Life aboard Belmond’s Road to Mandalay Luxury River Cruise – Last October 2015, I spent two weeks traveling across Myanmar. My journey began in Yangon, and took me to Bagan, to board the luxury river cruise Belmond Road to Mandalay. An unforgettable journey, curated to perfection by the local Belmond team, of four nights, sailing along the Ayeyarwady River, with daily stops and tours, which included among other, Mingun, home of the world’s largest uncracked bell, Mandalay and Sagaing Hills with its beautiful pagodas and thriving community of Buddhist monks and nuns, sunset visit of U Bein Bridge among many other off and onboard experiences and activities. See and follow my full Instagram Photo Gallery on Myanmar…
The Ship Road to Mandalay, will make you fall in love since the minute you lay eyes on it. My first words were ” isn’t she a beauty…” as I was looking at it floating on the Ayeyarwady River on the banks of Old Bagan. Cruise along, taking in the country’s most mesmerising landscapes from the deck of this luxurious river cruiser. Stop off to explore rural villages from a bygone era, see saffron-robed monks go about their daily rituals, and marvel at the golden spires of pagodas which soar out of the lush jungle. Prepare for the journey of a lifetime.
Life onboard and off board was equally fabulous, and the daily plan was a perfect mix of both. With cool, relaxing spaces in which to mingle, luxurious cabins and indulgent touches you’re assured a great journey ahead. Every day is filled with events, excursions, exquisite dining and entertainment. Take in topical lectures by local and international experts or join a cooking class where you’ll learn a Burmese speciality you can whip up when you return home. Or just relax, cocktail in hand, on the teak deck and watch the marvellous sights as you cruise gently along the Ayeyarwady River. There are several different journeys to choose from ranging from a minimum of 2 nights to a maximum of 11 nights.
Most of my time while onboard I spent it at the Observatory Deck. The perfect spot from which to watch life on the river and its shores. Here you can soak up the sun, have a drink at the bar, or take a refreshing dip in the pool. My favorites where watching the sunrise and sunsets, while local life passed by before my own very eyes.
The ship offers three different type of accommodation, all including full private bathrooms. Beginning by the entry level Deluxe Cabins, following with their State Cabins and the Governor’s Suite. I was hosted at one of their beautiful and super comfortable State Cabins, where my favorite feature was my two wide windows overlooking life along the stream of the Ayeyarwady River. Seamlessly blends tradition with complete luxury. Belmond Road to Mandalay’s cabins have been designed to combine comfort and elegance, while reflecting local styles and materials. The cabins feature luxurious furnishings made by local artisans. All cabins enjoy outward-facing windows—to make the most of the fantastic views—satellite TV, an iPod docking station, air-conditioning, generous closet space and spacious en-suite bathrooms with locally made soaps. Some of the amenities you should expect to enjoy are: Welcome flowers and fruit basket. Complimentary bottled water replenished daily. Slippers and bathrobes. Complimentary morning tea and coffee. Hair dryer. Wireless internet (only available on the common areas, not in cabins)
Prepare for a journey of flavours as you travel through Myanmar. Dinning would be a daily routine. All our meals from breakfast, lunch and dinner, would be served onboard. I would start my day with complimentary morning coffee delivered to my cabin, followed by buffet/a-la-carte breakfast served in the Restaurant. An extensive buffet-style lunch served each day on the Observation Deck or in the Restaurant. A cup of tea sent to my room around 6PM, and then off to the Piano Bar for cocktails, mingling with other passengers. Dinners were served in the Restaurant and offer a choice of gourmet dishes to cater to all tastes. Or you may dine under the stars at the Road to Mandalay Grill. Savour fresh meats and seafood at the barbecue grill and select from the Asian-inspired buffet selection. Sample delicacies from the regularly rotating dining stations, serving tempura, stir fries, noodles and more as live musicians set the scene. Carefully selected wines are also available to complement your meal. Throughout the day refreshments were available from the Bar and the Observation Deck. My night would conclude over an aperitif overlooking the reflection of the moon over the river, at the Observation Deck Bar. On Belmond Road to Mandalay you’ll find a varied and enticing menu, including Burmese, Thai, Indonesian, Indian and European specialities. Complimentary soft drinks, mineral water, local beer and house wine are served with lunch and dinner. Complimentary pre-dinner aperitif served in the Bar each day. Cocktail parties with complimentary drinks and canapés. Gala Farewell Dinner on last night with specially designed menu.
I most definitely enjoyed all areas of the ship during my five days onboard. Including both common areas and back of the house, where I was taken one afternoon to explore the engines room.
While onboard, there are plenty of activities and options to keep you entertained and educated. The ship is equipped with a range of facilities to ensure your comfort and wellbeing throughout your journey. Generous and attentive staff are on hand to take care of the details, while you devote yourself to experiencing the marvels of Myanmar as the ship glides past. Take a refreshing dip in the on-deck swimming pool or use the state-of-the-art fitness equipment in the wellbeing area. This haven of relaxation is where you can enjoy pampering massages and spa treatments, or simply a hair makeover and manicure before dinner. Yoga and tai chi sessions take place on deck and at specially chosen venues on shore. Participate of the ongoing educational sessions. Or even book your session with the onboard fortune teller.
If cooking sparks your interest, you may join the ship’s Chef at the Observatory Deck, on one of her master classes of authentic Burmese cooking,
A mirage of options await for you to experience daily off board, if you choose to do so. Beginning with Bagan and onwards to Mandalay. Over the centuries Myanmar has developed around the banks of the mighty Ayeyarwady River, making it the ideal vantage point from which to experience this once isolated nation. Perhaps the most pleasurable way to see Myanmar, feel its pulse, live its legends and understand its history, is to cruise the Ayeyarwady. While enjoying the river’s tranquillity, life on the riverbank offers endless fascination. From the small teak and bamboo dwellings, home to the excited children who run along the riverbank and the women purposefully going about their daily chores, to the ox carts cultivating fields, a river cruise gives a unique insight into the way of life of the country. Elegant monasteries rise above canopied trees, and ruined ancient temples reveal a wealth of historic treasures. The Ayeyarwady River still remains Myanmar’s lifeline, the people and economy ever dependent on its vital natural source. Ferries, bamboo rafts, barges and fishing boats, all ply their trade along these waters, at a slow relaxed pace—there is no need to hurry in Myanmar.