Irrawaddy River Cruise Myanmar

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#1
Australia
178 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
We just arrived back in Melbourne last Friday after the most luxurious 14night river cruise embarking the RV Samatha at Yangon and cruising up the Irrawaddy river all the way to Mandalay.
We have had very warm weather around 38 deg everyday but this did not stop us at all. We joined in all the daily activities. Our embarkation went smoothly and after a light lunch and getting settled into our amazing cabin 206 we were put into two groups to go and explore Yangon then on to the 99 metre high Shwedagon Pagoda. First time to remove our shoes and socks (the first of many times) we all got a bit of a laugh about it really. You must wear shoes that are easy to take off and put back on easily as most times there is not somewhere to sit. We returned to the ship and at 6.00pm every night we had cocktail hour and port talk for the following day given by our cruise director Thomas. Lots of laughs and fun every evening in the lounge before dinner was served in the dining room at 7.00pm.now what could I say about the menu each evening. The food on board was absolutely awesome. Desserts were amazing. We have been on a few river cruises but I would have to say the crew on board Rv Samatha know how to please everyone's taste. I would like to give them 10/10.
Waiting staff were always pleasant and helpful. Thet Tet, & Lynn, waited on our table each day and we got to know them very well. They looked after us in every way. It was a joy to be in the dining room for breakfast lunch and dinner. Drinks are all part of the package deal so great wines were served every night or you could order what ever you desired. We were also privileged to be able to dine in the private dining room and indulge in some of Luke Nguyen authentic Burmese favourites joined by eight other guests all served and looked after by a very talented waiter Lynn. Service was amazing.
It was most enjoyable on this cruise as we cruised during the day which meant we saw a lot of the passing scenery and getting lots of wonderful photos. Some days it was a late afternoon walking tour to a market or another day it was exploring a small village by trishaw.
On day five we cruise slowly pass the Akauk Mountains which has Buddha images carved in the stone. I took some great pics. In the afternoon another pagoda. Again we just stopped by the rivers edge overnight. Beautiful sunsets every night and in the morning the sunrises were magic. Next day a ride in a horse drawn cart to the post office then we went to the oldest golf course in Burma. Lots of laughs as we all tried to get a hole in one. On our return to the boat we ready ourselves for another cocktail in the lounge a port talk dinner then our hotel manager Darren presented a quiz evening.
We went to a Buddhist nunnery and Mya Tha Lun Pagoda. Approaching Bagan there are pagodas everywhere you look just amazing and we get taken up to a viewing tower 13 stories high to see the sunset over Bagan. What a wonderful experience along with a couple of drinks and canapés. Next day a visit to a lacquer ware workshop also a temple and another market. Quite a full day. Some of our passengers did take the opportunity to go up in hot air balloons to see the sunrise over Bagan.
Yandabo was a little village which we went for a walk through to see how finely crafted terracotta pots are made by hand. As there had been no rain everything was very dusty so shoes were always quite dirty when we got back on board, so the crew not only helped everyone down the steep banks of the river but when we got back on board they took our shoes and cleaned them for the next excursion. I felt a little bit like a princess sometimes as they cared for us so well.
Another interesting day was another horse drawn cart ride to the Bagaya Monastery then a ferry ride over the river and a coach ride to the world famous U Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world. We were taken out in sampans to view the sunset. quite romantic with a glass of champagne to celebrate the occasion. ( we did have a few mosquitoes this evening) make sure you take some spray. Next day was a visit to an orphanage which we all enjoyed
so much then a silversmith workshop.also a walking tour to visit the unfinished temple and the largest ringing bell in the world along with Mya Theindan Pagoda. What a full on day but oh we just enjoyed every minute of it.
Our last day in Mandalay sightseeing we visited the Great Mahamuni Buddha then along to Kuthodaw Pagoda where the worlds biggest books are and also the Golden Palace Monastery.
We enjoyed one evening where everyone dressed up in longyis. What a ball we had. Everyone joined in and had lots of fun the crew also had an evening where they all sang and then they got us all up for dancing. Wonderful memories which I don't think I will ever forget. There was another very special evening which was so magical but I won't spoil the surprise for anyone else who may be wishing to go on this amazing cruise and adventure. (Just remember wishes) my eyes still tear up when I remember this wonderful night.
All I can say is if you have been considering this river cruise go for it and I really recommend APT we could not fault anything
We had a few older people on board. They managed quite well with the crew helping them up the river banks but I think if it had been wet at all it may have been a little bit of a struggle. I feel you really need to be quite active and nimble to be able to cope with some of the steps and steep river banks you encounter on the way.
I would like to say thankyou to all the crew of RV Samatha we have had the best time and hope to do more in the future.




