7 Pandaw II Cruise Reviews

Took the 7 night river cruise from Yangon to Bagon. I have taken many cruises on larger ships but this was our first river cruise and it was fantastic. The ship was very well done and the crew really tried and could not have been nicer ... Read More
Took the 7 night river cruise from Yangon to Bagon. I have taken many cruises on larger ships but this was our first river cruise and it was fantastic. The ship was very well done and the crew really tried and could not have been nicer or more helpful. The food was some of the best I've had. We almost cancelled because of the issues you read about in the paper and extremely glad we didn't. We also flew to inle lake for 4 nights ( which is another incredible stop) and felt very safe the entire trip. While there you see no evidence of any issues and not going only hurts the local people. Myanmar has only opened to tourism in the last 5 years or so and the people are the most friendly welcoming I have ever met. Do not let the bad press put you off go while it is still un and under developed. Destinations such as this are hard to find. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Embarkation was so easy...no queues, just boarded and taken care of. The cabin is all in teak as is the ship. Nice toiletries. My only complaint is that the water pressure for the shower is not that strong. Plenty of hot water. Note: ... Read More
Embarkation was so easy...no queues, just boarded and taken care of. The cabin is all in teak as is the ship. Nice toiletries. My only complaint is that the water pressure for the shower is not that strong. Plenty of hot water. Note: there is only one plug (European two pin round) so bring an adaptor if you have lots of things to recharge. The food was excellent and inventive. Do try the Burmese breakfast though you can have eggs and bacon et al too. The hash brown potatoes are excellent! Lunch and dinner were 4 course meals. 3 main course selections: European, Burmese, and vegetarian. Bottled water always available, as much as you want. Leo, the Pandaw manager for South East Asia, was on our ship for half of the cruise. He was typical of the kind care and service that all the cruise staff gave to us. Nothing was too difficult. Endlessly helpful, which for me using a cane, was just perfect. Wifi is available on the Sun Deck when possible. Download time varied according to where we were. And while talking about the Sun Deck, I must tell you to try the nuts...excellent! English is sometimes difficult to understand, but that is part of the fun. Take some warm clothing as it is cool in the morning as you near Mandalay. Have lots of Khat 1000 bills...about 60p. I changed $50 at the airport and still had left over Khat by the end of the cruise. They only accept NEW American dollars. Business is done in dollars, absolutely no need for Pounds. They went out of their way to make Christmas and New Year Eve exciting and pleasurable...with gifts for all. This is a relaxing, easy, cruise. The ship holds a maximum of 48 people, but we had only 31, so lots of room. All the excursions were well organised and interesting. I highly rate this cruise and this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Very impressed by Pandaw's organisation, service and particularly the ship and crew. I did the 10 night Golden Land cruise from Mandalay to Yangon which was a good introduction to Myanmar and an insight into the culture and life along ... Read More
Very impressed by Pandaw's organisation, service and particularly the ship and crew. I did the 10 night Golden Land cruise from Mandalay to Yangon which was a good introduction to Myanmar and an insight into the culture and life along the river. Pandaw II is beautifully fitted out in wood and brass, the cabins are airconditioned and nothing is too much for the crew, if they could pick you up and carry you they would. The food was excellent with a good range and choice. I can't say it was particularly relaxing as we usually had two excursions per day so there wasn't as much sitting and reading as I had intended. In hindsight I should have spent a few days independently in Mandalay before the cruise as there is much more to experience than a half day city tour was able to cover. I enjoyed this trip so much that I have booked another Pandaw cruise for later this year, this time from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City down the Mekong. Can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Comprehensive review Our first cruise on the Irrawaddy was on the Road to Mandalay in 1996 and in 2004 we joined a Pandaw expedition cruise from Bagan to Bhamo and enjoyed it so much we waited for Pandaw to start cruising from Yangon so ... Read More
Comprehensive review Our first cruise on the Irrawaddy was on the Road to Mandalay in 1996 and in 2004 we joined a Pandaw expedition cruise from Bagan to Bhamo and enjoyed it so much we waited for Pandaw to start cruising from Yangon so we could complete the navigable part of the mighty Irrawaddy. The full Itinerary can be found here https://www.pandaw.com/expeditions/irrawaddy/ and a shorter version joining the vessel at Prome here https://www.pandaw.com/expeditions/golden-land/ We joined their December cruise-the same boat, and the same cabin of our original cruise. Welcome home... The cruise was 70% full-all English speaking pax, a mix of the UK and the ex-Colonies, and included 7 singles who were quickly assimilated to mix with the couples. A few had travelled to Myanmar before but most were first timers, although seasoned travellers. Ages varied from early 40's to late 70's but age was no barrier on this cruise We were quickly welcomed aboard, our luggage was in our cabin before us and we were soon on the top deck casting off in the Yangon river. CABINS Small but cosy, surprisingly good storage space, good aircon and a compact but good bathroom with shower. Water is piping hot but takes a bit to come through and loo flushing is a bit of an art. Two is good-seven means your technique is wrong. A great feature is having your own lloyd loom seats and table outside so as to watch the river