The Strand Cruise
The Strand Cruise is the new kid on the block on Myanmar’s mighty Irrawaddy river. Launched in early 2016 with a single superbly appointed boat, the Myanmar Strand Cruise is unquestionably brilliant. This is hardly surprising when the group behind the oldest and most iconic hotel, The Strand in Yangon (see Yangon hotel options), decides to make a luxury entry into river cruising.
The Strand cruise boat is a converted rice barge spread over four passenger decks. From the outside, it is tall, imposing and beautiful, with a harmonious blend of white painted metal and teak planks.
Inside, well… wow! It is everything you would hope for and more. A walk up the gentle gangplank, leads into a lobby area with a deep velvety carpet, fine art and rich overtones of luxury with a central circular staircase to the upper decks.
The cabins, 28 in total, are spacious with the base category starting at 16.5 square meters. All have king-sized beds, external full-height windows providing brilliant viewing of life on the river and exceptionally well appointed and tastefully finished bathrooms with rain showers.
On the first deck, rooms lead off towards the front of the boat. On the second deck, your find the main restaurant towards the rear, light and airy with full-height picture windows. There are rooms leading off to the front again.
And, in our view, the piece de resistance, sits on the top deck. A beautiful bar area, liberally furnished with bespoke furniture, delicately blending old world charm with super modern facilities through occasional lighting with tripod lamps, antique art and tasteful ornaments.
The bar area leads out onto the open top deck at the rear which has an array of seating and lounging options. In the opposite direction, a short walk past the spa treatment rooms leads out onto a deck with sun loungers and tremendous plunge pool.
The food is exquisite. You’ll find yourself wanting more of everything. And if you’ve stayed at The Strand in Yangon, you’ll know how good the Strand Cruise breakfast is.
The bar has a vast selection of champagnes, wines and spirits. Everything is delicately served, in proper glasses, chilled if appropriate, with finesse.
In our experience, on-board entertainment on ships can sometimes be a bit cringe-worthy but here the right balance is achieved. Occasional evening entertainment is organised and draws on influences from the local area, depending on where the ship has docked.
Mandalay marionette groups come aboard to perform enchanting shows, the best musicians of Bagan board to provide a live evening soundtrack and the resident magician, with his throaty French accent, is always on hand to make you choke on your Bloody Mary with mind-boggling tricks.
PRICE: Worth maxing out for
RATING: Out of this world
Thoughts on a postcard
Sitting outside early one morning with our cappuccinos, we watched the fishermen casting their nets until Pierre distracted us with stories of the lost temples of Bagan whilst temping us to pick a card from his deck. Only on an Irrawaddy luxury cruise!