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21 AmaWaterways AmaDara Cruise Reviews

We wanted to see a part of the world that was completely new to us and we had never been to Asia. Previous reviews and my desire to visit where my brother served during the Vietnam War led us to choose the Charms of the Mekong on the ... Read More
We wanted to see a part of the world that was completely new to us and we had never been to Asia. Previous reviews and my desire to visit where my brother served during the Vietnam War led us to choose the Charms of the Mekong on the AmaDara. We did the complete program with pre-cruise in Saigon and post-cruise in Siem Reap, Hanoi and HaLong Bay. It was first class all the way. I loved that the itinerary was not all about temples and tourist sites. We got wonderful glimpses into the lives of the people and got to experience visiting homes and schools which was probably our favorite part of the trip. First, let me echo all the positive comments from previous reviewers. The hotels during the land portion are some of the finest we have ever experienced. We especially loved the Sofitel in SIem Reap. The AmaDara is a beautiful ship. Our cruise was not sold out and we were given the option to upgrade our cabin at a tremendously reduced rate, but having looked at the more expensive options decided ours was just fine. All the cabins are in great shape and beautifully decorated. Other reviewers commented that there wasn't enough storage, but we didn't have that issue. We brought collapsible plastic hangars and they helped tremendously. The food on board was top notch and the staff were warm, friendly and very welcoming. Our Cruise Director, AK, was with us for the entire 16 days and handled every situation with grace and class. He made it all look easy, and I'm sure it wasn't. Markus, the Hotel Director on the ship, missed his calling as a comedian. It is apparent that the staff respect him and know the meaning of customer service. The guides in both Vietnam and Cambodia spoke excellent English and were grateful we chose to visit their countries. They each had personal stories to tell which brought the recent history of both countries to life, sometimes in very disturbing ways. Each stop was valuable and offered glimpses into the lives of the people in the regions we visited. The trip to HaLong Bay was a delight, but we wish it had been two nights. The other passengers ranged in age from 40s to 70s. All were in fairly good shape, which is good because there are lots of stairs to climb and uneven pavement. Most were from the US, Canada, Australia and England. They were respectful (mostly) and we enjoyed getting to know them. Here are some things I didn't read in previous reviews that would have been helpful to know: 1. It is really hot and humid!! I was the envy of all my fellow travelers.because I brought with me a battery operated device that went around my neck and had little fans at either end. They can be found on Amazon for about $35 2. They tell you that you need to have your shoulders and knees covered when you visit temples. What I didn't understand was that also applies to sites they consider sacred in any way. There were very few days when we didn't need to follow "dress code", and I didn't pack appropriately for that. Also, for women, you have to be careful that your tops are not revealing. 3. You need to carefully plan for your tips and bring new dollar bills (or Vietnamese Dong) for tips and purchases at smaller markets. They are happy to have dollars in Cambodia, but not Vietnam. 4. You will spend a lot of time on buses, and the roads are not always in great condition, so you might want to bring a Kindle or other device where you can increase the font to make up for the bumps. You will also want snacks. We bought trail mix packets and protein bars at Costco and were happy we had them. I hope you enjoy your Mekong/Vietnam/Cambodia experience as much as we did. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have just returned from a holiday of a life time thanks to AmaWaterways. We travelled on the AmaDara a beautiful ship. We sailed the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia, a most beautiful part of the world with such friendly people. This ... Read More
We have just returned from a holiday of a life time thanks to AmaWaterways. We travelled on the AmaDara a beautiful ship. We sailed the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia, a most beautiful part of the world with such friendly people. This was our first river cruise so we were not sure what to expect, but we were made to feel special throughout. The welcome we had at Saigon airport when we first landed was amazing. Tuan, one of the brilliant guides met us and taught us our first words of Vietnamese. This friendliness was to continue throughout the holiday. We had a land tour either end of the cruise, 2 days in Saigon pre cruise and 2 days in Siem Reap post cruise. The level of service was top notch throughout. The hotels were amazing nothing was too much trouble. AK our tour manager met us at our hotel in Saigon and was with us right through the holiday until our last day in Siem Reap. He briefed us every day on the upcoming excursions and was very professional in all aspects of his job. The excursions were well planned, and pitched at levels that all could enjoy. The guides were local and very knowledgeable and even showed us where to get the best photographs. Every need was provided for from water to drink to rainproof ponchos to wear. What we really enjoyed about the excursions was getting a feel of how local people lived and worked along the Mekong. We did also see the well known land marks such as Angkor Wat which was amazing, but it was places like Evergreen Island and Sa Dec Market that will stay with us. The Amadara and her crew made our cruise unforgettable. Thuy,in the Spa provided a wonderful pedicure, Vy provided great support and encouragement to help me make the 500 steps to the Stupa at Oudong. I am so grateful because the views at the top were spectacular. Clarice on reception always greeted us with a smile and was always interested in our day. Phallin in the restaurant made us feel so welcome with her friendly manner. The food on board was delicious with so much choice of both western and Asian cuisines. They even baked a birthday cake for my husband on his birthday! The waiters and waitresses in the restaurant were so friendly but professional. After dinner it was nice to have a drink in the Saigon lounge where there would be game shows which were fun. We particularly enjoyed the traditional dancers in Cambodia. We cannot recommend AmaWaterways and this cruise in particular enough. We were called “Family” throughout the cruise and that is exactly how we felt, like part of a lovely family. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have just returned from the most amazing holiday on the Amawaterways AmaDara, Charms of the Mekong river cruise. We have been lucky and have been on many cruise ships to all parts of the world but have never really fancied a river ... Read More
