Mekong Navigator Cruise Review by andodi
- Sail Date: December 2014
- Destination: Asia
We're river cruisers and have a few under our belts. We rode the Mekong Navigator in December, 2014 as part of a very good 17 day Gate 1 Travel trip through Vietnam and Cambodia with a 2 day extension in Bangkok. We met the river boat at My Tho in the Mekong Delta after a roughly 2 hour drive from Saigon (as the locals insist on calling it). We understand that the Mekong Navigator is a new boat in late 2014 and it is quite luxurious with an outstanding crew especially the folks you interact with the most (dining room, bar staff and butlers...yes, butlers, but not for all of us...just the suites). We were told that they are all Cambodians with good english for us foreign-language-challenged Americans and good memories because they remember your names.
The cabins are spacious and well appointed. I really like the cabins on the Lueftner boats in Europe and these, to my taste (not my wife's), seemed a bit much. You can judge. Very good, large bed. Fancy bathroom, shower, no tub unless you book a suite. French balcony, unless you book a suite. Plenty of window. Good a/c and ceiling fan. Bottled water provided. There could have been more drawer space for some, but we managed quite well.
The boat is kept exceptionally clean. After off boat excursions we were greeted on the stern or mid-ships with wipes for our faces and hands, a drink and, for certain shore excursions, sandals so that we could leave our shoes to be cleaned and returned shortly to our rooms. And, by the by, we never had a bug problem either on board on during our shore excursions (this was in December, when it wasn't too hot).
I suggest that you review their trip details online to understand the off board excursions. I can say that they were well organized and the guides provided in Vietnam and especially in Cambodia were first rate; none better.
Wifi on board was always available in certain places, not in the cabins. However, it could be very slow depending on where the boat was. A favorite place was on the top deck under the roofed section outside the bar.
The food on board was good, not great, not of European river boat quality. I'm not showing a preference for western chow, we just thought the flavoring wasn't as good as it could have been, but it was still good. I'm a bit of a picky eater and the selection was always varied enough that I had no troubles. Tables in the dining room typically seat 6 people and, as I said earlier, the wait staff is super excellent and friendly. Meals were always looked forward to because of them.
Being a river boat there was little on board entertainment. You get to know your fellow passengers...good or bad...and almost always good. However, we were entertained one night by a group of young teenagers from a Cambodian orphanage who performed traditional dances. There was also a crew dance show one night that encouraged volunteers from the passengers.
A note: we were able to get our Cambodian visas on board when we stopped at the Vietnam/Cambodian border for a couple of hours. The total fee was US$40/person, cash. This didn't agree with the amount on Haimark's website, but that's what it was.
Tipping on board is at the end of the trip. I strongly suggest that you do your research to compare to other SE Asia river boat trips before leaving. You might want also to have enough cash available to split the allocation the way you want it and not all by credit card and they split it their way.
We highly recommend this trip, this boat and this crew. It was a very good time.
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