Specifically designed to navigate the majestic Irrawaddy River, the Viking Mandalay has been part of the river cruise scene for many years, before being refurbished and inaugurated into the Viking River Cruises fleet in 2012. With its new, contemporary and well-appointed interiors and elegant public areas, the Viking Mandalay undoubtedly appeals on many levels, from the hotel-style amenities to the relaxed, casual ambience of the ship.
Viking River Cruises were the first major line to operate river cruises in Burma, with the small and intimate Viking Mandalay’s itinerary focusing on this beautiful region of the world and some of its hidden secrets.
The English-speaking crew ensures all 56 guests can enjoy a home from home experience, despite being on the other side of the world. The majority of passengers tend to travel from the USA, but a growing number of guests from the UK, Australia and Canada will also find the cruises appealing for a number of reasons. Regardless of nationality, guests will undoubtedly share a love for travel and new experiences, and will be particularly keen to learn more about the local culture, history and customs of SouthEast Asia.
The Viking Daily newsletter is a useful resource for passengers, and is delivered to every stateroom every evening. With the help of this, and the expertise of the onboard Programme Director, guests can plan their days, evenings and free time effectively.
The main restaurant onboard exudes relaxing vibes, while also ensuring sophistication and elegance are also on the menu. Tables are set to a high standard, with crisp linens, china, polished cutlery and gleaming glassware at every meal. Guests can enjoy the beautiful panoramic views from the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows, at the same time as dining on local, authentic dishes and traditional favourites, all prepared onboard by the dedicated chefs. The contemporary cuisine will undoubtedly appeal to all guests, regardless of what their preferences are – the variety available during all meal times is extensive.
Breakfast and lunch are served in a buffet format (including a continental breakfast and a soup and sandwich bar for lunch), and guests can enjoy waiter service five-course meals every dinnertime –featuring a selection of delicious dishes including local specialities that can help guests to step out of their comfort zone and try new things as part of their river cruise experience. Complimentary drinks, including regional wines, beers and soft drinks, are included with lunch and dinner.
The Show Lounge (on the Sun Deck) is a perfect place for evening drinks, and features a full-service bar. It is here where guests can enjoy performances by local acts, including Burmese folkloric shows.
There is also a welcome cocktail reception and dinner, plus a farewell dinner, to look forward to. Some guests like to dress up for these special occasions but it’s not a requirement on this relaxed cruise.
Thanks to the Viking Culture Curriculum, guests can immerse themselves in a range of activities which reflect the culture and heritage of the ports and regions they visit. From Thai puppet shows to in-depth multimedia presentations and lectures on topics such as the history of Thailand, Myanmar and the Burmese people, guests can enjoy enrichment both onboard and off. Passengers will also be able to pick up a few words and phrases which can prove to be invaluable during itinerary stops.
On land, guests will have the fortune of visiting some of Burma’s most beautiful spots, including trips to temples and monasteries, and a number of well-executed guided tours led by local experts. Unique visits to papermaking and silk-weaving workshops, gold-leaf beating in Mandalay, a lacquer-ware workshop in Bagan and a trip to the famous Sale Monasteries are also included in a typical itinerary.
There is an onboard boutique and a well-stocked library to peruse. The internet corner offers complimentary Wi-Fi and a handful of computers.
Accommodation onboard is beautifully-appointed, and offer understated elegance. All 28 staterooms boast outside river views, and are divided into three categories (A, B and C) that are 168 sq. ft. in size. All staterooms are situated across the Upper and Middle decks, and feature floor-to-ceiling sliding door French balconies.
Hotel-style amenities including comfortable beds with optional twin configuration, private bathroom with shower, ample wardrobe space, in-room safe, hairdryer, climate control and complimentary bottled water (replenished daily).
The Viking Mandalay features a wraparound Sun Deck, where guests can soak up the glorious views any time they wish. The deck offers plenty of reclining sunloungers as well as a shaded seating area, so that guests can appreciate the outdoor space at the same time as enjoying some respite from the midday sun.
The Viking Mandalay offers the spiritual ‘Myanmar Explorer’ itinerary which travels from Bangkok, Thailand through areas of Burma which are seldom seen otherwise. This 15 day extravaganza includes eight days onboard the Mandalay, as well as three hotel nights in Bangkok, two hotel nights in Yangon and two hotel nights in Inle Lake. Twelve exciting guided tours (including the use of individual audio headsets) are included, from Bangkok’s canals and Grand Palace, and Burma’s former capital of Yangon, to central Mandalay including the serene Mahamuni Pagoda, Palace and Kuthodaw Complex. Visits to smaller villages and towns, including Yandabo, Myint Mu and Ohn Ne Choung make up the later part of this magical itinerary.
Pre- and post- extensions in Bangkok are also available if guests wish to extend their SouthEast Asia experience.