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Reader Review Angkor Pandaw

Vietnam’s Red River (Pandaw) by Rachael

REVIEWER

Rachael from the US.

CRUISE LINE

Pandaw.

SHIP

Angkor Pandaw.

DESTINATION

Halong Bay and Red River, Vietnam.

# OF NIGHTS

10.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

May 2018, from Halong Bay, Vietnam.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 1 small ship cruise.

REVIEW

I truly enjoyed all aspects of this cruise.  The first few days centered on the picturesque Halong Bay, weaving through the massive limestone rock formations. Sunrise was a particularly beautiful and calming time of day. From there, the trip was more about the day excursions than the river sites. We had the opportunity to see villages and interact with people locally. We could learn about the different customs, village life, and more intimate gatherings in these areas. I loved that this trip was not about shopping at all.

My only frustration is that we were often being shuffled back onto the boat when I wanted to stay in the town. I didn’t really understand the rush when the travel distance on the river was never extensive.

The food on the ship was delicious, it was a good mix of authentic Vietnamese food and more western options too. And the chef graciously provided me all the recipes of dishes that I particularly loved.

Overall a wonderful trip that I would highly recommend.

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The Seychelles with Variety Cruises

The Seychelles with Variety Cruises.

REVIEWER

Donald Robertson from the UK.

CRUISE LINE

Variety Cruises.

SHIP

Pegasos.

DESTINATION

Seychelles Islands.

# OF NIGHTS

7.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

December 2018, fromVictoria, Mahe Island, Seychelles.

OVERALL RATING

4 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 4

-Cabin Rating: 3

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 11 small ship cruise.

REVIEW

A small vessel which only carries 44 passengers. On our cruise there were only 18. Have a feeling that it might feel a little crowded if the full number of passengers were embarked. The crew service is excellent, personal and friendly, food is good too. There are plenty of opportunities for swimming and snorkelling. Kayaking is also available. There are daily excursions of one kind or another but most only last a couple of hours. The focus is really on beaches and water activities. If you do not like these activities you might find this cruise disappointing.

Most of the excursions are included in the price however two are not. One is an excursion to Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve at Baie St Anne, Praslin. This is worth the extra charge. However on our trip there were insufficient numbers for the trip to be organised with the ships guide. The onboard guide did on request organise a taxi to take a few of us who were interested. At the reserve the official nature reserve guides joined us with another tour party and we had a properly guided tour.

The other optional excursion is on La Digue, am not sure if that is worth the money, you could probably do it yourself. The vessel itself is not in the first flush of youth and it shows in some areas, but it is very clean. In general the Seychelles are a fairly expensive place, not surprising really as probably everything has to be imported. The Seychelles people are very friendly and courteous. The islands themselves are simply stunning.

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Scenic Spirit on the Mekong (Scenic).

Scenic Spirit on the Mekong (Scenic).

REVIEWER

Julia Steinmetz from the USA.

CRUISE LINE

Scenic.

SHIP

Scenic Spirit.

DESTINATION

Mekong River from central Cambodia to Vietnam.

# OF NIGHTS

10.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

October 2018, from Kampong Cham, Cambodia, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 1 small ship cruise.

REVIEW

It was the trip of a lIfetime with so much to do and see. The scenery and food were outstanding, I felt truly pampered. I’m not used to that and this was my first cruise ever. The ship was gorgeous, the rooms were especially well designed. I would give the itinerary a 5 if they increased the academic standard, with more history, more about buddhism, more food history and more political history. That was all there, but not in-depth.

 

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Orion in Antarctica (Lindblad).

REVIEWER

Anisha  from the USA.

CRUISE LINE

Lindblad Expeditions.

SHIP

National Geographic Orion.

DESTINATION

Antarctica.

# OF NIGHTS

10.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

January 2019, from Ushuaia, Argentina.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 1 small ship cruise.

REVIEW

Overall we really enjoyed the cruise; the staff, food, and destination were all superb!!  The other passengers on the ship were all very nice and from all walks of life. Antarctica is a very special place to visit, you really feel like you are on a movie set or a postcard. To be in a place with so much natural, uninhabited beauty is truly once in a lifetime.

The only comment I have is that it takes awhile to actually get to/from Antarctica on the ship, so the activity level is a bit light overall. However, once you are near land there are opportunities to kayak, walk/hike on the ice, and get up close to wildlife (seals, penguins, and whales).

