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16 Pandaw Asia Cruise Reviews

We travelled to Kolkata on 10 October , looking forward to Pandaw’s inaugural 14 day cruise up the Ganges to Varanasi. Late in the afternoon of 11 October ( the day before departure ) we were told that the cruise was not going to ... Read More
We travelled to Kolkata on 10 October , looking forward to Pandaw’s inaugural 14 day cruise up the Ganges to Varanasi. Late in the afternoon of 11 October ( the day before departure ) we were told that the cruise was not going to take place . We later found out that the stated reason , namely a closed lock at Farraka , had been known to Pandaw since 4 October ( at the latest ) . Pandaw deliberately concealed this information from their passengers , no doubt to ensure that they travelled to India unaware that the cruise they had paid for was about to be cancelled. On assembling for embarkation on 12 October we were told that our options were (1) a refund for the cost of the cruise , but not of the costs of travelling to India (2) a circular cruise of the Lower Ganges and a refund of the cost of the second week (3) a circular cruise of the Lower Ganges followed by a land based second week , touring Bihar by coach . Though very disappointed with what we were offered we took option (2) , confident that Pandaw would provide us with proper compensation for having failed to provide us with what we had paid for . The week long circular cruise was really very poor indeed . The itinerary expanded to 7 days an itinerary that was scheduled to take 4 , leaving us onboard for stretches of up to 22 hours. The crew , though friendly , were untrained . The food was poor and insufficient . The boat was dirty and started its journey without basic safety equipment such as life jackets and fire extinguishers. The Founder of Pandaw rightly described Pandaw’s treatment of us as “ appalling “ . An employee of Pandaw promised that we would receive “ substantial “ compensation. Disgracefully, when we started to press for compensation, Pandaw changed their tune completely. Their new position is that we are not entitled to any compensation at all : instead we have been offered 25% off our next Pandaw trip , which is of no value to those of us who would never contemplate travelling with them again . Pandaw’s position is that they would have been entitled to provide us with a stationary cruise with the vessel tied up at the bank . We have also been personally rebuked by the Founder for not showing him enough goodwill . He has also threatened us with libel proceedings . Our position is that Pandaw deceitfully concealed from us the fact that our cruise was in jeopardy , failed to provide us with what we had booked and paid for , provided us with a wholly inadequate alternative on a boat that was unfit and unsafe to travel . We have been left £1000s out of pocket and deprived of a trip we had been so looking forward to. We regard the conduct of Pandaw , as having been much worse than the “ appalling “ that they admit to , but also dishonourable and dishonest . Having been so substantially defrauded by Pandaw we will never use them again and will advise all who ask us to steer well clear of them . Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
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
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
Sail Date February 2017
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
Sail Date February 2015
Our trip on the river Chindwin was due to go from Monywa to Homalin, but due to the river levels being very low, we only reached Kalaywa. It was our first visit to Burma and our first river trip and we found the whole experience a delight. ... Read More
Our trip on the river Chindwin was due to go from Monywa to Homalin, but due to the river levels being very low, we only reached Kalaywa. It was our first visit to Burma and our first river trip and we found the whole experience a delight. There were only 10 passengers – 4 cabins on the first deck and the Owner’s cabin on the second deck which is where we were. Dining was al fresco – a buffet breakfast, part buffet lunch and a full service dinner. The food was excellent and introduced us to some of the hotter flavours of Burmese cuisine. We were well looked after by the boat manager, Win. We visited many villages along the way where the pace of life was slow and peaceful. The locals were pleased to greet us and we communicated by smiles and waving and the greeting “Mingalaba”. We got stuck on several sandbanks which was great fun as all sorts of chaos ensued with jostling of vessels trying to get into the prime position to get through the only channels deep enough. Each time we were stuck on a sandbank our crew, and river pilot assigned to the boat, had to get into the water (only waist deep in some places) to free the boat by a system of posts, cables and winches in situations which seemed to us as if they were taking their lives in their hands. Our crew were absolutely brilliant from rescuing us from sandbanks and the preparation of tasty food to the care with which the young boys handled our laundry. We are hoping to take another cruise with Pandaw very soon.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
