Go Back   Cruise Critic Message Board Forums > River Cruising
 
Register here!
Forgot Your Password?


Notices

River Cruising Find Others on Your River Cruise! River Cruising Roll Calls

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old September 21st, 2013, 04:51 PM
momilani's Avatar
momilani momilani is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 27
Default Viking's Magnificent Mekong

Last month we had a particularly wonderful tour in Cambodia and Vietnam with Viking. August is certainly not optimal weather-wise for that part of the world, but we live in the tropics so it was quite tolerable. For all the dire predictions, it was better than summer in south Florida!

I’ve read a couple of other commentaries about this trip in these forums, and our experience was also very good. The river portion of the tour was aboard the RV Saigon Pandaw, a charming and well kept ship. All teak, with a lovely, comfortable open upper deck bar. It's covered, so the sun isn't a problem, although on a couple of occasions afternoon rains blew right through - but only for less than an hour at a time and once the rain stopped the crew had it all mopped up and the cushions back on the seats!

The food was good - especially for me as I love fresh fruit and different kinds of salads. The fresh bread and pastries were a terrible (delicious!) temptation, though. The ship’s manager, Jan, was fairly new to this routing, having recently come from duty on Viking’s China tour route, but he was very approachable and went out of his way to make our voyage a pleasant one.

There were only 31 of us in the group and all were seasoned travelers (in other words – not a lot of whinging about the normal little travails of travel) and surprisingly compatable. Our PD, Tony, was fabulous – cordial, knowledgeable, well-organized and a great communicator.

On our second day as a group we were scheduled to fly from Hanoi to Siem Reap, to begin our tour of the temples at Angkor Wat, but awoke to the fringes of approaching tropical storm Jebi. Long story short: we were only delayed at the airport about 6 hours total, and our PD kept us well informed throughout (as well informed as one can reasonably expect to be when weather and air travel collide – that seasoned traveler advantage: reasonable expectations!) Viking (and Vietnam Air) managed the situation splendidly. I was very impressed -- How you handle disruption is where the rubber meets the road for me. This was our 3rd tour with Viking (China in 2009 and Paris to Normandy in 2012) and I do not hesitate to recommend them.

Our PD was also wonderful about taking photos - I'm our family photographer, and generally missing from our travel photos as a result. This trip, I have some very nice ones of me for a change!

The hotels were all excellent – Le Meridien Angkor was particularly tranquil and a lovely respite after hot, sweaty walks through the temple sites. The Sofitel Saigon Plaza and Sofitel Metripole in Hanoi are both beautiful properties with great service and very conveniently located for touring on our own.

While the temple sites were the main reason that we took this particular tour – and our local guide was amazing! – We also enjoyed the unusual side trips along the way. A Buddhist blessing at Udon, visiting various local villages via sampan along the Mekong, the grim stop at Cheong Ek (the killing fields), wonderful visits with the children at schools and an orphanage, and our city tours were all well planned and executed. The local guides in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh were a joy - lots of personal insights and a command of history and custom of the area.

Each time we left the ship, we were given a little shoulder bag containing a chilled bottle of water. Our return (whether to ship or bus) was greeted with chilled wipes and a fresh, chilled bottle of water. On a couple of occasions we returned to the ship in a sudden downpour and were met with crew members handing out open umbrellas. That's service!

I would like to have had more time at a couple of the temples, just to soak it in, but enjoyed every minute we had. We also went early in the day, to beat the heat and afternoon downpour, which wasn’t the best light for picture taking, but we had free time and could have gone back on our own via tuk tuk, if it had been that important – we had a 3-day all access pass and it wasn't far. A couple of folks from our group did just that to catch the sunrise. I bought the postcard and slept in.

Several folks have written here of concerns with accessibility of the temples – I can reassure you that now that Angkor Wat is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, there have been a couple of places where wooden stairs have been added, to make access safer and less demanding. They are still steep in places, but negotiable unless you have mobility or balance issues. I was worried, having read a lot about the struggles of getting around, because 'm not the most graceful person in the world (I can take a fall in a flat,open parking lot!) But I managed to make it around without any problems at all. There always seemed to be someone - crew, guide or fellow passenger - to extend a steadying hand up or over.

This part of the world is a fascinating place to explore. The people are welcoming and there is so much to see. It was our second trip to Vietnam (3rd for my husband, a Vietnam veteran) and we enjoy SE Asia tremendously.
__________________

ms Ryndam Alaska 1998
ms Maasdam Baltic 2000
ms Amsterdam Alaska 2002
ms Volendam E. Caribbean 2005
ms Noordam W. Med 2006
ms Rotterdam E. Med 2008
Century Sun China 2009
River Rhapsody Danube 2010
Viking Pride Seine 2012
Viking RV Saigon Pandaw Mekong 2013
ms Ryndam W. Caribbean 2013
P&O Ventura Med 2014

It's not the breaths we take -- it's the moments that take our breath away.
Reply With Quote

  #2  
Old September 21st, 2013, 08:06 PM
suspaul's Avatar
suspaul suspaul is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 303
Default

Thanks for your input. We leave in 10 days with Vikings Passage to Eastern Europe, this will be our third trip with them also. Two years ago we did China with Viking and they did an incredible job. We too plan to do the trip you've just completed and enjoyed the first hand information you provided. Just reading your posting made me want to do this trip even more.
Thanks again!


Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app
__________________






5.2011 Viking Emerald/China
2.2011 Carnival Triumph/Mexico
9.2009 Uniworld River Ambassador/Rhine
12.2008 Grand Circle Provence/Saone
12.2006 Grand Circle River Rhapsody/Danube
10.2005 Louis Hellenic Perla/Greece & Turkey
12.2003 M/S World/Egypt
Reply With Quote

  #3  
Old September 23rd, 2013, 05:44 PM
milling73 milling73 is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Manito, IL
Posts: 76
Default Future trip

We too are considering this trip..

What was your August weather -- temps / humidity like on your trip? (I had read that it was one of the prettiest months with lush green foliage.)

Would you go in August again, or if not, what month would you recommend for this trip?

What clothing should we take?

Thanks..
Reply With Quote

  #4  
Old October 1st, 2013, 01:45 AM
momilani's Avatar
momilani momilani is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 27
Default

I'd absolutely do it again! That said, the rainy season is also tropical storm season, so it was tempting fate. But it all worked out for us. If you are the kind of traveler who can roll with whatever happens, you'll be fine.


Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app
__________________

ms Ryndam Alaska 1998
ms Maasdam Baltic 2000
ms Amsterdam Alaska 2002
ms Volendam E. Caribbean 2005
ms Noordam W. Med 2006
ms Rotterdam E. Med 2008
Century Sun China 2009
River Rhapsody Danube 2010
Viking Pride Seine 2012
Viking RV Saigon Pandaw Mekong 2013
ms Ryndam W. Caribbean 2013
P&O Ventura Med 2014

It's not the breaths we take -- it's the moments that take our breath away.
Reply With Quote

  #5  
Old October 1st, 2013, 01:52 AM
momilani's Avatar
momilani momilani is offline
Cool Cruiser
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Honolulu, HI
Posts: 27
Default

Oh and clothing - I wore cotton cargo capris with cotton tees most of the time. It is very humid and you walk a lot, so fabrics that wick moisture and dry are best. My husband did well in those Under Armor light knit golf shirts or the angler shirts with the open weave gussets. And wear good, comfortable walking shoes. I love my keens - not fashion forward by anyone's definition, but great support and so comfy!


Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app
__________________

ms Ryndam Alaska 1998
ms Maasdam Baltic 2000
ms Amsterdam Alaska 2002
ms Volendam E. Caribbean 2005
ms Noordam W. Med 2006
ms Rotterdam E. Med 2008
Century Sun China 2009
River Rhapsody Danube 2010
Viking Pride Seine 2012
Viking RV Saigon Pandaw Mekong 2013
ms Ryndam W. Caribbean 2013
P&O Ventura Med 2014

It's not the breaths we take -- it's the moments that take our breath away.
Reply With Quote

  #6  
Old October 1st, 2013, 07:53 AM
Robb's Avatar
Robb Robb is offline
Blue Ribbon Cruiser
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Louisville, Ky, USA
Posts: 3,810
Smile

Thanks for your posting. We are doing pretty much the same trip with AMA in November. Really looking forward to this trip.
__________________
"THE WORLD IS A BOOK, AND THOSE WHO DO NOT TRAVEL READ ONLY ONE PAGE" ST. AUGUSTINE
keep on cruising
Robb

plus
Past Cruises

3/98-SUNCOAST CRUISE LINE-CAROUSEL; 5/98-NCL-SEA; 2/99-CELEBRITY-MERCURY; 5/99-RCL; 10/99-PRINCESS-SUN; 3/00-COSTA-VICTORIA; 12/00-RADISSON-PAUL GAUGUIN; 3/01-WINDSTAR-WINDSURF; 5/01-HAL-NOORDAM; 9/01-RCL-LEGEND; 3/02-NCL-WIND; 5/02-CELEB-CONSTELLATION; 9/02-HAL-NOORDAM; 11/02-CELEB-CENTURY; 3/03-NCL-SUN; 5/03-CELEB-MILLENNIUM; 3/04-CELEB-INFINITY; 7/04-RCL-JEWEL; 9/04-CELEB-HORIZON; 11/04-GRAND CIR. NILE-ANUKET; 5/05-RCL-SPLENDOR; 7/05-VANTAGE-DANUBE; 10/05-HAL-WESTERDAM; 2/06-HAL-STATENDAM; 5/06-U of L-YANGTZE-CHINA; 9/06-RCL-JEWEL; 2/07-CELEB.-SUMMIT; 5/07-RCL-LEGEND; 11/07-RCL-Voyager; 3/08-RCL-Brilliance; 5/08-RCL-Liberty; 8/08-Princess-Sea; 11/08-RCL-Freedom (back to back); 11/08-RCL-Freedom (back to back); 3/09-RCL-Splendour; 5/09-RCI-Legend; 7/09-Oceania-Nautica; 2/10-Azamara-Quest; 6/10-Celebrity-Eclipse; 11/10-RCI Voyager; 2/11-Galapagos Explorer II; 2/11-RCI-Vision; 5/11-Diamond Princess; 5/11-Diamond Princess (b2b); 11/14-HAL-Zuiderdam; 1/12-Oceania-Regatta; 6/12-Caribbean Princess; 10/12-Regent SS Voyager; 1/13-Celebrity Millennium; 10/13-Celebrity Summit; 11/13-AMALotus; 5/14 RCL-Rhapsody

Scheduled Cruises

9/14-Celebrity Infinity
11/14-Azamara Quest
2/15-Celebrity Infinity
4/15-Oceania Marina
Reply With Quote

Reply

Bookmarks


Ad Sponsored By
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:18 AM.


© 1995 - 2014, The Independent Traveler, Inc. All rights reserved.
"A Community of People Who Love To Cruise"
All of the information contained within Cruise Critic is protected by copyright. You may, however, download a single copy only for your personal use.