Menu
Menu
Uniworld Christmas sailings

Black Friday Cruise Savings

By Anne Kalosh.

Hurry! Time is running out for Black Friday cruise sales that follow the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. There are just a few days left to save.

Seabourn Venture

Seabourn’s offer includes select voyages aboard its first purpose-built (and QuirkyCruise-sized) expedition ship, Seabourn Venture. The 264-passenger vessel is planned to debut in December 2021 on a new Norwegian winter program.

Travelers who book by Dec. 1, 2020, can receive $1,000 shipboard credit per suite for ocean-view and veranda suites, $2,000 per-suite credit for penthouse and premium suites, a veranda for ocean-view suite upgrade and a three-category veranda suite upgrade.

Reduced deposits, based on the market, are USD $250, CAD $250, GBP £200, EURO €200 and AUD $350.

Seabourn Cruise Line.

Seabourn Venture cruise deals

Seabourn’s offer applies to select voyages on new expedition ship Seabourn Venture. * Rendering: Seabourn

Riviera River Cruises

Riviera River Cruises’ North American office has deals for its three newest European itineraries on the Seine, Danube and the Dutch waterways and Rhine River. Departures are priced starting at $1,999 per person, double occupancy. Bookings must be made by Dec. 1.

“Amsterdam, Cologne and the Best of Holland & Flanders” and “Vienna, Bohemia & Treasures of the Danube” are priced starting at $1,999 for 2021 departures, while “The Seine, Paris & Normandy” cruise is available for $1,999, $2,499 or $2,999 depending on 2021 departure date.

Riviera River Cruises.

Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways’ offer applies to all 2021 and 2022 European and Southeast Asia river cruises. Bookings by Dec. 4 qualify for a $300 per couple savings on itineraries of eight to 14 days or $600 per couple on itineraries 15 days or longer.

Emerald Waterways.

Emerald Waterways black friday cruise deals

Book by Dec. 4 for Black Friday savings on Emerald Waterways. Here, Emerald Sky in Koblenz. * Photo: Emerald Waterways

Scenic $500 bonus savings

At Emerald sister company Scenic, North Americans booking any 2021 or 2022 European river cruise (except Portugal) by Dec. 6, 2020, will receive an additional $500 per suite/stateroom savings.

The discount may be combined with current offers including free premium economy flights for sailings of 11 or more days and free economy flights on eight- to 10-day itineraries and business class air for only $1,995 per person.

Scenic.

Wind In Sea Cloud’s Sails Come Spring

Sea Cloud Cruises announced March/April sailing dates for Sea Cloud II and Sea Cloud and will soon reveal the new Sea Cloud Spirit’s maiden voyage.

On March 17, Sea Cloud II is to sail from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, on seven-day trips around the Canary Islands. Two weeks later, Sea Cloud is to start Greek Islands voyages.

“Reliability and safety are our top priority,” Sea Cloud Cruises Managing Director Daniel Schäfer said. “On a tall ship, a significant part of the daily life takes place in the fresh air,” he noted. In addition, the cabins and the public areas are ventilated with fresh air from the outside, and occupancy is limited to 64 to 94 travelers.

Sea Cloud II’s weeklong Canary Islands cruise will combine the full-sail experience with exclusive shore excursions. These include new active options such as exploring Lanzarote in environmentally friendly electric vehicles, whale watching off La Gomera and catamaran tours off Fuerteventura.

Sea Cloud Spirit to debut in 2021

The new Sea Cloud Spirit, center, will join the Sea Cloud fleet in 2021. * Rendering: Sea Cloud Cruises

Sea Cloud’s Aegean

Flagship Sea Cloud — turning 90 in 2021 — will resume service April 2 in the Aegean Sea. Round-trips from Piraeus (Athens) include two different routes through the Cyclades.

A flexible cancellation policy will continue to apply to all 2021 bookings. As long as COVID-19 remains an issue, trips can be canceled up to six weeks prior to sailing for a processing fee of $25 per person.

Meanwhile, the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit is nearing completion at Metalships & Docks SAU in Vigo, Spain. This tall ship combines the classic beauty and under-sail experience of the 90-year-old Sea Cloud with modern elements of a five-star cruise ship including a portion of balcony cabins and a spa/wellness center. An elevator will connect the five decks.

Sea Cloud Cruises.

Revamped Pandaw Member’s Club

Pandaw loyalists will be eligible for new tiered benefits as part of the line’s revamped Member’s Club, starting with bookings made in 2021. (Bookings before Jan. 1 will receive benefits according to the existing program.)

Registration for the club is free.

Pandaw River Cruises Restarts

Pandaw has a fleet of 17 colonial-style teakwood riverboats. * Photo: Pandaw

Associate Members

For associate members — those who’ve registered for the club but have yet to sail with Pandaw — benefits include a limited-time (through Dec. 31) $100 deposit offer.

Full Members

Travelers who’ve registered and sailed with Pandaw on one to four cruises are eligible for a limited-time (until Dec. 31, 2020) $100 deposit, exclusive member notifications and advance notice of new dates and sailings. They’ll also receive a gift bag of branded Pandaw items upon embarkation. A “Free Flow Drinks Package” is another perk (not available in India).

They’ll also be invited to new members-only departures and receive a 20 percent cruise discount for select departures, subject to availability.

Legacy Members

Travelers who’ve registered and sailed with Pandaw five or more times get all the perks of full members, plus a wine package (not available in India), a deluxe gift bag, priority for members-only departures and a 20 percent discount on all departures, subject to availability.

Pandaw.

Christmas In July

As COVID cases continue to rise and European borders remain closed, the holiday season will not be the same this year for many. To help spread some joy and positivity, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is giving those grounded at home the chance to have a holiday do-over next summer.

The luxury boutique river line’s “Christmas In July” sailings will be complete with replicated Christmas markets on board so travelers can shop for local products.

Uniworld Christmas markets

With Christmas markets cruises canceled, travelers are getting a summer re-do, courtesy of Uniworld. * Photo: Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

During these seven-night Danube itineraries, passengers can celebrate the belated holidays in style. They’ll be greeted with festive décor aboard their floating boutique hotel and can take part in activities like holiday cocktail mixology classes, gingerbread-house decorating and ornament-making.

Holiday movies will be playing in the on-board cinema, and travelers will have the opportunity to capture a 2021 holiday card photo with Santa in front of the tree. Uniworld’s chefs will even be serving winter holiday treats, while bartenders will put a summer spin on drinks such as frozen hot chocolate and chilled eggnog.

Two “Christmas In July” cruises will sail aboard the Maria Theresa on July 11 and July 18, with destinations including Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg and Passau.

Travelers who book by Jan. 8 will save $500 per person and get additional early booking discounts.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

Uniworld Christmas sailings

Uniworld will deck the halls of its Maria Theresa for Christmas on two July sailings. * Photo: Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Eclipse-Viewing From One-Of-A-Kind Ship

Ponant’s Le Commandant-Charcot is the latest expedition vessel planning to highlight the Dec. 4, 2021 solar eclipse from Antarctica.

This new hybrid-electric ship, powered by liquefied natural gas, is one of a kind. It’s scheduled for delivery in 2021.

Le Commandant-Charcot cruise deals

The hybrid-electric, LNG-powered Le Commandant-Charcot. * Rendering: Ponant

Le Commandant-Charcot’s 15-day solar eclipse expedition embarks Nov. 30 in Ushuaia, Argentina. After crossing the Drake Passage to arrive at the Weddell Sea, on Dec. 4 passengers will step onto the pack ice to witness the moon passing between Earth and the sun. In a region where the sun never quite sets at that time of year, there will be a few minutes of complete darkness.

Under the supervision of naturalist guides and the on-board scientists, travelers will be able to participate in the research and analyses of this astronomical event. They also can help set up a station on an ice floe to take water samples in research to improve the knowledge of the Antarctic region.

Prices for the U.S. market start at $17,790 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip flights between Santiago, Chile, and Ushuaia. A 30 percent Ponant bonus offer is available for bookings made now.

Black Friday Cruise Savings for Ponant

The Dec. 4, 2021 solar eclipse will be visible in Antarctica. * Photo: Ponant

Ponant.

South Pacific And New Zealand Routes For Coral Geographer

Australia’s Coral Expeditions will deploy its new Coral Geographer in New Zealand and the South Pacific in 2021/22, Seatrade Cruise News reports.

The 120-passenger ship, the sister of 2019’s Coral Adventurer, is scheduled to enter service in March 2021.

Coral Geographer’s itineraries include a World War II-themed voyage through the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, a trip along New Zealand’s east coast through the Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland and a cruise to the south coast and Fiordland.

Coral Expeditions.

