Interest in visiting Southeast Asia via riverboat is higher than it has ever been before and that means more ships are setting course along rivers like the Mekong, which flows through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand; Myanmar's Irrawaddy, and even the Ganges that starts at the Bay of Bengal and runs through both Bangladesh and India.
We have been on top of this trend, sharing destination advice for vacationing in these regions, like the recent review of an AMAWaterways cruise along the Mekong and Orient-Express' intention to launch a second riverboat in Burma/Myanmar. Now there's a newcomer offering luxury expeditions in Southeast Asia: Haimark, Ltd.
New River Cruise Company in Southeast Asia
Two industry veterans—Tom Markwell and Marcus Leskovar—partnered with local ground operator Giang Hai to launch the company that has plans to have five riverboats plying Asia's rivers by 2015.
Knowing that travelers have many choices in Asia, Haimark plans to set itself apart by offering expertly guided tours of the region to ensure guests visit the most compelling sights and learn as much as they can about the history and culture of the region. The ultra-inclusive experience includes all shore excursions plus onboard perks like complimentary coffee and tea, water, soft drinks, and local beer and spirits. Complimentary wine will also be available, but only at dinner.
R.V. Mekong Navigator
The first ship will launch in September 2014. Named the R.V. Mekong Navigator, this 34-suite vessel will host 68 guests and house a crew of 34, plus three local guides. Designers have incorporated a French colonial style to evoke the feeling of Old Saigon, yet passengers won't forgo any modern creature comforts. Butlers tend to guests in the larger Grand and Prestige suites that also benefit from in-room breakfast, evening canapés delivery, and laundry service.
The Mekong Navigator will sail seven-night itineraries between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Cambodia. Per person cruise fares start at $1,999. Additionally, Haimark offers pre- and post-cruise stays in those two cities plus Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Bangkok. A majority of the 2014 voyages are sold out but space is available on cruises embarking on November 16 and 23 as well as December 21 and 28.
Expeditions in Myanmar and India
The new cruise line is also building the 28-suite Irrawaddy Explorer to sail nine-night itineraries along Myanmar's Irrawaddy River and its sister ship, Ganges Voyager, will offer seven-night round-trip expeditions out of Calcutta.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com and writes for a variety of outlets, including her website Luxury Travel Mavens. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.
Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Haimark, Ltd.