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
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
Sail Date December 2014
I have recently returned from the Pandaw Cruises trip between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on the RV Mekong Pandaw. It is impossible to highlight one particular service or event as they do it all so brilliantly. ... Read More
I have recently returned from the Pandaw Cruises trip between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on the RV Mekong Pandaw. It is impossible to highlight one particular service or event as they do it all so brilliantly. From the roomy cabin on a limited passenger river boat to the fine dining and casual luxury, it is just magic. All land tours during the cruise are escorted with options for pre and post cruise tour options, leisurely paced and very well presented. Of course, you can just sit back and do nothing if that's what you want. If you're in the mood for a trip on a luxury river boat in SE Asia I highly recommend Pandaw Cruises. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
I cruised on the Kalaw Pandaw from Sept. 6 to 13, 2014, embarking in Mandalay and debarking in Bagan, Myanmar (Burma). The Kalaw is a beautiful little river steamer built almost entirely out of a dark hardwood that is indigenous to ... Read More
I cruised on the Kalaw Pandaw from Sept. 6 to 13, 2014, embarking in Mandalay and debarking in Bagan, Myanmar (Burma). The Kalaw is a beautiful little river steamer built almost entirely out of a dark hardwood that is indigenous to Myanmar. The boat is in excellent repair, well maintained and clean. Because the boat is small, it does not have the amenities of the large cruise ships, but that does not matter to me. I don’t need a pool, gym, separate cocktail lounge or the other amenities of large ships. All of us could socialize out on the deck whenever we wanted to. Cruises on Pandaw are down to earth, which I liked. The ship’s small size and shallow draft enable the captain to take it right up to the river banks and sail it in parts of the river where larger boats cannot go. This was the inaugural cruise for this itinerary and, I think, this boat. Service was excellent. Crew and staff were friendly and went out of their way to accommodate our wishes. Food was ample and very good. Laundry sent out in the morning was back by evening. All excursions were included in the cruise price. Transfers to and from airports or hotels was included too. Gratuities were included, but most of us gave staff cash tips anyway because the service and overall experience was so good. The itinerary was excellent. We were taken to well known historic sites and temples, as well as remote villages and places that I would have never found on my own. This mix of excursions added very much to the enjoyment of the cruise. Our tour guide was excellent. He spoke English and had extensive knowledge about every place we went. We learned a lot about the history and culture of this enchanting country. Because the boat ties up to river banks, your shoes may get a little muddy or dirty and the same with some of the excursions that we went on. No problem. You take off your shoes when entering the boat. Crew clean them off and deliver your shoes to your room. Sandals should be worn. You have to take off shoes and socks to enter the temples anyway. The Irrawaddy River is huge. It is the main economic artery of Myanmar. We were 600 miles north of Yangon (Rangoon) and the river was larger than the Mississippi R. at New Orleans. The Irrawaddy is famous for its sunsets. The river did not disappoint us on this trip. Many of us would sit out on the deck in the evening to watch the sunset. I intend to sail on Pandaw again and recommend this cruise line to other travelers as well.   Read Less
Sail Date September 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
Sail Date March 2014
Our expectations have been exceeded by far: the RV Mekong Pandaw is an absolute lovely and comfortable boat, ex- and interior fits perfect to Vietnam and Cambodia, without jeopardizing any comfort. The entire vessel has just been complete ... Read More
