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Charms of the Mekong - Amadara

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    Charms of the Mekong - Amadara

    I cannot fault the organisational skills of Ama Waterways. Being someone who is extremely organised myself, I could not believe how every minute detail was carefully planned and thought about, as good as, if not better than I could have done myself. (And believe you me I am very meticulous)!

    The pre cruise info was second to none. You knew this was something special when the pre cruise documents came in an expensive looking zipper wallet, with a very informative booklet. Even down to maps of the airports and photographs of the meeting places! And really really nice luggage tags.

    From the very moment we arrived at the Airport, we were greeted by the Ama Waterway staff, whisked off to the hotel in a luxury vehicle. No need to queue at check in desk, the Cruise Director greeted us, staff brought us refreshments, we were handed our room keys, the luggage was sent up to our room. We literally did not have to think or do anything. Our guide even handed out exchange rate cards he had made for us. Information was waiting in our room, when to meet, where, etc.

    They planned everything so we had enough time to relax before we had to think about tours. Each tour was tailored to perfection. The longer tours had ‘options’ if you didn’t want to do the full day, they arranged transport, be it a taxi or tuk tuk to take you back to the ship or an alternative such as local market.
    Where there were two tours a day these were timed so you had plenty of time to freshen up once back on board, take lunch have an hour or two to chill before the next tour. These were sensible timings of anything ranging from one and half hours, two or three hours, but packing so much variety into each one.

    It wasn’t just buildings, monuments and temples, we did everything from take trishaws, tuktuks, oxcart rides, taxis, coaches, walking, to seeing rattan weaving, silk weaving, candy making, whisky making, rice paper making, villages, peoples homes, markets, daily village life and so much more.

    They provided sunshades/umbrellas and rain macs. Water was provided in the cabin and again as you left the boat, they also carried water on the coaches. They made sure there were decent toilet facilities at every stop, occasionally the guides even had toilet roll to hand out at some of the more public toilets and always had hand sanitiser to pass around. They had literally thought of everything.
    If we arrived back a little later than planned from a tour, they would give you time to freshen up by moving the dining time back half an hour. It was so impressive.

    We were split into four ‘families’. Each family had a colour and each family was kept in the small groups of 25-30 people so you never felt like you were shepherded around, it was more like a small private tour. Every day they would change the order of who went off the boat first, but everything was expedited so quickly that you never felt like you were waiting.
    We all had audio devices in our cabin that we put on charge overnight. Each family had a ‘channel’ to tune into your guide, the range was good so if you wanted to wander off a bit you could still hear what they were saying. Each family had a local guide – a local Vietnamese Guide in Vietnam and a local Cambodian Guide for Cambodia. We were lucky to have two really great guys for our Green family who were extremely knowledgeable.

    The cabin (we had the lowest grade) was very spacious. It didn’t differ in size to the majority of the others, only difference we were on the lower deck at the very aft section. There was a little noise from the engine and I think maybe from the generator or it might have been the laundry machines, which did not bother me in the slightest. My OH on the other hand can literally hear a pin drop and he did struggle to get a decent nights sleep, but I am sure it would not be a problem for the majority of people.

    The cabin had a French balcony and a standard balcony which we did sit out on a few times but the weather was very humid and it kept the heat somewhat but it was great to be able to see all the daily life along the Mekong. It had dark wooden furniture, panelling and shiney wooden floors. Really comfortable mattress and crisp white bedlinen. We had an old fashioned style telephone so could phone reception or other cabin mates. A proper dressing table with make up drawers and a good mirror.

    A lovely large bathroom with a very decent size shower and a proper glass door. We didn’t want for nothing throughout the whole trip; Water was replenished daily and there was a lovely selection of toiletries in the cabin and the hotels, along with slippers and bathrobes. If I had to mark the cabin down on anything, the hand towels were just not big enough to wrap up wet hair when you got out of the shower.

    The pool area was a lovely tranquil place. The pool for a river boat , I thought was a good size and the water always pleasantly warm, with plenty of fresh large pool towels on hand. Although there did not look like enough seating / loungers for everyone, I am sure if the whole of the boat was up on deck everyone would have found a seat of one kind or another. As it happened there was only ever a small handful of people up on the sun deck and in or around the pool and bar area. Perhaps they were all having their SCANS……. as we found out from our jovial guide Senior Citizens Afternoon Nap! The loungers had plush deep mattresses and to the side were lovely sheltered sofas. In the middle nice relaxing chairs and tables to sit and have a drink and a chat.