Coral Geographer black friday cruise deals

The new Coral Geographer will chart New Zealand and the South Pacific in 2021:22. * Rendering: Coral Expeditions

 

Don’t miss great articles, reviews, news & tips about small-ship cruising, SUBSCRIBE to QuirkyCruise.com for updates and special offers!  

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Masks worn by passengers in the Small-Ship Sector

Small-Ship Sector Still Active

By Anne Kalosh.

While most travel remains on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, dynamism in the small-ship sector gives cause for hope.

Just a trickle of ships are operating, many for local markets only, but it’s a growing trickle. New brands have launched. Ship construction continues.

There are setbacks, too. Delays in restarting service, delays in new build deliveries, ship withdrawals.

But overall things seem a tad more encouraging in the “small is beautiful” realm.

Here’s a rundown of some of the latest developments.

New brands

As QuirkyCruise has recently reported, the venerable Swan Hellenic brand is staging a comeback. Two expedition ships are under construction, the first scheduled for late 2021 in Antartica.

And new brand Atlas Ocean Voyages confirmed its first ship, the 196-passenger World Navigator, is on track to debut a year from now, in July 2021. The line just broke out a new website, here @ Atlas Ocean Voyages,  that emphasizes its adventurous profile, with images of diving, hang gliding and biking interlaced with video clips of Antarctic landscapes and Mediterranean seascapes.

Atlas also recently announced it’s bundling airfare into pricing, making for an even more inclusive product that already had components like gratuities, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, Wi-Fi and at least one shore excursion on every itinerary (in Antarctica, all outings are covered).

Atlas Ocean Voyages'The World Navigator

The World Navigator. * Photo: Atlas Ocean Voyages

First U.S.-based river line to resume Europe cruising

While European lines like A-Rosa and CroisiEurope have restarted river sailings — the latter with Botticelli July 13 on the Seine — U.S. operators’ hopes for sending Americans to Europe this year may be fading. Since the United States hasn’t managed to control coronavirus, most European countries are blocking Americans.

But ever-resourceful AmaWaterways found a way to sail, albeit on a very limited basis and with a different business model. One of its vessels, AmaKristina, is operating charter sailings in Germany, carrying local guests.

“Although many countries continue to have travel restrictions in place, we have begun operating a series of sailings for European guests, in collaboration with an established German tour operator, e-hoi. With these sailings, we have been able to put into practice and perfect our enhanced health and safety protocols while demonstrating that travelers can enjoy our unforgettable river cruise vacations with peace of mind,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-founder of AmaWaterways.

The new procedures reflect the recommendations of E.U. Healthy Gateways, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, IG RiverCruise and other bodies.

Pre-boarding health questionnaires are required, and passengers and crew are subject to daily temperature checks. The crew received in-depth updated training. When more Ama vessels are able to operate, each will have a designated public health officer to oversee protocols.

AmaWaterways normally carry up to 150 passengers per vessel, however current regulations limit European river boats to 100 guests.

Crew must wear face coverings at all times, while guests have to do so only while moving around the vessel. With capacity currently capped, this means the main restaurant and The Chef’s Table easily accommodate the distancing now required. New room service options have been added.

Masks worn by passengers in the Small-Ship Sector

Masks are worn by passengers and crew on AmaKristina, which began sailing in Germany. * Photo: AmaWaterways

AmaKatrina lounges have plexiglass to separate seating groups and, for the time being, there are no live singing performances since the virus can be spread by droplets.

Passengers use the personal portable Quietvox systems that Ama has always provided to hear guides’ commentary while distancing during the included small-group shore excursions. Many tours involve hiking and biking.

Yangtze cruises to restart

China’s Ministry of Transport issued guidelines for the resumption of Yangtze River cruises, which will be available to the domestic market.

Initially, itineraries will be limited to between Chongqing and Yichang, Hubei province. Departure and transit ports and destinations will need to be at low risk for COVID-19, crew will be tested before embarking and vessel capacity will be capped at 50 percent.

Two lines, Chongqing-based Century Cruises and Huaxia Goddess Deluxe Cruise, plan to begin sailing in mid-August.

New Viking vessel for the Mekong next year

Rivers giant Viking will introduce Viking Saigon next summer for its “Magnificent Mekong” cruise-tour. Currently under construction, the 80-passenger vessel is scheduled to debut for the Aug. 30 departure.

Small ship Viking Saigon debut

The 80-passenger Viking Saigon is scheduled to debut in August 2021. * Rendering: Viking

The river portion of this cruise-tour sails between Kampong Cham, Cambodia, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

While the interiors of many Mekong vessels are dripping in dark mahogany and other local design elements, Viking Saigon will sport the light and modern Scandinavian look characteristic of Viking’s wider fleet. The triple-deck boat will offer a spa & fitness center, infinity pool and open-air Sky Bar on the top deck.

The 40 outside cabins will have hotel-style beds and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors with a veranda or French balcony. The Explorer Suites are especially roomy with big corner balconies affording sweeping views.

Viking Mekong in the Small-Ship Sector

Imagine gazing at the Mekong from this Explorer Suite balcony on Viking Saigon. * Rendering: Viking

Small-Ship Viking Mekong

Viking Saigon interiors will have Scandinavian design. Here, a veranda cabin. * Rendering: Viking

Viking’s 15-day “Magnificent Mekong” explores the cultural treasures of Vietnam and Cambodia with 16 guided tours. Hotel stays in Hanoi, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City bookend the eight-day cruise.

During the land portion, travelers can shop in Old Hanoi’s markets; explore the Khmer temple complex of Angkor Wat; visit Ta Prohm, where trees sprout from ancient ruins; and see the sights of Phnom Penh by cyclo rickshaw. The cruise affords visits to silk towns, fishing villages, monasteries and floating markets.

Pricing starts at $5,299USD per person, with discounted airfare from $1,199 per person.

For Asia sailings this year, Pandaw River Cruises plans to restart in September, as separately reported here.

Pandaw's small ship Champa Pandaw

The 28-passenger Champa Pandaw. * Photo: Pandaw

Coral Expeditions to restart Great Barrier Reef cruises

Meanwhile, in Australia, domestic line Coral Expeditions plans to begin operating in mid-October with Great Barrier Reef sailings from Cairns.

These seven-night adventures on the yacht-like Coral Discoverer will be open to Australians (and the crew are Australian, too). The vessel will carry just 72 passengers and adhere to the company’s SailSAFE protocols developed in partnership with health emergency specialist Respond Global.

Coral Expeditions Commercial Director Jeff Gillies told Seatrade Cruise News all permissions and protocols are in place to begin these cruises Oct. 14.

Coral Expeditions is in the small-ship sector

Coral Expeditions’ Jeff Gillies said the line has permission to resume sailing from Cairns. * Photo: Coral Expeditions

Windstar delay in French Polynesia

Windstar Cruises had planned to restart service with Wind Spirit in Tahiti on Sept. 10. French Polynesia opened to all travelers on July 15.

But Windstar just pushed its date back to Oct. 5 in order to respect the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order through Sept. 30. The line wasn’t required to do that since the CDC order applies only to sailings to or from the United States.

But a Windstar spokeswoman said the decision was taken voluntarily since most of its customers come from the U.S.

The 148-passenger Wind Spirit will sail seven-day round-trips from Papeete, Tahiti, and a variety of longer cruises that add the Tuamotu Islands.

small-ship sector includes Windstar Tahiti

Travelers will have to wait a little longer to sail Wind Spirit in Tahiti. * Photo: Windstar Cruises

Windstar has developed a “Beyond Ordinary Care” program in partnership with the epidemiology department at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center to address travelers’ health concerns.

Elements include pre-trip health screening, hospital-grade HEPA filters to clean the air (plus the extra step of of UV-C ultraviolet germicidal irradiation), enhanced cleaning, more open-air dining options and reduced capacity in restaurants and on tours.

Janssonius keel-laying ceremony

In expedition new build news, Oceanwide Expeditions celebrated the keel-laying for Janssonius, the sister of 2019’s Hondius. This marked the start of construction at Brodosplit shipyard in Split, Croatia.

small ship Oceanwide Expeditions' Janssonius

The keel is laid for Oceanwide Expeditions’ Janssonius. * Photo: Oceanwide Expeditions

Janssonius is being built to Polar Class 6 standard and has capacity for 170 passengers in 80 cabins and 72 crew. The ship is named after Dutch cartographer Jan Janssonius.

Netherlands-based polar specialist Oceanwide, which markets its cruises internationally, plans to introduce Janssonius in November next year for the 2021/22 Antarctica season. One expedition features a solar eclipse. This Nov. 25-Dec. 14, 2021 trek visits the Falkland Islands and South Georgia as well as the Antarctic peninsula.

