On a cruise ship
Avalon Saigon: Cultural immersion in the Mekong Delta
Avalon Saigon from Avalon Waterways was designed with the aim of providing an intimate experience with a maximum of 36 guests so you can immerse yourself in the culture, people and sights along the Mekong River, which separates Cambodia and Vietnam.
Like its sister ship Avalon Siem Reap, Avalon Saigon won't win any beauty contests, as it puts plain Jane functionality first, and that's a good thing: The shipi sports a flat roof that lets it navigate waterways to reach Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon. This makes it easier for travelers to enjoy pre- and post-cruise stays and brings guests closer to the breathtaking ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
One books a cruise on Avalon Saigon, though, not for the ship but for the destination, and cruisers won't be disappointed in the cultural immersion in both large cities and small villages led by expert tour guides. Keep in mind, though, that a trip on Avalon Saigon is less a luxury cruise than a semi-"roughing it" experience, given that most of the remote villages along the way have damaged walkways, no roads and little in the way of infrastructure.
Where Avalon Saigon sails
Avalon Saigon resumes sailings along the Mekong River between Cambodia and Vietnam in January 2022.
Fares on Avalon Saigon include a pre- and post-cruise stay at a luxury hotel. Also included are Wi-Fi (though it's only available in the lounge and sun deck), room service, tours and excursions by expert local guides, local flights and motorcoach transfers, live evening entertainment by local performers, daily enrichment lectures and replenished daily bottled water. Complimentary cappuccino, espresso, latte and premium Lavazza coffee are also provided to our guests throughout the day.
Extras such as spa treatments, gratuities, visa fees, air fare and transfers are not included.
There's one main dining venue aboard, but it's a beaut: Windows stretch the length of both side walls, flooding the room with natural light and passing scenery. In addition to taking in the sights, travelers also get the chance to try out local cuisines, inspired by local ingredients and created by highly skilled chefs, as well as regional wines. Meals typically consist of a choice of appetizer, salad, entrée, cheese and dessert. Cruisers also have healthy menu options including low calorie, low sodium and glucose-free meals. Most provisions are sourced from the major cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap from trusted grocers. Guests can also order continental breakfast in their room and have drinks delivered throughout the day.
Activities on board
Guests can relax and take in the surrounding scenery from the air-conditioned Panorama Lounge, the shaded Sky Deck, the dining room or the outdoor Observation Lounge. There's also a spa/massage room, small workout room and library.
The Panorama Lounge also serves pastries, tea, coffee and juices for early risers. The ship features a cocktail hour during which passengers can socialize while enjoying local wine, beer and other spirits.
Nightlife is fairly subdued, after the demanding daytime excursions, though small groups will occasionally gather for a drink in the lounge at night and a movie is available most nights in the lounge, and they can be streamed to your cabin as well.
Toward the end of each sailing, the crew puts on a talent show and dance party and passengers are encouraged to take part.
Shore excursions take place once or twice a day and are the same for all passengers. Tours have an intimate feel, focusing on daily life and culture and the lasting impact of the Vietnam War. Visited sites include Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Vietnam's Cu Chi tunnels, a network of secret underground tunnels used during the war, and smaller outposts in small river villages. When the ship arrives in Phnom Penh, passengers head out for a restaurant, bar, cafe or to shop the night markets.
Avalon Saigon has 18 cabins and all come in at a roomy 245 square feet with roughly the same layout, including a 14-foot glass window and sliding door that you can open to hear the tranquil sounds of the river flowing.
The two room categories consist of Avalon Suites and French Balcony staterooms. All Suites have large floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows. Other cabin features include wall-mounted flat-screen TVs with news and movie channels and mini-fridges stocked with complimentary water, soda and local beer.
Custom-made Comfort Collection Beds are a signature feature of the Avalon Waterways Mekong cruising experience (all rooms have two twin beds that can convert to a king-size bed). There's also a sitting area with love sea, vanity/writing desk and private French balcony — floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with wall-to-wall window — and individual climate control, a minibar, safe and deluxe pillow menu. Each room features a private bathroom featuring a massive glass-enclosed shower with rainfall option, hair dryer, bathrobes and slippers, L'Occitane hand soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
Note that rooms sleep only two and children are rarely among the passengers. There are no special arrangements or activities for children and the minimum age for travelers is 8.
How about you? Have you sailed on Avalon Saigon? How was it? We'd love to see your photos and hear about your experience!
Interested in a cruise on this ship?
For pricing, itinerary information and to reserve your spot on Avalon Saigon, contact a Cruiseable travel consultant by email or call 1-877-322-3773.