Thank you Heidi for providing info about various trips and igniting the travel bug in all of us adventurers!

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Monastery visit on a Scenic Cruise

QuirkyCruise Reader Review

Scenic Spirit on Mekong River

REVIEWER

Sheila Healey from the US.

CRUISE LINE

Scenic.

SHIP

Scenic Spirit.

DESTINATION

Mekong River in Cambodia & Vietnam.

# OF NIGHTS

7.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

October 2018, from Siem Reap, Cambodia downstream into Vietnam.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 4

-Cabin Rating: 4

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HOW MANY SMALL-SHIP CRUISES HAVE YOU BEEN ON?

6.

REVIEW

If you want an escape in comfort, with a good balance of UNESCO World Heritage sites and small village and temples excursions while river touring, then the Scenic Spirit is the ticket.  This over-worked New Yorker was in love from the get go. As Australian-owned you get a well appointed Modern-designed vessel along with a realistic view of the region.

This 10-day trip transported me to 9th-century Angkor Wat with a knowledgable guide and then back to Siem Reap for total comfort at the lovely Hyatt Regency for two days before we began the river segment of the trip. The guide team was exceptional in their knowledge throughout Cambodia and Vietnam and happy to assist in any need. The staff on the Scenic Spirit was just lovely and aimed to please. One of the highlights on board was the spa and pricing — a plus while traveling in Asia. With 45-minute foot massages for $20, I happily booked three times while on board. It’s the little things in life!

As many will ask about our food and wine selections while on board — overall decent choices and the kitchen did its best with a lovely fresh juice selection daily at  breakfast. I absolutely took advantage of the watermelon juice offerings!  Local cuisine was always a staple as well as western ala carte selections for the less adventurous traveler. Yes, we had the option of beetles and scorpions for one of our lunch selections. If you are a hard core foodie you may be let down at times, but you will have plenty of time to explore Saigon and Phnom Penh for that special food experience, which of course we did!

Our Cabin was super comfortable and the beds beyond inviting.  The size of the cabin is much larger than most river cruise ships and one feels the need to linger at times to enjoy the river views. A real plus was that the windows open with the touch of a button. perfect for your own private sunset photo opportunity while sipping champagne.

The excursions were  quite good overall. To me, the Cambodian side of the trip was more interesting (given excursions like Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields) than the Vietnam side of the trip, which was much more in the vein of local markets and small temple visits. We opted one afternoon to stay on the boat and enjoy the small pool and bar, which was quite enjoyable. WIFI is available, but at times non-existent, which assists in getting one off the grid and much appreciated.

If you are looking to get off the merry-go-round of western life, but don’t want to let go of your creature comforts this may be your kind of holiday. For me Cambodia invaded my soul and touched my heart in a way I wasn’t expecting. The Mekong awaits!

➢➢Peruse more Reader Reviews HERE  …. and …. REVIEW your latest small ship-cruise ✍🏽 HERE  ✍🏽

 

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QuirkyCruise reader review

Victory II to French Canada & Great Lakes

REVIEWER

Marla from Canada.

CRUISE LINE

Victory Cruise Lines.

SHIP

Victory II.

DESTINATION

French Canada and Great Lakes.

# OF NIGHTS

9.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

July 2018, from Montreal.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 5

 I’ve been on 1 small-ship cruise.
REVIEW

This was my first time aboard a small ship – I really loved the casual and intimate experience of friendly staff and guests. Our journey started in Montreal, and we then sailed to Quebec City, Kingston, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Cleveland, ending in Detroit.  We were kept very busy – each day we had a tour of the city, with time to explore on our own in the afternoons, some guests returned to the ship in the afternoon to just hang out.

At the end of the day, I looked forward to coming back to the ship,  it was our home away form home.  There was time for cocktails and conversation before dinner. Being on a small ship gave us time to get to know the other passengers.

The highlight of the trip was passing through the St Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes and of course the 17 locks. Our room was cozy with lots of space to unpack and I slept like a baby!  The food was very good, My only suggestion is that it would be fun to have something special on the menu from each city we visited.

This trip was a great way to get a feeling for a city  – while not having to step out of your comfort zone.

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Vela in the Caribbean Reviewed by Tim B.

