Watch the Irrawaddy’s bucolic drama play out from the artisan-crafted furniture of your cabin and the pool, bar and sun loungers of the Observation Deck
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Off the beaten track | River cruise
This boutique rivership plies the Irrawaddy River – that great bisect that runs through the centre of Myanmar from the Himalayan glaciers down to its verdant delta. Its waters have brought medieval riches to Bagan and royal grandeur to Mandalay – the port bookends to cruises aboard the Road to Mandalay. Choose between a weeklong loop or connect both on four, three or two night journeys. Along the way, you’ll stop off at off-the-beaten-track pagodas, hill stations and markets before arriving at Bagan’s thousand-strong collection of ancient sights and Mandalay’s palatial beauty, ringed by former royal capitals. Itineraries are available in both directions between the two.
Each cabin takes full advantage of privileged views with outward-facing windows as luxurious furnishings crafted by local artisans invites Myanmar in. It’s all combined with modern amenities provided by satellite TVs, individually controlled air-conditioning and generously sized en suite bathrooms. The complimentary morning tea and coffee – along with the welcome flowers and fruit basket – comes as a thoughtful extra. If you’re celebrating, consider an upgrade to the Governor’s Suite where seating areas, extra window space and spacious rooms are all served by a complimentary mini bar and a 24-hour butler.
As you travel, the on-board chefs will take your tastebuds on a culinary journey of their own. Starting with European favourites you’ll travel east, through India, to arrive at South East Asia where Thai, Indonesian and, yes, Burmese delicacies al feature. While breakfasts are served in the restaurant, extensive buffet-style lunches can also be taken on the Observation Deck. Come the evening, enjoy table d’hôte fine dining or one of the ship’s signature meals on deck. The barbecue grill is a particular favourite while tempura and stir-fry stations are equally appealing. Throw in complimentary wine pairings, local beer and pre-dinner aperitifs and you’ll be well looked after.
Each day, on-shore excursions are designed to take you between the country’s highlights and its off-the-beaten-track gems; watch as saffron-robed monks colour teak monasteries and river life plays out in front of you. Back on board, each day is filled with events. Take in topical lectures by local and international experts, enjoy a classical performance from Burmese dancers or join a cooking class You can even learn to tie a longyi and apply thanaka makeup, a treatment used by local women to cool and tone their skin. Of course, you could always just relax on the teak Observation Deck, cocktail in hand, to watch as the sights of the Irrawaddy drifty by; it’s here that you’ll find sun loungers and the pool. For more considered relaxation, make use of the state-of-the-art fitness equipment or book into the spa for a beauty or massage treatment. Cocktail parties and gala dinners round off proceedings.
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