First Glimpse Uniworld launched the Southeast Asia-based River Saigon in January 2012. The 60-passenger boat sails week-long itineraries along the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia as part of longer trips combining land-based travel. Three-week itineraries begin in Beijing with tours of cities in China before sailing the Mekong to its delta in the south of Vietnam. Hotel accommodations are luxurious, with private check-in, buffet breakfast and various extras. Fares also include service charges and transfers. Excursions are led by professionally trained local experts who guide groups no larger than 20 to better allow insight into the local culture, people and history. Uniworld will become fully all-inclusive in 2014, when all cruise fares will include unlimited fine wine, beer and spirits, as well as gratuities for onboard and onshore services, including pre- and post-cruise extensions.
Here's what you can expect aboard River Saigon:
Dining is relaxed, with open seating to allow choice of dining partners. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style with hot and cold selections. Dinners are ordered from a menu that changes daily and is designed to reflect both the region and season. Fresh ingredients are often purchased from local farmers and markets. Dinner includes a selection of wines and beers, included in the fare. In addition to an early riser breakfast and afternoon tea, fruit and tea is served after shore excursions and soft drinks are always complimentary.
The 30 168-square-foot cabins all offer river views, and decor reflects Asian aesthetics, with clean lines and sleek furnishings. All also feature French doors that open to a promenade, individual climate control, fine linens and a pillow menu. Cabins are stocked with bottled water, plush towels, bath products, a safe, hair dryer, bathrobe and slippers. Twice-daily housekeeping and evening turn-down service are provided.
Cabins are broken down into three categories -- but they are distinguished only by location. Category 1 cabins are on Jasmine Deck (the top deck), and offer the best views. They are summarily priced higher than the Category 2 and 3 cabins found on Lotus Deck, which is closer to the water line and to the mechanical operations of the ship.
Save for a bar, the entire sun deck is reserved for sunning, although there is some shade provided for those wanting the view but not the direct exposure. A boutique occupies a slip of hallway on Jasmine Deck, while the restaurant shares Lotus Deck with 10 cabins. Lower Deck houses a lounge and massage room, which completes the limited public rooms onboard.
Fellow passengers are likely to include the more experienced traveler, but not necessarily the seasoned cruiser, from North America and the U.K. The length and luxury of the cruises are unlikely to attract a younger crowd or families.