This was our third trip to Myanmar (Burma) and our first river cruise. The Pandaw cruise line originated in Burma, and I wouldn't consider any other cruise line for a Burma river cruise. Our cruise was on the Chindwin River, far off the tourist track. We saw no other westerners from the time we boarded our ship in Monywa until we disembarked in Homalin.
The Pandaw Kalay is a very shallow draft ship, designed specifically for the shallow rivers of Burma. With just 5 cabins, the small ship offered an intimate cruising experience. We were in the huge owner's cabin, with windows curving across the front of the cabin. It was a lovely space.
The crew were gracious and helpful, always accommodating. The food was excellent. We were the only passengers who had not been on a previous Pandaw cruise, and while all said the food on Pandaw cruises is very good, the food on our cruise was really exceptional.
There were twice a day stops at villages to visit stupas, shrines, monasteries, markets and schools in small villages. We were onboard on election day, so seeing the people lined up to vote and hearing what they had to say about the election was a great experience. There were no docks at any of our stops. But the ship had a flexible metal gangplank (with handrails) that made getting on and off the ship as easy as possible. Also, crew members were available to help anyone who needed assistance.
I would term this a luxury adventure cruise.
We traveled to Mandalay several days before the cruise. A bus picked up all the passengers at their hotels and drove us the two hours to Monywa. At the end of the cruise, a flight back to Mandalay or onward to Yangon was included in the cruise price.
Drinks made with local liquor and local beers were included as well as drinking water. Wine was extra. We availed ourselves of their laundry services (very reasonably priced).
There is not an entertainment program, but the ship has a small library with many books on Burma.
This is not a cruise for children.
We loved this cruise and will take another Pandaw cruise in Burma.