We have just returned from the most amazing holiday on the Amawaterways AmaDara, Charms of the Mekong river cruise. We have been lucky and have been on many cruise ships to all parts of the world but have never really fancied a river cruise. However we were due to go on an Indian tour which regrettably was cancelled and booked this as an alternative and we were certainly not disappointed. We had 2 days in Ho Chi Ming in a first class hotel prior to embarkation and had booked an on/off bus tour not realising that Amawaterways had arranged a couple of tours so did not utilise the bus and instead did their tour around the city in the morning and the chu chu tunnels in the afternoon. Both excellent with English speaking guides. Our first impression of the AmaDara was wow, what a delightful boat with wood panelling everywhere. Our cabin was beautiful with a Juliet balcony and another balcony with table and chairs to watch the fascinating scenery of Vietnam and Cambodia float past. The bed was huge and the bathroom was big with a lovely large shower cubicle. The whole experience was exceptional, the food was delicious with both western and Vietnamese, plenty of free wine and beers with lunch and dinner and the waiters and all the staff could not do enough to ensure the whole holiday came up our expectations knowing all names and likes and dislikes. The excursions which were all included were very interesting and the guides both in Vietnam and Cambodia were very knowledgeable and made every tour enjoyable and educational. Evening entertainment was varied some good, some not quite so good. On the whole one of the best holidays we have ever undertaken and although we loved the river cruise, we tend to go on long haul holidays and so will therefore not take another river cruise.but can certainly recommend this one. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We wanted to go to Vietnam for a long time and we had traveled with Amawaterways before. We knew the quality of the product. After a few days on our own in Hanoi we joined a group of 19 for the pre-cruise, cruise and post-cruise with ... Read More
We wanted to go to Vietnam for a long time and we had traveled with Amawaterways before. We knew the quality of the product. After a few days on our own in Hanoi we joined a group of 19 for the pre-cruise, cruise and post-cruise with wonderful cruise manager Mr Thoai. From the minute we met him, he was totally dedicated and on top of everything because of his continuous hard work. The 3 Sofitel hôtels (Hanoi, Angor Wat,Saigon were 5 stars all the way. The cities were overwelming and we were glad to be with a group, no respect for pedestrians, tourists or not but they were worth visiting . We also had an overnight cruise on Halong Bay and did not expect so many excursions. We especially enjoyed the visit of the caverns. On that ship the food was ok but the room and venues were fabulous. Finally we got to the Amadara : what a beautiful ship ! Hotel manager Markus is in a class of his own. Everything runs smoothly, the food is fabulous (asian or standard), improvement is needed in the dessert section in my opinion. We had free drinks of the day at cocktail time and the free specialty restaurant, la table du chef, is not to be missed ( no complaint about desset there !) Every guide we met spoke English very well and represented Amawaterways with pride. A word of warning : the excursions are not for older people, they are quite active and demand a level of fitness exiting and entering the ship although there is plenty of help. It is a cruise not to be missed and should be on everyone's list! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I always had a fascination for Vietnam and Cambodia and wanted to cruise the Mekong river,as I have been very ill my husband treated me for our anniversary. From the minute we left home the whole holiday experience was amazing,the ... Read More
I always had a fascination for Vietnam and Cambodia and wanted to cruise the Mekong river,as I have been very ill my husband treated me for our anniversary. From the minute we left home the whole holiday experience was amazing,the boat,food and the best cabin we have ever had. The excursions were very different from what we normally do and I enjoyed every one,I loved going around Evergreen village and meeting the locals who were very welcoming. The ox cart ride was very different,and the tut tut ride a little scary with all the traffic. I have a special diet and they always made sure I was well catered for. They have an alternative restaurant called The Captains Table for no extra cost, we had a beautiful meal there for our anniversary,and they made it very special. All the staff treated you like family and couldn’t do enough for you. The tour guides were very knowledgeable with a great sense of humour. I love Tai Chi and even that was available. I vote this cruise the best I have ever had. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
If you want spectacular scenery and attractions you will need to book the land package that includes Angkor Wat and Harlong Bay. The cruise down the Mekong is more a cultural expose and explanation of historical events in the region. The ... Read More
If you want spectacular scenery and attractions you will need to book the land package that includes Angkor Wat and Harlong Bay. The cruise down the Mekong is more a cultural expose and explanation of historical events in the region. The boat and scenery on the river are still interesting but not spectacular. The cabins are excellent with a small balcony and French doors and the bathroom is clean and of good size with a glass shower screen. Food on the cruise was varied, both western and Asian selections with several selections for every meal. Drinks were available all day with beer and spirits included although they were of limited types , wine was only served with meals in the dining room. I have included photos of the wine list and drink list to give an idea of the extra charges if you wanted to purchase premium wine or spirits. The passengers are mainly older Americans, Canadians, British or Australians who are able to walk reasonable distances for the excursions. Excursions were interesting and varied and the guides were well organised. The staff were a highlight and attentive, friendly and well trained. Overall an excellent cruise by a professional company with great staff. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
The cruise only package we book ie: not taking the add on's from AMAWATERWAYS as in pre and post cruise . However we had booked online direct with both the Sofitel hotels for 2 days prior and post cruise and still coming out more cost ... Read More
