CF Mekong River Cruises (Compagnie Fluviale du Mekong) is a subsidiary of the French cruise line CroisiEurope, and offers very small ship cruises on the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam. It has four ships, the 14-cabin Toum Tiou II and its predecessor 10-cabin Toum Tiou, plus 22-cabin Lan Diep and 24-cabin Indochine. All have luxury French Colonial-style décor, with Toum Tiou II the newest ship and even more comfortable than the original, Toum Tiou. Itineraries range from a three-day cruise between Phnom Penh to Siem Reap in Cambodia, through six-day cruises from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam to Phnom Penh and eight-day cruises from Saigon to Siem Reap. The ship’s low draft allows it access to remote villages and the Gao Canal that flows right into Saigon. Daily excursions are included and cover the cost of admissions to museums and other cultural attractions.
The French Colonial-style interiors extend to dark wooden panelling in the library and lounge, which has a very clubby feel, and simple wooden floors and lots of windows in the spacious restaurant. There is an outdoor sitting area at the top of the ship, with an elegant wooden deck and useful canopy to screen passengers from the sun, as well as space to sit in the sun, too. WiFi is available in all public areas and there is a small shop selling souvenirs.
There are six cabins on the upper deck and eight on the lower deck, all with Cambodian tropical teak and palm wood panelling with traditional lacquer-like varnish and brass fittings, offset with natural wickerwork arm chairs and woven straw wall coverings. Each has a large panoramic window with a clear view of the river. The beds have premium mattresses and duvets with crisp white bedlinen, and the ensuite bathrooms have modern showers and spa-branded toiletries. White cotton bathrobes are provided. There is plenty of storeage space, a security box in every cabin and air conditioning throughout, plus a turndown service at night.
Menus combine authentic Eastern and Western recipes, and the culinary team includes a local executive chef. Breakfast and lunch is a semi-buffet with waiter service in the evening. Specially-tailored light menus are also available and complimentary tea, coffee and drinking water is always available. There is nightly entertainment in the bar, mostly cultural performances, and during the day there are educational talks and cooking classes.
There is a very French feel to CFM’s colonial-style river ships, and the company aims to deliver authentic cultural experiences with local cuisine a speciality. The small number of passengers ensures a very relaxed atmosphere.