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25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This was meant to be the inaugural cruise of the MY Andaman Explorer commencing October 2nd out of Kawthaung Myanamar When we arrived we were told that the ships generator was broken and that it would not be sailing that day.We were ... Read More
This was meant to be the inaugural cruise of the MY Andaman Explorer commencing October 2nd out of Kawthaung Myanamar When we arrived we were told that the ships generator was broken and that it would not be sailing that day.We were put into a Hotel in Kawthaung for that night in the anticipation that the boat would depart the following day.The next day arrived we checked out of the hotel and did a sightseeing tour of Kawthaung.Well no surprise the boat was still not ready, it was stuck in Thailand,back to the hotel again. The following day we checked out of the hotel once more and finally we were told that the boat had left Thailand and would be arriving at Kawthaung that afternoon. Our jubilation soon evaporated once we boarded the boat. It was an utter shambles.The boat was a filthy rusting wreck,which should have been en-route for the breakers yard,certainly not a luxury cruise. It is almost difficult to give a description of what was an absolute shambles.Dirt,rust,toilets not working,chairs strewn around the decks,the decks a greasy filthy mess,the so called fitness room was a junk room,the passengers galley was trashed,our shower was black with dirt and full of mold,the toilet would not flush.My wife used the communal toilet ,there was no soap,no towels and the sink did not work.The front observation deck was missing half of the bar stools,bits were broken off,cushions had been removed. There were duct taped electrical sockets,holes in the ceilings,open hatchways with 20 feet drops into the unknown. This may sound unimaginable ,I am understating the disastrous condition of this boat. On talking to the Captain I asked him why there was damage to the starboard bow;it transpired the rudder had broken;this was apart from the generator which seems minor in comparison.We left the boat the following day before it set sail(it did not get far, the generator broke down again) Pandaw did reimburse us for the cost of the cruise after I threatened to post pictures of the boat online.They put us on a river cruise on the Irawaddy as an alternative.That boat was up to Pandaw standards although it took us another three days to get on that boat.I am truly dismayed at the the descriptions of the boat as advertized by Pandaw and other tour operators.This is really deception beyond ones wildest imagination.I wish I could attach photographs to this review. This boat needs a major overhaul before it should be considered fit for service. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
The 'cruise' was scheduled to commence at Jing Hong in China. We duly arrived at a perfectly acceptable hotel which we had previously arranged, after an overnight stay we were due to be collected and transferred to the Laos ... Read More
The 'cruise' was scheduled to commence at Jing Hong in China. We duly arrived at a perfectly acceptable hotel which we had previously arranged, after an overnight stay we were due to be collected and transferred to the Laos Pandaw. We were indeed collected and transferred to a somewhat third rate Chinese hotel and informed that we would be staying here until further notice. Communications were virtually non existent. A local guide stated that we would be at this hotel for at least two nights, what a dismal prospect. We were provided with dinner and a small amount of beer two bottles between 8 people! A promise that a Pandaw representative was on his way to explain. Well he arrived the following day, no apologies were forthcoming, no reasons given for the itinerary not being adhered with, in fact rather a waste of time. We spent three nights in this ghastly hotel, no one spoke English, Pandaw I believe hastily organised some tours which should have been part of the original itinerary, by a rather old dirty coach. In the meantime the standard of food remained at a dismal low and if you required a drink well the bar was open at a cost. We were eventually taken by a Chinese boat along the Mekong to the China/Laos border and then transferred to a hastily converted freight carrier, well tables and chairs were provided to meet the Laos Pandaw We had left the hotel around 07.30 and arrived on the boat at18.00! We now had three days on the boat, we did not follow the itinerary in any way, we did not visit Burma, however we did eventually arrive at Chiang Saen, at last we complied with the itinerary. After speaking with members of the crew we were informed that Laos Pandaw had NEVER been to China! Well you pay your money and Pandaw appear to be at liberty to do what they like, it was certainly an adventure which I would not recommend. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
Our 14 night Irrawaddy river cruise from Yangon by Pandaw Cruise Co. was a disappointing experience to say the least. Perhaps our pre cruise expectation was unrealistic. ( We imagined Myanmar to be full of untouched mountains/trees, ... Read More