Quark’s Ultramarine due in spring 2021

Quark Expeditions‘ first owned new build, Ultramarine, is also under construction at Brodosplit. It had originally been announced for the 2020/21 Antarctica season but instead is going to start sailing in the northern spring 2021 in the Arctic.

The 199-passenger Ultramarine will be managed by V.Ships Leisure, one of the world’s leading ship management companies, with decades of experience.

Quark President Andrew White touted Ultramarine as an “unrivaled base for polar adventure” with its a pair of twin-engine helicopters, 20 quick-launching Zodiacs and a robust portfolio of off-ship adventures such as heli-hiking, heli-skiing, flightseeing, alpine kayaking and an ice sheet experience.

Quark's small ship Ultramarine in Antarctica

Quark Expeditions’ Ultramarine is scheduled to debut in the Arctic in spring 2021. * Rendering: Quark Expeditions

Bye-bye, Bremen. Hello, Seaventure

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has decided not to return its oldest vessel, Bremen, to service this year following the COVID-19 suspension of operations.

The German company said it won’t be able to implement strict social distancing rules and new hygiene measures aboard the 164-passenger ship, which has been in service since 1993. Bremen had been scheduled to leave Hapag-Lloyd in 2021, when new build Hanseatic Spirit arrives.

As announced last year, Bremen was sold to Switzerland’s family-owned river-cruise operator Scylla AG to sail as Seaventure for its new VIVA Cruises brand as Scylla branches into ocean cruising.

The ship will be marketed internationally. Its maiden voyage is planned to embark May 15 in Amsterdam, sailing to Warnemünde, Germany. After that, Seaventure will explore the Baltic Sea, then Iceland and Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland, Iceland and Canada, and South America.

Scylla is now considering taking Bremen early, but nothing has been decided.

Hapag-Lloyd's small ship Bremen

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises decided not to bring Bremen back into service. * Photo: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

quirkycruise bird

 

 

Don’t miss great articles, reviews, news & tips about small-ship cruising, SUBSCRIBE to QuirkyCruise.com for updates and special offers!  

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Pandaw River Cruises Restarts

Pandaw River Cruises Restarts

By Heidi Sarna.

Note: This article was updated Oct 16, 2020, with new 2021 restart dates.

A specialist and pioneer in river cruises in southeast Asia for more than 25 years, Pandaw River Cruises paused its operations when the COVID19 pandemic hit in March, and is now gearing up to restart its wonderfully quirky and charming river cruises in July (2021) in six countries.

Pandaw’s fleet of 17 colonial-style teak riverboats were built in Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos in the spirit of the 19th-century Scottish-crafted paddle steamers that plied Burma’s rivers at the height of the British Empire.

Each boat carries 10 to 60 passengers and has an ultra-shallow draft, two or three decks, and flat tops so they can slip under bridges and easily navigate small rivers, even when water levels are low. Wood-paneled nautical-style cabins are roomy and very comfortable and tasty meals reflect local flavors.

Pandaw River Cruises Restarts

Pandaw has a fleet of 17 colonial-style teakwood riverboats. * Photo: Pandaw

SPECIAL OFFER: QuirkyCruise readers who book any 2021 or 2022 Pandaw river cruise (except India) by Jan 31, 2021, can avail of a FREE free-flow drinks package, for each person in the booking party. It’s a $80 USD value for 7-night cruise and $115 USD value for 10-night cruises. Mention code QCDrinks when booking. The drinks package includes unlimited soft drinks, beers, cocktails & spirits (not wines). More details in video below:

The Pandaw Back Story

The company was founded in 1995 by Scotsman and Burma historian Paul Strachan with the re-building of an original Clyde-built steamer called PANDAW 1947, one of the last boats built for the original Irrawaddy Flotilla Company founded by Scots merchants in 1865.

The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was once the finest river fleet in the world with some 500 vessels that carried passengers and cargo, from bags of rice to blocks of jade, silk, tobacco and whisky, on Burma’s Irrawaddy and other rivers from the 1860s until the Japanese invasion in WWII when the British scuttled virtually the entire fleet to keep it out of enemy hands.

Family-run Pandaw was the first company to offer expeditions on both the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers and continues to stay true to its mission of building smaller ships, even as other companies build bigger ones, to offer river adventures in remote areas, especially in Myanmar and more recently in Laos.

READ more about the line here.

Pandaw River Cruises Restarts in September

Pandaw River Cruises restarts in September. * Photo: Pandaw River Cruises

2021 Start dates for Pandaw River Cruises

Burma/Myanmar River Cruising

Irrawaddy River in Burma — September 25, 2021
* The 7-night Irrawaddy “Mandalay Pagan Packet” starts at $1,885 USD per person

Chindwin River in Burma — September 4, 2021
* The 7-night “Chindwin” expedition starts at $3,307 USD per person

RELATED: An Irrawaddy River Adventure.  by Heidi Sarna

Pandaw Sagaing Myanmar

Beauty in Sagaing, Myanmar. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Vietnam Cruising

Red River & Halong Bay in Vietnam  — July 27, 2021
* The 10-night “Halong Bay & Red River” adventure starts at $3,069 USD per person

Pandaw River Cruises restarts in Halong Bay

Angkor Pandaw in Halong Bay. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Mekong River Cruising

Mekong River in Cambodia & Vietnam — August 7, 2021
* The 7-night “Classic Mekong between Siem Reap & Saigon” starts at $2,596 USD per person

Mekong River in Laos — Oct 15, 2021
* The 10-night “Upper Mekong in Laos” expedition starts at $3,924 USD per person

RELATED: Slowly Down the Mekong.  by Heidi Sarna

RELATED: A Mekong River Cruise in Cambodia & Vietnam.  by Ted Scull

India

Ganges & Brahmaputra Rivers in India — October 2021
* The 7-night “Lower Ganges” cruise starts at $3,069 USD per person
* The 7-night “Brahmaputra” cruise starts at $2,861 USD per person

Pandaw does the Brahmaputra River

Beauty on the Brahmaputra River. * Photo: Venkatesh Kolappa

Flexible Booking Options

For new bookings, Pandaw requires just a $100 deposit to secure a cabin between now and September 1, 2020. On their website, Pandaw says: “This means that you can book now to get a guaranteed cabin but if you change your mind for whatever you can walk away without too much of a hit. If you want to go ahead with the trip then we will ask you to make up the deposit to the usual amount by 1st September 2020 (or balance if due beforehand).”

Further, if you make a booking for next season and then, for whatever reason, want to change the date of travel or the routing, Pandaw will transfer any monies paid as a credit to another date or route within 12 months of that sailing date without penalty, subject to availability of a cabin.

Like other travel companies, Pandaw is continuously monitoring the situation and will decide at least 30 days prior to departure if operation is possible, if borders are open and if it’s safe to travel.

Read more here.

Health & Safety Protocols

To ensure maximum safety for all Pandaw guests and crew, Pandaw has just released an outline of its health and safety measures created by Pandaw senior management and based on the current available guidelines of the WHO as well as on the regulations of the individual countries involved.

General rules for social distancing entail new operational procedures on board to ensure a minimum distance of 2.0 meters(6.5ft) between each person. Passengers are required to wear face masks (covering mouth and nose) in public areas onboard if the required minimum distance is not possible. Further, crew will forego usual welcome rituals such as shaking hands, etc. until further notice.

More details are below; click on image to access full report.

Pandaw health protocols

Pandaw health protocols, CLICK IMAGE

QuirkyCruise Review

 

Don’t miss great articles, reviews, news & tips about small-ship cruising, SUBSCRIBE to QuirkyCruise.com for updates and special offers!  

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Hebridean Princess is on the dream travel list

Places to Travel Next.

By the QuirkyCruise crew.

Many of us miss the ability to travel right now; to plan, book, dream, pine and take a trip with the ease that now seems unimaginable. For those of us who not only traveled for the love of exploring, but because we’re travel writers doing our jobs, it’s been especially trying to adjust to the new normal. We will travel again and are heartened to see travel bubbles emerging. The gradual return to small-ship cruising is on the horizon.

In the meantime, we can plan and dream and noodle on places to travel, and that’s exactly what Ted and I and our quirky contributors are doing.

Here are three places each of us is hankering to go to as soon as the coast is clear.

Ted Scull

I am based in New York City, and my hopes for travel are widely varied as they always have been.

1.  I have contracts, with Cunard, renewed on an annual basis, to serve as a lecturer twice a year aboard a Queen May 2 westbound crossing. Just being at sea for a week is pure joy, and with a purpose. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent April crossing was cancelled as has the next one scheduled for October. Prior to the transatlantics, my wife and I had planned to spend a week to 10 days either in the UK and/or on the Continent. I look forward to resuming these land and sea options in 2021.

Ted's Places to Travel

Ted before the Queen Mary 2 at Southampton.

