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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Memories of Mandalay cruise....

Today we disembarked from the Viking Mandalay cruise ship and boarded a bus to take us to the last stop in Myanmar -Yangon. They fixed a boxed lunch for us. The bus trip to Yangon was about seven hours.

This is a good place to review the ship and the passengers’ opinions on the cruise. Not everyone liked the cruise. I was one of those who liked it, and I thought it was a fascinating trip.  I heard one person make the comment that it was not up to her standards. I suspect that her standards are based on European cruises, where the ships are much larger (3-4 times) and more luxurious.  Along the Irrawaddy, larger ships would not work because of the existence of numerous sand bars and the need to maneuver close to shore without the benefits of docks.

Perhaps a third of the passengers complained about stomach problems but again, I did not have this problem.  In Europe, ships can acquire high quality food anywhere along the rivers, but such readily available supplies are not quite so prevalent along the Irrawaddy. The food was not as good as what one gets on European river ships, but I thought it was good considering the circumstances.

There were only two towns along the river where mobile phones and the internet worked - Magway and Pyay. The one TV on board the ship only worked about a third of the time.

I was worried that I was too quick in selecting the dates (Sep 17 thru Oct 7) to come to Bangkok and Myanmar.   But this period is almost ideal - the temperatures are declining and so is the frequency of rainy days.

The river cruise started in Mandalay and ended in Pyay, with Yangon the last place visited in Myanmar.  We ended in a large city, in an excellent hotel, with one of the trips major highlights - the Shwedagon Pagoda.    

This trip was certainly pricey, but practically everything was included - all meals except two dinners in Bangkok; all alcoholic drinks and bottled water; all excursions (except two on pre- and post-extensions).  Viking went out of their way to make this a nice cruise because they wanted us to bring back the word that this was a wonderful trip, but I do not think that Viking got the reviews that they hoped for. 

Photos belong to Phil Bianco.

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