Our 14 night Irrawaddy river cruise from Yangon by Pandaw Cruise Co. was a disappointing experience to say the least. Perhaps our pre cruise expectation was unrealistic. ( We imagined Myanmar to be full of untouched mountains/trees, streams , wild birds,animals and of course Buddhistic culture. ) Yes, there were stupas and temples. ( We had to see these on almost every excursion.) But more than anything else we were disappointed at the service and the lack of professionalism shown by the Pandaw cruise Co. 1. I could not drink the coffee they serve on the ship. ( too stale ) The food they serve was one of the poorest in quality . 2. I see staff member eating his breakfast when we have our breakfast. They clean the ceiling of the dining room while there are open plates around for breakfast. 3. The brochure says the price includes tipping of the crew, yet they suggest tipping of $ 5 per day per person. 4. The safety of the passengers are not taken seriously. One passenger fell to the ditch during the trishaw excursion. The trishaw and the driver were on top of this passenger when they fell unto the ditch. I do not know how she was not seriously injured! Other passenger fell and hit her head on the ship. She had a 10cm laceration on her scalp. They brought a doctor who did not know what to do with this problem. I as a surgeon had to clean the wound with Vodka and sew the laceration up with the kit the another passenger brought . 5. I joined their post cruise program. It was very expensive considering the service we received. Yet they booked us the flight which was not a direct flight to Yangon ( to save money ? )   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We traveled on a two night sailing from Mandalay to Bagan. We were warned that the evenings may be cool, but we did not expect to have to endure our meals in the freezing cold on an open air deck for both dinners and breakfasts. We asked ... Read More
We traveled on a two night sailing from Mandalay to Bagan. We were warned that the evenings may be cool, but we did not expect to have to endure our meals in the freezing cold on an open air deck for both dinners and breakfasts. We asked if we could be given shelter from the cold wind, but nobody seemed to care. Food was cold before we got it back to our tables. The vegetarian choice was rice with spinach. The all inclusive drinks did not include wine with the meals which was very disappointing considering the price of the trip.The cabins were nice enough, but we felt the excursions provided were pretty mundane. The scenery during the trip was pretty much the same all the time, and didn't have any notable attractions. Just riverbanks and sand banks. The staff were pleasant enough and treated us as guests should be, but they seemed oblivious to our discomfort due to the cold wind on the upper deck. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
We did a short 2 night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay. The ship can accommodate ca 60 passengers but there were only 5 couples on board (3 Brits, 1 Australian and 1 German). The fact that we all got on so well compensated for other ... Read More
We did a short 2 night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay. The ship can accommodate ca 60 passengers but there were only 5 couples on board (3 Brits, 1 Australian and 1 German). The fact that we all got on so well compensated for other disappointments. The ship is very well appointed, the staff are helpful and the cabins are fine for a couple of nights but are on the small side for any longer. The best feature of the ship was the bathroom shower! Our cabin was 301, front port side, one of the 2 best positions on the ship. Considering the cost of the cruise it was not good value for money. Overall, the food was very average, the coffee almost undrinkable, the pastries solid and although there is unlimited free local beer and spirits, no house wine was provided; Myanmar wine was $23/bottle. Only one excursion (Yandabo pottery-making village) was worthwhile and the quality of guide/excursions was not good for the price paid. There was confusion about tipping - some guests had it included, others didn't. The staff seemed to expect it. Having previously cruised down the Mekong and had a very good experience, this short cruise was a bit of a disappointment for us, especially considering that it was far more expensive on a per diem basis. Read Less
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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This cruise was chosen as way to see the more rural side of Vietnam and Cambodia and did not disappoint. In fact it went way beyond our expectations. The itinerary is new with many small villages visited, often being transported by local ... Read More
This cruise was chosen as way to see the more rural side of Vietnam and Cambodia and did not disappoint. In fact it went way beyond our expectations. The itinerary is new with many small villages visited, often being transported by local tuk tuk, ox cart or horse cart.The excursions are varied and well run, with a lot of local content , including making pots, basket weaving, cooking pancakes and planting trees. My highlight was one of our 2 school visits and sitting with a 12 year old student, in his open air classroom helping with his lessons. The amenities and space on board were truly amazing. Our cruise was about half full but even if is was at capacity you would never feel crowded. There is space and quiet when needed and a wonderful cocktail hour to mix with others. We dined with everyone on board at at various times during the week and the dining experience was always exceptional. The meals were varied with a lot of local dishes to try and beautifully presented. Lastly, the crew went above and beyond to ensure our safety and the enjoyment of all on board. Be ready for the crew/guest dance on the last night! I genuinely recommend this cruise and can’t wait to try another adventure with Pandaw. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Took the 7 night river cruise from Yangon to Bagon. I have taken many cruises on larger ships but this was our first river cruise and it was fantastic. The ship was very well done and the crew really tried and could not have been nicer ... Read More
