Vietnam / Cambodia

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#21
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Going first week March 2014. I know. long way off, but if you want specific dates , etc. you have to be first out of the gate. I will be looking forward to your post cruise report... have a great trip.
Anyone adding Laos + Thailand onto their VC trips ; since we're 'in the neighbourhood' / or been there & can give me some ideas of must sees , etc.
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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
#22
Florida
165 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
To BuffC: Read your review and I really appreciate the fact that you mentioned the political reality of the cruise. My husband did 2 tours in Nam, one as a grunt in the Big Red One. He said that as beautiful as the area is, he could never go back there. thanks again
#23
NY, NY
5,871 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
We're booked on Oct. 12th Avalon Angkor, brand new 16 cabin river boat. We really liked the itinerary after reading many others (which also sounded great!) My DH is very interested in Buddhist culture and Avalon offers a couple of interesting shorex that include visits at a monastery, a lecture, etc.

Can't wait to read some actual feedback. The first sailings are Sept.
#24
Ohio
1 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
Originally posted by laverendrye
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.
Hi,
I've read several of your posts. We're traveling from Saigon to Hanoi on Viking at the end of Feb 2013. I'm going to arrive a day early so that we can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Should I ask Viking to do the airfare? They charge extra for deviations and don't provide the transfers. I've read that the way they book their flights, we will not receive the best itineraries or seat assignments. What has your been your experience? Did you use them to book your travel?

Also, we've decided not to do the Halong Bay extension because it's usually misty and raining in March. Do you agree?

Thanks
#25
99 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by bex414
Hi,
I've read several of your posts. We're traveling from Saigon to Hanoi on Viking at the end of Feb 2013. I'm going to arrive a day early so that we can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Should I ask Viking to do the airfare? They charge extra for deviations and don't provide the transfers. I've read that the way they book their flights, we will not receive the best itineraries or seat assignments. What has your been your experience? Did you use them to book your travel?

Also, we've decided not to do the Halong Bay extension because it's usually misty and raining in March. Do you agree?

Thanks
I think it would be a shame to miss Halong Bay. We did it twice-once on a day trip, and then an overnighter w/AMA. Halong Bay is beautiful, and a highlight of our trip. Yes, the ride from Hanoi is long, and it may be misty, but seeing the mountains rising thru the mist is a breathtaking sight.

Suggest you look up the post from 2Fltravelers-he posted a thorough description of his trip on AMA. Many interesting and helpful tips.

As for booking thru Viking, we usually book our own air since we can choose our routing and flight times. Also, pricing is usually better. You can also arrange your own transfers for a much lower cost. We landed in Hanoi, and arranged for a pick up online. You should be able to do the same for Saigon.
#27
B.C. Canada
125 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Originally posted by EKML
I think it would be a shame to miss Halong Bay. We did it twice-once on a day trip, and then an overnighter w/AMA. Halong Bay is beautiful, and a highlight of our trip. Yes, the ride from Hanoi is long, and it may be misty, but seeing the mountains rising thru the mist is a breathtaking sight.

Suggest you look up the post from 2Fltravelers-he posted a thorough description of his trip on AMA. Many interesting and helpful tips.

As for booking thru Viking, we usually book our own air since we can choose our routing and flight times. Also, pricing is usually better. You can also arrange your own transfers for a much lower cost. We landed in Hanoi, and arranged for a pick up online. You should be able to do the same for Saigon.
We are booked with AMA lotus for early March 2014 . Know I'm in for an 'awesome + eye opening experience". My only 'hick up" may be the food. I've only eaten North American " chinese food.
What company did you use for Hanoi airport to hotel transfer??
Thanks for info.
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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
#28
99 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Originally posted by NordicBreezer
We are booked with AMA lotus for early March 2014 . Know I'm in for an 'awesome + eye opening experience". My only 'hick up" may be the food. I've only eaten North American " chinese food.
What company did you use for Hanoi airport to hotel transfer??
Thanks for info.
We used noibaitaxidotcom. It was about $18. There are cheaper shuttle buses, but we wanted to be met at the airport and taken directly to the hotel. There are taxis available also, but have to be sure to use only the reputable companies.

Food should not be a problem-there will be much to choose from.
#29
2 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
We chose Uniworld because the ships are smaller and the chance to really mingle with the locals is guaranteed. We've used the larger Viking ships in China and Uniworld's in Europe. Looking forward to seeing returning passenger reviews of the River Saigon and River Orchid.
#30
Ontario, Canada
216 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by winegirl101
We chose Uniworld because the ships are smaller and the chance to really mingle with the locals is guaranteed. We've used the larger Viking ships in China and Uniworld's in Europe. Looking forward to seeing returning passenger reviews of the River Saigon and River Orchid.
As I noted in an earlier post, the ships that Viking and Uniworld use on the Mekong are virtually identical as they are all leased from Pandaw Cruises. Their itineraries are also very similar, especially the river portion which is essentially the itinerary which Pandaw uses for its own cruises.
#31
Ontario, Canada
216 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by bex414
Hi,
I've read several of your posts. We're traveling from Saigon to Hanoi on Viking at the end of Feb 2013. I'm going to arrive a day early so that we can visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Should I ask Viking to do the airfare? They charge extra for deviations and don't provide the transfers. I've read that the way they book their flights, we will not receive the best itineraries or seat assignments. What has your been your experience? Did you use them to book your travel?

Also, we've decided not to do the Halong Bay extension because it's usually misty and raining in March. Do you agree?

Thanks
Sorry I missed this post, so you have probably decided by now.

I've taken two Viking cruises and arranged my own air both times so I can't comment. On one cruise (Russia) my TA was able to arrange transfers from Viking at no extra charge, but on the Mekong cruise, I used taxis (Bangkok and Hanoi) and they were inexpensive and easy to arrange.

Re Halong Bay I was there in April and the weather was misty. I'm glad that I took the trip, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the experience. You spend the night in a very nice hotel (Novotel) rather than aboard one of the boats, so there's not an opportunity to see a spectacular sunset or sunrise while on the water. However, because of the overcast weather while I was there it wouldn't have made a difference. The bus trip from Hanoi is long, but not entirely uninteresting. I learned from our guide how to spot a restaurant that serves dog meat as a specialty (Hint--look for the words "Thit Cho").
#32
Toronto, Ottawa Valley ON, and Dunedin FL
14,026 Posts
Joined May 2001
Originally posted by belaire
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.
This is a year later, but I would love to hear how this trip went. I've looked for reviews of China Star Holidays and really can't find any, other than testimonials on their own website.

Just considering all of these possibilities, for next February. Kind of unexpected since husband will be in Singapore working, so thought we'd do some kind of SE Asia trip.
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#33
Ohio
54 Posts
Joined Aug 2005
Originally posted by winegirl101
We chose Uniworld because the ships are smaller and the chance to really mingle with the locals is guaranteed. We've used the larger Viking ships in China and Uniworld's in Europe. Looking forward to seeing returning passenger reviews of the River Saigon and River Orchid.
winegirl, did you go on this trip? I'm considering it and would love to hear about your experiences.
#34
JUPITER, FLORIDA
104 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
My wife and I did the Heritage Line from Siem Reap to Saigon 2 years ago. It was a new boat then and the trip was wonderful!!!
If you look up Heritage Line Cambodia--you can find them