Our expectations have been exceeded by far: the RV Mekong Pandaw is an absolute lovely and comfortable boat, ex- and interior fits perfect to Vietnam and Cambodia, without jeopardizing any comfort. The entire vessel has just been complete refitted, large rooms in teak wood, comfortable beds, all clean and tidy. If we understood correct, they have reduced the number of cabins (which other cruise line does that?). The almost entire lower deck is a generous public space with a large gym, movie room, a lounge-style library and full equipped massage rooms. On the upper deck the boats has a cozy saloon bar + a huge sundeck (with free ice cream all day). All, meals, beverages (including alcoholic), excursion was included - no hassle or anyone trying to sell you anything during the cruise. While the boat looks like it dates back from French Indochina times, they have WI-Fi in all cabins and provide even programmed Ipads; keeping you always updated on the upcoming excursions, route, program, menus etc and free use of internet We had some concerns, we are in our 30/40s, and feared we might be by far the youngest couple – but no. Fellow travelers of all ages and we counted 7 different nationalities. We all had common interest and so much fun and interesting conversations. During the cruise we had enough opportunities to escape the “crowd”, like a private table for dinner when we requested it (we celebrated our anniversary) and in Phnom Penh you can choose from a variety of excursions (all included in the price). I went to take a lesson in Khmer boxing at a local boxing school (what an experience!), my wife took the cooking classes at a local training center for underprivileged children. But what made this cruise so very special was the service provided! Service, food and the ship managers where outstanding. Nothing was too much, all done with a smile. All a very causal 6 star experience without being stiff and formal. Their Chef is a local master Chef and was always available in the dining room to explain or take special orders. Neville, the ship manager, is a super star! But even their ground staff! We had booked through an agent and had some issue with our onwards journey after the cruise. The Pandaw head office assisted us with all and rerouted our flights and amended our hotel stays. We had the vacation of a lifetime! My advice: Book direct with Pandaw, they are extremely helpful.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. I preferred the relaxed atmosphere on the boat, there was no pressure to dress up and compete for seats at the captains table. The food was excellent, varied and plentiful. We were provided with three ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. I preferred the relaxed atmosphere on the boat, there was no pressure to dress up and compete for seats at the captains table. The food was excellent, varied and plentiful. We were provided with three meals a day and it was more than I needed but so delicious that I could not resist! There was entertainment provided in the evenings, sometimes films and sometimes live performances. During the day we were given a class on spring roll making and a demonstration of fruit carving, which seemed very difficult. There were three excursions available while we were on board. All were very interesting and I was glad that I attended them. I must say that they were also varied as we went to a floating market, a Cham village, a sweet making establishment a street market and the Lovers House. Our cabin was very comfortable and had plenty of room for suitcases and other belongings. One comment that I would have is that there were no brighter lights in either the bathroom or the bedroom and this made removing and inserting my contact lenses rather difficult. Disembarkation was very easy. We were transferred by coach to a hotel in Saigon and we dispersed from there. All in all we had a fabulous trip and are enquiring about cruising with Pandaw on the Irrawaddy next January. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This cruise from near Ho Chi Minh City to Kampong Cham was part of the Viking Magnificent Mekong tour. By comparison with European cruise ships, Tonle Pandaw is a boutique experience. The cabins are well-designed and comfortable, with ... Read More
This cruise from near Ho Chi Minh City to Kampong Cham was part of the Viking Magnificent Mekong tour. By comparison with European cruise ships, Tonle Pandaw is a boutique experience. The cabins are well-designed and comfortable, with excellent storage. The dining room is a good size and the food overall was excellent. The sundeck is a delight, especially in the afternoons and evenings when a river breeze cools the passengers, and has its own bar and restroom. The downstairs meeting room is functional for movies and talks. The staircases are rather narrow and especially up to the sundeck are steep. The crew all provide excellent service. Internet access can be rather patchy unless close to the server in the Saloon Bar. I found the excursions interesting throughout but they can definitely be a culture shock for unwary Westerners. Only people with good mobility and health should attempt this cruise, unless they are happy to stay on board and not get to the sundeck, movies, talks and excursions. Getting off the boat can be a struggle at times due to steep banks and lack of formal staircases. The company – a mix of Americans, British, Canadians and us two Aussies – was very amiable. Tummy bugs were rife and our Tour Director kept telling us to avoid the salad and ice – just eat hot, cooked food and drink bottled water. This cruise was part of a longer tour that began in Ho Chi Minh City and ended in Hanoi. Best part was actually Angkor and the temples. We did an extension to beautiful Ha Long Bay. I loved Hanoi too, a mix of French and Vietnamese. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We were very impressed with our cruise on Katha Pandaw on the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar in October 2013. I had read all I could find of the history of this troubled nation, novels set in the country and Yangon newspapers on line in the ... Read More
We were very impressed with our cruise on Katha Pandaw on the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar in October 2013. I had read all I could find of the history of this troubled nation, novels set in the country and Yangon newspapers on line in the months before our cruise. Our itinerary was the least "pagoda heavy", went well beyond the Yangon-Bagan-Mandalay tourist strip and into the farms, small industries and villages of Myanmar. We were not disappointed. Before, during and after our cruise we were overwhelmed by the friendliness, generosity and warm welcome of the people of Myanmar. Pre Cruise: We flew Jetstar from Singapore to Yangon, staying 3 nights at the Chatrium Hotel from where the Pandaw cruise departed at 6 a.m. Chatrium is a comfortable hotel, buffet breakfast, wifi included and all that goes with a 4/5 star hotel. A $US4.00 air-conditioned cab ride to Yangon city centre, $8-10 to the airport. Reviewed on Trip Advisor. www.tripadvisor.com We arranged pre- and post-cruising, transfers, internal air and some guiding with a local agent. After the guide’s introduction we were comfortable exploring Yangon on our own in cabs, on foot, on the ferry and the iconic circular train. Post Cruise: One night Mandalay, two nights Lake Inle before flying out of Yangon. The Ship, Katha Pandaw: Pandaw ships are teak panelled, in the style of colonial river steamers. RV Katha was the smallest of the fleet, 16 air-conditioned, twin bed cabins, with ensuite bathrooms, 6 upper, 10 lower deck. There is no elevator. Cabins are small with adequate storage for our clothes and suitcases. All have sliding glass doors and screened external doors opening to the shared deck. The nights were cool enough in October for us to sleep with the air-con turned off, the glass doors open and the screened doors shut. Bathrobes, safe, unlimited bottled water, hair dryer, shampoos etc and one electrical converter plug provided. No phone, TV, minibar or teamaking tray; hot and cold drinks are available in the bar. Cabins are immaculately maintained and usually serviced during breakfast. Light sleepers should avoid cabins adjoining the crew area and wheelhouse because the crew are up and about earlier than passengers need to be. The ship does not cruise at night so engine noise did not disturb our sleep. There are large shaded open-air sitting and dining areas on the upper deck, always a comfortable temperature, with pull down transparent weather shields (used once). Larger Pandaw boats have enclosed air-conditioned sitting and dining areas. Deck plans, itineraries and much more on the website www.pandaw.com The Cruise 600 Miles, See All Burma: 14 days cruising up the Irrawaddy River from Pyay (Prome) to Katha and down again to Mandalay. We left the Chatrium by air-con coach at 6am to join the ship at Pyay, a six hour drive with two comfort stops. The first, Taukkyan War Cemetery on the outskirts of Yangon, allowed enough time for a quick wander. For us the itinerary was an excellent mixture of archaeology, ancient and modern history, life in Myanmar, performances by very talented local dancers, singers and puppeteers, visits to exquisitely carved teak monasteries, to magnificent pagodas, to local markets, potteries and other small traditional industries, to farms and to villages and some of the schools and medical clinics financed by Pandaw Cruises. In Katha the ship hosted an early breakfast for the local monks. Another highlight was seeing six of the extremely rare and endangered Irrawaddy dolphin from the ship. Dolphin sightings are not guaranteed. The river is the artery of the country. We never tired of being on the upper deck, returning the smiles and waves of the ever welcoming hard-working Burmese. The smiles welcomed us to a moment of their lives, as they worked the fields, tended crops and animals, built bamboo houses, flew kites, fished, washed, swam, carried the production of this fertile valley to the river and loaded boats with drums of oil, bamboo poles, teak logs, vegetables, clay pots, fish, sacks of rice, beans, peanuts, and sacks we could only guess at, then transported these on low barges, small motor