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  #1  
Old October 31st, 2010, 02:42 PM
travrealtor travrealtor is offline
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Default AMA Vietnam

Anyone recently back from the Vietnam river cruise? How was it?
Thanks!!!!
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  #2  
Old October 31st, 2010, 07:07 PM
dd@sea dd@sea is offline
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Just returned last Thursday night and it is a wonderful trip. Are you taking the land/cruise part or only the cruise? Will be happy to answer any questions you have prior to leaving. We did extend at the beginning and at the end by two days more in Hanoi and three days more in Saigon. If you have the time, I would definitely consider.

The ship is very nice, clean, . Storage is great (refrain from taking too many clothes as we had ours washed along the way. The weather is hot and hot but returning to the hotel and/or ship at lunch time in the heat of the day is a nice cooling break. Be sure to take a hat and closed toe sneakers for the excursions as you tromp through mud, and uneven footage.

As I said, ask any questions as I hope I can help.
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  #3  
Old October 31st, 2010, 07:47 PM
jean6060 jean6060 is offline
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We are also seriously thinking of this same cruise...did you also do the land portion too? Or did you just add on the extra days yourself? We are thinking of January 2012..we want to do it when the weather would be the least hot.

Many thanks!
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  #4  
Old October 31st, 2010, 09:53 PM
dd@sea dd@sea is offline
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We did their land portion but extended at both ends. In Hanoi we were in the Sofitel Metrepole which was wonderful. A good location too to walk to the old quarter. We went two days early for two reasons - one to recuperate from the long flight before the actual tour started and two; we had been to Hanoi before on a cruise and wanted to return to spend more time. We arrived on the 1000 year celebration of Hanoi city -had another name 1000 years ago. The crowds were enormous but also the celebrations interesting. Certainly excitement in the air.

Weather will always be warm. Instead you should consider their dry and wet season. Each season has its advantage and disadvantage. Wet season - it rains almost daily and the Mekong is easily navigable. In our case it rained in the afternoon for a few days but the excursions were doable. We probably had only five days of rain but as I said it did not interfere. Wet season ends in October. Dry season may mean the upper part of the Delta may not be as accessible. Bussing may occur at some times but then again they will get you to where you should go.

We extended in Saigon because again we had been there on a cruise and definitely needed more time. AMA used the Sofitel Plaza which was good. If we had not extended we literally would have one rushed time. When you disembark there is an 1 1/2 hour drive into Saigon and you are immediately taken on a city tour and out to lunch before checking into the hotel at 3:00. The group started their flights the next morning there for not getting to do much in the city or perhaps have other excursions. It is my understanding that for 2011 AMA has extended Saigon to two nights in their land cruise package. It was somewhat overwhelming to spend 7 wonderful, peaceful, interesting and informative days on the Mekong and then to be thrust into traffic, noise etc of Saigon. It does take a day to re-adapt.

Do consider this trip it was wonderful. Also in 2012 AMA will have their new ship, the Lotus meaning their will two AMA ships on the Mekong. The one used for ours as I said was very nice and I wouldn't hesitate on going on it again. However, it is not owned by AMA but leased at this time from the Vietnamese. I don't know what the Lotus will be; AMA owned or leased - but that is really not a matter of concern.
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  #5  
Old November 1st, 2010, 08:26 AM
EJRIVER EJRIVER is offline
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Looking forward to cruise/land tour in Vietnam and Cambodia with the Viking Cruiselines in September 2011. At the end of 15 days we are extending 3 days in Ha Long Bay.
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  #6  
Old November 1st, 2010, 03:17 PM
travrealtor travrealtor is offline
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We are also extending one day at each end...Is the ship really really nice...or just clean and spacious? Are their tours top notch? Did you have a suite or a stateroom? What was the age group range onboard? Thanks in advance for the info...Bonnie
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  #7  
Old November 1st, 2010, 06:14 PM
dd@sea dd@sea is offline
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We had a regular stateroom on the Tonele deck. I think it was 207. As to saying if it was really really nice, I thought it was in comparison to other river trip boats we have been on.
The bathroom is big enough and modern with tile and a vessel sink and strong water pressure in shower. AMA provides 4 water bottles a day and will refresh as needed in the room's refrigerator. You can not use the tap water for drinking or brushing teeth. Also when you go on an excursion they give out a bottle of water in in black shoulder bag (to be returned at end of excursion). I would suggest taking an extra bottle of water as I often went through two for each excursion time. There is a french balcony - only for standing and gazing, a great window seat for lounging, reading and looking out, very comfortable beds. I don't know if we would do a suite or not as there are usually two excursions a day. The ship is immaculate. There are no elevators so the exercise of climbing is good.

The age group really varied from mid forties on up to the early 80's. Mixture was good too. Many from Canada, Australia, U.S. Britain and other countries.

