I just returned to America after experiencing the brand new Avalon Siem ReapSM on the Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River. You’ve read all about my trip, but now I’m here to tell you about the ship I called home for a week.
The new Avalon Suite Ship® cruising on the Mekong is specifically designed to offer an intimate experience with a maximum of 36 guests, so you can truly immerse yourself in the culture, people, and sights along the Mekong River. Built by traditional craftsmen, the ship mixes modern comforts with the colonial charm associated with Vietnam and Cambodia. Time on board delivers a refreshing experience, as all cabins open to the outside and the large indoor lounge and open-air observation lounge offer great panoramic views. The design also allows her to be the only ship sailing all the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (or vice versa)*. This eliminates over 7 hours of motorcoach travel time to and from your ship, which means you get to enjoy more cruising! *Depending on water levels
Dining: I briefly discussed the dining in a previous blog post. I was thoroughly impressed with the food onboard. The breakfast buffet was a great way to start the day. With made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, fresh pastries, and a daily breakfast special, there was always something that would help give you a burst of energy for the day full of excursions. Lunches were definitely a reason to return to the ship, with authentic local food, like Phở and salad made from fresh seafood and vegetables. And last but not least, dinners were fabulous. There were so many options that truly complemented the day of discovery. Seared duck breast in Phở was one of my favorites, as were the meat lasagna and Australian lamp chops. As an added bonus, wine and beer is included at dinner.
Public Rooms: There are so many wonderful rooms to enjoy time with new friends. The open-air observation lounge (with premium lounge chairs), the Panorama Lounge (where you can watch movies each night), the bar, reception, and dining room…each of them are great public spaces to continue watching the view and enjoy the company of others. Plus, there’s a spa and a gym on board!
Cabin: Each of the 18 staterooms is 245 square feet and includes a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door. This is the Open-Air Balcony®, with wall-to-wall panoramic windows measuring 14-feet wide and the door slides open a full 9-feet, creating the feeling of sitting outside. Your extremely comfortable bed (a Comfort Collection BedSM) faces the window, so when you lie down, you get the best view on the ship! The large bathrooms feature a full shower with premium bath amenities. Since Southeast Asia can get a bit warm, each room has its own individual climate control. There are spacious closets with plenty of storage and even a seating area for you and your travel companion to enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine.
Entertainment: On this trip, children from a Vietnamese orphanage put on a show featuring local song and dance, and on the last night of the trip, Cambodian performers presented four traditional dances for our group. Each of these exhibited a piece of native history that you couldn’t get anywhere else. The performances complemented the sightseeing we did throughout the trip. After dinners, we had the option of watching a movie each night in the Panorama Lounge. It was a nice reason to sit back, relax and enjoy the show after a day of exploring.
Service: To say the crew was top-notch wouldn’t be saying enough. They were first class all the way. Our Cruise Director was extremely knowledgeable and answered any questions the group had about Vietnam and Cambodia. Each crew member knew me by name and helped with any requests I had (and being a photographer onboard, there were quite a few requests). The crew really knew how to make your experience amazing, and I commend them for going above and beyond!
Bottom line: If you’re thinking about taking a cruise along the Mekong River, you must experience it with Avalon’s new Suite Ship®. Whether you’ve been on a Suite Ship with Avalon in Europe and are looking for a new adventure, or you want to get out of your comfort zone a little, this is the absolute best way to do it. Thanks to Avalon and their shore excursions, I’ve learned so much about such a wonderful culture. And thanks to Avalon’s NEW ship, it was a grand journey down the river.
All photos courtesy of Danny Blair and Avalon Waterways.