REVIEWER

Tim B. from the USA.

CRUISE LINE

Island Windjammers.

SHIP

Vela.

DESTINATION

The Caribbean from St. Lucia to Grenada.

# OF NIGHTS

6.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

Aug 2018, from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 5

HOW MANY SMALL-SHIP CRUISES HAVE YOU BEEN ON?

1.

REVIEW

It has been a many-decades long dream of mine to sail the Caribbean. I never quite got around to it when I was young enough to captain my own sailboat. As we are all aware, such fantasies are rarely matched by the reality of the eventual trip.

So as a 70 year old, reasonably fit traveler, off I went, and I can report that this trip, in all ways, exceeded my long held tropical sail dream.

Some opinions on a few important general items:

—This is not a cruise ship, and will likely not appeal to those who love the big cruise ship experience. The crowds and lines and glitz and glimmer of large ships have never appealed to me, so this was really my cup of tea (or glass of rum).

—This is a sailing vessel. There is considerable rocking and rolling during transit. The weather and seas were fairly tame as open-water sailing goes. Four of the 16 guests  developed mild seasickness early in the voyage. None had to miss any meals or activities. Do bring sea sickness meds that you have tried out before the trip if you think you might be prone, and plan on exercising some caution as you walk about the ship during transit, especially for the first day or two.  The captain always anchors the ship in protected harbors or leeward locations, so most of the time things are pretty calm and stable.

—As an older somewhat overweight guy with 2 knee replacements, I had no difficulties with any of the activities. You do need a degree of flexibility and fitness to navigate the fairly steep stairway down to your cabin, to get on and off the dingy (excellent assistance from the crew with this maneuver), and to enjoy the hikes and snorkeling.

—I loved the activities on this trip, but other reviewers seem to have expected more of a cruise ship experience. Expect time on gorgeous beaches, time swimming and snorkeling in amazingly clear and warm water, lounging on deck, and visiting small towns at your various island anchorages. The only “optional tour” on our passage was an island tour of Bequia, where we rode in the covered back bed of a small truck and visited small local attractions (model ship builder, turtle sanctuary, whaling museum. Our driver and guide was one of the last members of an extant whaling family, and his whaling history talk was fascinating). At $30, this was a great experience and a great value.  The other notable activity was the optional after dinner dingy rides ashore to visit local bars.  These trips were as much about the local culture as about drinking, and quite a rich experience.  Just don’t expect casinos, floor shows, spas, and tour busses.

As others have noted, you will likely become good friends with your fellow passengers, and the crowd that chooses this kind of vacation tends to be a pretty unique and interesting group. That being said, we had a couple of passengers who preferred to spend more alone time, and there was plenty of space and support for that experience also.

Some reviewers have mentioned the small cabins. Having sailed before on a smaller boat, I found my solo cabin to be quite adequate and comfortable. It was actually charming and cozy.  The bathroom with combined sink/toilet/shower was very functional. Pack everything in a soft-sided carry-on and you will be fine.

As others have mentioned, the food is remarkable for such a small ship.  Portion sizes are just right, and you are always offered seconds.  In addition to the three meals, excellent appetizers and rum punch were served every afternoon during “cocktail hour.” The vinophiles on our trip described the house wine as fairly decent, and there were opportunities to buy premium wines along the route of sail. I’m a beer snob, and found the local lager (Piton), stocked on the ship, to be excellent. On one occasion, the crew prepared and delivered an excellent “Cheeseburgers in Paradise” feast to the beach where we were spending the day. When anchored, dinner on deck was a real treat.

One of the keys to this cruise being so outstanding is the crew. We had 16 passengers and 10 crew. Each crew member was always busy tending to their duties, which often centered around the comfort and enjoyment of the passengers. They were personable, fun, yet professional. Our activities director was great, and gave us full briefings of the day’s activities.  She also accompanied us on most of our onshore adventures.

I have never done a mega-cruise, and have only heard of the hassles on embarkation and disembarkation days. Getting on and off Vela was quick, simple, and well organized.

Oh, and did I mention that this truly is a barefoot cruise? Except for the one island tour, I did not wear shoes from the time I boarded Vela until the time I got ready to leave for the airport.

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QuirkyCruise reader review

National Geographic Endeavour II in the Galapagos

REVIEWER

Sapna Rao from Singapore.