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Rhapsody of the Seas October 2010
Radiance of the Seas November 2011
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#2
Jekyll Island, Georgia
93 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Nice review, thank you. We are booked with Vantage for Jan 2018 to cruise on the Irrawaddy. Did you find any souvenirs that you just had to have during your trip? How was the weather?
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2018 - Vantage Irrawaddy River Cruise
2017 - VRC Douro River Cruise
2016 - Grand Circle Small Ship Dalmatian Coast Cruise
2013 - VRC Magnificent Mekong Cruise/Tour
2007 - VRC China Yangtzee River Cruise/Tour
2005 - Holland America Alaska Cruise/Tour
1998 - Nile River Cruise/Tour
#3
Australia
178 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Plenty to buy at local markets etc. but we didn't buy a great deal. You really don't need much cash as everything is so cheap. Weather while we were there was amazing. Even had blue skies a lot of the days. Good for photos. About 38 deg most days but after all our daily tours right back to Rv Samatha for another shower. You will love it I am sure.


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Rhapsody of the Seas October 2010
Radiance of the Seas November 2011
Avalon Panorama Budapest to Amsterdam April 2012
Voyager of the Seas November 2013
Avalon Angkor Mekong River Cruise June 2014
APT Amacello/Amadagio Amsterdam to Aarles Nov 2014
Celebrity Solstice Feb/March 2015
Voyager of the Seas Nov 2015 B/back
Voyager of the Seas December 2015
Voyager of the Seas April 2016
#4
Toronto, Canada
605 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
I'm looking forward to my trip in November 2018. (Vietnam and Cambodia this year).
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Nomi


Aegean Odyssey, Istanbul to Venice, 2015
Bike and Barge Holland, Bruges to Amsterdam, 2014
Uniworld, Vienna to Basel, 2011
Uniworld, Tulips and Windmills, Antwerp to Amsterdam, 2010
#5
Australia
178 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Yes we did Cambodia to Vietnam with Avalon in 2014. That was a fab trip also. 14 nights but only 7 nights cruising. Love River cruising luxury plus.


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Rhapsody of the Seas October 2010
Radiance of the Seas November 2011
Avalon Panorama Budapest to Amsterdam April 2012
Voyager of the Seas November 2013
Avalon Angkor Mekong River Cruise June 2014
APT Amacello/Amadagio Amsterdam to Aarles Nov 2014
Celebrity Solstice Feb/March 2015
Voyager of the Seas Nov 2015 B/back
Voyager of the Seas December 2015
Voyager of the Seas April 2016
#6
Wirral, England
1,565 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Thank you very much for this review keenmolly.

We are thinking about doing this cruise in winter 2018/19, or one on APT's other ship, Princess Panhwar, which does a premium cruise, which is a bit cheaper but only alcoholic drinks at dinner which is fine for us. Still includes soft drinks at other times. We would be looking at spending another few days in a hotel in both Yangon and Mandalay, then flying on to a couple of places in Thailand.

May I please ask a few questions:-

I have heard there can be quite a bit of pollution, mainly regards burning in Myanmar in March/April and it has been quite bad this year. Did you find that was a problem and was the air very dry? I am asthmatic and have a lot of trouble with dry eyes, so particulates in the air make it difficult for me to keep my eyes open.

It sounds like a fairly relaxed cruise with shortish times off the ship - am I right?

Did you just go up the viewing tower to see the pagodas in Bagan or did you get chance to walk around them.?

Did you fly straight in and out again, just for the cruise or did you stay at any hotels?

I have read a review on the review section of this site when the ship could not get up to Mandalay, so passengers had to be bussed to places for the last three days of the cruise. Did this happen on your cruise?
#7
Australia
178 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Hi tring we did not find the smoke a problem on our particular cruise. It made for lovely red sunsets and sunrises. There was only one night where we actually had to close our verandah door because of a slight smell of smoke. Every night we left our doors open for fresh air so as not to have air conditioner going all the time, there was a good screen on the door.
It was a relaxed time on the ship but on returning from some of our excursions many of the older passengers were quite tired as it can be strenuous climbing up and down riverbanks along with walking tours lasting a couple of hours (some people are not used to walking so much)
We flew in the day before and stayed at Sule Shangri la Yangon for one night. A very good hotel which I would recommend. Our package with APT came with free flights.
I feel APT Samatha is a class above Princess Panhwar which in my opinion (what it is worth) makes it worth while spending that little bit extra. You only do a fabulous trip like this once. Hope this helps you with your decision.


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Rhapsody of the Seas October 2010
Radiance of the Seas November 2011
Avalon Panorama Budapest to Amsterdam April 2012
Voyager of the Seas November 2013
Avalon Angkor Mekong River Cruise June 2014
APT Amacello/Amadagio Amsterdam to Aarles Nov 2014
Celebrity Solstice Feb/March 2015
Voyager of the Seas Nov 2015 B/back
Voyager of the Seas December 2015
Voyager of the Seas April 2016
#8
Wirral, England
1,565 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Thanks, useful info.

Did you have to be bussed at the end of the cruise because of low water levels and, if so, how long was the road journey to and from the ship?