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Deluxe Luangsay cruise or mid-range cruise like Nagi of Mekong or Shompoo?

Deluxe Luangsay cruise or mid-range cruise like Nagi of Mekong or Shompoo?

Old Feb 5th, 2016, 06:40 PM
  #1  
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Deluxe Luangsay cruise or mid-range cruise like Nagi of Mekong or Shompoo?

I'm wondering if anyone can help me out with advice on this.

We had intended to book Nagi of Mekong or Shompoo for our upstream cruise. Now I just found out that for a last minute booking like we will be doing, Luangsay cuts their price by 50%. Even with 50% off, they are still more money than the other two companies. But, with such a large discount, we'd consider booking them.

Can anyone help me with comparisons between Luangsay and the other two companies? Is it worth spending the extra money (even after discounts probably about $100 per person) on Luangsay?

I guess I should add that we are not typically top-of-the line or luxury travelers or those who need to be waited on hand and foot, but we'll occasionally splurge if we think it is worth it.

Thanks.
julies is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2016, 07:42 AM
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I haven't been on any of these ships, so no first-hand experience. I did some research on this route a few years ago. At that time, the LuangSay was the only one where the overnight stay was included in the price. I was warned (by other travelers) that if I didn't do the LuangSay, I needed to make sure I had reservations for that night in the small village where you stop, as accommodations were very limited. It's been a few years and ll that may have changed.

Good luck! I look forward to your report.
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Old Feb 6th, 2016, 11:13 AM
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We took the Luang Say trip in 2014. I can't compare to the others, but maybe Progol who I think took Nagi of Mekong will chime in.
I believe the main difference is the overnight stay at Pak Beng village. The resort used by Luang Say was set in beautiful gardens, with individual teak cabins scattered along a boardwalk, all with views of the Mekong. The restaurant and bar. area also overlooked the river. The food was excellent. At cocktail hour a local dance troupe performed, and audience participation was encouraged.
It was a short walk to the village.

We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and paid full price. I'd jump at it with 50% off.
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Old Feb 6th, 2016, 12:56 PM
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And here I am, chiming in! We really enjoyed the Nagi of Mekong cruise, but I would agree that if you were able to get the Luang Say with a significant discount, it would be worth it. The cost did include the hotel in Pak Beng, but it was a very basic hotel, and our room was as dreary as it got. We happened to be dawdling and got one of the last rooms, & other rooms were nicer, but it was still a very modest place. As sartoric says, the resort used by Luang Say is much nicer. Dinner was not included although breakfast was.

The boat was comfortable though nothing elegant. The seating was arranged with double cushioned seats facing each other for 2/3 of the boat -- rather like a comfortable train -- with cushioned seating in the front area along the sides of the boat. The meals were surprisingly good and filling.

What made it especially fun was the collegiality of the group. The boat was pretty full with a range of ages, though it was predominantly 50s and up with a nice mix of the younger backpacker set.

I do remember yestravel and go travel writing about the cruise, and they noted that the mornings were surprisingly cool, so do make sure that you take something on the boat to keep you warm. it wasn't overly cool when we traveled, but it was good to have the little extra before it warmed up.
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Old Feb 6th, 2016, 03:09 PM
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Ha ha Progol, perfect chiming !

I can add that Luang Say had wooden ponchos for those who needed them. Our boat had tables for four along one side, tables for two on the other all in train like configuration. There was a large area at the back which seated maybe six, and a platform at the front for sleeping. The food was also good, plentiful with many choices.
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Old Feb 6th, 2016, 04:15 PM
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Thanks. I knew I could get help here! I had just about made up my mind that we'd go for the mid-range because I had read that dinner at Lunagsay is buffet which we hate! From the descrptions here it does sound as though perhaps the Luangsay is a more comfortable boat with different types of seating options available. Whether it is true or not I don't know, but I read over on TA that Nagi and Shompoo don't actually own their boats but use local rentals so photos that one sees on the website may be different rom the boat one actually gets. Luangsay owns its boat.

Now I just need to make up my mind, and I need to double check to see if these all actually still have seats available on the dates we want. We are assuming they will since we want to go upstream rather than in the usual downstream direction.
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Old Feb 6th, 2016, 05:05 PM
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The dinner was buffet style for our cruise in Feb 2014. I recall about 5 or 6 bainmaries holding freshly prepared, local and tasty food. Plenty of staff on hand to serve, clear plates etc.