CRUISE LINE

Lindblad Expeditions.

SHIP

National Geographic Endeavour II.

DESTINATION

The Galapagos.

# OF NIGHTS

7.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

June 2018, from Ecuador.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 3

-Cabin Rating: 3

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HOW MANY SMALL-SHIP CRUISES HAVE YOU BEEN ON?

1.

REVIEW

I was very impressed overall with the cruise. The staff was very adept at their respective jobs, be it a part of the crew on board, to each of the naturalists that accompanied us on the excursions.

I would recommend the cruise for families as there is something for everybody, particularly if you are a nature lover.

QuirkyCruise Review

 

 

 

🐧 QuirkyCruise.com’s Lindblad Expeditions Review

Based in New York, Lindblad Expeditions has a long legacy dating back to Lars-Eric Lindblad’s pioneering expeditions to Antarctica, Easter Island and the Galapagos beginning in the mid-1960s. In the intervening years, the firm, under the leadership of his son, Sven-Olaf Lindblad, has expanded its fleet and ship charters to basically blanket the world for those in search of an adventure by sea. Destinations are expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica; natural history and wildlife cruises to the Galapagos, Indonesia and Borneo; cultural and historical voyages to the British Isles, Greek Isles and Morocco, revived cruise tours to Ancient Egypt — the list goes on and on. The joint venture with the National Geographic Society established in 2004 expanded Lindblad’s passenger base and drew on the Society’s expertise; especially its photographers who enrich the pages of National Geographic magazine and National Geographic Traveler. As a four-time passenger I have always had the strong sense that the expedition and enrichment staff genuinely want to bring you absolutely the best experience possible. The large number on every voyage makes a huge difference in having them readily at hand when ashore or in Zodiacs and providing a rich variety of expertise. You are also paying big bucks for the best.

In January 2017, Lindblad took delivery of the 96-passenger NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENDEAVOUR II to replace the long-serving N. G. ENDEAVOUR  in the Galapagos. Read more.

 

reader reviews logo hi resContribute to our pool of honest reviews by real passengers. QuirkyCruise wants to hear about your latest small ship cruise for our Reader Reviews, a growing reservoir of opinions by small ship cruise lovers around the world. We don’t edit or sugarcoat, we just present QuirkyCruise reader reviews straight from travelers to you.

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QuirkyCruise reader review

Grand Mariner in New England

REVIEWER

Liz Walker from the USA.

CRUISE LINE

Blount Small Ship Adventures.

SHIP

Grand Mariner.

DESTINATION

New England Island Cruise.

# OF NIGHTS

3.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

July 2018, from Warren, Rhode Island.

OVERALL RATING

2 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 4

-Service/Crew Rating: 3

-Itinerary Rating: 2

HOW MANY SMALL-SHIP CRUISES HAVE YOU BEEN ON?

1.

