On-board: The Strand Cruise (day inspection)
After months of chasing it unsuccessfully around the country, Tour Mandalay finally got the chance to carry out an on-board inspection on the Strand Cruise ship, one of the most recent additions to Myanmar’s luxury river cruise scene.
Armed with nothing but our trusty GoPro camera, which is amazing for taking wide angle shots by the way, please find below a selection if shots which we hope will give you a better idea of what’s in store. Do bear in mind that we have not yet had the opportunity to stay overnight, so it is only really possible for us to comment on the aesthetics of the ship and not the entire experience. Saying that, the cruise is managed by one of the country’s most experienced and service-savvy hotels, so anyone looking to stay on-boad can rest assured knowing that they’re going to be in extremely capable hands.
For those looking for something luxurious and contemporary, the Strand Cruise is perhaps in a league of its own. The rooms we inspected strongly evoked a sense of a home away from home, to the point where we actually forgot we were on a cruise ship.
Although the entry level Deluxe Cabin might be a bit too compact for some, it is a similar size to most other lead-in cabins, so we do not think it should present too much of a problem. It also benefits from wide sliding windows, which you can open fully to let lights and a fresh breeze through – this alone will be sure to dismiss any feeling of claustrophobia. For those that don’t tend to spend much time in their room, a stay in this category would actually be ideal seeing as you would still get access to the same facilities, meals and excursions that everyone else will (besides the personal butler service, which is only available to those staying in the Strand Suite).
Tour Mandalay’s favourite cabin was the State Suite. Not only did it feel like the most spacious cabin, but the room has been designed around the ship’s winding stair well, and we thought its unusual shape helped to provide a distinct sense of character. The sofa and desk for example, have been specially designed to fit snuggly with the wall’s protruding curve. This also helps to provide the spacious bedroom area with a feeling of separation from the living area. Room 209 was our favourite in this category.
Although we found it impressive, we didn’t feel that there was much of a size difference between the State Suite and the Strand Suite, although the Strand Suite does benefit from its own private balcony area at the front of the ship and a personal butler service. There are only two rooms in this category, with room 202 being our favourite due to it having its own separate changing area.
We were particularly impressed with the restaurant, bar and swimming pool area. With a maximum passenger capacity of 30, it is hard to imagine any of these areas ever feeling crowded, which in-turn will help to ensure a constant sense of exclusivity. With its long stretched dark-wood surface, the bar counter reminded us of the American sitcom Cheers and we’re sure it will help to set the scene for many an interesting conversation. Alternatively, you may wish to sit on one of the smaller surrounding tables whilst enjoying a game of mahjong or Scrabble. The swimming pool area was not set up for passengers on the day of inspection, but as you will see from the photographs on the Strand Cruise ship’s official brochure (see link below), this area looks extremely welcoming when set up properly. There are also pull-out sun shades, which extend to shelter guests from the usually scorching Myanmar heat.
Unfortunately we did not get the chance to taste the food, but we have been assured by the Strand Cruise ship’s management team that this will be just as good, if not better, than the food on offer at the Strand Hotel’s fine dining restaurant. If that is true, then it is fair to say anyone lucky enough to book on this cruise will be in for a delightful culinary experience. They also boast an extensive selection of imported beer, wine and spirits, with local alcohol being provided on a complimentary basis.
Due to this being a day inspection, it will not be possible for Tour Mandalay to provide our thoughts on the touring but the details of both the three and four night itineraries can be found by clicking on the links below.
Judging from what we saw on the day of the inspection, Tour Mandalay were really impressed with the quality of the Strand Cruise and anyone looking for a luxury river cruise offering should definitely consider this as an option alongside Anawrahta, Sanctuary and Belmond. The experience will however better suit those looking for something more contemporary in style, or perhaps those looking to book with a locally based company as opposed to one that is international.
Those wishing to find out more can do so by opening the Strand Cruise ship’s official brochure below.
For reservation enquiries, be sure to contact Tour Mandalay directly by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.