Took the 7 night river cruise from Yangon to Bagon. I have taken many cruises on larger ships but this was our first river cruise and it was fantastic. The ship was very well done and the crew really tried and could not have been nicer or more helpful. The food was some of the best I've had. We almost cancelled because of the issues you read about in the paper and extremely glad we didn't. We also flew to inle lake for 4 nights ( which is another incredible stop) and felt very safe the entire trip. While there you see no evidence of any issues and not going only hurts the local people. Myanmar has only opened to tourism in the last 5 years or so and the people are the most friendly welcoming I have ever met. Do not let the bad press put you off go while it is still un and under developed. Destinations such as this are hard to find. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I was absolutely blown away with this company, I loved everything about them. The best part for me was the attention and service I received. As a disabled traveler in Asia, I was worried about getting on and off the boat, and uneven ... Read More
I was absolutely blown away with this company, I loved everything about them. The best part for me was the attention and service I received. As a disabled traveler in Asia, I was worried about getting on and off the boat, and uneven surfaces during tours, but I almost always had an assistant to help me, I cannot believe it. My handholders, as I called them, were so gracious and kind, really looking out for me, and also chatting with me about their country, taking pictures of us. It was even nice to see a new crew member who was also as equally excited about the siteseeing as us, coming with us and taking pictures of his own. The food was perfect. I loved the fresh salads, always fresh fruit, many choices for lunch and dinner. The desserts were beautifully presented by a very exuberant pastry chef- who is also an excellent dancer, singer, and guitar player. I loved our bartender, "MoMo" whose smile always brightened our day when he presented the "drink of the day" at cocktail hour. Local spirits and beer are included, which was perfect for me, others ordered extras like wine and foreign spirits like Campari. Our tour guide Min was outstanding. English that we could all understand easily, and if there was a word he was not sure of, he asked us and corrected his pronounciation- we liked this reciprocal learning. I have travelled on I think 4 other river cruises, all on different lines, and I hesitated to book on a small company, but I think this was my best trip yet! Myanmar is beautiful, the people are the friendliest, the sites are amazing, it is safe, please go! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I have cruised many times and even worked on cruises as a performer, so I really know what I like and dislike. The ship was beautifully clean and really looked the part. Rooms were large with lovely decor and well designed. Bathroom was ... Read More
I have cruised many times and even worked on cruises as a performer, so I really know what I like and dislike. The ship was beautifully clean and really looked the part. Rooms were large with lovely decor and well designed. Bathroom was great and loved the design of the shower doors - so practical. Dining room was beautiful and we had reserved private dining which was a real treat for my wife and I. This is something that you must pre-do before embarkment. Entertainment on board was enough and although we would have liked more gym equipment, we could not complain. Maybe a treadmill and fitness trainer could be added to make it perfect. It also would be nice if they had piped music on the sun deck so at night during our cocktail hour it would be a little more romantic, although it was lovely watching the Mekong and it's wonderful moonlight. Service is outstanding and shore excursions were excellent. One of our best cruises!!!!! Thank you Pandaw. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
This is the first year the Indochina Pandaw has sailed on the Irrawaddy between Mandalay and Bagan (Pagan) giving a range of 7,4 and 2 night cruises. We chose the 7 night which fell over the New Year between December 2017 and January 2018 ... Read More
