but classic at the same time, very fresh, welcoming and in a world of its own. The young lady who took us to our cabin was most informative without taking too much time about the formalities. The cabin is sheer luxury, view of the river, spacious and most of all an amazing bed... if one hadn't come for the sight seeing experience too one could stay all day in bed, it is so so comfortable. A wonderful touch was that we had a little present every evening on our beds, what a delightful surprise, be it a puppet, a lacquer bowl, such a refined touch. The meals on board were out of this world, from breakfast to lunch, a mix of Asian but also European, tasty, all together what you would expect, and more, on a luxury ship of this calibre. The décor on the deck as well as the traditional dining room make you feel special without being over the top, just pure class. The only "problem" is don't expect to go on a diet whilst you are on board, everything is far too tempting... well for three days one has to make the most of it all! The excursions are well organised, in small groups with very informative guides. The wealth of the country's heritage is incredible and the guides are proud to share it with us. So many beautiful temples and sites. When not eating, touring or swimming in the pool on deck the evenings were spent in a relaxed manner or being entertained by local people. The dance demonstration (being watched from the riverside by the little local children), was a real pleasure. After a "hard day's work" sightseeing we choose to finish the afternoon at the massage salon, what a wonderful experience. All in all I have to say that words do fail me to describe an experience I will never forget and feel very privileged to have enjoyed. It certainly would not take any kind of persuasion for me to go again. I would recommend it to anyone. The service was so good that I felt very "special". thank you The Strand and à bientôt! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016

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