Brand new in July 2013 from Belmond, the Orcaella (named after a species of snubfin dolphin unique to the Irrawaddy) offers deluxe river cruising on the Chindwin and Irrawaddy Rivers between Rangoon and Bhamo. Standards are every bit as excellent as you would expect. 7- and 11-night cruises are offered, with daily cultural excursions. The 25 cabins are spacious and comfortable, with teak and rattan furniture and full-length glass windows looking out onto the unfurling landscape. Facilities include a swimming pool, fitness room, spa and an observation deck. First class food and wine list and great service. This is scenery, culture, adventure and relaxation all wrapped up in one luxurious package.
Built in 2007 in Burma in the style of the old colonial river steamers, the RV Paukan (Paukan is the ancient name for Bagan) describes itself as a charming cruising boutique hotel. It offers short one- or two-night cruises on the Irrawaddy River between Mandalay and Bagan during the dry season. A crew of 30 looks after 55 passengers, who are accommodated in comfortable cabins decorated in a blend of traditional (hardwood floors and furnishings) and contemporary styles. Some cabins open onto a promenade deck, others have large sliding glass doors onto a French balcony. Facilities include a bar, lounge, dining room (serving both Burmese and international cuisine), and large sundeck and observation lounge from which to watch the passing scenery unfold.
Operating on the Chindwin and Upper Irrawaddy Rivers in Burma, The IFC (Irrawaddy Flotilla Company) Pandaw is one of the leading luxury river cruise companies in Asia. The company has 10 ships, all newly built as replicas of the old colonial river steamers and all beautifully finished in teak and brass. Staterooms, although not enormous, are large by cruising standards and very comfortable. Service is friendly and excellent. Journeys range from 7 to 20 nights with (non-compulsory) daily cultural excursions, and a stunning variety of landscapes and a rich diversity of riverside life and culture along the route. A river trip such as this offers a fantastic blend of relaxation, adventure and culture.