REVIEW

It’s always amusing to start off a review with saying, well at least the food was good. I wish I could say that our entire experience with Blount New England Island Cruises was as good, but sadly not. The food was good, the bed in our cabin was comfortable and my husband really enjoyed having conversations with the captain. The weather was not in our  favor, so I understand that we couldn’t venture out to the islands. That’s not my issue. My issue was how this change in itinerary was handled by the cruise directors. The main cruise director was leaving and passing the baton onto her replacement. Neither seemed to have much experience or training in customer service. It appeared to us that they could care less about trying to make the experience more pleasant for us passengers who paid good money to be there. Both could benefit from good training in marketing/customer service so that they could better respond to situations such as this. Hey, no one can control the weather, but Blount certainly can have a system in place that includes a plan b, c and even d, when bad weather prohibits the cruise from fulfilling the destinations on the itinerary. We felt abandoned by the cruise directors as if to say, “oh well, you’re stuck here, not our problem”. They provided very little information and communication was poor. Another reason for better training is so that the staff learns skills on how to defuse a situation when passengers become annoyed, which was our experience. It was day 2 and we hadn’t left the dock at Fort Adams in Newport and we couldn’t get to the main part of Newport because the water taxis were not running. Finally, the cruise directors made arrangements for taxis to take us to Newport Vineyards. At least it was something and got us off the ship. Day 3 we had to leave Newport because another Blount cruise was coming in, so we set off to Bristol, RI and remained there for our 3rd and final night. When I tried to have a discussion with the cruise director regarding what their plans were for us, her response was that they had no plans and that she had to “pull teeth” to get Blount to pay for the taxis to the vineyard. This is not the wisest thing to say to a passenger because it left a bad taste in my mouth for not only her, but the company. After more passengers complained, the cruise directors hired a bus to take us to the Providence zoo. When we arrived at the zoo, the cruise director told us that we only had 2 hours because they only rented the bus for a certain amount of time.  again, bad taste in my mouth. I think they got the message that we were displeased because when we returned to the ship, they had a wonderful spread of  HOR’DOURVES (did I mention the food was good?), open bar and entertainment. None of which was offered on the original itinerary, but certainly a welcomed and much appreciated addition, and helped defuse the situation. On our last day, the captain set off for Block Island very early in the morning and we were able to spend 4 hours before having to sail back to Warren, RI. Thankfully Blount provided a free taxi service for us while on Block because of the limited time we had on the island. I have other suggestions for things to do while on the cruise that passengers might find fun and interesting such as a tour of the ship that includes learning about the history of Blount, etc., trivia night for the passengers, karaoke, other group games,  etc., that would be organized by staff. I guess my only other comment regarding Blount Cruises is that these ships seem to be better made for rivers and not the ocean. Less opportunity for high swells on a river.  So the million dollar question, would my husband and I take another cruise with Blount? Although I appreciate the $500.00 credit we received in the mail from Blount, my answer would be, probably not.

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QuirkyCruise reader review

Grand Mariner in Rhode Island

REVIEWER

Lynn Marshall from the USA.

CRUISE LINE

Blount Small Ship Adventures.

SHIP

Grand Mariner.

DESTINATION

Warren, Newport, Block Island and Bristol, Rhode Island.

# OF NIGHTS

3.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

July 2018, from Warren, Rhode Island.

OVERALL RATING

4 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 4

-Cabin Rating: 3

-Service/Crew Rating: 4

-Itinerary Rating: 4

REVIEW

We came with no expectations, so we we weren’t disappointed!  The weather rerouted our ship, but the captain found other ports and kept us safe. An elaborate hor’deurve table and full bar were offered as an APOLOGY!

Delicious food and friendly, helpful crew!

We’d go again!

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QUIRKYCRUISE.COM’S REVIEW OF BLOUNT SMALL SHIP ADVENTURES

Blount Small Ship Adventures (BSSA) was founded in 1966 by Yankee entrepreneur Luther Blount as the American Canadian Line headquartered in Warren, Rhode Island. He is largely responsible for the rebirth of US-flag coastal and inland voyages. His three daughters now run the cruise line and shipyard that builds small cruise vessels and excursion  boats. Since the beginning Blount has operated small American-flagged ships taking less than 100 passengers on an appealing set of creative coastal and inland waters itineraries from New England and its historic islands, via the Hudson River and Erie Canal to the St. Lawrence River and French Canada, through the Great Lakes to Chicago, and south along the East Coast’s Intracoastal Waterway to the Carolinas and Florida. Belize for its islands and barrier reef and Guatemala for its Mayan ruins are a December and January destinations. 9-day Cuba cruises during February to April are ongoing. The crew is all-American, and captains are Blount veterans and know their waters. Cabins are tiny and the social life amongst mostly senior Americans and Canadians is relaxed and upbeat. It’s destination cruising with few of the frills that characterize the mainstream ships. Most passengers like it that way, that is once they get used to the small quarters. 2016 was Blount’s 50th anniversary for operating small-ship cruises. Blount is the only overnight cruise line that can negotiate Erie and Oswego canals, and New York State’s canal system is now a National Historic Landmark. To read more click here.

 

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Angkor Pandaw in Vietnam

REVIEWER

Glenice & Ian Warner from Australia.

CRUISE LINE

Pandaw.

SHIP

Angkor Pandaw.

DESTINATION

Red River, Vietnam.

# OF NIGHTS

10.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

May 2018, from Halong Bay, Vietnam.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 5

REVIEW

We were greeted on board by a fellow passenger with, ’Oh, you’re the virgin Australian Pandaw couple. You’re in for a treat!’  We sniggered at the first part of the introduction, but were very soon to find out that the latter part was absolutely true.