This is the first year the Indochina Pandaw has sailed on the Irrawaddy between Mandalay and Bagan (Pagan) giving a range of 7,4 and 2 night cruises. We chose the 7 night which fell over the New Year between December 2017 and January 2018 starting from Mandalay. Pandaw offer some cruises with no single supplement and, as we were two female travellers of a certain age who think of ourselves as Destination Dames, this was one of the reasons we chose them. After all, sharing is fine, but a room each for the same price next to each is even better. We were looking forward to a more colonial style, teak ship which was well-appointed and the Indochina Pandaw did not disappoint. We arrived on board and found our cabins to be immaculate and exactly like the pictures. They were comfy, clean, lots of hot water, space to unpack etc. The crew of 24 went out of their way to make us feel welcome as we gathered for the briefing with a welcome cocktail (the first of the many). Going on a cruise is about a journey, not just the stops and this was no exception. Sitting watching the temples, fields, villages and many other ships go by from either the sub-deck or the chairs on the deck outside the cabin was a restful, ever changing experience (even when we had unexpected rain). We could write for ever (and out diaries are quite long) but a typical day has: - Coffee/tea and pastries (they have their own bakery) on deck at 6.00 am if you want to see the dawn and, often, the boat leaving the shore - Breakfast at 7.00-9.00 which is a full buffet including eggs to order. It should be said that the coffee is variable. - The first planned itinerary with the guide -e.g. visiting a temple, a village or a workshop - Lunch was 12.30 and has soup, an appetiser, salads, a main course, sweets and, often, very good cheese. - The second planned itinerary with the guide -e.g. often a walk. The itinerary was very much culturally orientated and designed to show Myanmar traditions, crafts and current ways of life. -Back on the boat cocktails (with nibbles) were at 6.30 on the sun deck and briefing for the next day was about 7.00 prior to dinner at 7.30 (lunch and dinner are heralded by the gong). - Dinner was a three course meal (there was always a vegetarian option and we travelled with gluten free guests who found they bent over backwards to take of them). Try the local wine which was surprisingly good. - Some evenings there was an entertainment such as a dance, puppet show or movie and there was time to relax with a drink before bed. We told you we were there for New Year and the ships crew gave real attention to making it a special event. We had dancing, lights, champagne and fireworks. Watching fireworks and holding a roman candle over the side whilst moored in the middle of the river drinking Champagne will be a favourite memory out of many. We should note that the boat can carry 60, but a combination of the single supplement and the political situation meant that there only 9 of us for the full trip and we were joined for 4 nights Including New Year's Eve) by another 18. We went looking forward to a relaxing and informative trip that combined sailing on the Irawaddy river with tours of local places. It's often easy to find fault with something but we really can't with this trip. The food was excellent, the service and care extraordinary. It may seem trite, but we really did not want to leave - it had truly exceeded all our expectations. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose Pandaw over other, more chic cruises because we wanted to a have a more authentic yet luxurious cruise in Myanmar. The RV Indochina and crew did not disappoint. We were the first to arrive at our ship, and I was worried we ... Read More
We chose Pandaw over other, more chic cruises because we wanted to a have a more authentic yet luxurious cruise in Myanmar. The RV Indochina and crew did not disappoint. We were the first to arrive at our ship, and I was worried we might not be allowed on board. Not a problem. The crew welcomed us, took our luggage, and told us that if we wanted our room that would be fine, or we could explore the nearby town (Sailang). We chose to return and came back to a wonderful buffet lunch with our fellow passengers. This was just the beginning of great hospitality the whole crew exhibited. A few items of note... - The food is outstanding. I would recommend staying with the Burmese cuisine over western style. I have celiac disease. Chef can easily handle gluten-free dining and even wrote a letter in Burmese for me to carry when I left the ship to ensure that I would be safe as I continued my journey. - I suggest the wine program for lunch and dinner if you are a wine drinker. Our house wines were a choice of South African or wines from Myanmar produced with imported grapes. The "local" Sauvignon Blanc was lovely as was the red blend. Soe Moe and Richard are always on hand to fill your glass and will also top you off before heading to after dinner activities. We did not order off the wine list but I did notice that it has both old and new world selections and champagne. - Every night there is happy hour with abundant and tasty appetizers on deck. The local liquors - especially the rum made from local sugarcane - are quite nice and included in the base rate. Johnson makes a great drink. - Our cabin was 206. I would suggest moving back a bit to 208 or 210 on the lower level, or directly above as you will hear anchors up at 6am departures. - Guide service is included. Tin, our guide, spoke great English and was very informative. He knows about all the sites we went to, answering questions that aren't typical guide-book info, and spoke about what was happening in his country with diplomatic aplomb. Guides are the only people who's tips are not included so please remember to tip them. - Our cabin was simple but elegant with a well working A/C. Service was morning and evening. We did have to request some additional shampoo once but that was the only thing we ever lacked. Everything was kept very clean and I give housekeeping kudos for giving us a great space. - Fabian the purser is able to arrange balloon rides in Bagan before the morning excursion. I would suggest adding this to your trip. - One little "luxury" I haven't had on other lines is shoe cleaning. Our excursions could be dusty or muddy, so the crew cleans your shoes after every outing and leaves them by the door. This was awesome. - We had a massage therapist on-board. She gave great massages, but her English wasn't the best so it was hard to give direction. This was the one area I could see improvement. But the massages are so good and affordable I had 3 so really, no complaining. - Expect lots of fun with crew-included dance parties. There was a conga line and sing along on our last night. It felt like the end of summer-camp and will be something I will always remember. I have cruised with several high-end companies and I have to say I thoroughly loved Pandaw. I can't compare it really to a Uniworld or Crystal Esprit because it is completely different. You won't have the crystal and fine china or gorgeous chandeliers. What you will have is a completely local crew who takes pride in their country and their ship and want to share it with you. Their heart is in giving you the best vacation in anemergingc country and for that I give them 5 stars. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
This 7-night cruise was part of a two-week visit to Myanmar, and a highlight of it. We boarded at Bagan, having spent a day among its 2000+ temples and pagodas, and sailed upriver to Mandalay, stopping off daily to visit villages, cottage ... Read More
This 7-night cruise was part of a two-week visit to Myanmar, and a highlight of it. We boarded at Bagan, having spent a day among its 2000+ temples and pagodas, and sailed upriver to Mandalay, stopping off daily to visit villages, cottage industries, temples and pagodas. The ship is beautiful and small enough (we had 26 passengers) to feel like a family outing. The teak-lined cabins are cleverly designed to provide maximum storage space and the sun deck is just delightful. But the principal reason for loving the trip was the crew, who couldn't have been kinder, more attentive and generally charming; we were treated like royalty. Food was excellent, too, with a delicious salad buffet at lunch time to accompany the main courses and varied dinner options. Various entertainments - Burmese cooking, traditional dress, films about the Pandaw company's history - were provided for rainy days. Cocktail hour on the sundeck was eagerly anticipated and we were treated daily to a different drink. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
I am a repeat Pandaw customer and was expecting high quality but this 7 night cruise on the Irrawaddy exceeded my expectations. Food, tours, guide, staff friendliness and kindness- all were just amazing. Nothing was too much trouble for ... Read More
I am a repeat Pandaw customer and was expecting high quality but this 7 night cruise on the Irrawaddy exceeded my expectations. Food, tours, guide, staff friendliness and kindness- all were just amazing. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and the sight seeing was just fantastic. We saw villages and temples and markets and schools and and and .... we embarked in Bagan and spent 7 nights on the river, disembarking in Mandalay. To a woman and man (there were just 17 of us, with 21 staff!!) we were sad to leave the ship - we had all enjoyed ourselves so very much. Special mention of the ship's purser, who made sure everything ran smoothly, from beginning to end - Myo Naing - a champion !!! If you do just one Asian river cruise, make it Pandaw on the Irrawaddy. Myanmar is a beautiful country with gentle, kind and sweet people. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2017
We were booked onto this cruise via our UK tour operator Audley Travel in conjunction with the local agent Tour Mandalay. The trip was fantastic. The crew were so charming and attentive. The accommodation was spacious and comfortable. The ... Read More
We were booked onto this cruise via our UK tour operator Audley Travel in conjunction with the local agent Tour Mandalay. The trip was fantastic. The crew were so charming and attentive. The accommodation was spacious and comfortable. The food was excellent and the tour guide and the excursions we made were interesting and informative. A wonderful experience. We left the harbourside at the old city of Bagan and headed up stream towards Mandalay, stopping en route at the bustling city of Pakokku to see local craft weaving and thanaka (the traditional Myanmar skin care paste) production. On day two we visited the lively village of Yandabo to see their hand made pottery businesses that supply traditional water pots to the whole of the country. Here we also visited a nursery and school set up by the Pandaw charity. It was a charming experience. We wish the trip could have been longer. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I have never been on a cruise before but wanted to do a river cruise in Asia. I saw the other reviews about this ship and decided that I should give it a try. I was not disappointed! Everything about the cruise vastly exceeded my ... Read More