The cruise only package we book ie: not taking the add on's from AMAWATERWAYS as in pre and post cruise . However we had booked online direct with both the Sofitel hotels for 2 days prior and post cruise and still coming out more cost effective than the add on prices. The pre cruise set up was perfect and cruise manager Thaui was excellent from the first minute we met. Effortless pre cruise info ( bags out in hallway of hotel re identify and load all sorted by staffing) The 6 hour transfer with two one hour stops did fly by with good enroute info and stops and markets to turn ones stomach all part of the experience. The " we are all family " Ama Waterways concept works well . From the start of the transfer to the end of day 5 each group had its Cambodian guide our blue group guide was Tek Leng who was exceptional. Due to a issue in the dinning room the welcome on board drinks and first night dinner was a bit all over the show as the "the paint had not dried" but Markus the Cruise director was in control in perfect Austrian style. All tours and excursions being included in your price made life a lot easier as the selection of tours is well and truly thought through and tailor made to a variety of abilities . However this cruise is not for people who cannot rise above a level 2 in walking and exertion. My 2 stand out excursions of the 14 we did was the Ox cart ride and Buddhist monastery visit and blessing along with the oknhatey school visit in Cambodia. The meals on board where fantastic , only issue was that a Hamburger is more meatloaf or frikadel than beef burger :-)) however the traditional foods and service in the Mekong Restaurant was outstanding and a shout out to our waiters, Dara and Venestra . We did do the chefs table restaurant which is situated aft on the ship with great views and furnishings. However our table of 8 all felt we were slightly rushed and limitations on the wines ( which never altered by meal course, which is the norm) Service was not up to the levels in the main restaurant . The Bar service with a smile and enthusiasm and happiness from Det and Soheap where contagious in a good way. We where very lucky to have the Vice President Kristin Karst on board as she said she only visits once a year. A fantastic lady who made the effort everyday and night to interact in both excursions and meals and entertainment. Of course surrounded by yes men who clearly looked out of place amongst the crew. The overall entertainment and humour took a dive on board hence my very low score in this area. On day 4 Markus the Cruise director and glue to the Amwaterway family was rushed to hospital with suspected dengue fever and thus never completed the cruise . However we did have Thaui who stepped up and tried his best . The other downside was the influx of 18 UK travel agents for the last 3 days who where kept in a separate group for excursions but half of them clearly never fitted into the dynamic that had been created amongst the 90 paying passengers. This was defiantly a once in a lifetime destination, however as I said to Kritin Karst if they got the Amazon and Myanmar programmes sorted out we will definitely book with them again for those . The AmaDara is a lovely well structured ,planned , crewed and managed ship one not to miss. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
If I could give this cruise more than 5 stars I would. Everything, and I mean everything was fabulous. The crew is extremely service oriented, the ship was gorgeous and the food was wonderful. I have travelled with AMA before which was ... Read More
If I could give this cruise more than 5 stars I would. Everything, and I mean everything was fabulous. The crew is extremely service oriented, the ship was gorgeous and the food was wonderful. I have travelled with AMA before which was great but this was truly the best trip I have ever been on and my 2 travel companions agree! The guides are local to the areas you visit (Saigon, Angkor Wat, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, etc). They are extremely knowledgeable and share their personal stories about life in these locations. Although some of what you see is very disturbing (i.e. the Killng Fields) they handle it sensitively and you are truly sharing their history with them. The pre and post days are in the best hotels in each city. If you are looking for a high quality adventure in a beautiful part of the world with very welcoming people, take this trip!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This cruiseline did everything right. From the food to the excursions to the staff they could not have been nicer or more accommodating. They seemed to have thought through everything ahead of time and I would classify this less of a ... Read More
This cruiseline did everything right. From the food to the excursions to the staff they could not have been nicer or more accommodating. They seemed to have thought through everything ahead of time and I would classify this less of a “trip” but an “experience”. Kudos to the chef, the captain and especially our ship host, Song. I had a special meal requirement and the staff was very helpful. Some might have thought it was corny but I also thouroughly enjoyed the entertainment, especially when the staff participated. It was a hoot and EVERYONE seemed to have enjoyed themselves. However, I have to say the highlights were the excursions and the guides. I consider myself fairly well travelled and I was so impressed with the quality and personalized style of the guides. They were the exceptional. I booked the Saigon to Siam Reap route and I recommend that direction because you can then go on to Angkor Wat after the cruise which is not to be missed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We were looking for an interesting trip and hadn't been to Cambodia. AMA very organized at embarkation and throughout the cruise. Sofitel in Saigon lovely with a staggering breakfast and dinner buffet!!! Ship is beautifully ... Read More
We were looking for an interesting trip and hadn't been to Cambodia. AMA very organized at embarkation and throughout the cruise. Sofitel in Saigon lovely with a staggering breakfast and dinner buffet!!! Ship is beautifully maintained. Mekong is a very lively river with much small commerce. Floating markets, fishing boats of all sizes, and more stilt houses than you could ever imagine. River in VietNam is really dirty with lots of flotsam and jetsam coupled with floating lotus. As we sailed into Cambodia, the river became "cleaner". We stopped at several small villages. The best was a village where we visited an elementary school. Six hundred students, all in clean uniforms, in a bare bones school. Playground was dirt with two swings. Children were charming and sang "Old McDonald" with gusto. Forty well behaved 6-11 year olds. They all learn English. We brought schools supplies and the teacher was very grateful. More Cambodians speak English than Thai's. Cambodian people are happy and welcoming. Our guide, Adam is Cambodian, speaks English like a native speaker and provided great insight into the country with grace and humor. We were part of his yellow family(each group was a designated color). In Pnom Phen, we did not do the tour of the killing fields or the museum of atrocities committed by the Pol Pot which those who did said was really sad and depressing. We visited the Central Market which was great fun and the best shopping on the trip!!! The next day we visited the royal Palace and other landmarks. Well done. Entertainment--staff talent show was really good and brought lots of cheers from an appreciative audience. Staff was terrific. Can't say enough about them--guides, dining and bar staff awesome! Dining--do not miss the live action station at breakfast and lunch. Omelets, eggs your way at breakfast. Lunch is Cambodian delights--one day was a chicken curry soup that was so delicious people went for seconds!!! Everything we tried we liked. Cambodian food is sweet, sour, and salty--no hot spice like Thai. Many options at dinner--western or Asian style food. All reports re the little spa were excellent. Lono did a foot massage that was one of the best I've ever had. Pack comfortable shoes. Be prepared to walk the plank when visiting the villages. Lots of help to get up the river bank. Casual cotton clothes that cover knees and shoulders to meet the "dress code" for local scene. You must be prepared that you will be traveling in third world countries. It should make you grateful for how you live but appreciative of how happy people are in their own circumstances. Cambodia is the land of smiles. We are richer for the experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Vietnam and Cambodia have long been on my wife’s and my bucket list. We’ve just returned from a truly fabulous AmaWaterways trip to these two fascinating countries. The trip was half on land – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Siem Reap, ... Read More