I too am not a fan of buffets, and would never purposely go to one. I think given the fairly remote aspect of this area, likely electricity interruptions and other logistics, they do well with what they have.

Trust you'll enjoy whichever boat you decide on.
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Old Feb 15th, 2016, 06:22 AM
  #8  
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I am going to update this in case others do a search and have the same question in the future.

For our last minute up-stream booking we researched 3 options--Nagi of the Mekong, Shompoo and Luangsay.

Nagi of the Mekong was eliminated after discovering that they use charter boats with captains of varying capabilities. Most importantly of all, they had a boat hit rocks and completely sink in one minute last year; one passenger died.

Shompoo was in contention until the very end. They do not own their boats but lease three of them. They lost out for three reasons. On a last minute booking we were trying to figure out if in Pakbeng we would be able to get what we wanted in lodging; we couldn't seem to get a firm answer. Shompoo's boats are also longer (presumably so the captain and family can live in the rear of the boat) and have smaller engines so they take longer (especially important when going upstream). Because of this slower progress, it felt to us as though their cruise was more of a re-positioning cruise with fewer opportunities for shore excursions in comparison to Luangsay. Plus, we walked down to the river and took a look at the boats used by both Shompoo and Luangsay. The configuration of the Luangsay boat looked as though it would be more comfortable for a two day journey.

So, even with the 50% last minute booking reduction Luangsay is still the most expensive, but we'll be taking them. I'll report back after our trip. I'll also add in that we never would have paid full price for this cruise and would have made a different decision at full fare.
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 03:12 PM
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I'm updating this post for other who might want to make comparisons for future trips.

First point: going upstream, rather than the usual downstream, takes a little more time each day on the river because you are fighting the current. However, there will be many fewer people on the boat which will add to your enjoyment.

We liked the Luangsay cruise company a lot and would definitely sign up again with this company if we were to return to the area (and could get their last minute pricing again). We were extremely well taken care of from the moment their tuk tuk picked us up at our Luang Prabang hotel until we got in our taxi in Chiang Khong, Thailand. After being on our own and managing all of our own transfers for over a month, the little luxuries of having someone handle all of our luggage and knowing all of the ins and outs of transferring and going through immigration at the border was nice.

We were lucky that we only had 8-10 passengers on our two day trip, so there was no staking out of seats and we were all able to move freely around. The boat had an overhead section that was slid open on the first day in case anyone wanted to sit in the sun, but after the crew realized that all of us were moving around precisely to get out of the sun, the roof was closed and not opened again. Food was freshly prepared and served every couple hours or so, so we never went hungry.

This really did seem more like a true guided trip rather than just a way of getting passengers from point A to point B. The guide for our trip was always available to talk, and we had some interesting discussions. Shore visits were not particularly long (perhaps 45 minutes) but were fine for getting off, walking around a bit, and learning about the local village or the caves at Pac Ou.

The lodge itself was not really a lodge but a series of individual huts set up on stilts. I've heard some people describe the bamboo/wooden huts as basic, but for us they were more than fine. Each room hut has a separate bathroom, a platform-like area where the bed is, and then a sitting area in front of large windows that open wide to offer views over the river. Since there are no screens on any of the windows, beds are equipped with mosquito nets for night.The grounds were nicely landscaped, and there was an extensive series of wooden walkways between all the different areas of the resort.

We saw the Shompoo boat a couple times during our journey as both boats were on nearly identical time schedules. The boat looked fine but was different in that it obviously was the home for a family who lived on the back of the boat, whereas the Luangsay was custom-built as purely a passenger boat.
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Old Feb 24th, 2016, 05:24 PM
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Thanks for your report, Julies.
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Old Feb 26th, 2016, 05:54 PM
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Nice report. When we did the Luang Say cruise we did not get picked up in LP. I still remember rolling our suitcase down to the dock. But I agree they did take good care of you. Our boat was also not anywhere near full.
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Old Jul 8th, 2017, 08:03 AM
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Julies,
We're planning on doing the river cruise (haven't made any reservations yet) Can I ask how and when you signed up for the last minute trip? Thanks.
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Old Jul 8th, 2017, 03:10 PM
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We were in Luang Prabang prior to the cruise and just walked into their office to sign up--only about two or three days ahead of time. Some people on the boat had planned very early and made their reservations many months ahead of time. But, in addition to us I know there was at least one other woman who'd only signed up a couple days ahead of time. And, as I recall this was her second time doing this cruise at the last minute pricing.
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