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Recently we participated in what was advertised as an 8 day river cruise, for people with a "good level of fitness", up the Mekong from Saigon to Siem Reap. It promised active excursions that required a good level of fitness. It was the promise of the days spent on the river on the luxurious AmaLotus, along with the opportunity to enjoy active excursions, that sold us on the trip. We arrived at the given time at the Sheraton Hotel in Saigon to register. As we watched other participants gather, we wondered if we were in the right place, as very few of the people gathering looked to be of a "good level of fitness". A number needed canes and walking sticks to aid in their mobility. It turns out that this was the right group and the right cruise. Our excursions were limited by the lowest common denominator, where our guides were apologizing if the distance we needed to walk was longer than 15 minutes. This could hardly be called "active". The cruise was billed as an "8 day river cruise", with fine print stating that the itinerary would be subject to change depending on weather and conditions. That's fair enough. What was not made clear is the fact that it is only for a scant 2 months out of the year that the ship is actually able to navigate up the Tonle Sap all the way to the port nearest to Siem Reap. The fact is that the trip really was a 7 day river cruise and one day on the bus, having back-tracked to Phnom Phen. The bus trip was over 6 hours long and all the was provided was the cost for the use of the toilets on the two toilet stops along the way. On arrival to Siem Reap, those of us who were not continuing with APT, were basically ushered off the bus and left to fend for ourselves, without even refreshments or a basic lunch provided after a less than comfortable bus ride. On the positive side, the ship was beautifully appointed and the crew were helpful and friendly. The food was abundant and deliciously prepared. Sadly the wines were questionable. The saving features of the cruise were the local guides. While the excursions were disappointing overall, the guides made up for it with their generous sharing of their passion for their respective countries and their perspective on both historical events and how they continue to impact and influence the current social and political climate. Tim in Vietnam and Wanti in Cambodia in particular deserve a special mention. Thanks to them a trip that would have been a major disappointment, was redeemed to a great degree.

Misled by Advertising for Mekong River Cruise

AmaLotus (APT) Cruise Review by gkraft

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Recently we participated in what was advertised as an 8 day river cruise, for people with a "good level of fitness", up the Mekong from Saigon to Siem Reap. It promised active excursions that required a good level of fitness. It was the promise of the days spent on the river on the luxurious AmaLotus, along with the opportunity to enjoy active excursions, that sold us on the trip.

We arrived at the given time at the Sheraton Hotel in Saigon to register. As we watched other participants gather, we wondered if we were in the right place, as very few of the people gathering looked to be of a "good level of fitness". A number needed canes and walking sticks to aid in their mobility. It turns out that this was the right group and the right cruise. Our excursions were limited by the lowest common denominator, where our guides were apologizing if the distance we needed to walk was longer than 15 minutes. This could hardly be called "active".

The cruise was billed as an "8 day river cruise", with fine print stating that the itinerary would be subject to change depending on weather and conditions. That's fair enough. What was not made clear is the fact that it is only for a scant 2 months out of the year that the ship is actually able to navigate up the Tonle Sap all the way to the port nearest to Siem Reap. The fact is that the trip really was a 7 day river cruise and one day on the bus, having back-tracked to Phnom Phen. The bus trip was over 6 hours long and all the was provided was the cost for the use of the toilets on the two toilet stops along the way. On arrival to Siem Reap, those of us who were not continuing with APT, were basically ushered off the bus and left to fend for ourselves, without even refreshments or a basic lunch provided after a less than comfortable bus ride.

On the positive side, the ship was beautifully appointed and the crew were helpful and friendly. The food was abundant and deliciously prepared. Sadly the wines were questionable. The saving features of the cruise were the local guides. While the excursions were disappointing overall, the guides made up for it with their generous sharing of their passion for their respective countries and their perspective on both historical events and how they continue to impact and influence the current social and political climate. Tim in Vietnam and Wanti in Cambodia in particular deserve a special mention. Thanks to them a trip that would have been a major disappointment, was redeemed to a great degree.
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