boats or bamboo rafts. Passengers: Only 8 of the 16 cabins were occupied by 15 passengers from USA, UK and Australia aged 40-70+, all keen to experience and enjoy every experience the cruise offered. The Crew: The guide and crew’s attention to our comfort, our special needs and wishes was amazing, as good as any cruise or land tour I have experienced, including Silversea, and considerably better than many others. At pagodas a crew member assisted those who struggled to bend to remove/replace footwear, guarded our shoes and distributed wipes for our feet when we emerged. On returning to the boat our shoes were removed and cleaned for us. Our guide on this cruise, San, was outstanding. San is knowledgeable, articulate, fluent in English and alert to British, Australian and American senses of humour. He gave enough information to arouse our interest but never enough to be boring. San had more information for those with a special interest and was happy to answer random questions about life in Myanmar. Through him we were invited to join two wedding celebrations, experiencing again the generosity and warm welcome of the people of Myanmar. Our purser, Than, ran the passenger services very well, ably supported by the stewards, chefs and housekeeping staff. They made it an exceptional experience. Excursions: Included in the fare, except fees for cameras at some sites and for elephant rides. A small tip ($US1/Kyat1000) for local drivers, performers etc. was appreciated but not required. The variety of excursions and events is outlined above. Excursions usually started after breakfast, returning to the ship for a long lunch break and departed again later in the afternoon. We were cool and comfortable on board in the hottest part of the day. In small towns and villages we walked, in the larger cities we had air-con coaches but often we rode trishaws or horse drawn carts (2 passengers per cart) and for the defile, a local boat. All within the scope of two not very fit, 70ish Australians. There was always a crew member to help us climb a steep river bank or hand us into pony cart or trishaw, whether we needed help or not. For those with serious breathing or mobility problems, wheelchairs or walking frames, it becomes more difficult. There are no docks. Every outing we crossed the gangplank and climbed the sandy river bank. If the bank was particularly steep, the crew cut steps for us and offered a strong arm to lean on. The roads and paths we followed were often unpaved tracks or broken pavement or we walked across ploughed fields to villages. Sometimes hills and flights of steps were unavoidable. Meals and Drinks: Meal-times occasionally varied to suit the excursion program. Usually breakfast was 7-9am, lunch 1pm, dinner 7.30pm, after the evening briefing by guide and purser. Tea and coffee, biscuits, fresh fruit and cold drinks were available from 7am. No cabin service or variation of meal times is offered. Breakfast was buffet with an “eggs cooked to order” station, fresh fruit, cereals, toast, pastries, tasty Asian style soups, bacon, tomato with dishes of either noodles, fish, sausages or baked beans. Lunch was soup, delicious breads made onboard, a salad buffet, a choice of three hot mains (menu offered at breakfast) or a hot mains buffet, followed by pudding. Dinner was soup, starter, choice of three mains (menu offered at lunch) and pudding. Every meal had a vegetarian option. We thought the meals were varied and delicious, vegetable, fish, chicken and pork dishes were particularly tender and served with interesting sauces; the curries were excellent but quite mild. I didn’t eat salads till I was quite sure my fellow cruisers felt no ill-effects. They didn’t, and I regret missing two days of super salads. We notified two food intolerances at booking and on arrival and were alerted to any dish that might contain these foods. I do not know how much provision can be made for those with very limited diets or limited food preferences. Soft drinks, local beers, local spirits and mixes were included in the tariff and freely available. Carafes of wine were provided at dinner only. Bottled wine could be purchased from the bar. Dress: Casual. Trousers/skirts below the knee and sleeves covering shoulders were required at some pagodas and feet must be bare to enter pagodas and monasteries. All footwear, including orthotics must be removed, so slip-on-slip-off shoes or flip-flops are good for those who can walk to/from the site in them. We needed a hat, comfortable clothes for hot weather, a waterproof and a light jacket or shawl for cool evenings/mornings and the trip up river to the second defile on a breezy local boat. Our travel doctor advised long sleeves and trousers between dusk and dawn as mosquito protection, so we showered and “smartened up” into these before dinner. Laundry: We were warned that the laundry was done in river water. Clothes were returned in excellent order and charges