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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We travelled from Bangkok to Rangon (domestic air) and then longtail boat to Kawthaun, Myannmar. The transfer from Thailand to Myannmar was an adventure in itself! Our cruise director was waiting for us at the Kawthaun pier to helpus pass ... Read More
We travelled from Bangkok to Rangon (domestic air) and then longtail boat to Kawthaun, Myannmar. The transfer from Thailand to Myannmar was an adventure in itself! Our cruise director was waiting for us at the Kawthaun pier to helpus pass immigration and then took us, by tender to The Andaman Explorer. The ship was built, in approx 1960, as a Norwegian ice breaker ( but actually looks a little like a naval ship) There are 10 very large cabins. Whilst the cabins vary in shape and location on the ship, they are all priced the same. First in , first choice. Daily cleaning service, fresh towels and nightly turn down. The ship sails among the pristine waters of the Andaman Sea. Every day the ship tender takes passengers to beautiful white sandy beaches for snorkeling in crystal clear waters, We saw colorful corals, sea anenomes, and sea life that helped the imagination think of being in a aquarium. On board kayaks were towed by tender, and we were taken through mangroves, beach paddling and into caves. There are virtually no other tourists in the area. The itinerary is fantastic with plenty of opportunity to jump into the warm crystal clear waters. We visited about 4 small villages to see the life of Sea Gypsies and were often accompanied by local children, wanting to practice their English. As with previous Pandaw cruises that we have travelled on, the service is pretty close to excellent. The crew are warm and friendly and each one makes you feel like a very special guest. Their attention is genuinely sincere. They go above and beyond to ensure that our trip was as comfortable as could be. The chef is a fire cracker. He was young, enthusiastic and danced down the hallways. He has unstoppable energy. The menus are adjusted each trip to accommodate what ever fresh produce is available.Following one village stop, 8 live lobsters were brought on board which was entree the following day. There were only 14 passengers on our trip and the menu was varied extensively each day. Breakfast is a la carte with help yourself to cereals, fruit, and toast to help yourself. After breakfast, a menu is given so that each guest can choose their lunch and dinner. Soups, entrees and appetisers are standard with 3- 4 options for main course. The food was one of the major highlights of the cruise, and their were many highlights. There is no night time entertainment, however after the days activities, most guests were happy to relax and chill out. On our last night we had a party on the upper deck, where crew and a few guests were up dancing.There were no children on board . We would take this adventure again, as we had a wonderful time Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This is a wonderful ship with an excellent staff. Classic wooden boat. There were only 30 passengers on our cruise. Cabins were very large and comfortable, although the beds may be too firm for some. Large luxurious bathrooms. Common rooms ... Read More
This is a wonderful ship with an excellent staff. Classic wooden boat. There were only 30 passengers on our cruise. Cabins were very large and comfortable, although the beds may be too firm for some. Large luxurious bathrooms. Common rooms were very comfortable. Lounging on the upper deck was wonderful. There are lots of steep stairs so you must not have mobility problems. There was a nice mix of ages, from families with teens to retirees. There were no young kids. Dining was only so,so. Tour director was only so,so. His English and communication skills were marginal. Shore excursions were very interesting, and gave a taste of rural Vietnam. Entertainment was minimal, although we boarded on New Years Eve, so a western style band substituted for the usual traditional local entertainment. we were glad we went and would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone without mobility problems interested in adventure. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
Joined the ship in Saigon for a 3 night / 4 day cruise to Phnom Penh. Cost was approximately £500 (GBP) per night for a double cabin. Passengers met for registration at the Intercontinental Asiana in Saigon. It was disappointing that ... Read More
Joined the ship in Saigon for a 3 night / 4 day cruise to Phnom Penh. Cost was approximately £500 (GBP) per night for a double cabin. Passengers met for registration at the Intercontinental Asiana in Saigon. It was disappointing that Pandaw did not arrange for coffee to be available during what turned out to be a 2 hour wait for transport to the ship. Not a good first impression. That said, instead of the expected 2 hour bus ride to My Tho on the Mekong delta to meet the ship we had a 10 minute ride to Saigon Port and the bonus of an extra half day on the water as we proceeded down the Saigon River to the Mekong delta from there. This included a spectacular sunset. The ship itself is very beautiful and well maintained. There are 16 double cabins - and our cruise had 28 passengers. All were middle aged (or older) Europeans, Australians or Canadians. The atmosphere was friendly and enjoyable throughout with free seating at meals and all local beers and spirits included. Cabins are spacious and the bathrooms amazingly large and functional with an excellent shower. Without exception, the staff are wonderful. On the downside, the excursions and the food were slightly disappointing, especially given the price paid for what is classed as a "top of the range" cruise. The fact that the cruise took place during the lunar New Year (Tet) meant that the river was not its normal bustling self and the floating market had everything except any floating markets!! The excursions ashore were not particularly interesting (and not as advertised) - again maybe due to Tet - though it was always good to get off the ship and stretch ones legs for a couple of hours. The food was OK but nothing to write home about - interestingly we had much better on a 1 night cruise in Halong Bay (which cost half as much per night). We also thought it slightly mean that a "house wine" could not be provide for dinner. All-in-all a very enjoyable experience, though a little expensive for what it was. For us, 3 nights was certainly enough. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Having previously traveled in Myanmar, I knew that despite its recent huge popularity the country's tourist infrastructure is still a work in progress. Thus, a seven-night cruise amidst the comforts of the RV Kalaw Pandaw seemed the ... Read More
