River cruises have gained popularity over the past few years. Whether it is the Danube or the Rhine, a river cruise is a great way to view the countryside and visit cities and villages situated along its banks.
According to Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), “Over the past five years, river cruising has seen a 10% annual passenger increase” and the lines that specialise in river cruising are responding to the demand. Many river cruise holidays are based in Europe but the companies are keen to expand their offerings to more exotic locations such as China’s Yangtze River.
Working in conjunction with AmaWaterways, Australian Pacific Touring (APT) offers several types of river cruise experiences to its guests from Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
APT began as a family-owned and operated travel company that was founded in 1927 and based in Melbourne. It was recently announced that APT will provide passengers with two new river cruise vessels that are scheduled to debut in 2016.
APT is a part owner of AmaWaterways who are well acclaimed by having a member of their fleet listed as ‘Number-One’ in Berlitz: Cruising and Cruise Ships, River Cruise Edition.
The two new ships will be based in Burma (Myanmar) and both will be meandering on the Irrawaddy River between Yangon and Mandalay with 15-day sailings and welcoming its first passengers in January 2016.
The vessels, in partnership with the Maing Fong Company, are being built in Yangon. The RV Samatha will be in the luxury-class with 30 suites and two dining venues and a swimming pool. The RV Princess Panhwar will be a four-star premium 36-suite vessel.
“We already offer river cruising in Burma for APT guests aboard AmaPura and although this is our first year, sales have already exceeded expectations,” Debra Fox, APT’s gm sales and marketing, said.
Although full details are only in the planning stage, the following two ports provide an insight into the type of adventure that awaits in Burma. It promises to be a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Once known as Rangoon, this city was at one time the capital of Myanmar and had some of the most revolutionary building styles of the 19th century. The structures, although aged, have retained their beauty and you should not miss out on seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda.
This pagoda is said to have been built during the Buddha period and contains some of his relics. It is 326 feet (100 meters) in height and is considered to be one of the Wonders of The World as well as an iconic landmark.
Mandalay is located in the centre of Burma bordering both the Irrawaddy River and the Shan state. In a cultural sense, there are many customs that are performed here. Mandalay’s main form of transportation is the bicycle.
The U Bein bridge is the longest teakwood bridge in the world and is used as a passageway by the locals and for monks walking home with their bicycles.
At one time, this was also the capital of the country as seen by the 150-year-old palace. The palace is kept in immaculate condition, and the Mahamuni Buddha Temple is considered to be one of the most valuable sacred places in the world.
There are enormous statues of the Buddha as well as those depicting religious scenes. Each day, the monks and pilgrims come in to cleanse the statue at 4AM and this is known as the “Face Washing Ceremony”.
This is not the first time the company has had sailings in this region and they still offer Burmese trips in association with AmaWaterways. About2Cruise will be following any updates on the latest venture and the highly anticipated arrival of the RV Samatha and the RV Princess Panhwar.
Written by Veronica Shine