were very reasonable. Medical: Our travel doctor prescribed a malaria prophylaxis which we took and other just-in-case medications, which we carried along with basic patent medicines and didn’t use any. Seek medical advice before travelling and carry sufficient supplies of your regular medications, “just-in-case” drugs, insect repellent and sunscreen. Money: ATM in Yangon and Mandalay only. We changed some US dollars for kyat on arrival at Yangon airport and later withdrew kyat at ATM in Yangon and Mandalay. We were told to bring only crisp, unmarked, unfolded $USnotes of recent issue but less than pristine notes were accpeted. Pandaw took credit cards for on-board expenses exceeding $200, othersise cash, $US preferred but kyat accepted. We followed Pandaw’s recommendations for tipping the crew. Communications: Wifi was free but available only near bigger cities. The ship’s phone received calls; our Myanmar travel agent phoned me re a booking change. In October 2013, Australian mobile phones did not get signal in Myanmar and foreigners could not buy local SIM cards. We declined a $10/day SIM card rental at Yangon airport. This may change with many visitors coming for the SEA Games in Yangon in December 2013. Conclusion: For us this cruise was perfect. We travel for interesting destinations and appreciate well informed guides. We like to try new foods (from “safe” kitchens) and appreciate clean comfortable cabins with ensuite bathrooms. We want to get out, meet the people and learn about the country. Pandaw worked for us. Images of the river, pagodas in the mist and the smiles of the people are imprinted till Alzheimer’s messes with our brains Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
The cruise started with a busstransfer from Yangon to Prome where we boarded the Pandaw II. From the very first minute the crew took care of us in a wonderful way. We was served a drink, our shoes where cleaned and they took our bagage to ... Read More
The cruise started with a busstransfer from Yangon to Prome where we boarded the Pandaw II. From the very first minute the crew took care of us in a wonderful way. We was served a drink, our shoes where cleaned and they took our bagage to our cabin. This high level of service was maintained during the whole cruise. As we was just 45 passengers the service was very personalized and the style onboard was very informel, no such things as captains dinner etc. The Pandaw II is a wonderful boat made as a replica of the paddlewheel steamer that once cruise the Irrawaddy river. It´s all made of teak and brass but perfectly modern with AC etc. Most of the days we made two stops and visit remote villages up along the Irrawaddy river. Most of those places can only be reached by boat and every one of them had something special, unique, to show us. The Burmese guide, which followed us during the cruise, was very good and had great knowledge of the historic and culture of Burma/Myanmar. Every night there were arrangement on the ship, it could be a lecture of buddism, a cooking lesson or some documentary video about WW2 in Burma. Of course all of the excursions were complimentary and you were free to join them or not. The food was excellent with a large variety tho chose from. All beverage, even beer and liqure are complimentary. All together this cruise was an experience for life and we´ll return in august this year for a new Pandawcruise, this time for the even more remote parts of Myanmar, the Chindwin river. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We have taken many cruises all over the world, but we particularly like river cruises, and we LOVE cruising with Pandaw. We have taken 3 Asian river cruises with Pandaw in the past 5 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. The Mekong ... Read More
We have taken many cruises all over the world, but we particularly like river cruises, and we LOVE cruising with Pandaw. We have taken 3 Asian river cruises with Pandaw in the past 5 years, and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. The Mekong River was our first experience with Pandaw, and it got us hooked. Everything about this trip was wonderful: the fabulous, personable, ever-attentive staff, the casual atmosphere on board, the very comfortable cabins, the leisurely pace. All of our creature comforts were met, the food was creative and delicious, and we especially liked the all-inclusive arrangement for cocktails. It was a spectacularly scenic cruise, and guides took groups on 2 daily excursions into local villages. The Killing Fields in Cambodia were heart-breaking but a must-see, and Siem Reap was a lovely end to the cruise. We highly recommend that everyone stay longer and tour the magnificent Angkor Wat. All-in-all, this cruise exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to taking more with Pandaw. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
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