I have never been on a cruise before but wanted to do a river cruise in Asia. I saw the other reviews about this ship and decided that I should give it a try. I was not disappointed! Everything about the cruise vastly exceeded my expectations: the room, the excursions, the guides, the food, and, most importantly, the staff. I was expecting a smaller-sized room, but was pleasantly surprised to find a room that was relatively big, with plenty of space to put away clothes. The bathroom was very decently sized and the water pressure in the shower was excellent. Opening your door at any time of the day and looking at the Mekong River truly was awe-inspiring. Even though the rooms had exterior doors, the way the ship was laid out resulted in very little outside foot traffic and noise. There were two excursions that were given on most days, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. All were great and our leaders in Vietnam and Cambodia were friendly, knowledgeable and professional. Head counts were taken at all tours to make sure that all persons were accounted for! The tours were varied in nature and were all enjoyable. Having never been to either Cambodia or Vietnam before, I learned a lot at each tour. All of us soon got used to the post-excursion Pandaw regimen upon return to the ship: taking off your shoes to be cleaned by the Pandaw staff; given hand sanitizer; given a wonderfully-scented cold towel; and being given an ever-changing delicious cold beverage! The food was uniformly excellent. I truly enjoyed the mix of Asian and Western dishes and did my best to sample all. Standouts, however, were the Asian breakfasts, the banana crepes that we had one night for dessert and, yes, the Blue Cheese. In fact, there were a number of persons who commented (and me being one of them) that the Blue Cheese they served was some of the best that they had ever sampled. But far and away the best thing about the cruise was the staff. Simply put, they were all incredible! All were polite, professional, but most importantly, personable. By the time the cruise was over, I felt that most of them were friends rather than staff who were looking after me. I went out of my way to tell Brian, the cruise manager, how good of a job Pandaw did in their hires. There was another cruise ship that moored next to us when we were at Phnom Penh. I asked if I could have a quick look of the ship. Yes, it was a bit spiffy. But in a heartbeat, I felt that I made the right decision in taking the Pandaw cruise. I went to thank all with Pandaw for making this possibly the best vacation I have ever taken!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
I had travelled on a Pandaw cruise previously and could not fault it for style, comfort, friendly crew, variety of villages and other attractions to visit, the food, the guides and the comfort of the cabins. I like the small number of ... Read More
I had travelled on a Pandaw cruise previously and could not fault it for style, comfort, friendly crew, variety of villages and other attractions to visit, the food, the guides and the comfort of the cabins. I like the small number of fellow travellers these ships accommodate, and the range of countries they come from. It leads to a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The first cruise was the downstream Mekong trip which I found very interesting, but the Red River/Halong Bay upstream trip was even better, providing us with an interesting variety of villages and towns to visit as well as the chance to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay and other areas off the regular tourist beat. The teak construction and shiny brass fittings give the ships a timeless and classy look. The ships and excursions may challenge those with very limited mobility as there are no lifts but apart from that small inconvenience the cruises cater for most abilities. I can highly recommend Pandaw as a great company to travel with. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Our cruise was on the Upper Irrawaddy. This is our 3rd Pandaw cruise in 2 years. They epitomize the benefits and joys of Myanmar experience. The food is great, the itineraries are creative. We faced a couple of crises (caught on sand bars) ... Read More
Our cruise was on the Upper Irrawaddy. This is our 3rd Pandaw cruise in 2 years. They epitomize the benefits and joys of Myanmar experience. The food is great, the itineraries are creative. We faced a couple of crises (caught on sand bars) and the crew is empowered to find solutions. The staff are friendly to the point of knowing passengers quite intimately which guarantees a personalized service, especially at meal times. This does NOT have ocean liner evening options. Pandaw takes you into the heart and soul of this country whose citizens are probably the nicest people on this planet. Despite having already done the Chindwin River cruise last year and Halong Bay/Red River out of Hanoi this year, we have been reminded of why Pandaw fulfills our river cruise needs. We almost certainly will return next year for another Pandaw experience. Children would not find this satisfactory. The clientele on all of our Pandaw cruises have been 'Senior' or close to it. The excursions are not particularly demanding but are VERY rewarding. One day, we found ourselves in the middle of a wedding and a funeral, just a few minutes apart and were urged - by the parties involved - to join them and participate. The interaction and opportunity to meet the Burmans is truly the highlight of our Myanmar experiences. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Until 2016 cruises up the Chindwin were restricted to the rainy season when the depth of the river was sufficient. We did not fancy cruising in the rain so we were delighted when Pandaw announced they were putting the low draft Zawgyi ... Read More