Care of the passengers was paramount on this gorgeous teak and brass ship. It began each day with coffee and tea for the early risers (but I’ll have to take their word for that!) and continued throughout the day with the immaculate care of our cabins, to ‘welcome home’ drinks after each excursion and even, the crooning of local love songs if there was a gap between the end of evening briefings and the start of dinner!  (To the less forgiving amongst us, this was the only time when the quality of service could dip below superb!)

Vietnamese cuisine is delicious at any time but was especially so on our cruise — the quality, the variety, the freshness and the presentation. But, there was plenty of choice, too, for those who preferred more Western-style fare. We never ceased to be amazed at the storm the chefs could whip up on board…and the weather whipped up a few of those too but always at night, so we didn’t miss one excursion and it cleared the air. The weather was unseasonably, ‘hot, damned hot,’ but air-conditioning on board and Dang’s fantastic evening cocktails, dulled the sting of it!

We thoroughly enjoyed the company of the passengers on board (mainly from the UK and Australia with two lovely, younger girls from the US) and interacting with the locals, off board.  This was the jewel in the crown for us. We would never have been able to visit so many, varied villages and iconic sites had we not taken the river cruise — 653 kilometers along nine different rivers! Perhaps it was because these were excursions to places that are off the beaten tourist track, that we were made so welcome by the locals, but I suspect it is also because the Vietnamese are one of the friendliest people on earth!  They often asked us to have a photograph with them.
We visited an amazing variety of villages, specialising in an eclectic range of arts and crafts — from bonsai tree growing to green bean cake making; traditional knife-smithing  to wooden furniture carving;  hand-painted ceramics to conical hat-making and the utterly unique, water puppetry.  We even visited a family whose house has been home to seventeen generations of their clan!  All of this was made all the more enjoyable by the exceptional quality of our guides, Duoc and Vu.  They not only educated us on the history and geography of Vietnam and the areas we visited but entertained us with many an amusing tale of growing-up, Vietnamese.  The three most important things a young man must do are: buy a buffalo; build a house; find a wife and in that order!

The river-cruising itself was both enjoyable and revealing. Passing through the variety of areas from the industrial to the agricultural, you gain a great overview of life and work in Vietnam and its impetus towards a developing country. Then there’s the incredible array of river traffic — from the tiny, indigenous basket boats, propelled by foot, to the myriad sand-movers that chug along just centimeters above the water line — all so ready to share a wave and a huge smile as they go by. Halong Bay is singularly spectacular, but on our cruise, made even more memorable by the visit to a floating house and fish farm, and a sunset swim and cocktails at Three Peach Island. (There seemed to be no end to the talents of our crew. While we swam they set up a barbecue and karaoke and Poly, our most thorough and personable Purser, became the ‘wedding singer’ extraordinaire!)

Our fellow passenger’s initial greeting was right; we were in for a treat. This was the most amazing immersion in Vietnamese history, culture, cuisine and lifestyle. So many of the passengers had completed, not one but four and even more, Pandaw Cruises; this will definitely not be our last!

➢➢For more on this cruise, read QC’s 12 Reasons to Take a Red River Cruise in Vietnam with Pandaw.

 

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Click here to fill out a QuirkyCruise Reader Review FORM.

And here’s an INDEX of ALL our Reader Reviews. Have a look at what fellow travelers have to say and see what floats your boat.

 

 

 

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English Canals (WYVERN SHIPPING)

REVIEWER

Sue Sargeant from England.

CRUISE LINE

Wyvern Shipping.

SHIP

Daisy.

DESTINATION

Stoke Bruerne, England.

# OF NIGHTS

3.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

July 2018, from Linsdale, England.

OVERALL RATING

5 out of 5 stars (5=excellent, 4=very good, 3=good, 2=poor, 1=terrible)

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 5

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 5

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 4 small ship cruises.

REVIEW

This self-drive, self-catered trip took my husband and I along the scenic Grand Union Canal from Linslade to Stoke Bruerne and back again. The shore crew were very knowledgeable and patiently explained the workings of the boat and helped us to practice steering and locks before setting off on our adventure in the spotless and well equipped ‘Daisy.’  There were lots of places to stop along the tow path for walks and pubs. This trip provided the perfect opportunity to step out of everyday life by enjoying the slower pace of canal life and getting closer to nature.  We will definitely be back!

 

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