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Sail Date: December 2017
This is the first year the Indochina Pandaw has sailed on the Irrawaddy between Mandalay and Bagan (Pagan) giving a range of 7,4 and 2 night cruises. We chose the 7 night which fell over the New Year between December 2017 and January 2018 ... Read More
This is the first year the Indochina Pandaw has sailed on the Irrawaddy between Mandalay and Bagan (Pagan) giving a range of 7,4 and 2 night cruises. We chose the 7 night which fell over the New Year between December 2017 and January 2018 starting from Mandalay. Pandaw offer some cruises with no single supplement and, as we were two female travellers of a certain age who think of ourselves as Destination Dames, this was one of the reasons we chose them. After all, sharing is fine, but a room each for the same price next to each is even better. We were looking forward to a more colonial style, teak ship which was well-appointed and the Indochina Pandaw did not disappoint. We arrived on board and found our cabins to be immaculate and exactly like the pictures. They were comfy, clean, lots of hot water, space to unpack etc. The crew of 24 went out of their way to make us feel welcome as we gathered for the briefing with a welcome cocktail (the first of the many). Going on a cruise is about a journey, not just the stops and this was no exception. Sitting watching the temples, fields, villages and many other ships go by from either the sub-deck or the chairs on the deck outside the cabin was a restful, ever changing experience (even when we had unexpected rain). We could write for ever (and out diaries are quite long) but a typical day has: - Coffee/tea and pastries (they have their own bakery) on deck at 6.00 am if you want to see the dawn and, often, the boat leaving the shore - Breakfast at 7.00-9.00 which is a full buffet including eggs to order. It should be said that the coffee is variable. - The first planned itinerary with the guide -e.g. visiting a temple, a village or a workshop - Lunch was 12.30 and has soup, an appetiser, salads, a main course, sweets and, often, very good cheese. - The second planned itinerary with the guide -e.g. often a walk. The itinerary was very much culturally orientated and designed to show Myanmar traditions, crafts and current ways of life. -Back on the boat cocktails (with nibbles) were at 6.30 on the sun deck and briefing for the next day was about 7.00 prior to dinner at 7.30 (lunch and dinner are heralded by the gong). - Dinner was a three course meal (there was always a vegetarian option and we travelled with gluten free guests who found they bent over backwards to take of them). Try the local wine which was surprisingly good. - Some evenings there was an entertainment such as a dance, puppet show or movie and there was time to relax with a drink before bed. We told you we were there for New Year and the ships crew gave real attention to making it a special event. We had dancing, lights, champagne and fireworks. Watching fireworks and holding a roman candle over the side whilst moored in the middle of the river drinking Champagne will be a favourite memory out of many. We should note that the boat can carry 60, but a combination of the single supplement and the political situation meant that there only 9 of us for the full trip and we were joined for 4 nights Including New Year's Eve) by another 18. We went looking forward to a relaxing and informative trip that combined sailing on the Irawaddy river with tours of local places. It's often easy to find fault with something but we really can't with this trip. The food was excellent, the service and care extraordinary. It may seem trite, but we really did not want to leave - it had truly exceeded all our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose Pandaw over other, more chic cruises because we wanted to a have a more authentic yet luxurious cruise in Myanmar. The RV Indochina and crew did not disappoint. We were the first to arrive at our ship, and I was worried we ... Read More
We chose Pandaw over other, more chic cruises because we wanted to a have a more authentic yet luxurious cruise in Myanmar. The RV Indochina and crew did not disappoint. We were the first to arrive at our ship, and I was worried we might not be allowed on board. Not a problem. The crew welcomed us, took our luggage, and told us that if we wanted our room that would be fine, or we could explore the nearby town (Sailang). We chose to return and came back to a wonderful buffet lunch with our fellow passengers. This was just the beginning of great hospitality the whole crew exhibited. A few items of note... - The food is outstanding. I would recommend staying with the Burmese cuisine over western style. I have celiac disease. Chef can easily handle gluten-free dining and even wrote a letter in Burmese for me to carry when I left the ship to ensure that I would be safe as I continued my journey. - I