The Jahan and the Jayavarman are Heritage Line’s two luxury cruise ships sailing the Mekong River between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Heritage Line, MK The Jahan ship.
“Our ships have a boutique environment with large cabins and a range of onboard facilities. We offer well-balanced itineraries and competitive rates, and guests really appreciate the great excursions and the heartfelt hospitality of our local staff”, says Andreas Schroetter, Director of Sales and Marketing Heritage Line.
Heritage Line, MK Barbecue on Board.
We left Siem Reap’s Victoria Hotel & Spa Siem Reap by coach and soon found ourselves boarding the Jahan, a 5-star floating boutique hotel with 20 staterooms and six suites. Greeted by the smiling Cambodian and Vietnamese staff, the airy pastel tints on the walls and ceilings, delicate hand-painted Indian-inspired decorations and antique furniture ushered us into an era of opulence and antiquity… but with Illy coffee machines and in-room safes. The staterooms, with double or twin beds, have day areas with sofas and vanity corners, and the large picture windows slide open onto balconies. The four Signature Suites are on 36sqm, and the top-of-the-range Taj Suite and Lord Byron Suite at the Jahan’s bow have dining areas and Jacuzzis on their spacious balconies.
Heritage Line, MK The Jahan - Private Dinner on Balcony.
We stopped daily for land excursions as we crossed first Tonle Sap Lake, and then began the cruise along the Mekong past bucolic landscapes, floating villages and small provincial towns. At Kampong Chhang we visited a rural pottery factory where pots and cooking stoves are hand produced and fired in rudimental kilns. Wat Hanchey, the pre-Angkorian temple on a hill top, provided panoramic views over the Mekong, and the silk-waving village on the island of Koh Oknha Tey gave an insight into this traditional craft.
Heritage Line, MK The Jahan Pool and Sun deck.
At Tan Chau, having crossed the water border with Vietnam, we hopped onto narrow trishaws and were pedalled along dusty streets, stopping to buy fruit and souvenirs at the local market and visiting a floating cat-fish farm. In the heart of the delta the pilot boat took us into Ca Be where we admired the Gothic cathedral and learned how to make rice paper wrappers for spring rolls as well as popped rice and coconut candies, which are a local speciality.
Heritage Line, MK The Jahan Signature Stateroom Ceylon.
The elegant Viceroy Dining Hall with its ceiling-to-floor windows, breakfasts, buffet-style lunches and elegant dinners with international and Asian-styled menus was one of the highlights of the day. The sofas in the East India Club, and the sun beds and pool on the Pool Deck beckoned at all hours, and for total relaxation the Apsara spa offered a range of massages and beauty treatments.
With 24 hours in Phnom Penh the morning was spent at the Cheung Ek Killing Fields memorial park and the S-21 Tuong Sleng prison camp - stark reminders of the tragic years of the Khmer Rouge atrocities. After lunch in Malis Restaurant, where celebrity chef Luu Meng’s original take on traditional Cambodian food got a collective thumbs up, we visited the National Museum with its fascinating Angkor Wat artefacts, and the Royal Palace. And, after dinner on board, there was still time to enjoy Sisowath Quay with its lively bars and colourful night markets.
Making rice cakes Ca Be.
Heritage Line, which also has the Anawratha on the Irawaddy in Myanmar and three ships on Halong Bay, has plans to expand with new ships, concepts and destinations, and in 2018 will launch a new ship on Halong Bay. “The new Ginger will have great design, big spaces and enhanced spa facilities. It will be the first ship on the bay to have a pool and the first luxury cruise offering an itinerary off the beaten track,” says Andreas Schroetter. “And in 2018 we will be introducing gourmet and wellness cruises on the Mekong and the Irawaddy.”
Photo caption: Floating village.
Pamela McCourt Francescone was born in Dublin and educated in Ireland, Holland, Switzerland and London and then at Trinity College Dublin. She left her job as an aspiring director in Irish Television when she fell in love with Italy many years ago. She started working with the American newspapers in Rome, the Daily American and the International Courier and then moved into travel writing. She speaks fluent Italian, good French and fair Spanish. She is a translator (it's more a passion than a job) and have been a PR and Press Agent for Italian and international travel companies. She's a good amateur photographer and a passionate traveller. She writes, in Italian and English, for leading international magazines and papers. Her travel philosophy reflects that of my great fellow citizen and the "boy next door" (he was born at 1 Merrion Square, she at 68) Oscar Wilde who, famously, said: "To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect." For her the unexpected is the essence of travel: and in the 99 countries she has visited she has come across so much more than she ever hoped or dared expect. Specialties: Destinations, luxury travel, luxury hotels, air transport, MICE, art, culture, food, wellness.