go by, supping a Mandalay sour... Housekeeping was excellent with really efficient make over after breakfast and a full turndown during dinner. Laundry was cheap, efficient and flexible (cool wash, iron then on hanger etc) with an average price of only $2 FOOD AND DRINK Excellent food, a mix of Asian and Western but chef would cater for all tastes and allergies. Buffet breakfast with hot A la Carte and mostly A la Carte lunch and Dinner but with a substantial choice for buffet starter and dessert/cheese. Fresh bread with every meal-we toured the super kitchens and the chef was ever-so proud of his bread maker. There was free seating and generally most moved and mixed, with a few notable exceptions who developed squatters rights on a certain table. All water, tea & coffee, local soft drinks, beer and local spirits are included as is also a cocktail of the day at the briefing before dinner. The local spirits of Gin, Dark Rum, Whiskey, Light Rum and Vodka are excellent and if you were not a wine drinker you could have a zero extras bill after 14 days. The DIY coffee/tea/drinks station on the main deck was open from 6am till late. There was plenty of chairs/loungers on the top deck to seat everyone and when cruising this was the choice of many, whether reading, chatting, drinking, dozing or just watching the river traffic go by. We had film shows, presentations, marionettes, dance troupes on many evenings but nothing late TG -most were whacked out and ready for bed after a long day. THE CRUISE We were blessed with great weather starting in Yangon at 32C and finishing at Mandalay at 28C,cloudless skies with low humidity. Evenings were cool at 15/18C and then, and when the boat was motoring against the wind ,long sleeves were needed. On many days we had two stops and, because of the distance we had to cover, the boat cruised as late as it could before mooring at a deserted river bank before setting off at dawn the next day. Only in Bagan and Saigang did we moor in towns and near other cruise boats. Many of the stops in the early part of the cruise were at small delta villages where we were the only tourists and a curiosity to the villagers who took more photos of us than us of them. Even in remote places there were phone shops and even little stalls sold SIM top ups. Cheap Chinese handsets have flooded the country and many stall holders had phones-some bigger and fancier than ours. The real eye opener was the difference in undeveloped, in tourism terms, towns and villages and Bagan/Mandalay. For the first 9 days we never came across foreign tourists and had the local villages such as Maubin,Danabyu and Myanaung to ourselves. Even major towns of Pyay, Thayatmyo and Magwe were tourist free and as I have already said, we had more photos taken of us in the local markets than we took of the village scenes. We were never approached by sellers, never saw a beggar and the children just wanted to say mingalabar, not expecting pens or sweets. One market lady apologised when her kids said "money" as they had mispronounced "morning" It was a real shock to the system when we hit Bagan and Mandalay when we saw the tourist hoards, most of them being Burmese, not a foreigners! The two big highlights of our cruise was visiting these river towns which are still the real Myanmar and for me-watching and photographing the river traffic which varied from bamboo rafts, through a variety of barges carrying rice or aggregates to the occasional fancy Belmond Gin Palace Cruiser. Every boat, big or tiny waved at us passing-except the Belmond Orcaella pax who could not be bothered to get up from their luxury sun loungers around their pool, nuf said. We were accompanied on the visits by our Burmese guide and also a few crew members to make sure we kept up and did not fall behind. They also helped with local shopping -SIM cards, antibiotics, camera memory cards, gifts etc. The cruise stops cover many places in Burmese history and we visited stupas, village markets, old forts, colonial buildings, agricultural workhouses,potteries, and even a golf course founded in 1885 complete with grazing cattle on the fairways. On return to the boat after each trip our shoes were removed for cleaning, a cold drink was offered and, most importantly we had an antiseptic hand gel-this was also mandatory before all meals. WiFi and MOBILE RECEPTION WiFi was intermittent and only in the main villages when moored and only on the sun deck. There was always a good signal using a local SIM, both for calls and data- there always seems to be a mast on sight along the river. HEALTH Some pax took Malarone, others just sprayed and covered up and there were very few bites-and non on the boat itself. Once we got to Mandalay we were invaded by tiny moths in the evenings. This January in Myanmar, especially in the dry dusty zone, coughs and colds and especially sore throats , were rife everywhere. Wherever and however you travelled, boat, coach or aircraft there were coughs and sneezes everywhere from tourists and locals alike. Most on Pandaw ended up with a sore throat or cough but only a couple had travellers tummy-certainly not due the food coming from the galley. The Purser was very helpful dishing out remedies and also very efficiently treating a couple of cuts-he and the other first aiders are trained by an International medical company. OVERVIEW This is not a inexpensive cruise although many had booked early to get discounts. Some booked direct, some as part of an Agents package and arrived through a variety of airlines and airports-Bangkok, Singapore ,KL, Taiwan etc etc. Other cruises of a similar length could be 50% more . Pandaw is a traditional teak fitted river expedition boat with no pool and certainly no jackets for dinner although many of the ladies dined in very smart casual. As has been reported in other reviews on extended trips, there can be a touch of tribalism towards the end and this cruise was no exception. Nothing serious and not country specific. It did not detract from the pleasure of the cruise-in fact it could be quite amusing to observe. If there was a criticism it is that language skills of the purser and guide were not of the best although one could not fault their efficiency enthusiasm and dedication to our care. Pandaw, as the original cruise company on the Irrawaddy, has found their staff being poached by the many start up cruise companies .There are now 10 cruise companies and 35+ boats plying the Irrawaddy-15 years ago there were 5 boats so the problem will not go away, with the fancy boats paying top $ for the best guides. BUT this was a memorable cruise, good value for money and a delightful time spent on a boat of real character. They are planning short cruises around the delta which we plan to join-and maybe a Chindwin expedition? Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We just did an exotic 7 days cruise on the Pandaw on the Chindwin River in North West Myanmar. It was absolutely incredible. It was a small beautiful river ship with 5 cabins, the staff was incredible and the food and presentation was 5 ... Read More
We just did an exotic 7 days cruise on the Pandaw on the Chindwin River in North West Myanmar. It was absolutely incredible. It was a small beautiful river ship with 5 cabins, the staff was incredible and the food and presentation was 5 star. if you are looking for a small intimate and attentive cruise, this is it. We visited Nagaland, it was the first time that foreigners could visit this part of the country since the 70's. The people were fantastic! It was truly a very different experience. The company was great to deal with, they organized our interior flights as well as hotel pick up and drop off. I would recommend this company to any one. We will definitely use them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We joined the Pandaw 11 for a 10 night Mandalay to Prome cruise following an 8 day land tour of Burma ( Myanmar) all put together by Trailfinders. We visited Yangon, Inle Lake and Kalaw , all absolutely beautiful with the latter two being ... Read More
We joined the Pandaw 11 for a 10 night Mandalay to Prome cruise following an 8 day land tour of Burma ( Myanmar) all put together by Trailfinders. We visited Yangon, Inle Lake and Kalaw , all absolutely beautiful with the latter two being considerably cooler than the unbearable heat we later endured for the entire cruise. Figures of 45 and 46 degrees C were the norm in the afternoon, just as we were leaving for sightseeing visits.This was the last cruise of the season before the monsoon arrives and I strongly advise anyone contemplating this trip to make the journey between November and late February when the temperature is much cooler. The other downside of this season is the low water level which restricts the view, the parched landscape, at times desert-like and the heat haze which obscured what should have been gorgeous views. The cabins, dining room and bar/lounge are air-conditioned but the full length sundeck, which would have been wonderful for watching the world go by, was just too hot for everyone in the afternoon, even in the shade. We saw other Pandaw ships, some of which did not seem to have a sun deck at all. Despite the heat our sundeck was used for many enjoyable evening events and was a very good feature to have. FOOD Breakfasts were good. Main meals were a bit hit and miss. To be fair many people really enjoyed their meals but there was a limited choice of main courses ( which had to be chosen in advance) and for those with a sweet tooth the puddings were a joke - often a single delicious mouthful served in a shot glass. We were told that wine with dinner was complimentary but that was only the case on a few evenings. The staff would provide alternative dishes if you asked in advance but, overall, if you are something of a trencherman, you could end up hungry. GENERAL The ship chooses a village at random for many sightseeing visits and these were all very interesting, helped immeasurably by our on board guide, Robin, for whom no praise can be high enough. You will need a store of one dollar or 1000 kyat notes as tips whilst ashore but on board spending can be settled with a credit card. It was rare to get wifi even when moored overnight. STAFF The staff were universally helpful, especially with older people and nothing seemed to be too much trouble. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
The cruise started with a busstransfer from Yangon to Prome where we boarded the Pandaw II. From the very first minute the crew took care of us in a wonderful way. We was served a drink, our shoes where cleaned and they took our bagage to ... Read More
The cruise started with a busstransfer from Yangon to Prome where we boarded the Pandaw II. From the very first minute the crew took care of us in a wonderful way. We was served a drink, our shoes where cleaned and they took our bagage to our cabin. This high level of service was maintained during the whole cruise. As we was just 45 passengers the service was very personalized and the style onboard was very informel, no such things as captains dinner etc. The Pandaw II is a wonderful boat made as a replica of the paddlewheel steamer that once cruise the Irrawaddy river. It´s all made of teak and brass but perfectly modern with AC etc. Most of the days we made two stops and visit remote villages up along the Irrawaddy river. Most of those places can only be reached by boat and every one of them had something special, unique, to show us. The Burmese guide, which followed us during the cruise, was very good and had great knowledge of the historic and culture of Burma/Myanmar. Every night there were arrangement on the ship, it could be a lecture of buddism, a cooking lesson or some documentary video about WW2 in Burma. Of course all of the excursions were complimentary and you were free to join them or not. The food was excellent with a large variety tho chose from. All beverage, even beer and liqure are complimentary. All together this cruise was an experience for life and we´ll return in august this year for a new Pandawcruise, this time for the even more remote parts of Myanmar, the Chindwin river. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
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