suggest the wine program for lunch and dinner if you are a wine drinker. Our house wines were a choice of South African or wines from Myanmar produced with imported grapes. The "local" Sauvignon Blanc was lovely as was the red blend. Soe Moe and Richard are always on hand to fill your glass and will also top you off before heading to after dinner activities. We did not order off the wine list but I did notice that it has both old and new world selections and champagne. - Every night there is happy hour with abundant and tasty appetizers on deck. The local liquors - especially the rum made from local sugarcane - are quite nice and included in the base rate. Johnson makes a great drink. - Our cabin was 206. I would suggest moving back a bit to 208 or 210 on the lower level, or directly above as you will hear anchors up at 6am departures. - Guide service is included. Tin, our guide, spoke great English and was very informative. He knows about all the sites we went to, answering questions that aren't typical guide-book info, and spoke about what was happening in his country with diplomatic aplomb. Guides are the only people who's tips are not included so please remember to tip them. - Our cabin was simple but elegant with a well working A/C. Service was morning and evening. We did have to request some additional shampoo once but that was the only thing we ever lacked. Everything was kept very clean and I give housekeeping kudos for giving us a great space. - Fabian the purser is able to arrange balloon rides in Bagan before the morning excursion. I would suggest adding this to your trip. - One little "luxury" I haven't had on other lines is shoe cleaning. Our excursions could be dusty or muddy, so the crew cleans your shoes after every outing and leaves them by the door. This was awesome. - We had a massage therapist on-board. She gave great massages, but her English wasn't the best so it was hard to give direction. This was the one area I could see improvement. But the massages are so good and affordable I had 3 so really, no complaining. - Expect lots of fun with crew-included dance parties. There was a conga line and sing along on our last night. It felt like the end of summer-camp and will be something I will always remember. I have cruised with several high-end companies and I have to say I thoroughly loved Pandaw. I can't compare it really to a Uniworld or Crystal Esprit because it is completely different. You won't have the crystal and fine china or gorgeous chandeliers. What you will have is a completely local crew who takes pride in their country and their ship and want to share it with you. Their heart is in giving you the best vacation in anemergingc country and for that I give them 5 stars. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
The 'cruise' was scheduled to commence at Jing Hong in China. We duly arrived at a perfectly acceptable hotel which we had previously arranged, after an overnight stay we were due to be collected and transferred to the Laos ... Read More
The 'cruise' was scheduled to commence at Jing Hong in China. We duly arrived at a perfectly acceptable hotel which we had previously arranged, after an overnight stay we were due to be collected and transferred to the Laos Pandaw. We were indeed collected and transferred to a somewhat third rate Chinese hotel and informed that we would be staying here until further notice. Communications were virtually non existent. A local guide stated that we would be at this hotel for at least two nights, what a dismal prospect. We were provided with dinner and a small amount of beer two bottles between 8 people! A promise that a Pandaw representative was on his way to explain. Well he arrived the following day, no apologies were forthcoming, no reasons given for the itinerary not being adhered with, in fact rather a waste of time. We spent three nights in this ghastly hotel, no one spoke English, Pandaw I believe hastily organised some tours which should have been part of the original itinerary, by a rather old dirty coach. In the meantime the standard of food remained at a dismal low and if you required a drink well the bar was open at a cost. We were eventually taken by a Chinese boat along the Mekong to the China/Laos border and then transferred to a hastily converted freight carrier, well tables and chairs were provided to meet the Laos Pandaw We had left the hotel around 07.30 and arrived on the boat at18.00! We now had three days on the boat, we did not follow the itinerary in any way, we did not visit Burma, however we did eventually arrive at Chiang Saen, at last we complied with the itinerary. After speaking with members of the crew we were informed that Laos Pandaw had NEVER been to China! Well you pay your money and Pandaw appear to be at liberty to do what they like, it was certainly an adventure which I would not recommend. Read Less
Indochina Pandaw Ratings
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