We cruised on the RV Samatha in Nov 17 from Yangon to Mandalay.
The cruise was a delight or at least the onboard component. Burma itself is third-world and poor but the people seem friendly - “seem” because you don’t have much interaction with them.
The food on the boat is superb, the best we’ve tasted on a cruise. I heard no complaints and the APT company seem to have a reputation for good food and service.
You cruise in a first-world fairly luxurious hermetically-sealed bubble. You disembark for your daily one or two hour excursion guided by the boar’s tour guides who do a fairly decent job. But realistically there is not a lot to see in Burma apart from pagodas, temples, monasteries etc. An hour or two is all that’s needed to see the local sites. The passengers demographics also suggest this time frame. Age ranges were in the 60s to 80s, mostly married but groups of women and the odd single passenger were onboard. Passengers were mainly Australian, with sizeable minorities of Kiwis and Brits. They all impressed as well-heeled, i.e., financially comfortably. Passengers on our boat were generally friendly but you soon group up with like-minded souls, or avoid NOTs (not our types).
The cabins were large and comfortable.
Internet (free) is available in the lounge and was “OK”; you'll get your email and facebook in and out but speed is slowish.
Clothes-wise, for men, bring shorts that cover the knee which are required for religious sites. They're cooler than long pants but some wore them long for the excursions. Also, slip-on shoes are best as shoes and socks cannot be worn in religious sites. Sandals, casual slip-on are best. Some walking is required but not to the extent that hiking boots or running shoes are needed. Dress onboard was casual; jackets are not required for dining. Women, tended to “dress” for dinner. Light cotton, seersucker or similar are best in the hot climate.
Once onboard you don’t have to put your hand in your pocket. Food, standard drinks (pay for flasher drinks though), excursions are included in the fare. All meals are taken on board. I’d not chance eating locally or drinking the water anyway. Third-world hygiene standards prevailed on shore. There were some large hotels, probably hygienic but we flew in, cruised and flew out immediately so can’t comment.
We had a great time. The food was a highlight, as was cruising the ocherous Irrawaddy River.