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  1. #1


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    thinking about small ship Mekong River cruises

    Most of our travels have been independent 6-8 week driving trips in Europe, New Zealand and Turkey. We've never taken a cruise before but as we get older there is some appeal. (Did do a wonderful gulet in Turkey, however.) Thinking about doing a small ship cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia. Do not want a large ship. Would love advice and reviews from anyone who has done this. What ship? How many people/staff? Quality of accommodations and food? Pluses and minuses?

  2. #2


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    I took a 3 night Mekong river cruise on Aqua cruises in February of 2015. Here's a link
    http://www.aquaexpeditions.com/luxur...ekong-cruises/

    I took this one because the friend I was travelling with had done an upper Amazon cruise with them in the past. They had only started doing the cruise on the Mekong in November of 2014 so they were still working some details out regarding the excursions etc. We started in Pnohm Pehn and ended in Vietnam close to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon).

    The ship is very new and in a modern style. It is not very large and in fact was only 50% full when we were on so it felt very private.

    The staff were quite good, but sometimes the bar tender was not available due to the fact that there aren't an overwhelming number of people working on the ship. The excursions were all quite interesting, in particular, the visit to a family in a very small village. We also had an interesting meeting with 2 town elders both of whom lived during the time of the Vietnam war. It was fascinating to listen to their stories. There were bike excursions available (sometimes you could choose to bike to the excursion location or take the small expedition boats - you need to be a real biker to take the bikes - I think they were biking 23 kilometres). The ship had several talks and there was a Cambodian dance program the night we left Cambodia. There is no band, or dancing or anything like that on board. It can be quiet at night. The staff are local - ours were mostly Cambodian, but there were also Vietnamese people. They were all good and had great knowledge to impart. They ran the excursions and were always on board.

    The ship's cabins are very large. Laundry service is included and was nice to have. I had a cabin with a balcony and a lovely large sofa on it which was great to sit on and watch the river activities. The cabin service was excellent and the cabins were always very clean and there were coffee machines in the rooms. There is also a plunge pool available on the ship and some great spaces outside to sit and watch the world go by.


    Re: meals - the dining room is not large. On this cruise people were pretty much seated with their cabin mates and there wasn't a lot of mixing. I think this was due to the makeup of the group. The meals are very well prepared, but is entirely based on local cuisine. There really isn't a choice of meal - this can be great or terrible depending on your own personal taste. I, for example, really don't like coconut and there was a lot of it in the food as it's part of the local diet. I would suggest that for this cruise you need to be a flexible person with regard to food.

    The Aqua cruise is quite upscale with good staff and excursions. I know there are more options now for cruising the Mekong. It would have been interesting to start further up river (I know you can start from Siem Reap) but we couldn't due to the season. For some reason I'm not sure I could recommend this wholeheartedly even though I had a great time. It could be that I needed to be with a different set of travellers on the ship.

    I also recommend going to Myanmar if you are looking to travel in that part of the world. I would definitely go back to Myanmar and really highly recommend the Belmond cruise mostly because we had a terrific guide who was with us the whole week. The food and facilities on that cruise were good - the food was much more varied while still providing lots of local food but the cabins were not as nice as the Aqua (and there are many more passengers). Also Myanmar is a fascinating country undergoing a lot of rapid change and the people are both open and eager to share their country with visitors. On this trip, I had just completed a 7 day cruise with Belmond in Myanmar, followed by a visit to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and a couple of days in Phnom Penh. I preferred Myanmar and the cruise I had on the Ayerwaddy. I liked Angkor Wat, but was less than thrilled with Siem Reap itself and Phnom Penh. Vietnam was more interesting especially if you are old enough to remember the American involvement there.

  3. #3


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    Sorry - forgot to give you the staff to passenger ratio on the Aqua Mekong

    It's 1:1 - basically the ship can only hold 40 people and has 40 on staff. We only had about 20 on our cruise, so really there was a ratio of 2 staff for each one of us (which makes the bartender situation a bit odd). Everyone who interacted with the passengers was excellent and very personable.

  4. #4


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    Right now and barring an extraordinary monsoon Mekong cruises are suspended due to low water levels. Parts of Cambodia are now on water rationing. China built dams and is restricting water flow.
    You can find cruises in SE as mentioned in Burma (Myanmar) Vietnam in the Tonkin gulf and of course the Yangtze 3 gorges cruise.
    Last edited by Rome Addict; 04-28-2016 at 09:19 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rome Addict View Post
    Right now and barring an extraordinary monsoon Mekong cruises are suspended due to low water levels. Parts of Cambodia are now on water rationing. China built dams and is restricting water flow.
    You can find cruises in SE as mentioned in Burma (Myanmar) Vietnam in the Tonkin gulf and of course the Yangtze 3 gorges cruise.
    I would steer clear of Viking River Cruises -- they are notorious for failure to provide planned itineraries whenever there are water level issues (while fulfilling the terms of the contract through "alternate destinations", which means hours sitting on buses, thus keeping your money).

  6. #6

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    We have just booked a river cruise in Myanmar with Scenic. The ship will be launched in September with 44 passengers.
    Scenic also have a tour that covers Myanmar and the Mekong which would be interesting too but we wanted to continue on to India.

    In Australia, Scenic is being taken to court with a class action because of the floods in Europe. The passengers believed that Scenic knew that the floods would totally disrupt the cruise and should have cancelled. They spent hours on buses and hotels were below the expected standard.

    We are still happy to book with them and hope they have learned from that experience.
    Will watch river levels closely!

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