Vietnam / Cambodia

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#1
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Mekong River Cruise.... which cruise line was preferred... Uniworld, AMA, Viking, or Avalon? I 've done a spreadsheet on their itineraries & they're basically the same, as is price. So how to decide !!
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#2
Florida's Gulf Coast
1,510 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
We booked the AMA because at the time it was the only one going. After we booked, the others announced their itineraries, and I looked into Uniworld because we've taken two trips with them (Danube and China) and really like the company. In the end we decided to stay with AMA because it included the night in Halong Bay, a must for us, and I think it was an add-on on the Uniworld trip. We're using our add-on time to spend more time in Hanoi. At any rate, if you haven't read it, there's an excellent long thread that I think has now fallen to Page 2 discussing that cruise. I don't think the others have started yet, so no returning passengers to report back.
#3
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
When is your river cruise ?
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#4
Western Australia
54 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Hi NordicBreezer,

Pandaw is another, RV Mekong Pandaw. As you mention most or all are about the same itinerary. Pandaw built/own a number of boats but they are on Charter to some of the lines you mentioned. We just completed a down river cruise on the RV Mekong Pandaw in March 2012 and either passed or moored along side a number of the others. It's an excellant cruise which I'm sure you will enjoy which ever line you select. Probably pay to consider the time of the year to cruise as it can be a bit willing if you pick the hot season.

Cheers
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Nautica March 25 2010 Imperial Explorations , Nautica August 29 2010 Black Sea, Nautica Sept 10 2010 Greek Isles, M.S.Amaverde April 12 2011 Budapest to Amsterdam
Radiance of the Seas Oct 31 2011 New Zealand
RV Mekong Pandaw Feb 11 2012 Siem Reap to Saigon
Dawn Princess June 14 2012 Treasures of Asia
Emerald Princess Oct 26 2012 Quebec to Ft. Lauderdale
RV Katha Pandaw March 2013 The Irrawaddy

Nautica May 26 2014 Provence to Venice
River Queen 12 June 2014 Legendary Rhine & Moselle
#5
florida
3,649 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by amyr
We booked the AMA because at the time it was the only one going. After we booked, the others announced their itineraries, and I looked into Uniworld because we've taken two trips with them (Danube and China) and really like the company. In the end we decided to stay with AMA because it included the night in Halong Bay, a must for us, and I think it was an add-on on the Uniworld trip. We're using our add-on time to spend more time in Hanoi. At any rate, if you haven't read it, there's an excellent long thread that I think has now fallen to Page 2 discussing that cruise. I don't think the others have started yet, so no returning passengers to rep



ack.
when I booked Uniworld not availble...like the NEW ship AMAlotus,,,did read the thread referred to here,and lots of good info.
Good you re really checking this one out,can be quite expensive.We re going in Dec.
#6
Ontario, Canada
216 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
I took the Viking Mekong cruise just a month ago and enjoyed it very much. The Viking Tonle, which I travelled on will have a few cruises this summer and fall (wet season) and then will be replaced by the Viking Indochina. They are very similar except that the Indochina has no single cabins, if that is a factor. Uniworld has two ships, the River Saigon and River Orchid. They are virtually identical to the Viking Indochina, as all are on lease from Pandaw which operates its own tours on other similar ships as well. Pandaw tours are between Saigon and Siem Reap only, so one would have to plan an extension to Hanoi separately.

AMA's two ships, the AMAlotus and La Marguerite are larger and more luxurious than the Pandaw ships--the cabins are significantly larger and have balconies. They also carry more passengers, 124 and 92 respectively, as opposed to 60 on the Pandaws.

The itineraries for all three lines are very similar and the Viking and Uniworld are almost identical. Viking and AMA use the same hotels in Hanoi, Siem Reap and Saigon (and very good ones they are) while Uniworld uses different ones, but I'm sure of the same 5-star quality.

The main difference among the itineraries is Halong Bay. With Viking, it is an extension with an overnight stay at the Novotel in Halong Bay (best hotel in town) and a 4 hour cruise. The Uniworld extension features an overnight on one of the luxury junks. AMA includes Halong Bay as part of the tour with an overnight aboard a junk. I had great expectations for Halong Bay, but nice as it was, I found it disappointing--the weather was overcast and misty and the views were not terribly spectacular. It's also a 5 hour bus ride to and from Hanoi.

