The Viking Mekong cruise not only afforded the opportunity to experience the Mekong Delta, the breadbasket of Vietnam, but also the ability to visit Cambodia. I knew from my days as a soldier in Southeast Asia in the 1960's that travel in that part of the world could be challenging for a westerner. The Viking Mekong cruise was an ideal way to experience not just large cities but small cities, villages, and farms and still enjoy western accommodations.
The ship was a replica of a colonial era riverboat and was nicely finished with teak throughout. The rooms were fine, not large but large enough, for sleeping since at almost all other times there were activities going on that you did not want to miss. With a maximum of 56 guests, the ship was perfect for mingling and getting to know other passengers. Every meal was a social experience with new friends. The diet was western for the most part but every lunch and dinner had a choice for a regional dish such as pho, steamed fish etc. If you are a loner this would not be the cruise to embark on. The crew seemed to be exclusively Cambodian and were wonderful. The staff spoke fairly good English and I got to know them easily.
We had two Vietnamese guides onboard, who also were with us on a pre-embarkation two days in Saigon and post-embarkation trips of three days in Siem Reaf (Angor Wat) and two days in Hanoi. Along the way we also had local guides in the Delta and in Cambodia. The guides were fantastic and filled us in on current and recent life in both Vietnam and Cambodia. Their stories personalized what happened after the recent wars in both countries and during and after the genocide in Cambodia. If you like drama, you will not need to bring a novel with you on this cruise because the drama is present with the guides and locals.
The days were often very busy with excursions, everything from walking tours, bus tours, sampan rides to remote backwaters, rickshaw tours, and tuk tuk tours. The nights were often full with lectures, films, and movies on the areas visited. Probably the highlight of the trip was several days touring the temples around Siem Reaf. The guides did a good job filling us in on the history of the temples and the ancient Khmer empire as well as getting us around the crowds of other tour groups.
There were 7 nights in hotels on the trip all 4-5 star with excellent restaurants. Once in the hotels it was hard to believe you were in SEA instead of Paris or Rome.
Viking really pulled off a winner here when you consider the whole package and extent. Probably a pre-requisite for the trip is some interest in SEA and if you have it you will not regret this cruise. Mostly Americans on the trip but I met a South African couple, several English couples, a Canadian couple and a South American couple. I will stop here because if I keep writing about how much I enjoyed it I might be tempted to sign up again.
The cabins are teak finished and contain a comfortable queen size bed. There are drawers under the bed to store suit cases. There is room for a few hangup clothes. The rooms are air conditioned as is the dining area. The rooms are not luxury rooms but are fine and you will not be spending much time in the room except for sleeping with all of the activities going on.