Five Things to Know About AmaWaterways' AmaDara Cruise Ship
Best for: Veteran river cruisers and active adults looking for an easy way to see Vietnam and Cambodia
Sails: The Mekong River
At a Glance: Built in 2015, the largest ship on the Mekong River carries passengers between Vietnam and Cambodia in French-colonial style. As stunning as the ship is, however, this cruise is all about the destination, with daylong excursions to floating villages and cities and on-ship performances by local singers and dancers.
Every Room Has a Balcony
Actually, each cabin has two: a French balcony and a full-size veranda. The French Colonial-style rooms are warmed up with gleaming dark hardwood floors and furniture, rattan details, and silken throws on the bed. They’re also spacious: Staterooms are 251-square-feet and suites are 366-square-feet, while the two luxury suites are 502 square feet with a balcony big enough for two lounge chaises.
The Restaurants Impress
Expect a mix of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Western fare at both the main Mekong Restaurant and the smaller specialty restaurant, The Chef’s Table, which serves up multicourse tasting menus each night. Mekong Restaurant has a pho station in the morning, and by the time you leave, you won’t be able to imagine eating breakfast any other way.
Almost Everything Is Included
Don’t stress about your onboard tab: Local beer, house spirits, and soft drinks are all free during your trip, and house wine is complimentary at lunch and dinner. All food and excursions are wrapped into the cruise rate, too.
The Excursions Are Immersive
Of course, the reason people travel this far is to experience the destination. Luckily, the ship’s tours are excellent, whether you’re taking an oxcart ride through rice paddies, shopping at Cai Be’s floating markets, or visiting workshops specializing in everything from candy to rice paper to silk.
There’s a Pool
After a steamy day exploring onshore, passengers head to the top deck to order a cold cocktail from the bar or take a dip in the pool. (There’s a covered area filled with lounge chairs in case you want to escape from the sun.) Or you can escape to the air conditioning in the elegant Saigon Lounge, where you can catch a performance by local musicians or a lecture about the region’s culture.