Vietnam and Cambodia have long been on my wife’s and my bucket list. We’ve just returned from a truly fabulous AmaWaterways trip to these two fascinating countries. The trip was half on land – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Siem Reap, and Hanoi – and half on a cruise on the AmaDara on the Mekong River. We have traveled extensively throughout the world, including numerous ocean cruises and a terrific European river cruise, but this was the best cruise experience we have ever had. Much of that owes to the fascination of the two countries - the traumas they have experienced in very recent history and their remarkable rebound from them (rarely have we learned so much from a "vacation" trip); the genuine warmth of the people, both trip staff and those on the street; the incredible variety of what there is to see, from dirt-poor communities living on the water and on the banks of the river to vibrant emerging cities clogged with new construction and motor-bike dominated traffic. (Learning how to cross the street was itself a fascinating experience.) Much owes, as well, to the extraordinarily well-organized trip. The trip manager, Mr. Thoai ("Call me Twy, like in 'twice'"), ran the trip like a well-oiled machine, dealing with the innumerable daily chores of moving over 100 people from one place to another, as well as the inevitable unexpected developments, with an ever-present smile. His competence, efficiency, and spirit set the tone of the entire trip. The week-long cruise on the AmaDara was delightful. The ship's facilities are very good, if not the best we have experienced. We splurged on a "suite," which means a room that was plenty spacious, as opposed to the invariably cramped standard living quarters on a river cruise boat. The staff were incredibly well-trained and their genuine friendliness created an infectious positive attitude on board. The food was easily the best we have ever experienced on a cruise, and we have traveled previously on top-ranked cruise lines. The quality of the meals was remarkable in light of the challenging circumstances of feeding so many people on a cruise on a river in a poor part of Asia, and doing so from tight kitchen facilities. Kudos to head Chef Pheara and his staff who produced several dinners that were worthy of a highly-ranked restaurant in a major city. The quality of the staff and the food contributed to an unusually congenial environment on board the ship. It was easy to interact comfortably with all of our fellow passengers. The highlight of the trip was the excursions, one each morning and afternoon. Never previously have we experienced such interesting and unique outings, nearly all of them simultaneously fascinating and educational. Each was different from all of the others. They varied from walking through small dusty poor rural villages, with their invariably friendly inhabitants, in which we sampled such "delicacies" as snake wine, to visiting sobering monuments to the traumas of war and genocide. The Vietnam War Remnants Museum in Saigon allowed us to see a formative experience during our early adulthood from a different perspective (and reminded us how important it is to see both sides), while visiting the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh - although less upsetting an experience than we expected - left us dumbfounded about how evil selected individuals in history can be, and how remarkable it is that they have the charisma and power to recruit thousands of their country's citizens to do their dirty work. We appreciated the histories of these two countries, and their current economic development, in part due to the superb guides working for Ama. With one exception, the guides were among the best we have ever experienced - all thoughtful and informative, willing to address difficult questions, and punctuating their presentations with both great senses of humor and personal touches, including explaining how their countries' evolutions had affected their personal lives. Mr. Long gave us a great overview of southern Vietnam while on the cruise, as did Ms. "Tinny" during the Cambodia portion of the cruise. Mr. Son brought Hanoi to life with the best English we experienced on the trip (not that the other guides' English wasn't good too). He, and the charming city itself, made us wish we had one more day to explore the city. The rickshaw ride through the chaotic traffic was fun and surprisingly not frightening. The trip's few disappointments were disappointing only in relative terms. While we benefited from unusually good weather, the intense heat during our tour of the Royal Palace and the National Museum in Phnom Penh, after visiting the Killing Fields the same morning, made that morning more challenging than any other (although it, too, was definitely a net positive). Wandering through the crowded and fascinating food market near the river that afternoon compensated. The fact that we waited at our hotel in Siem Reap most of the day before flying to Hanoi in the evening seemed a wasted opportunity: we could have had more time in Hanoi had we flown out that morning. We also felt that the final leg of the trip, to famous Ha Long Bay with an overnight on a "luxury junk" (quite an oxymoron, but the boat was fine), fell short of our high expectations. The bay is truly gorgeous and the three excursions were interesting and fun (especially the enormous cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites). But the bay was overrun with tourist boats and we felt rushed to get from one excursion to the next. The government is going to have to decide whether it wants to limit traffic on the bay. It definitely detracts from the experience. Two minor drawbacks: The seemingly constant tipping (for bus drivers and their assistants and one-day guides) was a bit annoying, although frankly we appreciated the opportunity to express our gratitude to Mr. Thoai and our principal guides with larger than expected tips. And Ama's policy of charging for name-brand alcohol drinks was annoying too. (Local brands were free...if not very good. Wine and beer were free with lunch and dinner. Local beers - quite good - were always available at no charge but wine wasn't.) Of course if Ama included all alcohol in the package price, that price would rise. Not clear whether that would make good business sense, but an all-inclusive policy would be appreciated by many travelers. Our hotels in the big cities - all Sofitels - were superb and each different from the others. The buffets were notable, especially those in Saigon (the most amazing we've ever experienced) and Hanoi. The resort in Siem Reap was gorgeous and we enjoyed some time in the large, beautiful pool with its swim-up bar (although surprisingly, perhaps, the food was less good than at the other two hotels). Sofitel has risen high on our list of favorite hotel chains as a result of this visit. Overall, this trip ranks among the very best we have experienced in lives blessed with lots of travel. Ama runs a terrific operation in this part of the world. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
