Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Goldring Travel's AMAWaterways' AmaLotus - Vietnam, Cambodia and The Mekong River Cruise- Part IX (The Ship)


The AmaLotus is a beautiful luxury river cruise ship; the most luxurious on the Mekong River for sure.  Our children have a standard veranda cabin, we have a junior suite and our friends have a Sadec Suite (the largest on the ship).
 

My first impression is that AmaWaterways does a lousy job…of letting people see how wonderful this ship is.  I really didn’t have a clear idea that the ship is so spacious or the cabins so roomy and nicely laid out.  (And this is me talking!).
 
But I do not want to get ahead of myself. 

After boarding we immediately were taken to the restaurant (the only dining facility on the ship) for a late lunch.  As we had checked in in Siem Reap there was no real embarkation procedure!

AmaWaterways says the lunch is a buffet-style, but it really isn’t.  There are multiple types of salads and breads offered in the buffet, but to the right of the buffet is an “action station” where a hot option is offered.  It could be pho or pasta with a variety of sauces or roast turkey.  To the left is the fruit, ice cream and cheese station.  But also, when you sit down, you are given a menu and you also have a choice of adding or just having a salad, soup or main course.  Because the main courses are both Asian and Western, a sample of each is displayed as you enter the restaurant.  (By the way, breakfast is served in a similar fashion.)
 
 

 
 
Wine and beer is freely poured during lunch and dinner.  Both the white and red wines are acceptable and poured from carafes.  There is a limited, but acceptable, wine list if you wish.
 
One small sore point:  We are a group of six and even though there are twelve tables for six, one or two people will sit at those tables making it difficult for us to dine together…unless one of us races down to the restaurant for a table.  A table will not be reserved for us.  I do not find this to be acceptable…especially when family is traveling together.   (And when we had the problem when we boarded it soured just a bit an otherwise excellent embarkation.)
 
After lunch we were given the keys to our room (high tech RFID cards) and a warning not to use the water from the taps to drink or brush our teeth.  But plenty of complimentary bottled water is provided…with four bottles placed in your in-cabin refrigerator every morning with more available upon request.
 
When we arrived in our cabins/suites our luggage was already there.    The rooms have a small balcony (enough for two chairs) and also a French balcony (which might be useful  at a cooler time of year, but now not so much.) 


The beds are very comfortable and fitted with duvets and four pillows (two firm and two softer.) There are sufficient cupboards, but I would like some additional shelving.  A large desk is provided as well as a solid wooden luggage butler and a two seat sofa (by the French balcony).  The standard cabins have a chair in its place.  Flat screen televisions are provided, but there is no broadcast television…not that I can find any time to watch it. My children advise me that there is actually quite a large and current selection of DVDs.

The bathrooms are small, but excellent, paneled with warm wood.  There is a large ceramic vessel sink with a low profile toilet and a large shower in the standard cabins.  We have a large whirlpool bath as well…with many jets and LED lights.  (The same one found on the luxury junk AmaWaterways uses in Halong Bay, Vietnam.

After  a quick unpacking and up to the Sun Deck.  (Note:  There is no sailaway because as soon as the last guest is boarded the AmaLotus shoves off from shore and we head up the Tonle Sap River.)  The Sun Deck is a very comfortable and attractive space with more than enough cushioned wood loungers, wicker sofas and chairs and a small bar. 




Coffee and tea is available 24/7 and local (I stress “local”) liquor and beer are complimentary at all times…but strangely wine is not except at dinner. 

Obviously premium liquor is available for purchase.  (I am finding the local 333 beer and gin & tonics more than acceptable.)  Smoking is permitted on the Sun Deck.

 

There is also one lounge which has a bar at the rear and many comfortable sofas and chairs with cocktail tables.  The lounge is used for movies, lectures, local performers, logistics meetings and the gathering point for the tours.


There is also a small internet station.  Wireless service is limited to the lounge.  This really needs to be expanded.  While with the steel construction of this ship, putting into every stateroom would be quite a challenge, it most definitely needs to be added to the Sun Deck. 
 
 
There is also a small exercise room with a high stationary bike, elliptical trainer, treadmill and free weights.


After a time taking there was a lecture on Cambodian history and biology by a number of the guides.  Our guide has been so informative over the past days that I had already heard all of the information…and in more detail.  Of course I have been immersed in Cambodia for days, so for those who are just doing the cruise I am sure it was most helpful.

Shortly thereafter there was a briefing about the next day (which takes about 15 minutes) and then dinner followed by a quiet evening on the Sun Deck.