The main deciding factor may well be availability and price. Certainly if the prices are close I might choose AMA, but the Viking tour was superb and I'm sure the Uniworld one is as well. From what our guides told us, the best time to do this would be late December to early March when the weather is dry and not too hot. By April, temperatures are reaching and exceeding 40C.
#7
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Thanks for input folks.
Supercattonk & Laverendrye.... Do you think the fact that AMA's boats have a large indoor lounge is a bonus for night time get togethers + to avoid any flying bugs . You are outdoors on the Pandaws ( viking + uniworld) . We will be going in March... hope to miss the start of mosquito season. Or is it too hot to be indoors in the evenings? The AMA stateroom balconies have a windowed private nook which should be an privacy advantage . I'm thinking on the Pandaws you have to open your cabin door to all walking by if you want fresh air. Keep the clothes on
Doing my comparisons... the Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon were not mentioned by either AMA or Viking. Did you go there ?
Favoring Uniworld but liking AMA boats. Decisions decisions !!
Also someone suggested go from Hanoi to Saigon so you see the temples at Siem Reap first, otherwise you are tired of looking at temples by the time you see the ones at Siem Reap if you start in Saigon. Any comments.
Did anyone add on Indonesia to their trip? Thinking a couple weeks there would be worth while.
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#8
BC, Canada
39 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
Originally posted by NordicBreezer
Mekong River Cruise.... which cruise line was preferred... Uniworld, AMA, Viking, or Avalon? I 've done a spreadsheet on their itineraries & they're basically the same, as is price. So how to decide !!
I did exactly what you did. I looked at all those river cruise lines for Vietnam/Cambodia but I finally booked a five star land based tour package for both countries...Chinastarholiday.com from Richmond, BC. Have a look at their itinerary and price for comparison.
#9
Ontario, Canada
216 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by NordicBreezer
Thanks for input folks.
Supercattonk & Laverendrye.... Do you think the fact that AMA's boats have a large indoor lounge is a bonus for night time get togethers + to avoid any flying bugs . You are outdoors on the Pandaws ( viking + uniworld) . We will be going in March... hope to miss the start of mosquito season. Or is it too hot to be indoors in the evenings? The AMA stateroom balconies have a windowed private nook which should be an privacy advantage . I'm thinking on the Pandaws you have to open your cabin door to all walking by if you want fresh air. Keep the clothes on
Doing my comparisons... the Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon were not mentioned by either AMA or Viking. Did you go there ?
Favoring Uniworld but liking AMA boats. Decisions decisions !!
Also someone suggested go from Hanoi to Saigon so you see the temples at Siem Reap first, otherwise you are tired of looking at temples by the time you see the ones at Siem Reap if you start in Saigon. Any comments.
Did anyone add on Indonesia to their trip? Thinking a couple weeks there would be worth while.
Re indoor vs outdoor, in March mosquitos were not a problem at all and there were relatively few bugs, so sitting outside was not a problem. The Viking Tonle has an indoor air conditioned lounge but it was used mostly for movies in the evening. All the indoor spaces (ie cabins, dining room, lounge) were air-conditioned.

The Viking tour did not include the Cu Chi tunnels, so that might be a point to prefer another one.