The reviews we read on-line from a wide variety of sources were helpful and the deciding factor in selecting AmaWaterways. Viking was described as having funky, leased boats, not their own brand. Uniworld had good reviews, but its Ha ... Read More
The reviews we read on-line from a wide variety of sources were helpful and the deciding factor in selecting AmaWaterways. Viking was described as having funky, leased boats, not their own brand. Uniworld had good reviews, but its Ha Long Bay excursion was not part of the package (and the add-on seemed overpriced). Uniworld's boat was too outside oriented. (FYI: We were cautious about the heat, humidity and bugs; but they were not really an issue in January.) After our fabulous, exotic, eye-opening trip, we agree that the boat, colonial décor, attentive professional staff, regional food menu and highly educated guides were all top notch. The guides were all expert in their areas. We had three of them, one for north Vietnam, one for Cambodia, and one for the Mekong Delta and Saigon. The excursions were all fascinating as well as varied. We visited caves; ruins, temples; markets; silk, rattan, candy and rice cake businesses; Viet Cong hideouts; war museums and many other places of interest. The means of transportation was varied, too: junk, bus, rickshaw, ox-car, trishaw, tuk-tuk, small boat, etc. What an amazing adventure. I recommend going during the Lunar New Year because the countries are all decked out in vivid decorations, and the people are abuzz in expectation of the long, popular holiday. We are glad we choose AmaWaterways! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Just spent 7 days on the mekong river with ama waterways amadara. Wonderful staff, great food, fun people, great local excursions to see how the local people live and work. Unique transportation on tuktuks, ox carts, small boats. Great ... Read More
Just spent 7 days on the mekong river with ama waterways amadara. Wonderful staff, great food, fun people, great local excursions to see how the local people live and work. Unique transportation on tuktuks, ox carts, small boats. Great bargains for shopping..bring a empty suitcase for all the great deals to buy -silk and cotton scarves, shorts, shirts, bags, belts, watches, purses to name some great dealsNot a strenuous trip, some afternoon leisure time on the boat. All excursions very organized, departed on time and local guides -"long" with the green team was outstanding. Visited a silk factory, rattan mat factory, local school, temples, got a blessing with the buddist monks, rode on a small boat to see the fishing villages on the river. Wonderful local transportation on tuktuks, ox carts, and more.Hats off to maria, dara and nit in the restaurant for excellent service. Staying with the cruise for hanoi and angkor wat. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The remaining three members of my family met up with our older daughter who was already in Vietnam. Our cruise included extra nights on the front end in Hanoi and the back end in Saigon. Highly recommend that you include these land ... Read More
The remaining three members of my family met up with our older daughter who was already in Vietnam. Our cruise included extra nights on the front end in Hanoi and the back end in Saigon. Highly recommend that you include these land excursions otherwise you will miss so much of what Vietnam has to offer. Our cruise was only half full because it was over Christmas but none of the service and amenities were reduced because of it. The time of year is perfect as well because it can get really hot and muggy in the spring time. We met so many fabulous people on this cruise both as guest and AmaWaterways staff. The guides were so knowledgeable and interesting. As you travel, the guides change between Vietnam and Cambodia but all were great. Each guest is assigned a group by color so that you stay with that guide for the duration of your trip. The excursions themselves are breath taking at times. Ha Long Bay in northern Vietnam and the Angkor Archeological Park in Siem Reap are UNESCO World Heritage Site top destinations and you will see why when you visit them. You must see these sites in person because pictures on the internet doesn't come close to the real thing. The choice of hotels are all luxurious and amazing in their own right. Especially the Hanoi Metropole Sofitel hotel in the heart of Hanoi. OMG, the best hotel our family has ever been too period. This charming hotel has so much ambience and history. We will never forget it. One last point I will bring up an example of the service you get with AmaWaterways. When we got dropped off at the Saigon airport on our way home I had accidentally dropped my cell phone in the van. I called the tour manager, Long Tran to tell him about it with my wife's cell phone. He immediately called the van driver and he brought my phone back to the airport to give it to me. Anyway, this cruise will enable you to see a part of the world that is so different from what you experience in western cultures. We loved it and have memories forever because of it. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
When we told our Travel Agent Friend, Linda Androlia, of Sunstone Tours about our plans to visit Southeast Asia, she said the best cruise line for this area is Amawaterways. She booked it for us and she was right. It was an amazing ... Read More
When we told our Travel Agent Friend, Linda Androlia, of Sunstone Tours about our plans to visit Southeast Asia, she said the best cruise line for this area is Amawaterways. She booked it for us and she was right. It was an amazing cruise. The staff are all local and really know the area and hospitality. The food was delicious and plentiful and we got to taste food from Cambodia and Vietnam. Everyday we disembarked to a new adventure whether is was to be blessed by buddhist monks, visit a remote fishing village or experience the horrific destruction from the American war and the dictators that followed. The tour guides were knowledgeable and did not sugar coat any of the atrocities that occurred during the war. Each room was beautifully appointed with a balcony, not matter what the cost. The whole boat was spotless. We even treated ourselves to a massage, which is comparable to anything I've had in the states. Many evenings we were treated to local entertainment, Dancers from Vietnam and Cambodia demonstrated their beautiful, delicate dances. We were on board during Christmas and the crew serenaded us with Christmas carols, there was even a crew entertainment night. We also had a pre-tour at Angkor Wat where we stayed in the Sofitel in Siem Ream. and a post tour in Saigon again staying at the Sofitel. Both tours were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We started with Hanoi -Halong Bay,Siem Reap, then a week ok the AmaDara followed by HoChiMinCity For all 14 days we had a cruise mgr. named Son he was excellent , the patience of a saint ,attentive, informative ,very professional and a ... Read More
