Pandaw has 10 ships cruising the rivers of SE Asia. They sail the Mekong (like many others) but their specialty is Myanmar (formerly Burma). The company known as Pandaw today is a revival of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company which was established in Burma by a group of Scots merchants in 1865. During World War II the whole fleet was scuttled to keep the ships out of the hands of the Japanese.
In 1998 Paul Strachan, a Burma historian, discovered an original Clyde-built steamer and arranged for its lease and restoration. Thus the company was born and a unique concept and style of river cruising was created.
Their ships are leased by three of the large European river cruise companies (Avalon, Viking, and Uniworld) that have expanded into SE Asia in recent years.
Ships - all of the companies ships are modeled after the steamships that used to carry passengers and freight on the rivers in Burma in the early 1900s. Many of those ships were large (the biggest was 300 feet long and carried 4000 passengers) but the current versions all carry around 100 passengers.
The ships are designed to have a luxury orientation with lots of public space. As with many ships built in Asia, the emphasis is on wood - and very beautiful wood it is.
Cabins - all of the basic cabins are 168 sq ft. They well laid out and very comfortable. They do not have mini-bars, satellite TV’s, internet or phones. Pandaw passengers usually want to escape from the tiresome features found in international business hotels.
Life on Board - dining is all single seating. Breakfast is a buffet and lunch has a soup and salad buffet but the main course is served at the table. Menus are created from local ingredients and feature the foods common in the areas through which the ship sails. While it is expected that most travelers would like to partake of local foods there are both European and vegetarian options available at all meals.
A cruise is pretty much all inclusive - there are no charges for shore excursions, drinks, or tips. There are no "cruise only" days - there is a stop (sometimes more than one) and a shore excursion every day.
Dress is always smart casual - no need for coats and ties. Service is exceptional - there is one crew member for each two guests.
There are many included activities - cooking, fruit carving and napkin arrangement demonstrations; exploring local markets with our chefs; talks from our on board guides; film presentations, with documentaries on local history and culture as well as movies; tours of the working ship and many other activities.
Prices - there are two decks and all cabins have a river view window. The Upper Deck has a slightly better view and offers more piece and quiet since it is further away from the public areas. Cruises vary in length from 3 to 20 nights with the majority being 7 or 14 nights. Prices for Main Deck are about $250 per person per night. The Upper Deck averages around $350 pp pn.
Itineraries - expeditions focus on three great South-East Asian rivers: Burma, on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers and through Cambodia and Vietnam on the Mekong River. These rivers traverse mountains, forests, jungles and plains. Along their banks are the vestiges of lost civilisations and vibrant contemporary societies. Any Pandaw expedition contains a stimulating mix of history, art and culture whilst exploring modern day life. Sample Itineraries: