RV Cruiseco Adventurer was purpose-built for the Mekong in 2012. One of two river ships in Asia chartered by Cruiseco, it is promoted through Cruiseco-affiliated travel agencies, mostly in Australia. The ship can accommodate 60 passengers and usually cruises with at least 50 onboard.
Regular departures are offered between September and March for cruises from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Siem Reap and vice versa. Sold as a complete fly, cruise and stay holiday from Australia, Cruiseco packages include the river cruise, international flights and hotel nights before and after the cruise. Itineraries between Saigon and Siem Reap are 11-night packages; 15 nights if the Hanoi extension is booked.
The all-in-one package concept provides an appealing, easy holiday option for people who want to explore Southeast Asia without the hassle of independent planning. Most of the passengers are over 50 and have already taken at least one cruise.
There is a focus on cultural experiences and enrichment, with a series of hands-on workshops, displays by local performers, documentary film nights and visits to important (if sobering) landmarks. Cruise director Rosie is a stand-out, making it her mission to ensure every passenger has a good time.
The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and informal, due perhaps to the majority of Australian passengers. There is plenty of space for everyone, except in the pool and gym, which are disappointingly small. Mingling occurs naturally, helped along by the 6.30pm cocktail hour and daily briefing.
Many inclusions -- all meals, shore excursions, transfers, local beer and spirits, tips -- make it easy to switch off and relax after embarkation.
English is spoken onboard as almost all passengers are Aussies, plus a few Kiwis and Brits (with a skew toward the over-50s). The atmosphere onboard is relaxed and unpretentious.
Passengers wear casual clothing during the day, opting for shorts, T-shirts and light dresses to beat the Mekong humidity. If you feel the cold, it's advisable to bring a jacket or wrap for the air-conditioned.
At dinnertime, passengers are requested to wear smart casual to Mekong Restaurant and Saigon Lounge. No shorts, thongs or singlet tops. Shoulders and knees must be covered up during the visits to temples and to the palace in Phnom Penh. Pack your swimsuit if you plan to use the whirlpool, and gym gear if you'd like to hit the treadmill or exercise bike. No need to pack rain gear or umbrellas, as the ship loans these out free of charge.
Almost everything is included in the fare: transfers, tips, shore excursions, drinks (wine only at lunch and dinner; the beer and spirits that are included are local brands), meals and entertainment. Most people (an estimated 90 percent) book the package that includes airfares from Australia plus two nights each in Saigon and Siem Reap, as well as tours in these ports.
Extras that can be purchased onboard include barista coffees, laundry, imported alcohol and spa services (no tipping required at the spa or bar). US dollars and Vietnamese dong are the onboard currencies. Prices for spa services and alcohol are given in USD, but charged in dong on the final bill. Mastercard and Visa are accepted.
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