We started with Hanoi -Halong Bay,Siem Reap, then a week ok the AmaDara followed by HoChiMinCity For all 14 days we had a cruise mgr. named Son he was excellent , the patience of a saint ,attentive, informative ,very professional and a very good sence of humor. The hotels , Sofitel, are all 5 star. Metropole in Hanoi is historic,as well beautiful,staff very attentive , breakfast buffet is welcome site And Hanoi is a great city you can walk to everything so much to explore Halong Bay is nice , but I worry for it becoming overrun with the junks and the plastic water bottles ,fuel spillage ,too many visitors the junk was fun and good ans well as accommodations were good All our tours in Hanoi and Halong Bay , were also accompanied by a Vietnam guide named Bik and she too was very knowledgeable,and shared many insights with us Siem Reap we stayed at Sofitel 3 nights , has to be one of nicest hotels I have every stayed in, from Manager greeting most as they come and go to , ice tea upon arrival,cold face clothes the friendly Cambodian greetings , beautiful grounds ,service in this hotel is over the top. The Executive Sous Chef can be seen at the buffet during each meal, answering questions ,greeting ,top standards ... In Siem Reap we had a Cambodian guide join us , his name , Pharoth , He was so very knowledgeable,and he shared some his personal stories with us he was a terrific guide and he stayed with his through Phonam Phen The AmaDara is a beautiful ship great food and awesome service . They anticipate your needs and I can say more than half the crew knew us by name and we knew them all as well Each excursion was interesting ,each village we tied up to Had something that's special The tours are well organized Either lead by the cruise mgr. and or the country guide Each time you returned to the ship you were greeted with a cold tea, and iced facecloth The evenings were usually a local cultural entertainment , as well a a talk by Son on the next days activities, overview of country etc. I could write a journal on the ship, the staff , the sights,food etc. Son referred to us a Family , and It was a true friendly family like atmosphere ,very casual . Best summation is that it's a first class experience and while both these countries may refer to them selves as third world , their smiles, their attitude , their service ,and quality are FIVE star first class Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We just returned from our cruise on the AMADARA.We started the trip off with a 3 day stay in siem reap at a small but a great hotel in every aspect(golden temple residence)it is located less than 5 minute walk to pub street and night ... Read More
We just returned from our cruise on the AMADARA.We started the trip off with a 3 day stay in siem reap at a small but a great hotel in every aspect(golden temple residence)it is located less than 5 minute walk to pub street and night market.Our family of 6 including 85 yo father spent 2 days doing all the temples unbelievable one pointer it is a long walk from parking area to base of angkor wat I suggest to carry 3 bottles of water. We had the long bus ride to the ship not too bad made two stops along the way.once arriving to the ship the process was smooth and easy our bags were in our cabins waiting for us.The cabins were big enough so not to feel too cramped.My wife and I had cabin 304 (cat b).The ship and crew were fantastic the only suggestion I would make would be to have a little music during dinner. All the excursion were good perfect length of time.A little about my self I am a 52 yo vet and had visited concentration camps in germany,but I was prepared for the emotions I felt at the killing fields we took over 2000 pictures during our trip,but I could not bring myself to take one picture there just did not feel good about doing it. On arrival to ho chi minh bus ride quick and easy we chose not to stay at the sofietel we stay acroos the river.We did a 3hr foodie tour with a company (bao loc tours)started at 3 ended at 9:30 they were great. I hate writing reviews so if anyone has questions feel free to contact m sarge 1340@att.net Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Our 16-day land and river cruise journey through Cambodia and Vietnam on the AmaDara will stand as one of our favorite trips – and we’ve traveled extensively throughout the world. The whole tour was excellently, professionally, and ... Read More
Our 16-day land and river cruise journey through Cambodia and Vietnam on the AmaDara will stand as one of our favorite trips – and we’ve traveled extensively throughout the world. The whole tour was excellently, professionally, and smoothly overseen by our tour/cruise manager, Mr. Tung, a native of Hanoi. The three Sofitel hotels (Hanoi, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City), were extremely good, particularly the one in Siem Reap. It would take pages to fully describe the highlights of the trip, and how much we learned from the local guides and the visits to both countries. To say it was and eye-opening experience would be an understatement. The AmaDara is a new, and lovely, vessel. The crew and staff were excellent, consisting mostly of Vietnamese and Cambodians. The rooms were comfortable, and our standard cabin had an impressive-sized bathroom for a cruise ship of any size. The food, overall, was excellent, and meals often included the choice of local cuisine. Our biggest complaint is that the main dining room would get extremely noisy, particularly at dinner. The lovely carved wood ceilings and walls act to echo the conversations. They really need to figure out how to absorb the noise. The other problem was with the fitness room. It was too hot and often very crowded. In addition, the few machines often had mechanic issues. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Amawaterways AmaDara 7-14 Dec 2015 Siem Reap to Saigon We enjoyed a 7 day river cruise on AmaDara from Siem Reap Cambodia to Saigon Vietnam in early December 2015. This was our first cruise with AMAWaterways, on the AmaDara and on the ... Read More
