Dispatch: AmaWaterway's Newest Ship, AmaDara
AmaWaterways’ newest ship, the 124-passenger, 302-foot-long AmaDara, is now sailing its inaugural voyage on the Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam.
The AmaDara is the same size as the AmaLotus, which entered service in 2011, but what sets the new ship apart is the fact that every single stateroom has the line’s signature Twin Balconies — a full balcony with chairs and a small table, along with a French balcony.
The Twin Balcony staterooms replace those on the lowest deck that previously had small windows. “The booking pattern is definitely that our top cabins sell first and the lowest deck cabins sell last,” company co-founder Kristin Karst said.
For example, the AmaLotus has six staterooms with portholes on the lowest of four decks. The new AmaDara has three passenger decks with all Twin Balcony staterooms and larger suites, which measure 334 and 452 square feet.
The staterooms, a spacious 226 square feet in size, also feature a sitting area with river views, individually controlled air conditioning, a desk, mini bar, safe, and TV.
Public areas include two restaurants serving Asian and Western cuisine, a fitness room, hair salon, spa, and a swimming pool on the sun deck.
The ship departed Aug. 17 on its maiden voyage from a docking spot about five hours from Siem Reap, Cambodia, where most passengers spent a few days first to see Angkor Wat, the 12th century temples. (Many also had first visited Hanoi, Vietnam, before flying to Siem Reap).
The next day, the ship’s passengers then boarded local boats to see the floating village of Kampong Chhnang, where families live on boats powered by car batteries. Later that afternoon, a walking tour of Koh Chen visited a school and shops operated by local silversmiths.
The next day, passengers received a blessing by Buddhist monks in Cambodia’s largest monastery in Oudong, followed by a 20-minute ride in ox carts through the countryside.
The ship then spent two nights docked in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh, visiting local sites, the market, and the Royal Palace and the Killing Fields, where Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge massacred scores of people. The river cruise continues through Aug. 24, when passengers fly home from Saigon.
The AmaDara will operate the “Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong” river cruise and land program, which AmaWaterways pioneered in North America in 2009.
More by Theresa Norton
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