By Paul Brady
January 13, 2020
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The best river cruise line in the world has just launched a brand-new ship on the Mekong River, sailing between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is the top line for river trips, Travel + Leisure readers said in 2019, thanks to “beautiful, one of a kind ships,” “excellent food,” and “impeccable service.” Now, guests can look for that same level of luxury on the newly built Mekong Jewel, a 68-passenger ship that made its inaugural journey this month.

Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

The all-suite ship is very slightly larger than the existing Mekong Navigator, which the Jewel will replace. The new ship will have two restaurants on board — serving both local and Western cuisine — plus an outdoor bar, a library, a lounge, a small swimming pool, a spa, and a sauna. Rooms are full-on with the colonial decor, with ceiling fans, Louis XIV chairs, and brocade wallpaper. Marble bathrooms are super-spacious, and most guest cabins have private balconies. (A dozen suites have smaller French balconies.)

Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

The ship also has some features intended to lessen its environmental impact, including “propellers that increase performance and efficiency, energy-efficient LED light fixtures, automatic air conditioning controls to optimize cooling resources, and water cooled air-conditioning system that will save energy,” according to a Uniworld statement.

Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

For now, the ship is sailing just one itinerary, a 13-day trip between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap that makes numerous stops in small towns along the river. Guests have the option of starting in Vietnam or Cambodia, depending on departure date.

Among the highlights of all the sails are access to Angkor Wat as well as Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, after taking a bus transfer from the ship. Another is a visit to the Vietnam War–era Củ Chi tunnels. There’s ample time in other ports of call for cultural tours — of villages, temples, crafts workshops — and for shopping and checking out street food.

Rates for these trips start at $5,499 per person, and that includes just about everything, as is the case on all Uniworld ships.