Amawaterways AmaDara 7-14 Dec 2015 Siem Reap to Saigon We enjoyed a 7 day river cruise on AmaDara from Siem Reap Cambodia to Saigon Vietnam in early December 2015. This was our first cruise with AMAWaterways, on the AmaDara and on the Mekong River. Pre Cruise There were pre cruise and post cruise packages that we did not participate in. We organized our own tours with French speaking guides to satisfy the majority of our group. Meals All meals, breakfast lunch and dinner had a choice of Asian or Western dishes. Breakfast was an extensive buffet with Asian and Western selections along with an Action station where omelettes and eggs could be had along with pho (Vietnamese soup) which was excellent. If it had been a long day of tours and sightseeing you could simply sit and order the Chef's recommendation for lunch or dinner which we did many times. Wine, included with meals, was poured freely, the selection limited to a red and a white, I was never left wanting and a top up to take to the room after dinner was never denied. My wife thought Chardonnay was over represented during the cruise. There was only one sitting for all meals and one dinning area for all meals except dinner. There was a special higher end restaurant, the Chef's table, that you could book for dinner instead at no extra charge but the seating is limited. I suggest you reserve early so you get your preferred time and date. Bar brands of alcohol were available complimentary as were soft drinks and juice. There are no beverage packages required. High end alcohol brands and wine not during meals were an extra charge to your room. As wine was included with meals, nobody cared if you brought your own wine on board to have before or after dinner. Entertainment on Board The entertainment on board is a bit sparse compared to ocean cruises, but we were so busy with the daily tours we didn't miss it. That said there were a couple of evenings of local entertainment that was very unique. There was also a crew talent night, the kitchen won with YMCA, it was fun and we all got to eat the next day. There isn't a casino or any slot machines. Tours Throughout the cruise there were 2 tours a day, included in the price, a morning and afternoon tour. The morning tours started between 0815 and 0930 and always had you back on board for lunch. The afternoon tours varied in starting times but we were always back in time to freshen up and try the daily free cocktail before dinner. The Cruise Director, Long and Hotel Manager Markus were friendly and approachable. Most days Long had a short talk about what would be happening the next day. When leaving for a tour make sure to say, So long, he'll like that. Accessibility Having a handicapped family member (not on cruise) you become much more aware of accessibility issues. This is not a boat or cruise for a person in a wheelchair or with any significant walking impediment. There are no elevators and the gang plank to get on/off and local terrain is such that you need to be able to walk on your own. Pictures from our trip: https://picasaweb.google.com/105478908591388516194/MekongOnAmaDara?authkey=Gv1sRgCPj9lcTB9NWZ5AE Day 1 The cruise started with a 5 hour bus ride from the Sofitel Siem Reap to where the boat was 'docked' (tied to trees on shore). The boat rarely starts close to Siem Reap I was told, Tonle Sap lake, but usually well past the southern end of the lake, which we found a bit disappointing not being able to see the lake. The bus ride was quite nice though, there is a lot of country side to see and there are 2 stops, one to eat your complementary Sofitel box lunch and the other at Spiderville for crunchy desert spiders and other bugs. Those cost extra but they would have had to pay me to eat the tarantulas and I'm a fairly adventurous eater. The Sofitel box lunch was ok, a sandwich a piece of fruit, a cookie and water. We arrived at the boat mid-afternoon and walked down a grassy slope to a gang plank with railings on to the boat. A boarding cocktail, crew introductions and we were underway, upstream, roughly north, up the Mekong towards Tonle Sap lake! We didn't quite reach the lake though. We moored mid-stream for the night. Day 2 On day 2 the morning tour was a boat ride to visit a floating village, lots of great photo ops, no walking just a launch from shore to take us to see the extensive village. Many of the houseboats are painted a Finlander (Sky) blue in the belief that it wards off mosquitos and attracts Finns. Ok maybe not Finns. The launch returns you to the ship in time for lunch and a brief rest. The boat sails back down stream, close to where we started but on the opposite shore to visit a small village of silver and copper smiths. We were tied to shore for this excursion and through until the next morning and you could go with or without a guide Into the village. If you have space in your luggage, bring school supplies such as note books and colouring pencils as there is a small school here that would appreciate it. The classroom looked to hold about 40 kids so bring lots if you can. The kids selling the silver items are very good with English and salesmanship. I'm sure we paid more than we should have but the prices are so cheap and the kids so nice, it's not a big deal. Our guide told us that if we didn't want to buy anything do not challenge the salesmanship skills of the sellers by saying, no thank you. That means, try harder, to the sales people. Simply ignore them and don't say anything. It's hard to do but it works. Day 3 Today we took a short bus, less than 1 hour to visit a Buddhist Monastery and be blessed by 2 monks. This was quite interesting. Everyone gathered around the sitting monks and sat on the carpet in front of them careful not to get within a meter (yard) or so. Hats off, arms and knees covered and no touching the monks. They chanted for 5 minutes or so and then threw Jasmin blossoms over/on us. We could then take pictures with the monks. After we had a tour of the Monestary, where they slept, ate, the laymen and nuns etc. Then it was back to the ship for lunch and a short rest before the afternoon Ox Cart ride. Another short bus ride to a spot on the side of a small road where the Ox Carts were waiting. There isn't any suspension on the carts so you feel every crack in the road, fortunately it's not a long ride, maybe 20 minutes. 3 people per Ox cart including the driver. As the Ox Carts are making there way down the dirt road we passed a school as class was dismissed (there are morning and afternoon classes that the kids attend 1 of), the kids must see this money train every week and ran right for us. We had a young girl walk beside us and chat with us, then she sang if you're happy and you know it clap your hands, that turned us to jelly pretty quick. She never asked for anything or put her hand out but we gave her an apple and $1 USD, she seemed happy about that. After that I stocked up with apples from the ship, the kids really liked them and were very appreciative. I asked her what her parents did, her Dad was a taxi driver and her Mom cut rice in the field. Our guide said taxi driving is a good job but the rice harvesting is only $4-$5 USD a day. The little girl wanted to be a rice harvester like her Mom. I felt kind of depressed after learning that. Back onboard we were underway for Phnom Penh and our 3rd tour of the day, the Central Market. We had about an hour in the Central Market which is filled with everything you can imagine, clothes, jewelry, electronics, fresh crawling out of the pails food and flowers. We picked up a bouquet of flowers for our cabin for $5 USD. Back to the ship and dinner and then a final unescorted trip to the Night Market. Transportation was provided both ways with pickup and drop off times noted in the lounge. This was a full day. Day 4 Today we were off to the Killing Fields, it was a rather long bus ride as there were some demonstrations taking place on our route so we took a detour. Still the sights you