Princess Panhwar Cruise Review by Medeba
- Sail Date: December 2017
- Destination: Asia River
The Princess Panhwar is used by Travelmarvel and is reasonably new. Travelmarvel organised our flights and transfers and all these arrangements went very well. There were 65 guests on our cruise out of a maximum of 72. We were split up into three groups and the tour guides alternated amongst the groups so we got to know all three of them.
We had a cabin with a French balcony with doors that opened to allow in fresh air and a mosquito screen to cover the opening if required. The room was large with plenty of storage. There was a large shower with L’Occitane toiletries, storage under the sink and a magnifying mirror as well as a large mirror over the sink. There is an open sundeck with plenty of shade, an air conditioned lounge and a large restaurant where all meals are taken. The food was excellent with plenty of choice and presentation of the meals was first class. Our 14 night cruise covered the Christmas holiday (but not New Year) and the ship had been decorated accordingly and we had a Christmas meal on Christmas Eve and a visit from Santa (with presents!). A local choir came on board to entertain us.
Our tour guides took us to magnificent golden temples, amazing wooden monasteries, local villages, colourful markets, craft workshops and, of course, Mandalay and Yangon. We saw some wonderful sunsets and the sunset over the temples in Bagan and at Ubein Bridge will remain in my memory for a long time. Many of us had taken stationery items for children but unfortunately we didn’t visit a school because the children were on holiday. However, we did get to meet the children in a village; the crew organised food and drinks for them ashore and our stationery items were collected and distributed. It was wonderful seeing how happy the children were during our visit to their village.
This cruise is not for the faint hearted. There are lots of tours both morning and afternoon on many of the days particularly near Mandalay but they are not usually longer than a couple of hours. There was more downtime just sailing along the river as we neared Yangon. There are often steep slopes to climb on disembarkation and occasionally whilst out on tour. The crew lined the slope when you got off the ship to give a helping hand to anyone who needed it. Although we were there from mid to late December, it was clear that the river had subsided and I would not wish to go much later in the season. The weather was ideal; not too hot and little humidity until we reached Yangon. Walking around is often on unmade surfaces and entry to some of the temples required climbing steps (although some have lifts). We found the horse and cart ride very uncomfortable and declined to go on the second. Visiting temples more often than not requires you to remove shoes and socks but we were provided with wipes to clean our feet when we came out. This did become quite onerous for some people after a while but it’s a price worth paying to see the amazing temples.
There was some entertainment on some evenings such a quizzes and a local puppet show. There were very interesting lectures given by the Cruise Director and tour guides on different aspects of Burmese life. There was also a cookery demonstration and a film about Aung San Suu Kyi.
Finally, I must mention the crew. The Captain, his officers and crew were very visible every day, always on hand to help you on and off the ship (this includes the Captain) and always done with a smile. The Cruise Director, San and his two guides, Zaw and Ye Min were very knowledgeable, always friendly and eager for us to enjoy their country of which they are clearly very proud. The Hotel Director, Goran, also deserves a mention for his kindness and unfailing dedication to ensuring we all had a great time on board.
Well done, Travelmarvel!
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