When you begin your excursions you are assigned to a bus color group and that is your group you will be with. A great way to meet others. In a way I felt for those that only did the cruise and not the land part. They only got to 'bond' as a bus group for 7 days where as land/cruise group (two busses) got to know eachother for the 15 days.

Food was good but don't let that be a central focus of the ship. AMA uses only bottled water on their ships (huge bottles as we saw them loaded) so do not worry about the washing of the vegetables, ice cubes etc. As to food, I loved the salads at lunch - crunchy and filled with vegetables I have no idea what they were. My husband loved the cream soups and I liked the Action Station at lunch - always some delicious Asian based item I would try. Be sure too to have the Pha - a traditional soup with chicken, beef or shrimp. The fish was good at dinner time. Beef only so so. The only thing that is difficult for me is having a set time for all the meals. I like an open time but then again it was no big deal. Too many other positive things happening.

Don't overpack either. We had laundry done in Siem Riep at the Le Meredian for about $30 for 10 items. So worth it and beautifully done. Also had laundry done on the ship and it was o.k. Be sure to plan a massage too, if you like massages.

Bonnie, I am glad you are extending at the beginning and at the end. It is well worth it.

Let me know if you have any other questions. I am leaving next week for another trip so ask before I leave. You will so enjoy this trip and AMA too. We have never traveled with them before and they surely are on our list for the future.
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  #8  
Old November 2nd, 2010, 04:40 PM
travrealtor travrealtor is offline
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Very helpful...Thank you
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  #9  
Old November 3rd, 2010, 11:19 AM
shoshona2 shoshona2 is offline
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Smile AMA Vietnam River Cruise

Hi travrealtor,

If you go to www.rivercruiseadvisor.com, Ralph Grizzle has photos, videos and a review of his Vietnam river cruise on the AMA LaMarguerite last July.

Sheila
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  #10  
Old November 29th, 2010, 10:42 PM
J_M_F J_M_F is online now
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We just returned from this cruise November 9. As DD@Sea said, the accomendations both on the ship and land were great. The staff was friendly and helpful and the excursions fantastic. We did the pre-cruise land tour in Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Siem Reap. Ha Long Bay is beautiful. The only problem with Siem Reap was we only had two days to see the ruins in and around the Angkor complex - I could easily spend a week or two there. We were at the tail end of the wet season, so the lake and rivers were still high, but we had little rain. I think the high water made the trip more interesting and the lack of rain made it more comfortable. The shore excursions gave us a chance to see what life in the reagon is really like and went to areas were not many tourists go. We saw little begging and the people were very friendly. This is a trip I would highly recommend to anyone!!!
Jeff
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  #11  
Old November 30th, 2010, 02:24 AM
doreen22 doreen22 is offline
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Hi Jeff, Thanks for the review, good to hear you also would recommend this trip. Did you fly Korean Air out of Seattle or ?

We are going next Nov 15th and live in Vancouver, B.C.
Wish we could go sooner as this itinerary is definitely getting more popular, and I would sure like to go before the tourists start outnumbering the locals.

Susan
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  #12  
Old November 30th, 2010, 01:36 PM
J_M_F J_M_F is online now
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Yes, we flew Korean Airlines out of Seattle with a short layover in Seoul and then to Hanoi. On the way back we flew from Siagon (even the locals don't call it Ho Chi Min City) to Seoul and then to Seattle. The layover in Seoul on the way back was 12 hours, and Korean Air provided us a free tour of the city. It was quite a change going from 90 degrees, 90% humidity to 39 degrees, clear and windy.
Jeff
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  #13  
Old December 27th, 2010, 09:34 PM
Trvlingal Trvlingal is offline
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Default Going mid Feb

Any other tidbits of info you can give us for this trip on AMA Waterways Mekong? Did women wear capris at night to dinner on the ship? Were any inoculations required? Did you get your Cambodia visa upon arrival in Cambodia as AMA recommended? We are doing the 14 day cruise tour and also doing a week tour of Vietnam pre-cruise.
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  #14  
Old December 28th, 2010, 05:45 PM
freddie freddie is offline
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Jeff & dd - I posted some of these questions on another thread and then recognized that this general thread concerning AMA Vietnam is probably a better place to pose questions. We are boarding La Marguerite in Siem Reap on Nov. 28 of next year. Here are several questions that I haven't seen answered yet on these message boards:

1. Thanks for the useful info on the smart casual evening dress code. You posted, dd, that the laundry on the boat was "OK". Was it sufficiently "OK" that we can use it a lot and not appear to be total ragamuffins? We plan to pack lightly if we can depend upon the boat's laundry service.

2. The AMA website is somewhat confusing regarding included beverages, noting in one section that wine is provided at dinner, but stating in another section that, "Throughout your cruise, enjoy free local beer, soft drinks, house brand spirits, local bottled water and filtered coffee and tea with meals." Please give us your experience regarding beverages.

3. Is the crew primarily Vietnamese or Cambodian? It would be good to learn a few words of each language in order to at least be able to say, "Please", "Thank You", etc.