    Breakfast was buffet style, with an excellent selection of hot and cold foods. There was also an ‘Asian’ station alongside the egg station. Eggs cooked to order and an Asian style soup/noodles should you wish.
    Plenty of cold meats, cheese to die for, smoked salmon and capers, salad, usual hot selections, Danish pastries breads and jams. You could really want for nothing. Including sparkling wine or Mimosas.
    Lunch was semi buffet / Semi order from menu. Basically help yourself to starters and a couple of hot dishes, Order from a choice of two further hot dishes off menu and help yourself to the wonderfully petite desserts, ice cream, exotic fruit selection and Cheese and Biscuits. And of course the ‘Asian Station’ was open for cook in front of you noodles and soups.

    The Evening Menu was all served by waiter service from your choice off the menu. As with lunch, as you enter the dining room, there was a plated up display of the menu choices so you could see what you were ordering. Wine was freely poured throughout lunch and dinner.

    The drinks were ‘all inclusive’ throughout the cruise. However, as wine was difficult to source in that part of the world, wine was only available during lunch and dinner. Otherwise it was local spirits, beer and soft drinks. This had me and Mrs W inventing our own cocktails with a mixture of the local Gin, Sprite and OJ or Vodka, Mango Juice and a splash of rum. Or just sticking to basic G&T or Rum and Coke. Regular spirits were available to purchase at a cost. The local Cambodian Beer was good to cool down with on a hot day.

    The entertainment was low key and if you want to stay up partying all night then this is not for you. The entertainment consisted of local dance troupes or enactments, karaoke night, a crew talent show and the rest the resident DJ/pianist playing background music. By 10.30pm most nights the majority were safely tucked up in bed ready for the next day.

    In some ways I actually liked the fact that unlike on big ocean cruises where there is so much on offer you seem to want to be in three places all at once and cant keep up with everything, that you didn’t feel rushed or compelled to do anything ‘incase you missed out’ so although there was a lot packed into the cruise and the tours, I still came away feeling very chilled and relaxed.

    At the end of the cruise, our cases were taken from us outside the cabin and the next time we saw them was in our post cruise hotel room. They even gave us packed lunch boxes for the journey to the hotel in Siem Reap. More or less the same procedure at this end, cold towels and refreshing drink on arrival, room keys handed out, cases taken directly to room.

    I cannot fault them in anyway and believe me when I say that coming from me is a first as I can pick fault with literally anything!

    If you want to read my blog on the whole river cruise, then links are here:
    Link to Day 1 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ver-with-wilba
    Link to Day 2 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day2
    Link to Day 3 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day3
    Link to Day 4 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day4
    Link to Day 5 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day5
    Link to Day 6 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...th-wilba-day-6
    Link to Day 7 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day7
    Link to Day 8 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day8
    Link to Day 9 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...ith-wilba-day9
    Link to Day 10 https://www.cruise.co.uk/forum/forum...th-wilba-day10

    I enjoyed your blog when you wrote it Bradbury and your summary of Amawaterways is excellent. One day we may do a river cruise and I will keep your review in mind. Thanks for sharing.

    Take care, Helen


      They do seem to have thought of everything and to me it is the little details that make the difference. Have you done other river cruises and if so how did they compare?..Carol


        Originally posted by Guy, Ormskirk View Post
        They do seem to have thought of everything and to me it is the little details that make the difference. Have you done other river cruises and if so how did they compare?..Carol
        First one ever. The price has always put me off, but to be honest when you weigh up whats included if you can pick up one at the right price they are well worth the money and now I've had a taste would like to do more maybe Budapest Nuremberg etc


          Thanks for sharing, now to try and find a deal...


            Just in case anyone wanted to do this V& C trip, I spotted quite a reasonable lower price on the cruise only element of this for August this year, I think if you wanted to replicate mine and Wilbas trip you may be able to do it for around £2500 pp. I can pm info if anyone interested.


              We did the Mekong with APT as part of a SE Asia trip, they gave us excellent prices on flights and we're happy to change arrival and departure dates to suit us, excellent organisation and we would happily travel with them again.



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