Until 2016 cruises up the Chindwin were restricted to the rainy season when the depth of the river was sufficient. We did not fancy cruising in the rain so we were delighted when Pandaw announced they were putting the low draft Zawgyi Pandaw on for cruises in the dry season. We jumped at their offering for 2016/7 New Year cruise and were rewarded by 7 days of warm unbroken sunshine. Ours was an upstream departure which included transfers from a Mandalay hotel or Mandalay airport. We chose the latter, the best choice as it turned out, and caught the 07.30 Myanmar National flight from Yangon (UB103 07.30-08.25) on a brand new 737-800, and were met at Mandalay Arrivals and transferred to the Chindwin in a modern comfortable MiniVan . After stopping off to view the unique Kaunghmudaw Pagoda on the way, we arrived at Pandaw in just over 2 hours. Those who elected to stay in Mandalay fared worse-they were collected from their 4 hotels in a bus – some were on the bus for four+ hours. Now the Zawgyi- only 10 cabins and maximum 20 guests. Ours was full with a wide variety of nationalities-Aussies, South African, Bavarian, Swiss, Austrian, Kiwis and us two Brits, a really great melange. English was the common language and it was great that we all mixed and changed table partners daily so that we all got to know each other, and made friends quickly. No friction or clashes-super. Food was really good, with great breakfasts (full English if needed) with a choice of 3 main courses for lunch and dinner and always salads/soups and cheeses as a starter for lunch with a choice for dinner. Their fresh hot bread would put many hotels to shame. The chef could always provide grilled butterfish or an omelette when needed. Do note that the meat choice was a US portion and only trencherman could manage the steaks, joints and lamb chops. Local beer, local spirits (first class) bottled water and cans of soft drinks are included and available on a ‘help yourself’ basis 24/7 although wine and premium spirits do have to paid for. Unlike other Pandaw boats there is no draft beer-my only regret. However,the complimentary evening cocktail could be lethal. Cabins are comfy and have adequate storage space, good aircon, and being more modern than other Pandaw’s, the shower is large with powerful and constant hot water. Although there are no seats outside the cabins the main sun deck has loungers and plenty of seats for everyone. Laundry service is good and not expensive. WiFi was not fitted (soon to be rectified) but most guests had bought SIM’s for their phones and had good reception most of the time-remarkable as the Captain told us that only in the last year had masts been erected and the towns up the Chindwin connected. Back to the Cruise:- On the first day we took a short coach trip through the important river town of Monywa to see the ancient Thandboodi Temple and the 3 Bawdhi Tahaung statues, all so different to those in Central Myanmar and Yangon. For travellers with Stupa fatigue they were the only ones we visited as the daily excursions for the rest of the week were very much seeing village and river life, with the occasional monastery thrown in. As it was New Years Eve the chefs laid on a special dinner, with champagne. Paul Strachan, the owner of Pandaw, was accompanying us on the mini Kalaw Pandaw with his family and some friends. As we were all knackered from an early start, and would not make it to midnight, he decreed Hogmanay would be at 10.00pm and would be celebrated midstream with fireworks, and all Monywa was greeted with a fine Pandaw display from both boats, each trying to outdo each other. The second day we visited Phowin Taung caves on the Western bank-again so different to others in Myanmar before cruising through stunning countryside before mooring overnight. The Chindwin is special, so unlike the wide Irrawaddy, in that it is much narrower and steep sided as you pass through timber clad hills. River life is fascinating with much commercial traffic including bamboo rafts and teak. The Chindwin is also opening up with the “India-Myanmar Friendship” road being constructed from Kalawa to the India border and there were river boats going North carrying new diggers and construction equipment. Each day there were one or more shore excursions sometimes by tuk tuk, sometimes by pickup and more often on foot over paddy fields to visit isolated villages only accessed by river, there are no roads. Their only access for shopping is the weekly “boat shop” that comes by. We were warned that some villages are seldom visited by tourists and that the young children might frightened-and so it was with a couple of toddlers bursting into tears when they saw us. We were, however, greeted with typical Burmese wide smiles everywhere we went and, in isolated villages, we were always accompanied by a troop of youngsters-a bit like pied piper. The village elders always gave us a guided tour and made us most welcome. We visited three of these remote villages and, to many of us, the visits were one of the highlights as you saw true Burmese life, something that you don’t see on the tourist trail. The bustling river side towns of Mingkin, Kalewa and Mawlaik were all truly fascinating -and we didn’t see another tourist! Even with its 2ft draft our boat could not navigate further North than Mawlaik but we had a wonderful shore excursion in tuk tuk pickups to visit the old Colonial buildings, the golf course and after lunch the elephant sanctuary. The Pyer Swe elephant camp is for retired working elephants and is run by the Myanmar Forestry Commission. One retired tusker and six retired ladies enjoy