Pandaw breaks new ground

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Pandaw’s shallow-draught ship was the first industry cruise vessel to reach the Red and Da rivers in Vietnam.

The ship was carrying passengers from Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as guests from American and Britain.

It is the first line to explore such uncharted territory – remote villages, exotic animals and adventure activities are all part of Pandaw’s drawcard for Asian cruisers.

The cruise line is famous for its boutique boats that are specifically designed with a shallow draught to navigate in waters where no other ships can go.

“We build our own ships in Yangon and Saigon. They are replicas of colonial steamers used by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Those ships were built with shallow draughts to navigate on the difficult Irrawaddy. That’s what we copied,” said a Pandaw spokesperson.

“We are always searching for new destinations. Planning takes about one year.”

Pandaw’s most recent triumph was a 10-night cruise that departed from Hanoi in Vietnam. Guests saw UNESCO World Heritage sites and visited villages and limestone caves in the bay.

The cruise aboard the 32-passenger Pandaw Angkor also visited other famous sites like the Hanoi Hilton, which was a prison during the Vietnam War.

Pandaw River Expeditions founder Paul Strachan told ASEAN Cruise News of his plan to put a vessel on the Mekong and head to China.

When the new RV Laos Pandaw sets sail on her inaugural trip in early 2016, Mr Strachan said he expects many of its passengers to be from the ASEAN region.

“I would say that Pandaw Expeditions does have many clients from ASEAN countries, primarily from the English-speaking community and expats. The best markets for outbound bookings on Pandaw vessels are Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

“Our cruises appeal to everyone with a sense of adventure and interest in exploring the great rivers of Myanmar, the Mekong, the Red River and India’s Brahmaputra River. The common language onboard is English, but we do have clients of all nationalities and are keen to encourage outbound agents and operators in ASEAN countries to book with us.

“We will increase bookings by creating greater awareness of our unique product and providing support for those agents interesting in selling us.”

The line is also planning itineraries on the Ganges in India in 2016-17.

Pandaw has 14 ships and travels to a range of destinations in Asia and South America.