Having travelled with Scenic in the past we decided to book our Myanmar trip with them and see the country before it gets too crowded.
Firstly the Ship - the Aura. On initial inspection a lovely yacht type ship, nice entrance and ambiance but it does have some issues. The general feel is of spaciousness with only a max of 44 passengers, the bedoms are very nice with electric beds, lounge area, small walk in wardrobe, compact but very accessible bathroom with reasonably large shower and 2 opening (electronic slide down) windows. However the first issue with the ship is the balcony in the room. This is a complete waste of space and badly designed. It should either have been a dedicated balcony with sliding doors or part of the lounge. It is awkward at present because it has folding doors and we left them open and it became a dumping ground for bags. The dinning room is lovely with central serving area and a small dedicated specialist area, which everyone is invited to during the cruise. There is plenty of space for all the passengers and the food was excellent. There is a small compact pool area at the back with bar and seating and this was used for entertainment at night. The library did not seem to be in much use only for getting on and off the ship when docked. The main issue with the ship's design is the lounge. This is a strange design with a central section separating it into 4 quadrants, so not easy to accommodate everyone altogether for the port talks, in fact they need 2 screens to do their presentation. This is a very poor design feature and interestingly not many people used it. This is the worst feature on the ship. There is a great top sundeck however with walking area and plenty of seating; a great place to cool-off when sailing. Also as the ship was built in Myanmar it does have a slightly 'cheap' feel to it and to say that it is only 18months old is showing signs of wear already. However despite the faults it was a pleasure to sail on the Aura.
Next the crew - they were fantastic and always ready with a smile. Many thanks to Chantel, the Cruise Director , who was always around to solve any hitches or have a chat with and the Captain who was always there with a helping hand when embarking or dissembarking. A word of warning here, this trip is not for people with mobility issues as there are no proper docking facilities, at many of the places the ship stops climbing up sand banks or rough ground was the norm.
So in conclusion the Aura is a nice ship with plenty of space for the passengers, it has good bedrooms, fantastic dining area and one of the nicest crews we have come across. Also the food was as good as any river or sea cruise ship and not overtaking. The variety of the Wines were reasonable and premium drinks were included throughout the day.
Scenic always have great tours and this cruise (Yangon to Mandalay) was no exception. Some wonderful cultural visits, insight into the people and their ives all brought to life with a great Tour Diector - PA PA Min.
As stated above the cabins/suites are a good size (36sq m) with nice facilities it's just the balcony/not balcony being a bad design. The beds are comfortable (with electric positioning) descent pillows and the aircon worked just fine. The bathroom is a reasonble size with separate toilet, large wash basin a good size shower with rainfall head and separate hand held shower unit. Toiletries are L'Occitaine. The only other minor thing are the blinds, they could have been electric.