Having previously traveled in Myanmar, I knew that despite its recent huge popularity the country's tourist infrastructure is still a work in progress. Thus, a seven-night cruise amidst the comforts of the RV Kalaw Pandaw seemed the optimal solution--a floating teak-and-brass hotel room with meals, drinks, and excursions provided. We would stay in place on the boat while the scenery around us changed. As it turned out, for over a day we would stay stuck in place on a river bank. Our pre-/post-cruise arrangements included airport transfers in Yangon, a stay at the Five-Star Chatrium Hotel, and a day's worth of sightseeing in Yangon with a private guide and driver. Our Pandaw guide, Michael, was exceptional--knowledgeable, flexible, and thoughtful. We noted to him in passing that my wife was diabetic and needed to eat small meals frequently to keep her blood sugar level constant. We were quite touched the next morning when Michael presented us at the airport with a small bag containing fruit juices, biscuits, fruits and other snacks for my wife. It was a thoughtful gesture that went far beyond the call of duty. Life aboard the Kalaw Pandaw quickly assumed a comfortable routine. Our favorite spot was a quiet shaded spot on the top deck at the front of the boat where there were some deck chairs and a tiny ship's "library" consisting of paperback books and magazines. From this vantage point, we were able to enjoy the view and breeezes and even saw a pod of endangered Irrawaddy river dolphins. Other passengers staked out spots in the lounge area aft or in the bar amidships. With a crew of 25 for 16 passengers, service was attentive and personalized. Our tours were for the most part well organized and informative. While the meals were sometimes bland, we were nevertheless impressed with the inventiveness and sheer range of what the Head Chef and Pastry Chef managed to produce in the tiny galley kitchen below. The inclusion of Burmese favorites including Mohinga soup and Tea Leaf Salad was a great touch, and I wish that Pandaw would serve more traditonal menu items. The free happy hour every evening was also something that everyone looked forward to. Our ship managed to get stuck in a sand bank while sailing upstream to Kyauk Myoung. The crew managed to free the boat after about two hours. To our dismay, the boat managed to ground itself on the exact same stretch of river the very next day while were were sailing downstream. This time, the efforts of the crew were to no avail, and we were stuck for 26 hours until some fishing boats came by and pulled us off the sand bank with some clever rope work. Throughout the ordeal, there was little (actually zero) communication from the Captain or other senior crew, and the only crew member providing updates was our barman, who turned out to be fairly well informed about what it was that the crew was doing to extricate the ship from our predicament. Our schedule never quite recovered from the delay, and we had to eliminate two of the highlights of our itinerary--the ancient capitals of Ava and Amarapura. It was a bit annoying that the parts of the itinerary that Pandaw decided to retain included a shopping visit and a trip to a Pandaw-supported charity project in an otherwise nondescript village outside of Pagan. It would have been far better to have dropped these inconsequential stops in favor of retaining Ava or the Amarapura visits. All told, I would do the trip again even with the unfortunate delays and our truncated itinerary. The Irrawaddy is magical, and experiencing the river on the Kalaw Pandaw was an unforgettable experience.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
We joined the Pandaw 11 for a 10 night Mandalay to Prome cruise following an 8 day land tour of Burma ( Myanmar) all put together by Trailfinders. We visited Yangon, Inle Lake and Kalaw , all absolutely beautiful with the latter two being ... Read More
We joined the Pandaw 11 for a 10 night Mandalay to Prome cruise following an 8 day land tour of Burma ( Myanmar) all put together by Trailfinders. We visited Yangon, Inle Lake and Kalaw , all absolutely beautiful with the latter two being considerably cooler than the unbearable heat we later endured for the entire cruise. Figures of 45 and 46 degrees C were the norm in the afternoon, just as we were leaving for sightseeing visits.This was the last cruise of the season before the monsoon arrives and I strongly advise anyone contemplating this trip to make the journey between November and late February when the temperature is much cooler. The other downside of this season is the low water level which restricts the view, the parched landscape, at times desert-like and the heat haze which obscured what should have been gorgeous views. The cabins, dining room and bar/lounge are air-conditioned but the full length sundeck, which would have been wonderful for watching the world go by, was just too hot for everyone in the afternoon, even in the shade. We saw other Pandaw ships, some of which did not seem to have a sun deck at all. Despite the heat our sundeck was used for many enjoyable evening events and was a very good feature to have. FOOD Breakfasts were good. Main meals were a bit hit and miss. To be fair many people really enjoyed their meals but there was a limited choice of main courses ( which had to be chosen in advance) and for those with a sweet tooth the puddings were a joke - often a single delicious mouthful served in a shot glass. We were told that wine with dinner was complimentary but that was only the case on a few evenings. The staff would provide alternative dishes if you asked in advance but, overall, if you are something of a trencherman, you could end up hungry. GENERAL The ship chooses a village at random for many sightseeing visits and these were all very interesting, helped immeasurably by our on board guide, Robin, for whom no praise can be high enough. You will need a store of one dollar or 1000 kyat notes as tips whilst ashore but on board spending can be settled with a credit card. It was rare to get wifi even when moored overnight. STAFF The staff were universally helpful, especially with older people and nothing seemed to be too much trouble. Read Less
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