see out the bus windows are just amazing, the little shop factories, markets, restaurants with impossibly small stools, the garbage everywhere, rice drying on huge mats in front of homes, so the time passes quickly. The Killing Fields are smaller than I imagined having watched the movie of the same name. It's a very somber place, human bones and clothing poking up from the ground here and there. They are building a wooden walk way but for now we had to watch where we walked, not wanting to step on anybody. A large shrine housed many skulls categorized by how the victim was killed, hoe, club, cleaning rod and gun. We had about 30min to ourselves to wander the site and look at the various displays. Back on the bus and we were headed to the Genocide Museum, formally prison S-21 In downtown Phenom Penh. How the bus drivers navigate in such congestion is beyond me. The scooters are like mosquitos, buzzing and beeping all around. The prison was ok, lots of pictures of people that didn't have a natural end. Back on the bus and we arrived for a late lunch around 1pm. The after lunch tour was of the Royal Palace, Golden Buddha and Silver Pagoda. It was scorching hot, I saved a couple of towels from the previous day and brought them with us in a baggy, really a relief in the heat. Our only problem with the cruise It was in Phnom Penh that the sister ship AmaLotus tied up beside us for a little over 24 hours. Unfortunately our cabin was facing the rear of the Lotus so it wasn't pretty or quiet with the engine or generator running day and night making it impossible to sit on our balcony with exhaust fumes as well. Other cabins on that side faced cabins from the other ship a mere 5' away so everyone kept their drapes drawn. The other side of the boat, all decks, sported a view of the underside of the pier, not so nice either. I don't know if this happens every cruise or not. After the Palace we were underway to the Vietnam border and Tan Chau. It was nice to sit down and relax after all the tours. Day 5 Enroute to Tan Chau Day 6 We cleared Vietnam customs last night, it was somewhat anticlimactic. After all the effort to get our Visa, we never saw an official. It looked like our passports were taken to shore by small boat, stamped and boated back. Today's tour started with a shore launch boat ride to shore where bicycle rickshaws picked us up, 1 per rickshaw, for a ride to a silk factory. The silk factory tour was interesting and noisy but conveniently had a gift shop. Apparently Angelina Jolie had a dress made from the silk produced here. Back on the rickshaw to a rattan mat factory, no word on rattan mats at Brad and Angie's place. After a short walk we were on a small dock where the launch met us and returned us to the boat for lunch. The afternoon while we were underway again, there was an exotic fruit tasting on the top deck including durian, jack fruit and a few others. Day 7 The last full day was an early start, up at 0600 for the launch to shore at 0815 and a visit of the market. Beautiful colors in the market, lots of variety including rats (to eat). Also visited the house from the movie The Lover, look for seats near a fan. This is how I picked all my seats during tours in hot climates, where's the fan? We then boarded the bus again for an hour or so ride to the Vietcong HQ facility, basically bamboo huts in the jungle with black holes into the ground for bomb shelters. Lots of small ponds courtesy of US bombers during the Vietnam war. The trail was narrow and it was hot, if I had to pick a tour I wouldn't do, this would be it. There were actually nice big ponds and other things to see if you didn't want to hike the trail. We were back on the boat for lunch and ready to go again for the afternoon tour of a floating market where the vendors advertise what they are selling by putting the produce on the end of a tall bamboo pole. The tour also included a visit of a large Catholic Church, candy manufacturing and snake wine. Day 8 The morning of departure, bags were out in the hall by 0730 and we were on busses to Saigon by 0930 for an hour or so bus ride to the Sofitel Saigon. Summary This was one of the most photogenic vacations we have ever been on. There are pictures everywhere, scenery, kids, temples, monks, boats, scooters and animals. The boat, only months old, was beautiful, wood everywhere, wonderful fixtures in the bathrooms, balconies for everyone and no ocean swells. The staff and food were excellent. The tours were extensive and well thought out. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Have done many river cruises in the past, but this one is something special. (8) ladies traveled on this itinerary. We did the land portion prior to the cruise which included Halong Bay, as many of the competitors did not include Halong, ... Read More
Have done many river cruises in the past, but this one is something special. (8) ladies traveled on this itinerary. We did the land portion prior to the cruise which included Halong Bay, as many of the competitors did not include Halong, which should not be missed. Our tour director Tony did a fabulous job. All the local guides were excellent and shared many stories of their families experiences during the war. Cambodia was probably a high light because the people are so friendly and we visited rural villages and saw the way the people lived. The boat villages along the Mekong were very interesting too. You don't see this kind of stuff on a European cruise. The boat was fabulous, we were on its 4th sailing. The food was excellent, the staff very accommodating. The entertainment on the ship was good, and even the piano player played our tunes and we sang along. What a sport, because we are terrible singers. And the ladies in the spa are wonderful too, we did it all. In Cambodia we visited a local school in the village, we were asked to bring school supplies , some did some didn't. I was a little unsure of this visit, but it did turn out to be one of the highlights of our trip. So don't skip it, it is a very rewarding experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We chose AMA for our cruise on the Mekong Delta (Siem Reap to Saigon) because they offered the most interesting itinerary. And, I must say we were not disappointed! We also took the land portion--2 days in Hanoi, a night in Ha Long Bay ... Read More
We chose AMA for our cruise on the Mekong Delta (Siem Reap to Saigon) because they offered the most interesting itinerary. And, I must say we were not disappointed! We also took the land portion--2 days in Hanoi, a night in Ha Long Bay and 2 days in Saigon. The hotels were beyond beautiful and service on the ship superb. The food was delicious and varied. For the land tours, we were broken up into groups of 10 or 12' which made it more fun and gave plenty of time for questions, etc. All of our guides were extremely knowledgeable about the history of the country, the people, etc. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
AmaDara Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.5 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.8
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.7
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 5.0 5.0
Value for Money 4.5 N/A

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