Thanks for any info you can provide. I'm sure that we'll have loads more questions as we prepare for this excellent adventure. We (along with two other couples) are going to spend 5 nights in Siem Reap before the river cruise in order to have more time amongst the Ankhorian temples. We'll be spending a couple of days in Hanoi, a couple on Halong Bay, several at the end of the cruise in Saigon, and several days in Hue/Danang either before or after the cruise. The timing of the various Vietnam stops will depend upon the schedule we can get for using FF miles to and from Vietnam. We may end up using Asiana for part of the routing. Has anyone had experience with Asiana?

Cheers, Fred
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  #15  
Old December 30th, 2010, 03:15 PM
EKML EKML is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doreen22 View Post
Hi Jeff, Thanks for the review, good to hear you also would recommend this trip. Did you fly Korean Air out of Seattle or ?

We are going next Nov 15th and live in Vancouver, B.C.
Wish we could go sooner as this itinerary is definitely getting more popular, and I would sure like to go before the tourists start outnumbering the locals.

Susan
We will also be on the 11/15 land/cruise. Anybody else? Maybe we could do a meet and greet?

Notice you're doing your own air-did you make any transfer arrangements? The cab fares are supposed to be very reasonable, but AMA is charging $45. There are also some shuttle buses that are very cheap, but I'm a little hesitant about those. I'm going to try to check w/the hotel and see what they charge, or does anyone know?

How are you doing your visa? There is a visa on arrival procedure that you can use, that costs less then getting the visa beforehand, but it does mean more time on arrival to get the visa stamped. But I prefer that then having to mail in my passport and worry about losing it. There is some info about this on tripadvisor. Anybody have any problems with this?

Ed
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  #16  
Old December 30th, 2010, 07:48 PM
sdianem sdianem is offline
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Default We're on the Dec 20th 2011 trip

Am most interested in recent feedback including answers to questions from freddie. Would someone please address the VISA situation - my understanding is that one can get the Vietnam VISA through their electronic method on line and then get stamp when one arrives. Also AMA wil obtain Cambodia VISA for us while we are there. Is this correct? Any hassles with the Vietnam procedure? Have not talked to TA or AMA about this and wanted to be prepared for any issues befor we do this.
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  #17  
Old December 30th, 2010, 09:44 PM
shoshona2 shoshona2 is offline
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Default Visa for Vietnam

Hi sdianem,

You have a whole year to find out the answers to the Visa question. So, why don't you just ask your TA to call AMA and find out what the answer is? We've been to Vietnam two times and our TA handled all the details. I believe that AMA uses a good visa service. We are going on AMA's Russian River Cruise next September and will use their visa service.

Sheila
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  #18  
Old December 30th, 2010, 09:50 PM
doreen22 doreen22 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EKML View Post
We will also be on the 11/15 land/cruise. Anybody else? Maybe we could do a meet and greet?

Notice you're doing your own air-did you make any transfer arrangements? The cab fares are supposed to be very reasonable, but AMA is charging $45. There are also some shuttle buses that are very cheap, but I'm a little hesitant about those. I'm going to try to check w/the hotel and see what they charge, or does anyone know?

How are you doing your visa? There is a visa on arrival procedure that you can use, that costs less then getting the visa beforehand, but it does mean more time on arrival to get the visa stamped. But I prefer that then having to mail in my passport and worry about losing it. There is some info about this on tripadvisor. Anybody have any problems with this?

Ed
Hi Ed, It is great to hear from someone on our Nov. 15th cruise! I wasn't expecting that anyone else on our date would be on this forum so it is a pleasant surprise.
My sil just got back from Vietnam (backpacking)...they did the shuttle from the airport, it worked out fine, though they did get quite the tour of Hanoi, as it made lots of stops. We will either cab or shuttle it I think.
They mailed their passports in and got their Visas back very quickly...I think she said it was $90.00 each though (we are Canadian)...haven't decided how we are doing it yet...still lots of time to figure these things out.
I am sure we will meet up on the boat and hopefully talk lots before.
Susan & Doug
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  #19  
Old January 1st, 2011, 02:49 PM
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ReturnCruiser ReturnCruiser is offline
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Default November 2011

We're signed up for the AMA Lotus land/cruise trip, starting November 1, 2011. We just arranged an extra day pre/post day with AMA and looking forward to this trip.

Bob and Betty
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  #20  
Old January 1st, 2011, 04:02 PM
doreen22 doreen22 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReturnCruiser View Post
We're signed up for the AMA Lotus land/cruise trip, starting November 1, 2011. We just arranged an extra day pre/post day with AMA and looking forward to this trip.

Bob and Betty

Hi,

Would you mind elaborating on your extra day pre/post cruise with AMA. Do you mean an extra night in the applicable hotels and arranging tours on your own? I am considering going in a day early and perhaps staying an extra day but haven't really thought about the different options.
Thanks for your help,
Susan
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