2.  For a completely different experience, I would love a week aboard a small ship, and I mean a wee one, with from less than three-dozen passengers on down to 12, cruising Scotland’s Western or Northern Isles. It’s been my favorite inter-island cruising region since the 1970s. Happily — and Yikes! — there are so many new choices.

Ted's fave places to travel

St. Kilda, a bird sanctuary beyond the Outer Hebrides. * Photo: Ted Scull

RELATED:  Cruising Western Scotland, an Overview.  by Ted Scull 

3.  My most ambitious travel adventure would be an overland train journey from London to Shanghai, with a half-dozen stopovers such as Moscow and a couple of cities along the Trans-Siberian, thence to Ulan Bator (Mongolia), Beijing and finally Shanghai. I would allow a month, and we definitely want to share the trip with at least two or more people for company and security. Several friends have expressed interest. I made a similar-style adventure in 1976 traveling by train, ferry, smallish liner and bus from London via the Balkans, Turkey, Gulf States across India and finally by Toy Train up the narrow gauge to Darjeeling.

Ted's wish list include a London to Shanghai train journey


The end of the train journey: London St. Pancras to the Bund in Shanghai. * Photo: Ted Scull

QuirkyCruise.com co-founder Ted Scull is happiest near water, over water or better still on a conveyance moving through water. Over many decades, he has spent more than five years of his life on overnight vessels of all types — ocean liners, cruise ships, riverboats, night boats, coastal vessels, expedition ships, sailing ships and even a couple of freighters, while traveling to over 120 countries on seven continents. Read more here.

Heidi Sarna

I’m based in Singapore, so some of my “I-can’t-wait-to-go” places to travel are in the region, as regional travel will likely be more accessible for the near-term, as “travel bubbles” open between neighboring countries.

1.  I’ve been dreaming about doing the Upper Mekong in Laos and also the Chindwin River in northern Myanmar, both with Pandaw, one of my favorite small-ship lines. These itineraries are more off-beat and less traveled than Mekong river cruises in Cambodia/Vietnam as well as Irrawaddy river cruises, both of which I’ve done and loved. Ideally, I’d love to combine a Pandaw sailing with a guided Grasshopper Adventures cycling trip before or after.

A cruise on the Laos Pandaw is on Heidi's travel list

The 20-passenger Laos Pandaw. * Photo: Pandaw

2.  Definitely, a sailing cruise in Indonesia is top of my list, either around the Komodo Islands or further east in the stunning Raja Ampat region — both of these remote areas boast some of the best snorkeling and diving in the entire world, not to mention off-the-charts scenery. I’d love to do these trips with Star Clippers, Seatrek Sailing Adventures or Aqua Expeditions.

Komodo islands is a place to travel soon

Sparring Komodo dragons. * Photo: Aqua Expeditions

3.  I’m really eager to do a Douro River cruise with a few days in Porto before or after. I love wine and loved a short visit to Lisbon a few years ago, so looking forward to spending more time in Portugal soaking it all up.

Douro River Valley is on Heidi's wish list

A river cruise through the breathtaking Douro River Valley. * Photo: Ama Waterways

QuirkyCruise.com co-founder Heidi Sarna has explored 78 countries around the world by boat, road, plane, foot, bicycle and camel. She started her travel writing career covering the big ships for guidebooks and magazines, though over the years she realized it was the small ones that really floated her boat. And so QuirkyCruise.com was born.  Read more here.

Peter Knego

1.  My first hoped for choice would be to sail on one of CMV ASTORIA‘s final cruises from the UK to Norway in the fall. Such a special, historic ship. See more about the Astoria here in Peter’s photo essay in USA TODAY.

The historic Astoria is the place Peter Knego wants to travel

Peter in front of the historic CMV ASTORIA.

2.  Second on my list would be to get on a sailing of the 95-passenger MV SERENISSIMA, a former Norwegian coastal liner operated by Noble Caledonia. A perfect itinerary on her would be a round UK cruise.

The MV SERENISSIMA is one of the places Peter Knego wants to go

The MV SERENISSIMA is a former Norwegian coastal liner operated by Noble Caledonia. * Photo: Noble Caledonia

3.  Finally, I’m long overdue to do a Galapagos cruise, ideally one that would include an extension to Machu Picchu.

Blue-Footed Booby birds in the galapagos

The famed Blue-Footed Booby birds of the Galapagos. * Photo: Quasar Expeditions

Peter Knego is a cruise journalist, as well as a historian and collector of ocean liner fittings and art — see www.midshipcentury.com. He writes for top cruise and travel pubs, including USA Today, Travel Weekly and Ships Monthly, and has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, SeaTrade Insider and others. Follow Peter on instagram @Knego.

John Roberts

1.   I’m hankering for a Morocco and Canary Islands cruise with Star Clippers.

Climbing the masts on a Star Clippers Greek Isles Cruise

Climbing the masts! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

2.  Douro River cruise with Uniworld. I’ve never been on this river and have heard so many great things.

Uniworld Douro river cruise is on John's travel wish list

A suite aboard Uniworld’s Douro River boat, the São Gabriel. * Photo: Uniworld

3.  Belize and Guatemala with UnCruise. It’s a new itinerary with great activities on the water and on land that really appeals to active travelers like me!

Belize is one of the top places John wants to visit

John chilling on one of Belize’s cayes.

John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel. He’s been on more than 60 cruises in destinations all over the world, always keeping an eye out for how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences. Follow John @InTheLoopTravel on Twitter and Instagram.

Anne Kalosh

I’m not thinking about personal or professional travel yet — by ship, plane or even on the local metro. My thoughts are with how the tens of thousands of crew members still stuck on cruise ships due to port closures can get home safely to their families.

Anne Kalosh

This is an urgent focus for the cruise industry, and I hope governments will have a heart and facilitate passage for the seafarers caught up in this crisis.

I’m also keenly interested in how society and the cruise industry will harness their ingenuity and drive to come up with technological advances, operational changes and innovative solutions to overcome this pandemic.

Let’s hope lessons learned will make travel safer and society more humane. Then I’ll begin to dream again about my own trips.

Anne Kalosh has written about cruises for decades and her favorites involve small ships. She writes a cruise column for Afar.com, is the U.S. editor for Seatrade-Cruise.com and Seatrade Cruise Review, and has contributed to a bazillion pubs, including The Miami Herald, Cruise Travel, USA Today and Cruise Week.

Gene Sloan

1.  Moldova. After my wonderful Ukraine visit last year (on a Quirky Cruise! …. read about it here), I am intrigued by that corner of the world. I hear good things about Moldova.

ukraine

Gene’s visit to the Ukraine last year got him thinking about Moldova next.

2.  Liechtenstein. This is purely a country count play. I had a 48-hour dash to Liechtenstein using frequent flier miles on the books for February that I had to cancel when corona-virus blew up. I want to get it back on the schedule. No idea what I will do there. But that’s the point sometimes. Maybe I’ll extend my timeline a few days and make the trip about hiking. I hear they have mountains in Liechtenstein. From where I am, I can get to Zurich nonstop (from Newark) on United and then be in Liechtenstein by train in a couple hours.

Vaduz Castle in Liechtenstein

Vaduz Castle in Liechtenstein. * Photo: Principality of Liechtenstein Tourism Board

3.  The Jersey shore. Hey, no judgment. It’s an hour away, getting warmer by the day, and I can hunker down in a rental house where no one will infect me in between days at the beach.

Cape May is on the travel list

Cape May, on the New Jersey shore. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Gene Sloan has written about travel for nearly three decades, with a longtime focus on cruising. He spent more than 20 years as a travel writer and editor at USA TODAY, where he co-founded the paper’s travel section and later founded and ran its online cruise site. At last count, he’d sailed on nearly 150 ships. Follow Gene on Twitter at CruiseLog & Instagram!

Ben Lyons

1.  Transatlantic crossing on QM2. For the pandemic, I’ve been (fortunately) holed up in Montana the whole time. Montana is beautiful, but it is also landlocked.

I haven’t gone this long without seeing the ocean for probably 25 years.

So when cruising is back, top on my list is a transatlantic crossing on QM2 — a glorious week just staring at nothing but North Atlantic.

2.  Antarctica. Post COVID, I think we’ll see an interest in getting as far away from large cities and back into pristine nature. And when it comes to pristine nature, you can’t do much better  than Antarctica. I’ve been going to the White Continent every year since 2007; for many, the experience of visiting somewhere without cell phones is a  bit of a reset in life, even in normal times. Post COVID, I think it will be even more welcome.

Ben in Antarctica.

Ben in Antarctica.

3.  Hebridean Princess. Footloose walking cruise in Scotland. I believe when it comes to quirky cruises, the smaller the better. Hebridean Princess, a former Scottish island ferry turned luxury cruise ship, is about as small as they come with only 50 passengers.

