We have been with Scenic on numerous tours throughout the world. Scenic have always looked after us fabulously, everything is all inclusive, well catered, the best accommodation, and great guides. At the time of booking, the Scenic Eclipse had been held up with construction so we decided on this River Cruise (our first) in lieu of that. Our main goal was the Angkor Wat temple complexes.
This ship is apparently more spacious and accommodating than European river cruise ships as the Mekong does not have locks to negotiate, no doubling up of ships for landing docks (most times was bow to shore), and so dimensions could be greater, and cabin sizes larger. Also the staff and crew were predominantly local Cambodians with some Vietnamese, which helped the local flavour.
The chef was Balinese Indonesian and he was exceptional. Each cruise season and often between cruises, he would start with several young Cambodians and not just oversee them but teach them. The meals were outstanding. The variation night to night and choices were mouth wateringly incredible. Wine selection was fantastic. The tour of the galley exemplified the care taken in cleanliness and preparation, everything was fresh and made on board, but also the care in ensuring special dietary needs were properly managed with absolutely no cross contamination of allergens, for example.
The cabin stewards, dining caterers and waiters, and directors were always extremely friendly, helpful, and always happy.
Special mention to Mirko, our cruise director. He was exceptional, always out to ensure everything went smoothly, and in the best spirit. His generosity and humour and obvious care of not just the passengers but all staff was outstanding.
We also had local guides for entertainment and information on board, and for the shore excursions. Cambodia's incredible history with decades of war and upheaval and genocide needs to be taken in, as well as its incredible Khmer and Buddhist culture. Our guides were terrific, and the Cambodian guides all had personal histories that were an honour to hear. Our Cambodian guide, Mao, had been a Buddhist monk for several years, and so his amiability and insights and humour were just beautiful. We loved him. Other guides were just as insightful and honest about their and their family's experiences of the Khmer Rouge. Truly heartbreaking but edifying.
We would highly recommend the Scenic Spirit to everyone. Should be a bucket list item when paired with Angkor Wat!
The cabin was spacious, lots of hanging and drawer space, the large bags once emptied could be hidden under the bed. The view was expansive. The double screens for light, day, and night were great. Windows could be left partially open with a full screen, so we didn't have to use the air conditioning.Showers were wonderful, bathroom spacious enough.The wonderful steward (Khet) was always checking that we were well catered for, and could not have done more. Our cabin was wonderful. We had been upgraded from the level below, which was also a wonderful surprise.
We visited one of the 400 mass grave sites known in Cambodia, with an ossuary of 1000s of skulls and the depressions in the ground where the massed graves were discovered, then a visit to the torture and interrogation centre known as S-21, once a school, where of the approximately 17,000 interned only 7 survived. These are an imperative on any visit, as everyone should be reminded of the inhumanity we are capable of, and the terrible history Cambodians have had to suffer. Very poignant.
High tea at Raffles was interesting, but still rate the food on board the Scenic Spirit as far superior!
An evening tuk tuk ride around Phnom Penh for an hour was also very interesting.