Re the temples at Siem Reap (Angkor)--they are so distinctive and different from anything else on the tour that however many one has seen before them, one will not be tired of temples to see them. It could also be argued that after Angkor, anything else is anti-climatic, but I don't think it matters when you see them. They are magnificent.
#10
Florida's Gulf Coast
1,510 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Originally posted by NordicBreezer
Thanks for input folks.
Supercattonk & Laverendrye....
Doing my comparisons... the Cu Chi tunnels in Saigon were not mentioned by either AMA or Viking. Did you go there ?
Favoring Uniworld but liking AMA boats. Decisions decisions !!
Also someone suggested go from Hanoi to Saigon so you see the temples at Siem Reap first, otherwise you are tired of looking at temples by the time you see the ones at Siem Reap if you start in Saigon. Any comments.
Did anyone add on Indonesia to their trip? Thinking a couple weeks there would be worth while.
We're going in Nov/Dec. The tunnels aren't included in our AMA booking so we're going to book a private tour the morning of our departure from HCMC. Our flight doesn't leave until nearly midnight, so we should have plenty of time Also not included are some of the Vietnam War era sites in Hanoi (Hanoi Hilton, etc.) so we're going to do those privately as well.
#12
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Awesome dialogue Buffcurmudgeon. Thank you.
In reference to agility issues, etc. ... I am scared of heights so did any of your travels require that you use their rope bridges or walk along paths clinging to the side of cliffs, etc.
Thanks
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#13
San Antonio, Texas
86 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
Yes, there were several times we had to walk on narrow planks with only a small rope to grasp along the way. No cliffs, but often over shallow water. The crew and tour guides try to help as much as possible. Also climbing around the Temples in Cambodia can be physically challenging i.e. (big steps, no handrails) No OSHA standards there! I also have problems with heights, but I managed OK.
JJ
#14
florida
3,649 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
to avoid the climbs,etc.if they look taxing.Just pass and meet the group at bottom(I do this often,,sometimes they have quite a group that passes on it).Why injure yourself for a view?
I found a Samantha Brown video,,by googling,on Cambodia and watched to see the details.Like to see the challenges ahead of time and prepare.The bridges sound doable,,since shallow water.
Most of the cruisers seem to be seniors,in good shape sure,but this must happen a LOT IMO.Don t be intimidated into something you don t want to.
#15
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Originally posted by alexandra cruiser
to avoid the climbs,etc.if they look taxing.Just pass and meet the group at bottom(I do this often,,sometimes they have quite a group that passes on it).Why injure yourself for a view?
I found a Samantha Brown video,,by googling,on Cambodia and watched to see the details.Like to see the challenges ahead of time and prepare.The bridges sound doable,,since shallow water.
Most of the cruisers seem to be seniors,in good shape sure,but this must happen a LOT IMO.Don t be intimidated into something you don t want to.
I found Samantha Brown but can't watch videos. Must be blocked for Canadians.
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#16
Chicago
1 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
Hi NordicBreezer-
I absolutely agree with all info that alexandra cruiser and buffcurmudgeon have posted regarding Viking and Pandaw. My mom (who is 81) and I were on the Pandaw RV Tonle this past October and the trip was somewhat hard for her, but if she felt that one of the scheduled trips was too much she stayed on board and it was fine. Some of the Pandaw crew were always with the Viking guides to assist the guests, but you really do need to be in relatively good shape to enjoy this trip. Lots of walking in hot, humid conditions which can be very muddy depending on the time of year. Pandaw employees were very attentive, friendly and always smiling. Captain was Vietnamese but most of the Pandaw crew were from Burma (as they still refer to it!) Viking guides Ut and Tom were also wonderful. If you (or anyone else reading this) are interested in taking a truly upscale boat on this trip, check out the Heritage Line. Website is: Heritage-line.com. Their 2 boats are like floating Peninsula hotels!! The Jayavarman was docked ahead of ours in Phnom Penh and we were able to make a short visit to their boat as our purser was friends with theirs. I think their 2nd boat the Jahan is about to make her maiden voyage or will soon. They too, travel from Saigon to Siem Reap and have add on trips, along with a cruise/bike option, but I do not think they have the scheduled side trips that we had on Viking. Have a great time!!
#17
florida
3,649 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
or AMA website,,they both have videos of AMAlotus cruise,,and Cambodia temples,etc..so you can get an idea.Hope that helps.
Basically,as said above,it can be done even with some limitations.
The hot ,humid weather and walking no problem since we live in FL...haha..but the stair and temple climbs not for us..
In past,we either pass on tour and go on own,or do what we can and let guide know we ll meet group at end(which we always ask about to avoid getting left behind). Sure quite a few passengers in similar shape,we re 69 and 67 and that seems typical age on these cruises so far.
#18
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
A toss up!! I prefer AMAlotus vessel but Uniworld's itinerary . The boat won !!
It doesn't sound like AMA's itinerary is as 'mingle friendly with the natives' as much as Uniworld's does however the other person going with us is my travel agent & she wants to try & get a group organized to go with us. I think that goal will be easier with AMA's vessels vs. pandaw design.
So anyone cruising with AMA please send your tips. And I'll be watching for everyones' tips on Saigon + Hanoi + Siem Rim
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#19
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
How many Tourist Visas are required for this trip ? I'm thinking 2 for Vietnam & one for Cambodia.
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Anticipation:
Avalon Visionary ( Amsterdam to Paris) 10/18
Celebrity Equinox ( S. Carib) 10/17
Sweet Memories:
Avalon Passion (Holland-Belgium) 4/17
AMA lotus (Mekong Delta) 3/14
RCL Allure (W.Carib) 2/13
Oceania Riviera (E.Carib) 2/13

Celebrity Millenium (Alaska) 9/12

Celebrity Eclipse (Baltic) 6/12

Carnival Glory (E.Carib) 2/11

RCL Navigator of the Seas (E.Med) 9/10

Celebrity Infinity (Alaska) 9/07

Celebrity Infinity (Panama) 9/06

Carnival Spirit (Mex. Riviera) 1/05

RCL Vision of the Seas (Alaska)
6/03
Carnival Elation (Mex. Riviera) 3/99<o</o
#20
florida
3,649 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
and one regular visa for Cambodia..check with your government website for Canadian details as may vary for US ones.
When are you going? I m booked on AMAlotus for Dec 24 th cruise.
Do read the thread I posted ,,and the member reviews...some seem very picky and had some complaints,,also check out the LONG thread on AMA vietnam here too.