Small groups are the way forward in a post COVID world.

And so a week spent cruising the Hebrides, while going ashore for long extended hikes across sparsely populated islands, seems a pretty ideal return to cruising trip.

Hebridean Princess is on the dream travel list

The 50-passenger Hebridean Princess is a great way to travel to the remote western isles of Scotland. * Photo: Ben Lyons

Ben Lyons has been obsessed with ships since he was five years old. Since then, he has spent almost every waking moment figuring out how to spend more time at sea, ultimately deciding on careers as a ship’s captain and travel writer. Follow Ben on Twitter @EYOS.

Lynn & Cele Seldon

1.  East Coast with Pearl. We were scheduled to travel up the East Coast from Charleston to Halifax with Pearl Seas in April, prior to the coronavirus crises. Although we have been to the majority of the ports of calls, we were anxious to try Pearl Seas as a line. And sailing along the East Coast is somewhat reminiscent of river cruising, with easy access to exciting cities without the hassles of larger vessels.

And, now, at least for the short term, there is the added appeal of sticking a little closer to home.

Seldon Ink share their top places to travel

Cele & Lynn Seldon of Seldon Ink.

2.  Iceland. We traveled to Iceland several years ago on a land-based trip, spending the majority of our time in Reykjavik and the surrounding area. And we always said we’d go back. However, this time, we’d like to do it by sea and experience a circumnavigation of Iceland to be able to explore all of the small towns and nooks and crannies of the island.

"Adventure Canada" Specials

Iceland. * Photo: Michelle Valberg for Adventure Canada

3.  Patagonia and the Chilean Fjords. What a perfect place to combine a land and sea exploration of the stunning scenery of such a different part of the world. Add on a few days in the wine regions of Chile and Argentina and you’ve got the makings of a bucket list trip for these intrepid adventurers (and wine drinkers!).

Seldon Ink is the travel journalist team of Lynn and Cele Seldon. Lynn brings their travels to life in words and pictures, while Cele, after a corporate marketing career, writes, edits, shoots, and handles marketing and research. In their 25-year career, they have taken 100+ cruises and have written for more than 200 publications, including Cruise Travel, CruiseCritic, and others. Follow them @Seldon Ink on Twitter & Instagram.

Judi Cohen

My first trip when the border opens between Canada and the USA will be to New York to hug my son and his new fiancé. They got engaged on April 19 in Central Park.

1.  Then, I would like to do a small-ship cruise on Pandaw in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

Judi on the Mekong

Judi on the Mekong River with Pandaw.

2.  Another small ship cruise with UnCruise in Panama, Costa Rica or Hawaii would be at the top of my list. I had to cancel a Costa Rica/Panama cruise on UnCruise for March 19, 2020, just as corona-virus was spreading internationally.

Alaska cruise writer Judi Cohen aboard UnCruise's Legacy

Judi Cohen at the bow of the 90-passenger Legacy. * Photo: Lawrence Cohen

3.  I’d also love to do another river cruise with Viking in Europe very soon.

New Viking Einar Impresses

Viking Einar. * Photo: Judi Cohen

Judi Cohen has travelled to more than 80 countries with her family, and as a tour leader. Writing about her off-the-beaten track journeys by train, helicopter, plane and small quirky cruise ships is her passion. Judi is also an inspirational storyteller, social media influencer and speaker. Visit TravelingJudi.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @TravelingJudi.

Robin McKelvie

1.Home. In a slightly bigger sense. We’ve been restricted in Scotland to driving within five miles of our homes. I’m desperate to get out further and from July 15 we can. I’m celebrating by heading out on a cruise with Red Moon so look out for the write-up on QuirkyCruise.com!

Caledonian cruise is one of Robin's places to go

Bagpiper plays a tune for Robin’s cruise on Scotland’s Caledonian Canal.

2.  Slovenia. Meant to be updating my Bradt guide to Slovenia this summer, but that’s not happening. Was looking forward to heading back to a wee gem I consider Europe in miniature. Epic mountains, balmy coast, postcard pretty cities, welcoming people and Michelin just issued their first restaurant stars for Slovenia. Brilliant, world class food and wine.

Ljubljana, Slovenia is on Robin McKelvie list of places to travel

The rooftops of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. * Photo: Robin McKelvie

3.  Canal du Midi. Was booked to cruise along France’s famous waterway with European Waterways in a wash of fine wine, outdoor hot tubs and sheer luxury in May. Desperate to get back after seeing what they could do in Scotland with their Spirit of Scotland — you can read about that superb cruise on QuirkyCruise.com.

Hot tubbing with European Waterways for Robin

Robin loved the European Waterways hot tub on his Scottish cruise and is looking forward to more of the same in France.

Robin McKelvie is a Scottish based travel writer and broadcaster specialising in cruises, especially small ships. A native Scot, he’s the author of National Geographic Scotland and has been published across five continents in magazines and newspapers including CNN Traveller, The Daily Telegraph, Times, The Australian and The Straits Times. On Twitter @robinmckelvie and @scotcruises, Instagram @travelwriterinakilt and @scotcruises.

Elysa Leonard

1.  Bonaire. I have joined the board of directors for a charity called Aquarium Divers for Coral, but had to postpone a trip to the lovely island of Bonaire for a week of diving and learning how to restore coral reefs. I can’t wait to tell that story! Bonaire is definitely one of the places to travel for me.

Scuba Diving in St Lucia

I’ll be back. * Photo: Elysa Leonard

2.  Bermuda. Once my island home, my family and I will be headed there as soon as the coast is clear, to see friends and enjoy every nook and cranny of this amazing tiny country.

Bermuda's Horseshoe Bay is Elysa's next travel place

Horseshoe Bay on Bermuda’s South Shore. * Photo: Bermuda Tourism Authority

3.  A quirky cruise anywhere in the Caribbean where the diving and snorkeling are plentiful, with Island Windjammers or Star Clippers!

Quirky Island Windjammers Theme Cruises

The Vela under full sail. * Photo: Island Windjammers

Elysa Leonard is a scuba diver who sure knows her tropical fish — she can identify more than 100 kinds. Writing about diving and snorkeling while on a small-ship cruise is her new nirvana. When she isn’t underwater, Elysa is CEO of Splash Communications, a global marketing and public relations firm.

Chrissy Colon

1.   My partner Peter and I would love to do a Greek islands cruise on a small ship with outdoor dining, perhaps couples only. Walking the islands and exploring ruins are all safe outdoor activities.

The Greek Isles is on the travel places list

A Greek Isles cruise with Star Clippers. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

2.  We would do another driving tour of English estates, staying at small B&B’s often owned by the family members who inherited these expensive properties. When we’ve done them in the past, we rarely encountered other people, as the tours were often small and some even by appointment only. Audio guides with timed admission would allow for safe distancing between visitors.

3.  Also, we’d plan an overnight driving trip to a stately old private estate in the northeast of the US, with botanical gardens and formal landscapes. We will look for B&B’s that are a stand-alone cottage or secluded motels. We prefer to wait a while before we jump on a plane even after flights are allowed.

Travel places include the estates in Stockbridge MA

A moon gate on the grounds of the Naumkeag estate in Stockbridge MA. * Photo: Peter Barnes

QuirkyCruise Review

 

 

Don’t miss great articles, reviews, news & tips about small-ship cruising, SUBSCRIBE to QuirkyCruise.com for updates and special offers!  

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Pandaw Cruises

QC Articles About Pandaw Cruises

Uniworld Christmas sailings
Black Friday Cruise Savings By Anne Kalosh. Hurry! Time is running out for Black Friday cruise sales that follow the U.S ...
Read More
Masks worn by passengers in the Small-Ship Sector
Small-Ship Sector Still Active By Anne Kalosh. While most travel remains on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, dynamism in the ...
Read More
Pandaw River Cruises Restarts
Pandaw River Cruises Restarts By Heidi Sarna. Note: This article was updated Oct 16, 2020, with new 2021 restart dates ...
Read More
Hebridean Princess is on the dream travel list
Places to Travel Next. By the QuirkyCruise crew. Many of us miss the ability to travel right now; to plan, ...
Read More
Pandaw Cruises
QC Articles About Pandaw Cruises Reader Reviews of Pandaw Cruises Submit Your Own Review Visit Our Reader Review Form QuirkyCruise ...
Read More

 

Reader Reviews of Pandaw Cruises

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 ...
Read More
QuirkyCruise reader review
Angkor Pandaw in Vietnam REVIEWER Glenice & Ian Warner from Australia. CRUISE LINE Pandaw. SHIP Angkor Pandaw. DESTINATION Red River, ...
Read More
QuirkyCruise reader review
REVIEWER Derek Rham from the UK. CRUISE LINE Pandaw. SHIP Angkor Pandaw. DESTINATION Vietnam Red River Delta. # OF NIGHTS ...
Read More
QuirkyCruise reader review
REVIEWER Judi Cohen from Canada. CRUISE LINE Pandaw Expeditions. SHIP Kalaw Pandaw. DESTINATION Irrawaddy River, Myanmar. # OF NIGHTS 7 ...
Read More
QuirkyCruise reader review
REVIEWER Avril Collins from the UK. CRUISE LINE Pandaw. SHIP Angkor Pandaw. DESTINATION Vietnam Red River Cruise. # OF NIGHTS ...
Read More

 

Submit Your Own Review

Visit Our Reader Review Form

 

QuirkyCruise ReviewQuirkyCruise Review of Pandaw River Cruises

Pandaw has been offering high-quality expedition-style river cruises in Asia aboard traditional-style boats for more than 25 years. The growing fleet comprises similar-looking colonial-style teakwood riverboats built in Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos in the spirit of the 19th-century Scottish-crafted paddle steamers that plied Burma’s rivers at the height of the British Empire.

