Passengers: 32 in 16 twin cabins on 2 decks
Crew: 18 Built: 2011, entered service in 2012.
THE Katha Pandaw is one of the new, smaller vessels, (the regular
Pandaw ships have up to 30 cabins) so has a delightfully private,
Demographic: Best for grown up couples and singles with a worldly
view. Frequently English and Australians, with the occasional
American escaping Disneyland.
Facilities: Open-Air Lounge, observation deck, bar, 24-hour
hospitality bar, al fresco dining, fair-trade shop, library, wi-fi (where
available only, so don’t count on it)
Itineraries: 7, 14 and 20 night cruises on the Chindwin and Irrawaddy
Rivers in Burma between Prome, Katha, Mandalay, Pyay & Homalin.
Cabins: While small for ship standards, I estimate about 16sqm, they
are authentic and nostalgic, in keeping with the theme of the ship and
finished in beautiful timber. The bathrooms are comparatively large
and all cabins are twin.
Food: Dining is a treat on Pandaw. A mix of buffet and plated dishes,
the kitchen turns out three super meals each day no matter how far
away from civilisation. On Katha Pandaw, dining is al fresco on the
back deck with removable shades in the event of rain. Chefs are adept
at traditional Burmese cuisine, which is lighter and less spicy than Thai
or Vietnamese, with an emphasis on fresh locally sourced produce
such as fish, greens and vegetables.
Service: The Burmese staff can be compared to Thai’s or Balinese in
so much as they ‘get’ service. There are always smiles and nothing is
too much trouble. Little things like daily shoe cleaning, prompt drink
service and spotless public areas make all the difference. Staff seem
to be predominantly male.
Tipping: At guests’ discretion.
Entertainment: While there is no set schedule, local performers like
dancers and musicians will frequently come aboard to entertain. The
ship has a library, but a well-loaded e-reader or tablet is handy. There
is no TV or video aboard.
Excursions: These typically take the form of village and temple visits
with occasional coach trips farther afield to parks, attractions and
crafts like pottery, silk, textiles and artefacts. There is even an ox
cart excursion in Katha, the setting for George Orwell’s first novel
“Burmese Days” and the vessel’s namesake.
Dress code: I like to call it colonial chic, but be prepared for the
tropical humidity and a spot of rain. A nice cool shirt for men and
a smart blouse for ladies is all that is required for dinner. Hats,
sunglasses and sun protection are important. An umbrella (supplied
on board) is handy for both sun and rain. Dress modestly ashore.
Who would love it: Nostalgia tragics will die for this, especially if you
have a literary streak and a penchant for stuff like King and I, Orwell
and Kipling. Folks looking for an authentic cultural experience, market
shoppers, temple trampers and dinner party loudmouths will wear
Burma like a medal.
Who would hate it: Tourists looking for spotless, structured activities
might find Burma a bit ‘raw’ and haphazard. Your feet will get
dirty and mangy dogs will follow you around. While there isn’t the
desperate poverty like in India, locals aren’t what you’d call affluent.
Bookings and information: www.activetravel.com.au/pandaw.
Ship Review: RV Katha Pandaw by: Roderick EimeNovember 26, 2013