Get To Know Pandaw River Cruises

Posted February 5th, 2018

Pandaw River Cruises has emerged from a deep and engaging history, giving their whole experience a colonial-era charm. With their short drafts, each ship in the fleet is truly at home on the rivers they travel – from Burma to Vietnam.


The story begins with Scottish merchants in 1865 who established the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Their success grew enormously and their fleet of ships rose to 650 by the 1920s. Although the company achieved so much, they purposely sunk their entire fleet when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Burma. This was a daring act of denial of Japan’s occupation of the country.

Many years later, as the original fleet lay sleeping under the currents of the Irrawaddy River, Paul Strachan travelled above. His connection to and fascination with the country led him to write about the beauty of Burma and its continual struggles. The idea for river cruises was first sparked in 1995, when he and his wife Roser were invited on the maiden voyage of the Irrawaddy Princess.

After that trip, Paul and Roser were inspired to bring the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company back to life. In 1998, they leased an original Clyde-built steamer with the name Pandaw. Since then, the Pandaw company has built its fleet to 15 ships (one of which is an ex Norweigan Coast Guard vessel), which cruise through the rivers of numerous countries.

Life On Board

Handmade from teak and brass, the ships themselves are a natural wonder. They may not be as large as the vessels from the company’s history, that could hold up to 4,000 passengers, but they take a more intimate approach. This gives guests more space on the ships and a relaxed sense of time, making it easy to talk and share stories with friendly passengers and staff.

The layout and style of the ships are similar to ones that cruised the rivers hundreds of years ago. The staterooms have a classic feel to them, with their teak walls and old-fashioned furnishings. But they’re not just boats from the past; they have evolved to cater to modern amenities and suit new adventures.

There’s at least one stop per day, meaning you have the opportunity to take guided tours into friendly villages one day and take a bike ride excursion with a loved one the next. Each port visited is a safe and exciting place, making it the perfect family adventure.


With Pandaw river cruises, there’s more mooring than you can imagine. Rivers are the fleet’s specialty, engaging areas full of hard-to-reach beauty that larger ships can’t. In fact, they can moor pretty much anywhere along the shore. Pandaw expeditions currently venture across the rivers listed below.

Brahmaputra River

Ranging between the Himalayas in Tibet and the Bay of Bengal, this river spans almost 3,000km. Cruise across the vast river and watch the riverbank in awe as you see the doorstep to a lively wilderness.

Chindwin River

Due to it being difficult to navigate in larger ships, this river in Burma is more secluded than most. This offers a raw peace and beauty you won’t want to miss out on.

Halong Bay & The Red River 

Seeping into Vietnam, the wonders along the bay and the river offer a majesty incomparable to many cruises.

Irrawaddy Delta

Farming towns welcome you into a labyrinth of wetlands that are home to a large number of birdlife.

Irrawaddy River

Follow the incredible river and discover the inconceivable monuments left by the Pagan Kingdom.

Mekong River

This river touches six separate countries: China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. On this river you can flow between different worlds and experience the cultures of numerous nations.

The Mergui Archipelago

With 800 islands and countless villages, this archipelago is a wondrous place, untouched by crowds of tourists.

Tonle River

In the heart of Cambodia, the Tonle Sap River sits at around 120km long. This river is as alive as the Cambodian population it serves.

Looking to discover the wonder of the Panama Canal? Contact a cruise expert now on 1300 769 228 or visit your local Cruiseabout store.



Cruise Specialist

  Absolutely nobody in Australia knows more about cruising than Cruiseabout. With close to 30,000 nights on ships all across the globe, our consultants’ extensive experience and passion for cruising is unequaled. We're here to share the joys of cruising holidays with more Australians and invite them into our world - because we love cruising!

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