Each boat carries 10 to 60 passengers and has an ultra-shallow draft, two or three decks, and flat tops so they can slip under bridges and easily navigate small rivers, even when water levels are low. Wood-paneled nautical-style cabins are roomy and very comfortable and meals are tasty enough.

In every way, the Pandaw River Cruises experience is solid, authentic and eminently comfortable just like the boats, with the focus on the destination, not fussy décor or cloying service. Step on board and breathe in the refreshing scent of teak wood before wiping your sweaty brow with a chilled face towel handed out by crew at the gangway.

The company was founded in 1995 by Scotsman and Burma historian Paul Strachan with the re-building of an original Clyde-built steamer called PANDAW 1947, one of the last boats built for the original Irrawaddy Flotilla Company founded by Scots merchants in 1865. The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was once the finest river fleet in the world with some 500 vessels that carried passengers and cargo, from bags of rice to blocks of jade, silk, tobacco and whisky, on Burma’s Irrawaddy and other rivers from the 1860s until the Japanese invasion in WWII when the British scuttled virtually the entire fleet to keep it out of enemy hands.

Family-run Pandaw was the first company to offer expeditions on both the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers and continues to stay true to its mission of building smaller ships, even as other companies build bigger ones, to offer river adventures in remote areas, especially in Myanmar and more recently in Laos. In 2015, Strachan published a book called The Pandaw Story about his adventures, Pandaw, and the history and culture of Myanmar. He’s also written guides to Bagan’s art and architecture.

Pandaw River Cruises on the Orient Pandaw

The embarkation adventure is half the fun! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Ship, Year Delivered & Passenger Count

Divided into two classes, the river boats number 16:

The smaller two-deck “K” class river boats — ANGKOR PANDAW (built 2012, 32 passengers), KALAW PANDAW (b. 2014, 36 p), KALAY PANDAW (b. 2013, 10 p), KATHA PANDAW (b. 2011, 28 p), KHA BYOO PANDAW (b. 2014, 20 p), KINDAT PANDAW (b. 2014, 36 p), ZAWGYI (b. 2014, 20 p), LAOS PANDAW (b. 2015, 20 p), CHAMPA PANDAW (b. 2016, 28 p) and SABAIDEE PANDAW (b. 2018, 24 p). On November 7, 2019, the KANEE PANDAW (28 passengers) takes delivery of the latest “K” vessels for Irrawaddy cruises between Prome north of Rangoon and Mandalay and the Great Irrawaddy Delta.

The larger three-deck “P” class river boats — BASSAC PANDAW (b. 2012, 60 p), INDOCHINA PANDAW (b. 2009, 60 p), MEKONG PANDAW (b. 2003 & totally refitted in 2013, 48 p), ORIENT PANDAW (b. 2008, 60 p), PANDAW II (b. 2002, 48 p), and TONLE PANDAW (b. 2002 & totally refitted in 2013, 56 p).

In addition, Pandaw introduced the coastal cruiser ANDAMAN EXPLORER built for the Norwegian coast guard in 1963 and subsequently converted to a luxury yacht before passing to Pandaw. She carries 20 passengers in ten suites, nine of which have double beds and one twins).

Passenger Profile

Mostly couples, with some singles, in their 50s on up from the UK, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe mostly. Not recommended for children under age 12 or for anyone with trouble walking, as getting on and off the ships usually involves walking across narrow gangways and up and down muddy embankments.

Pandaw River Cruises aboard the Orient Pandaw

Watching the world go by from the bow of the Orient Pandaw. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Passenger Decks

2 or 3; no elevators

Price

$$  Expensive

Included Features

All excursions led by a local tour guide who travels with the boat, bottled water and tips, though many passengers do leave something extra in the communal tip box at the end of the cruise.

Reasonably priced drinks package are offer for house wines, free-flow drinks (minus wine), and free-flow drinks including house wines.

Itineraries

The majority of Pandaw’s river expeditions are on three of South-East Asia’s great rivers: the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in Myanmar, and the Mekong River that flows from China through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. From time to time the line experiments with new itineraries, for instance in Borneo, offering Pandaw fans great reasons to keep coming back.

A few itineraries venture into northern Vietnam, to Halong Bay and on the Red River that flows past Hanoi into the Gulf of Tonkin. River itineraries in India now number three with three different riverboats. A brand new 10-night itinerary aboard 20-passenger Andaman Explorer sails from the mainland to India’s Andaman Islands, an archipelago rich in its ethnographic mix, biodiversity and marine life. Fly both ways to/from the Andaman’s for a 7-night cruise. Below is an outline of the additional itineraries offered along the coast and to the islands.

  • A wide variety of 1- to 20-night itineraries along the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers includes the popular week-long Bagan to Mandalay runs nearly year-round, with the highlight being Bagan’s stunning profusion of Buddhist pagodas. Shallow draft riverboats allow navigation to Katha, 1000 miles above Rangoon (Yangon) well above Mandalay and past the third and second defiles. Note: These cruises are subject to sufficient depth of water, and the shallow draft of the riverboats deployed on this route is 32 inches or 80 cm.
  • The most popular of the 3- to 14-night Mekong River cruises are the classic week-long journeys between Siem Reap, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, for visits to both rural villages and cities. Most people spend a few days before or after the cruise ogling the stunning monuments of Angkor Wat near Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to take in Vietnam. Other itineraries traverse the more remote Mekong in China and Laos. The boats here have very shallow drafts and powerful engines 3 times the horsepower of the main fleet to “climb” the Laotian Mekong into China.
  • Every year in mid April, May and June, the fleet is taken out of service for maintenance coinciding with the extreme hot weather and very low water levels.
  • The upper Ganges itinerary operates from Kolkata well inland to Varanasi, the lower Ganges, not as far, to Farakka, and a third on the Brahmaputra.
  • The coastal ship ANDAMAN EXPLORER undertakes 7- to 18-day voyages in the Irrawaddy Delta, the length of Myanmar’s coast, amongst the Mergui Archipelago and to India’s Andaman Islands.
  • Note: For Indochina land travelers, Pandaw now offers short, three-day river cruises between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam and Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, passing through the Mekong River Delta with stops at villages and a bird sanctuary. Includes hotel stays at both ends.
Mekong River Cruising

The gorgeous U Min Thone Se Pagoda outside of Mandalay. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Why Go?

To see remote parts of Asia with expert guides on charming period-vessels.

When to Go?

Pandaw cruises July through early April, with water levels the highest and landscape the lushest between about October and February. Even in dry season (March and April), though, the boats with their shallow drafts can navigate the rivers even when waters levels are getting low.

Cabins

Well laid-out with colonial decor, the wood-paneled cabins are roomy with comfy twin captain’s beds with ample storage beneath. There’s a closet, two bedside tables and a small desk. Large glass doors open onto the side promenade decks. Wood paneled bathrooms have very large showers, and shampoo and soap are provided; a few of the older boats, including ORIENT PANDAW, TONLE PANDAW and MEKONG PANDAW have recently refurbished bathrooms with natural stone-clad showers.

Other extras across the fleet include cotton robes, slippers, personal safe, individually controlled AC, and hair dryer. To avoid engine noise, choose a cabin as far forward as possible. There are no TVs and few PA announcements, assuring a peaceful journey.

These ships are not recommended for passengers using wheelchairs, as there are no elevators, only stairs between decks.

Cabins are wood paneled and very comfortable. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Cabins are wood paneled and very comfortable. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Public Rooms

Each has one restaurant, a combination bar and lounge, and lots of covered outdoor space on the uppermost deck for hanging out and scenery viewing. The open design allows air to flow through the vessels providing not only a welcome breeze, but also a stabilizing affect for the boats.

The larger “P” class boats have a third deck and amenities including a massage room, small boutique and art gallery, and a lecture and meeting room with a large flatscreen TV, projector and sound system to show movies about the region after dinner (like Indochine or The Quiet American). One of them, MEKONG PANDAW, has a small gym with cardio machines and weights.

Dining

On the larger ships the restaurant is inside, and depending on the temperature, with large French doors open to the river or closed with air-conditioning; on the smaller ships, they’re open-air on the covered top deck. Meals are served in one open seating at tables for four, six or eight, though different configurations can be made on request if there is space. Breakfast and lunch are semi-buffet and dinners are served.

Cuisine incorporates fruits and vegetables from the region into dishes such as chicken breast stuffed with tea leaves, roast pumpkin, prawn curry, fried rice, and various delicious Asian soups made to order with the ingredients laid out for diners to pick and choose from.

There are also western staples, from scrambled eggs to salads, fish and chips, and pasta. All meals are prepared onboard and nearly 100% of supplies are sourced from local producers in keeping with Pandaw’s commitment to support the local economies.

Meals incorporate local veggies, yum! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Meals incorporate local veggies, yum! * Photo: Heidi Sarna

Activities & Entertainment

The boats make at least one stop a day, sometimes two or three. When sailing, most people are content to relax on a padded wooden deck chair or chaise lounge to watch the river traffic and scenery float by.

An expert tour guide from the country visited sails along for the duration of the cruise, leads shore excursions and gives talks on board about various aspects of the destination and local culture, such as demonstrations about how to tie a sarong or make the tree-bark thanaka face paint popular in Myanmar. (On weeklong Mekong itineraries through Cambodia and Vietnam, there is a guide from each country for that half of the journey.)

Generally once or twice per cruise a local dance or singing group, or maybe a troupe of puppeteers, are brought on board to entertain guests after dinner. Otherwise, it’s drinks and chatting about the day’s adventures with new friends before heading off to sleep to rest up before another eventful day begins.

Along the Same Lines

In Myanmar, Paukan and Belmond offer the closest equivalent to Pandaw, and on the Mekong River, Heritage Line does.

Contact

Pandaw Cruises, www.pandaw.com; information@pandaw.com.

HMS

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for monthly updates!  

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

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.

Reader Review bird

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

Subscribe to QuirkyCruise HERE to receive a monthly update!

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

QuirkyCruise reader review

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.

 

Quirky Cruise Reader ReviewsContribute 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.

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.

 

 

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com for monthly updates! 

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Vietnam 🇻🇳 Red River Cruise with Pandaw

By Heidi Sarna.

I recently returned from a wonderfully quirky 10-night Vietnam Red River cruise aboard Pandaw Cruises‘ 32-passenger Angkor Pandaw, sailing some 650 kilometers from Halong Bay westerly towards Hanoi and beyond. My bestie Rachael and I sailed along the Red River (or Song Hong) and its various tributaries, including the Black River (Song Da) and the Clear River (Song Lo).

The offbeat adventure was appealing and memorable in so many ways, including these 12 reasons.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Heidi & Rachael’s Vietnam adventure!

1.  Two Days in Halong Bay. The highlight of any visit to northern Vietnam is cruising around Halong Bay’s sea of limestone karsts that pop out of the bay like mushrooms. The ancient forest of crumbling mountain peaks feels otherworldly and prehistoric, especially when you kayak through the grottos and passages. Pandaw knows where to go to avoid the mobs of other tourists that flock to Halong Bay. Sailing there at sunset is especially magical.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Scenic Halong Bay is breathtaking. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

2.  The Local Food. Angkor Pandaw’s Vietnamese chef and his staff prepared delicious fresh meals with lots of local ingredients, from banana leaf, pomelo (like grapefruit), lotus and cashew nuts to glass noodles and heaps of basil, mint and other greens. We were treated to the nation’s famous pho noodle soup and Vietnamese-style spring and summer rolls (there were western options too), and refreshing glasses of local Bia Hanoi and 333 beer whenever the mood struck.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

A delicious bowl of Vietnam’s popular pho noodle soup. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

3.  Glimpse into Village Life. Our 10-night cruise comprised two days moving around Halong Bay and a day in frenetic Hanoi; the rest of the trip focused on visits to villages within walking distance or a short bus ride of where we were docked. These small towns would otherwise be hard to reach or unknown to most visitors. With our guides we walked around neighborhoods specializing in trades still pursued the traditional way, from pottery to carved wooden furniture, noodles, baskets, knives and rice wine. Half the fun was interacting with locals along the way.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Noodles drying in the sun like laundry. * Photo: Rachael Nicoll

4.  Our Vietnamese Guides. Duok, or Duke as he called himself for the benefit of the tourists, and Vu were a pair of 30-something Vietnamese guides with college degrees in tourism. They shared not only their deep knowledge of Vietnam’s history and culture, but also fascinating personal anecdotes that shed light on the country’s customs, from marriage to education and religion.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Douk, one of our two local guides who sailed with us for the week. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

5.  The Vietnamese People. Maybe because tourism still isn’t widespread outside of the major cities, the Vietnamese are warm and friendly to outsiders. In the villages, the locals smiled and waved to our group of 25, making us feel welcome. There was a mutually benign curiosity between us and them, which made it fun to take photos and selfies, with our guides often helping us to ask questions and communicate.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

This sweet old woman charmed us all. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

6.  A Rustic Boat in a Rustic Place. It’s nice to travel to a place in a vessel that looks like it belongs there. The 32-passenger Angkor Pandaw, like the rest of the fleet, is made of teak wood, brass, and steel, and designed to recall an earlier era of Scottish-built steamers for Burma’s Irrawaddy Flotilla Company that in mid-1920s operated upwards of 600 boats. They’re not white or shiny or covered in strings of lights, they’re comfortable, unassuming, utilitarian, atmospheric and solidly made.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Boarding the 32-passenger Angkor Pandaw in Ha Long Bay. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

7.  The Other Passengers. Pandaw attracts an international lot from all over the world, especially the UK, Australia and North America. They’re an adventurous, well-traveled group of free thinkers who seek out the off-beat. Many Pandaw passengers could afford a more luxurious and mainstream experience, but they choose Pandaw’s quirky river cruises precisely because they are not predictable or cookie-cutter. Many return to Pandaw again and again.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Passengers on a walk through the rice fields of Cat Ba island in Ha Long Bay. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

8.  The Slow Pace of River Travel. Seeing the landscape gradually unfold from the decks of a river boat, especially at sunrise and sunset, is a special way to travel. The true nature of a country reveals itself in the life along the riverbanks. In northern Vietnam, it’s largely a story of agriculture and industry — green fields of rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava and corn, are dotted with red brick kilns with tall chimneys. Ship builders along the river banks are ubiquitous and so are their rusty red cargo barges that motor up and down the rivers carrying sand, stones, coal and fuel, often passing within a few feet of the Angkor Pandaw.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

A typical barge on the Red River system being steered with the captain’s feet. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

9.  The Convenience. The appeal of cruises big and small is the inherent convenience of unpacking once while you travel to many different places. On small ships like Pandaw, the ease is multiplied. You’ll appreciate never having to queue for anything. Getting on and off the boat takes just a few moments and the vessels are able to tie up to a tree or anchor just about anywhere. Further, just about everything is included in the fares — the cozy cabin, excursions, spirits, beer and transfers.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

The standard Pandaw cabin, a cozy wood paneled abode with lots of storage and a big bathroom. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

10.  The Calm & Quiet. By design, there is no loud music, no TVs in the cabins, and few announcements. Each day takes on a relaxing rhythm, punctuated by causal open-seating mealtime, one or two half-day excursions, and time for lounging on a deck chair chatting with new friends or soaking up the scenery and taking photos. Movies with a connection to the itinerary are frequently shown after dinner, but otherwise it’s a night cap or two before heading off to sleep.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Photo taking as the main past time on a cruise like this. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

11.  Not Commercial. It was so nice that this trip was not about shopping and buying stuff, whether on board or in the stops. There were a few places to browse and buy (Hanoi and the pottery village), but otherwise, the off-beat places we visited don’t see many tourists and so souvenir shops and touts are pretty non-existent.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

We visited quiet villages and rarely encountered other tourists. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

12.  The Quirkiness. Pandaw is different — the look of the boats, the historical backstory, the itineraries and the travelers it attracts. This is a line that marches to the beat of its own drummer, and I love their tune.

