Jess: Avalon Waterways River Cruising

AVALON WATERWAYS are extremely well organised with their arrival process, day tours and departure. Each time you head off you are put into smaller groups and given water bottles to take away with you. You are given headsets which makes it much easier to hear and you don’t miss out on what the guides are saying. Avalon has 1 or 2 included tours each day plus additional tours to purchase if you are interested – for example to go out to Versailles. Each day is pretty busy which surprised me as I thought would be more leisurely paced.

The food was really good, with four courses each night for dinner and alcohol served with dinner too. They kept glasses topped up well throughout dinner.

They have a main dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also a bistro option for dinner which offers a degustation option, max 20 guests so it’s a good idea to book when you get on the ship as this wasn’t on every night.

They do have a lift on board to accommodate those guests who need assistance.

They also cater very well for guests with food allergies and intolerance’s. We had a girl in our group who had food allergies and they were very accommodating, discussing food options for her every night and bringing gluten free bread in the morning.

I stayed in a category A stateroom and loved it as it offers a unique room configuration where the beds face looking out to the window which means you can lie in bed and get a great view! Beds were AMAZING!!

AVALON is a great product for those clients who are after a beautiful river cruise ship but don’t want to pay for the all-inclusive product (ie unlimited drinks and choices of shore excursions).  I would have noproblem recommending AVALON WATERWAYS to our clients wishing to cruise!jess avalon

Chelsea: Mekong Delta

I recently returned from a Mekong River journey from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on-board The Jahan. It was all about meeting and interacting with the local people and seeing how they live, while enjoying luxurious amenities on your small ship. I now believe that cruising the Mekong is a great, unique way to experience Vietnam & Cambodia. 

With just 26 spacious cabins, each with private balcony, it is like a boutique hotel on the water.  You never feel crowded and always are made to feel special by the outstanding staff on-board;  all staff are engaging, warm, friendly and really do make the experience a memorable one.  They go above and beyond and care about each guest’s time whilst you are a part of the Jahan family.
Our mornings would begin with a delicious breakfast, followed by a 2-3 hour excursion on land.  Mixing with the locals is fantastic as they are as curious about us, as we are of them!!  You have the chance to truly experience local village life whilst soaking in the smiles from the children, the local products, food and hospitality.  You then board the ship, prepare your stomach for lunch, and cruise further along the Mekong.  After lunch you again have a shore excursion which is always led by an experienced English speaking guide.  (HINT: Remember to book in a massage to relax your muscles before getting ready for an A La Carte dinner!)
Having previously travelled extensively within Asia, I found the river cruise to be such a unique way to get off the beaten track while enjoying luxury.  There is also an on-board pool, located on the top deck, which is great to relax in and watch the world float by!
Travel Indochina took care of our pre-cruise touring in Ho Chi Minh City, which is a vibrant and fast paced city;  a complete contrast to what you see along the Mekong!  Ho Chi Minh City is rapidly growing and is an easy city to spend a few nights in.  Crossing the road is interesting though……just keep going in a straight line and hope for the best!!
Our next stop was Cambodia;  there is a big contrast in culture between Cambodia and Vietnam, so it is a good idea to combine both countries if you have the time.  We were fortunate enough to stay at Raffles in Siem Reap and were able to soak up the old world charm from their glamorous rooms and white glove service.
Thanks must go to Travel Indochina for one of the highlights of our trip. Picking us up before sunrise from Raffles, they took us on a tuk-tuk ride to the Angkor Wat complex where we witnessed the colours change over the magnificent archaeological site.
It’s the people and culture which really leave an imprint on your experience.  Both Vietnam and Cambodia have such fascinating histories which the local people are happy to engage in their personal accounts with you.  The feeling of cruising along the Mekong is one that I highly recommend, and the ambiance on-board The Jahan makes it the perfect ship to choose.
Next cruise on my list is the Orient Express river cruise in Burma……..!!
Written by Chelsea Stanley, a member of our Mentone Team
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