Asia is the new hot destination for river cruises. ASEAN Cruise News finds the newest ships that have just launched or will be launching over the next year.
Scenic Spirit / Launching January 2016
This 34-cabin Spirit will be the most luxurious vessel sailing on the Mekong with the largest suites on the river (all with balconies) and a staff to guest ratio of almost one to one. Onboard facilities include four dining venues, a swimming pool, full spa with sauna and steam room, and an outdoor cinema, and guests can expect luxe extras like butler service and complimentary beverages throughout the cruise.
Scenic Aura / Scenic / Launching September 2016
The 22-suite, 44-passenger Scenic Aura will sail on the Irrawaddy in Myanmar. The spacious suites range from 24 square metres up to the 70 square metre Royal Panorama Suite, the largest on the river. Aura will cruise between Mandalay and Pyay, including an overnight stop to visit the famed temples of Bagan. The program includes Scenic Enrich extras, like a private visit to a monastery or a horse-drawn cart tour of an ancient capital.
AmaDara / AmaWaterways / Launched August 2015
Joining sister ship AmaLotus on the Mekong, AmaDara sails between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh as part of a longer land and cruise journey through Vietnam and Cambodia. Carrying 124 passengers, all suites and staterooms have twin balconies (one French and one open-air), and onboard facilities include a swimming pool, small spa and two restaurants.
Mekong Princess / Haimark / Launching late 2015
The first ‘spa concept’ ship on the Mekong will carry just 24 passengers in 12 ultra luxe suites. The spacious, French colonial-style suites all have a private balcony and come with butler service. There will be a one to one ratio of staff to guests and regional menus created by Haimark’s culinary director and Slow Food advocate Jorg Penneke. The ship will sail an eight-day journey between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, operating in both directions.
Avalon Siem Reap / Avalon Waterways / Launching October 2015
This uniquely designed ship will be the only one able to sail the full route between Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap, eliminating seven hours of coach travel usually required to reach the river. There are just 36 passengers onboard, but the ship has similar dimensions to others on the river – meaning more space per passenger. All suites have huge floor toe ceiling windows that slide open to turn the entire cabin into an open-air balcony.
Avalon Myanmar / Avalon Waterways / Launching October 2015
This is the only ship able to sail the less trafficked Upper Irrawaddy year round, cruising between Bhamo and Bagan. The 18 staterooms all have Avalon’s signature floor to ceiling window that transforms into an open-air balcony, and are styled with contemporary Asian flair. Onboard facilities include an open-air observation lounge, small spa and fitness room.
Kha Byoo Pandaw / Pandaw / Launched January 2015
Sailing the most northerly navigable point of the Irawaddy between Bhamo and Mandalay, Kha Byoo will have 10 cabins across two decks. The ship is in a similar style to the rest of the Pandaw fleet, with teak lined walls, promenade decks and
Kaladan Pandaw / Pandaw / Launched October 2015
Getting away from the popular Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers, this ship will sail on the Kaladan River in the Arakan region on the west coast of Myanmar bordering India. The two-deck ship has just 10 teak-lined cabins onboard with panoramic French windows and brass finishings. A local master chef and culinary team will create personalised menus for passengers.
Laos Pandaw / Pandaw / Launching November 2015
The Laos Pandaw will be the first ship in Pandaw’s fleet to sail the Upper Mekong, through Laos and the Golden Triangle, on the border with Myanmar and Thailand. The ship has a very shallow draft and extra powerful engines to navigate this portion of the river. There are 10 staterooms onboard, each measuring 17 square metres and with French windows over the shared promenade.
Ganges Voyager / Haimark Travel / Launched January 2015
Departing from Kolkata, the Ganges Voyager sails an eight-day loop around the lower part of the sacred Ganges River, calling at Bandel, Kalna, Matiari, Mayapor and Chandelnagor. The 28 suites and public areas are decorated in grand British colonial style with wooden floors, moulded walls and inlaid ceilings. Guests can relax in the clubby Governor’s Lounge or on the day beds on the Sun Deck.
Ganges Voyager II / Uniworld / Launching 2016
Haimark is building a second Ganges ship to be operated by Uniworld. It will be the same size and specifications as the original.
RV Samatha / APT / Launching early 2016
This 30-suite ship will cruise between Mandalay and Yangon over 14 days. Most suites have balconies and there is a small swimming pool on the sun deck. Celebrity chef and APT ambassador Luke Nguyen will be involved in creating the onboard menus and there will also be an eight-seat chef’s table dining room featuring a degustation menu from Luke.
Princess Pahnwar / TravelMarvel / Launching January 2016
TravelMarvel’s custom built ship offers great value for money on the Irrawaddy River. Princess Pahnwar will cruise 14-night itineraries between the Myanmar capital of Yangon and Mandalay, including an overnight stop in Bagan. The 36 suites all have French or open-air balconies, and onboard facilities include an air-conditioned lounge, sun deck, fitness centre and spa.
Strand Cruise / Launching January 2016
Legendary historic hotel The Strand is launching its own luxury river ship that will emulate the style and quality of the property on board. The ship will have 27 cabins, all with Juliette balconies Wi-Fi and butler service, and sail short three- to four-night itineraries between Bagan and Mandalay. There’s a large sun deck and swimming pool on the upper level as well as a climate controlled wine cellar for tastings.
Anawrahta / Jahan Cruises / Launched March 2015
The first modern paddlewheel vessel on the Irrawaddy, the luxurious Anawrahta is built to resemble the British colonial ships that used to ply these waters. It is decorated with white rails, polished lacquer, intricately carved woodwork, inlaid ceilings and brass fittings. The low draft of the vessel, made possible by the paddlewheel, enables it to sail the river year round. The ship has the largest cabins and public spaces on the river as well as the highest passenger to crew ratio.