Vietnam Red River Cruise

Rachael is jumping for joy on a ferry that transported us to shore. * Photo: Heidi Sarna

THE CAVEATS:  The Heat: Cruising in late April or May in northern Vietnam means it will be very hot in the afternoons — I’m talking up to 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius). The Barges & Factories: Vietnam is a country bustling and brimming with industry and it’s obvious with the many barges motoring up and down the rivers, and the factories and shipyards that line the riverbanks in some areas.

QuirkyCruise Review

 

 

Don’t miss a post, subscribe to QuirkyCruise.com HERE for twice-monthly updates!

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

QuirkyCruise reader review
REVIEWER

Derek Rham from the UK.

CRUISE LINE

Pandaw.

SHIP

Angkor Pandaw.

DESTINATION

Vietnam Red River Delta.

# 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: 4

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 3

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 3 small ship cruises.

REVIEW

This was our 3rd Pandaw expedition and other than the revised low water itinerary, didn’t disappoint. The ship, crew and food were all excellent, there were a few minor early irritations with the cabin that were sorted by the efficient purser. The low water revision to the itinerary meant that some of the locations weren’t what we were expecting but the two on-board guides did a great job with what they were left with.

The highlight was the 3 days meandering around Ha Long bay with the opportunity to cycle, swim and kayak amongst the stunning scenery.

 

 

🐧 QuirkyCruise.com’s Pandaw Review

Pandaw has been offering high-quality expedition-style river cruises in Asia aboard traditional-style boats for more than 20 years. The growing fleet comprises 16 nearly identical-looking teakwood riverboats built in Myanmar and Vietnam in the spirit of the 19th-century Scottish-crafted paddle steamers that plied Burma’s rivers at the height of the British Empire. Each boat carries 10 to 60 passengers and has an ultra-shallow draft, two or three decks, and flat tops so they can slip under bridges and easily navigate small rivers, even when water levels are low. Wood-paneled nautical-style cabins are roomy and very comfortable and meals are tasty enough. In every way, the Pandaw experience is solid, authentic and eminently comfortable just like the boats, with the focus on the destination, not fussy décor or cloying service. Step on board and breathe in the refreshing scent of teak wood before wiping your sweaty brow with a chilled face towel handed out by crew at the gangway. Read more. 

 

Subscribe to QuirkyCruise HERE to receive monthly updates!

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

quirky-cruise-pandaw-family-cruise-deals-in-asia-family-sitting-on-boat

By Ted Scull.

If you have one or two kids who you feel are ready for an eye-opening cruise travel experience but are hesitant because of the high cost of four fares, have a gander at this deal.

Pandaw, the pioneer in Asian river travel, is offering two-for-one-cabin deals on select 2018 and 2019 one-week adventures along the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam, the Irrawaddy and Chindwin in Myanmar (Burma), and India’s Ganges River.

Parents pay full fare for their cabin, and one or two children between the ages of 5 and 18 travel in a second cabin for free. If you do not have two children within the age parameters, maybe your daughter or son has a friend to bring along.

Fares include daily excursions; onboard guide; local beer, spirits and soft drinks; cultural performances; and bikes to explore the countryside, nearby temples and villages.

Family cruising is a great way to introduce children to Asia. * Photo: Pandaw

Asian travel brings to life the importance of understanding what makes very different cultures tick, with some people struggling to make a better life and others already there. You as parents will be able to determine if this type of exposure is something you think your offspring, with a positive and understanding outlook, could handle and benefit from.

They may see children their age being highly creative with a musical instrument or in dance, or when you visit a village, seeing kids their age living in a house much smaller than their home or laboring at tasks that adults normally perform where you come from.

To prepare children for an Asia cruise, you might look for some videos online that would expose your kids to what they are apt to see and experience in Asia. Encourage them to understand that people can seem both different and the same, throughout the world.

Fares include daily excursions; onboard guide; local beer, spirits and soft drinks; cultural performances; and bikes to explore the countryside, nearby temples and villages.

Western and local Asian choices at meal time. * Photo: Pandaw Cruises

While the cruises will offer western as well as local foods, it’s a great opportunity to expose children to the ingredients and flavors of Asia.

In port, excursions involve rides in small skiffs, walks through villages and cities, bicycling in some ports, and maybe a pick-up game of soccer or volleyball in some ports.

Fares include daily excursions; onboard guide; local beer, spirits and soft drinks; cultural performances; and bikes to explore the countryside, nearby temples and villages.

Getting to and from shore is part of the adventure. * Photo: Pandaw Cruises

Most of the free-second-cabin offers conveniently take place during the summer holidays in July and August.

Per person minimum fares for the grownups start at from $1,611 USD to $1,840 USD for the Myanmar* and Cambodia/Vietnam cruises. Fares include daily excursions; onboard guide; local beer, spirits and soft drinks; cultural performances; and bikes to explore the countryside, nearby temples and villages.

*Note that Myanmar’s Chindwin river cruise begins much higher at $3,307 USD.

 

The Classic Mekong River Between Cambodia & Vietnam

 

Pandaw Family Cruise Deals in Asia

 

 

The Mandalay Pagan Packet on the Irrawaddy River

 

Pandaw Family Cruise Deals in Asia

 

 

The Chindwin River in Burma

Pandaw Family Cruise Deals in Asia

 

The Lower Ganges in India

 

Pandaw Family Cruise Deals in Asia

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

QuirkyCruise reader review
REVIEWER

Judi Cohen from Canada.

CRUISE LINE

Pandaw Expeditions.

SHIP

Kalaw Pandaw.

DESTINATION

Irrawaddy River, Myanmar.

# OF NIGHTS

7.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

December 2017, from Mandalay, Myanmar.

OVERALL RATING

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

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 4

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 5

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 7 small ship cruises.

REVIEW

This was my third Pandaw Expeditions cruise and I am planning another to India later this year! Needless to say, I am a fan of the authentic, unassuming experience aboard their ships. The food is largely local (aka very fresh and tasty), the menus are varied and provided an excellent sampling of Burmese cooking, and the staff and service could not have been better or more accommodating.

I loved this ship and itinerary so much that I did the same Irrawaddy cruise twice in three years! Having all of the excursions included with knowledgeable guides allowed me to relax fully and not think about any logistics or bookings. Each stop provided a unique exposure to Burmese life. Being taken to schools, clinics, orphanages and other local institutions provided an opportunity to see how Pandaw “gives back” within the local villages.

While it typically does not rain in Burma in December, we had a few days of rain, but that did not interfere with our daily activities. Every day was an amazing and memorable adventure!

Being on the Kalaw over New Years Eve was a definite highlight. The crew, staff and all of the guests (18 guests total) ate, drank, sang, danced and partied together till the wee hours of the morning. It was magical!

Our group of six made wonderful memories aboard Pandaw, and we are looking forward to sailing over Christmas/New Years again along the lower Ganges River in India

 

Subscribe to QuirkyCruise HERE to receive monthly updates!

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.

QuirkyCruise reader review
REVIEWER

Avril Collins from the UK.

CRUISE LINE

Pandaw.

SHIP

Angkor Pandaw.

DESTINATION

Vietnam Red River Cruise.

# OF NIGHTS

10.

DEPARTURE DATE & PORTS

May 2018, from Halong Bay, Vietnam.

OVERALL RATING

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

-Food Rating: 5

-Cabin Rating: 4

-Service/Crew Rating: 5

-Itinerary Rating: 4

HAVE YOU BEEN ON A SMALL SHIP CRUISE BEFORE?

I’ve been on 2 small ship cruises.

REVIEW

The ship was great — very comfortable and a fantastic crew who were attentive, professional and friendly.  The scenery was more industrial than I had expected, apart from Ha Long Bay which is mind-blowingly beautiful!  I might have chosen to travel a bit earlier as I found the heat (between 32-39 Celsius with serious humidity) a bit too much.

 

🐧 QuirkyCruise.com’s Pandaw Review

Pandaw has been offering high-quality expedition-style river cruises in Asia aboard traditional-style boats for more than 20 years. The growing fleet comprises 16 nearly identical-looking teakwood riverboats built in Myanmar and Vietnam in the spirit of the 19th-century Scottish-crafted paddle steamers that plied Burma’s rivers at the height of the British Empire. Each boat carries 10 to 60 passengers and has an ultra-shallow draft, two or three decks, and flat tops so they can slip under bridges and easily navigate small rivers, even when water levels are low. Wood-paneled nautical-style cabins are roomy and very comfortable and meals are tasty enough. In every way, the Pandaw experience is solid, authentic and eminently comfortable just like the boats, with the focus on the destination, not fussy décor or cloying service. Step on board and breathe in the refreshing scent of teak wood before wiping your sweaty brow with a chilled face towel handed out by crew at the gangway. Read more. 

 

Subscribe to QuirkyCruise HERE to receive monthly updates!

 

© This article is protected by copyright, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the author. All Rights Reserved. QuirkyCruise.com.