The Mekong is a river like no other. The might river stretches from the Tibetan Plateau and running though parts of China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. An average of 110 cubic miles of water is discharged annually from the Mekong, which has continued to shape civilization and trade in the region since the first settlements formed around 2100 B.C.
Long-time operator Pandaw Cruises has gained legions of followers with its tranquil voyages down this legendary river. Operating a fleet of ten beautifully designed ships, all of which feature luxurious touches and amenities, Pandaw has been continually fine-tuning a product that is as diverse as the regions in which it sails.
The Pandaw Difference
The first thing you’re likely to notice when you step aboard a Pandaw ship is the gorgeous colonial atmosphere. From the ship’s comfortable 168-square-foot staterooms to the outdoor promenade and observation decks to the convivial saloon and bar, all the elegance of a time gone by comes rushing back in an instant.
Staterooms have gorgeous accents, such as raised nautical-style beds, accent lighting, and beautiful wood panelling. Staterooms are accessible from the outside, rather than via an inside corridor. Comfortable loungers have been placed outside for casual scenic viewing or convivial conversation with your neighbors.
Besides the stunning interiors of it vessels, Pandaw is noteworthy — even special — for what it lacks.
Onboard a Pandaw ship, you won’t find incessant announcements over the public address. You also won’t be bothered by guests in the stateroom next to you who have their television volume cranked up — staterooms have no televisions. With so much going on outside, chances are you will only return to your room to change or rest anyway.
By having every stateroom open up onto an expansive promenade deck, a Pandaw cruise is a wonderfully social experience. Passenger interaction is encouraged at every turn, and the line takes great strides toward fostering a warm, welcoming atmosphere onboard.
To start, there is one crewmember to every two gusts aboard Pandaw ships. In doing so, the line has ensured the service onboard is luxurious and efficient, but personable at the same time.
Dinners are intimate and open, and the dining room is open-air whenever possible. Meals are sourced from local providers and often feature local ingredients.
This is the cruise for those who relish having the chance to meet new people and go off in a group, or for those who prefer to do their own thing. You’re never forced to participate in daily briefings or cultural events and activities held on board, though many guests do.
One of the biggest misconceptions about river cruising is that guests worry they will feel claustrophobic on a small vessel. This isn’t the case; aboard Pandaw vessels, guests experience a higher passenger-to-space ratio than that typically found on large oceangoing cruise ships.
The relaxed nature onboard also extends to the line’s pricing structure: There are no extra charges for shore excursions or coffee, tea or mineral water. Gratuities are also included in the cruise fares.
Finally, chances are good that you’ve heard about the Mekong’s legendary navigational issues. Pandaw manages to circumvent issues such as water levels thanks to the shallowest drafts on the river, allowing the line to operate in all seasons and all areas.
When it comes to the Mekong, Pandaw Cruises is front-and-center, with a diverse fleet and wide-ranging itineraries that are sure to suit every taste and budget.