Pandaw River Cruises

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Pandaw River Cruises fleet

Review of Pandaw River Cruises

"Pandaw River Cruises" is a trademarked brand owned by the 1995-founded Pandaw Expeditions Co. The company is the successor of the 1865-founded "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company", which specialized in passenger and cargo river shipping in Burma.

Pandaw is a river cruisetour company operating itineraries in Southeast Asia - Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, India and Malaysia (Borneo). The list of rivers on which Pandaw ships navigate includes Mekong, Irrawaddy, Chindwinn (Irrawaddy's largest tributary), Ganges, Brahmaputra, Red River (and Halong Bay), Tonle River and Tonle Sap Lake (central Cambodia). Company's out-of-Burma itinerary program was inaugurated in 2002 - with cruises on Mekong River. Laos and China (Upper Mekong) cruises were introduced in 2015 as roundtrips from Bangkok (Thailand) to China's Yunnan province.

Pandaw River Cruises logo - CruiseMapper

In 2015, Pandaw entered the ocean cruising market by purchasing the 1963-built, 22-passenger luxury yacht Andaman Explorer. The vessel started operations in June 2016. After the purchase, the vessel was repositioned from Dubai to Rangoon/Yangon, where was redecorated and drydock-refurbished. The full refit was completed in 2017.

In 2018, the company reported over 45% repeat passenger bookings. International travelers prefer Pandaw boats for their traditional Burmese design (all vessels are made of wood and handcrafted), special ambiance (marked by colonial-style furniture, teak wood and brass throughout, highly personalized service), authentic experiences on the ship (gourmet dining and traditional entertainment) and ashore (unique land tours), as well as the amazing scenery along the regularly scheduled itinerary routes.

Onboard dining is complimentary and offered indoor (at the Dining Room Restaurant) and outdoor/al-fresco (on Sun Deck). Most dietary requirements are catered for. Company's quality of food and level of service are legendary. The ships are advertised as family-friendly and suitable for all ages. Younger travelers can enjoy mountain biking (quality bicycles are provided complimentary), hiking and trekking ashore, while teenagers can gain valuable real-life experiences from interacting with local kids during port stays in villages along the route. Older travelers will highly appreciate Pandaw expeditions' tranquillity, cultural richness and some of Asia's most unique sceneries.

Due to their small passenger capacity (20-30-60 pax), Pandaw riverboats are regularly chartered (often as rebranded vessels) by some of world's largest river cruise companies, including Uniworld, Viking, CroisiEurope, Fred Olsen, Saga Holidays. Private full-boat ("time charter" and "voyage charter") arrangements are also offered.

Fleet's largest boats are named Tonle (2002), Orient (2008), Indochina (2009) and Bassac (2012). The smallest ship is Kalay (2013-built, 10 pax).

Pandaw ships

Pandaw riverboats also feature the highest passenger-to-space ratio on the Asian market. The boats offer plenty of quiet areas for relaxation and spacious partially-covered sundecks. All ships have at least one 360-degree (wraparound) Promenade Deck that also serves as "common balcony" for all staterooms.

Next video show some of Pandaw's vessel construction stages.

Breakfast is buffet-style but preceded by light bites, tea and coffee for early risers. Lunch is either buffet-style or sit-down (waiter-served, with a la carte menu choices), while dinners are 4-course and waiter-served. Pandaw's food ingredients are locally sourced and always fresh. Excepting premium spirits, all beverages on the ship are complimentary, including domestic beers and spirits, soft drinks, coffee and tea, unlimited bottled water. The open-bridge policy allows passengers to visit the Wheelhouse (Navigation Bridge) and interact with the officers on duty.

All cruise cabins offer as standard amenities twin beds (some converting to double, all with premium mattresses, quality linens, duvet, two kinds of pillows), French windows (opening onto Promenade Deck), air-conditioning, spacious wardrobe, electronic safe box (in the closet), writing desk (mirrored vanity table with chair and make-up mirror), under-bed storage, en-suite bathroom (WC, shower, washbasin, hairdryer, towels, slippers, bathrobes/kimonos, Spa-branded premium bath amenities), unlimited bottled water, Yoga mats (for in-cabin use), nightly turndown service.

On all shore excursions are complimentary provided shoe cleaning and cold towel services (upon re-boarding the ship), unlimited bottled water (including Pandaw-branded aluminum bottles as giveaways), English-speaking tour guides, first aid-trained assistant guide. Onboard 24-hour laundry is available at extra charge.

Pandaw cruise deals

Cruise fares are inclusive of all shore excursions (with local guides, also sampan boat tours), onboard meals and drinks (including local alcoholic and non-alcoholic, international wines and beveragess cost ~USD 5 per drink), Wi-Fi, domestic flights and bus transfers. Not included in the fares are international flights, Visas, laundry, travel insurances.

Itinerary of Pandaw River Cruises

The yacht Andaman Explorer cruises in Southeast Asia and Mergui Archipelago, with Indonesian itineraries leaving from homeport Benoa (Bali) and visits to Lombok, Sumbawa Island, Komodo Island and Flores Island. Another itinerary set offers voyages between Ranong (Thailand) and Rangoon (Burma), stopping at Mergui Archipelago and Moulmein (Mawlamyine). Signature destinations include Lampi Marine National Park (mangrove forests, birds), Naung Wee Island (Moken / gipsy village visit), Nga Man Islands (beaches, trekking, snorkeling), Kyun Pila Island (South Bay / kayaking, swimming, beaches).

Pandaw also operates two "partner boats" (Amazon Dream, and Mahabaahu), deployed, respectively, on Amazon River (Brazil) and Brahmaputra River (India). In 2018, Pandaw introduced a new B2B (back-to-back cruise) itinerary program. The "combo itineraries" offer river cruising in Southeast Asia and India (also coastal cruising in Mergui Archipelago). The combo expeditions range in length between 15-21 nights and can be booked with discount flights and hotels.

Next YouTube videos are official (Pandaw Expeditions) releases that review company's river cruise itineraries by destination.

Mekong River (Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos)

Ganges River (India)

Brahmaputra River (India)

Irrawaddy Delta

Chindwin River

Halong Bay and Red River (Vietnam)

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