foraging, bathing and being fed bananas and sugar cane by the visitors. One of the ladies, 50+, surprised her keepers when after 6 months she produced a baby girl! Life in the old girl yet. The youngster is now 6 months old and a right handful. On our last day, at Kalewa, after a walk around the town and its bustling market we had our last lunch on board prior to transferring to our included flight from Kalaymyo airport to Mandalay and Yangon. The transfer, in an old local bus, was quite slow and bumpy for the first hour as the road is being remade as a highway but as soon as we cleared the teak forests it was a good road and we made the airport in 70 mins. A few last remarks Tips are included for the crew although there was a tips box. Most guests also tipped the guide and the purser. The purser Win Myo was excellent as was Min the guide. I also tipped our regular crew shore helper who was always on hand to give my wife, and others, a heave up and down the steep river banks. Some days a few guests rested on the boat as the excursions could be quite strenuous but they had a great time watching the villagers washing and bathing in the river and bringing down their cattle for water. Guests who stayed on board were well looked after with tea and biscuits and access to the free bar. Weather was wonderful for our cruise with 26C day but it could be cool at night and misty in the mornings so ensure you take long sleeve jumpers or wraps. Nobody “dressed” for dinner-casual is the norm and light clothes in the day for ladies and shorts, if not visiting temples, for the men. The boat does not have an internet connection for CC’s so take enough US$ for extras. I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to experience real Burmese working towns and villages. Go before it changes Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Quite a long coach trip to reach the boat, but a packed lunch was provided - which was adequate, there was also a short comfort break where you could buy snacks or souvenirs if you wished to. Embarkation was smooth and well prepared and ... Read More
Quite a long coach trip to reach the boat, but a packed lunch was provided - which was adequate, there was also a short comfort break where you could buy snacks or souvenirs if you wished to. Embarkation was smooth and well prepared and the staff were very helpful. The cabin was excellent - all facilities as advertised, and plenty of room. Dining room could accommodate several different sized tables, we opted for a table for two, but others wanted to sit at a table for 6 - food was very good, especially as I had a gluten free requirement, which was catered for - including producing fresh rice bread at several meal times. The cocktail hour, with a different featured cocktail each night, was also good, and we gradually got to know the other passengers on board during this - a lovely mix of people, which also helped make the experience memorable. Each day we had two excursions ashore - which were fairly varied, and all were enjoyable and informative. Loved Cambodia, and Vietnam, and really enjoyed meeting the school children in Cambodia who were very enthusiastic students. The crew were very helpful and welcoming and nothing was too much trouble - Would recommend this cruise to anyone thinking of cruising from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City (Siagon). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Embarkation was so easy...no queues, just boarded and taken care of. The cabin is all in teak as is the ship. Nice toiletries. My only complaint is that the water pressure for the shower is not that strong. Plenty of hot water. Note: ... Read More
Embarkation was so easy...no queues, just boarded and taken care of. The cabin is all in teak as is the ship. Nice toiletries. My only complaint is that the water pressure for the shower is not that strong. Plenty of hot water. Note: there is only one plug (European two pin round) so bring an adaptor if you have lots of things to recharge. The food was excellent and inventive. Do try the Burmese breakfast though you can have eggs and bacon et al too. The hash brown potatoes are excellent! Lunch and dinner were 4 course meals. 3 main course selections: European, Burmese, and vegetarian. Bottled water always available, as much as you want. Leo, the Pandaw manager for South East Asia, was on our ship for half of the cruise. He was typical of the kind care and service that all the cruise staff gave to us. Nothing was too difficult. Endlessly helpful, which for me using a cane, was just perfect. Wifi is available on the Sun Deck when possible. Download time varied according to where we were. And while talking about the Sun Deck, I must tell you to try the nuts...excellent! English is sometimes difficult to understand, but that is part of the fun. Take some warm clothing as it is cool in the morning as you near Mandalay. Have lots of Khat 1000 bills...about 60p. I changed $50 at the airport and still had left over Khat by the end of the cruise. They only accept NEW American dollars. Business is done in dollars, absolutely no need for Pounds. They went out of their way to make Christmas and New Year Eve exciting and pleasurable...with gifts for all. This is a relaxing, easy, cruise. The ship holds a maximum of 48 people, but we had only 31, so lots of room. All the excursions were well organised and interesting. I highly rate this cruise and this cruise line. Read Less
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