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Flight Centre marketing managers Ashleigh Conwell and Danielle Luck recall the Mekong cruise that made them converts for life.

River cruising is a seductive style of travel; all your needs are taken care of and everything is at your fingertips. Eight days may seem like a short time to explore two countries in depth, but sailing south from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam is a trip where the journey really is the destination. On the river, nothing felt rushed.

We travelled on the boutique ship AmaLotus on an APT Luxury Mekong River Cruise. We had the same crew for the entire journey, which created an intimate experience – the staff really got to know us and what we liked. Leo, the bartender, served us gin and tonics no matter where we were on the ship, and waiter Saven would ensure our morning coffee always came with a heart etched in the froth. This attention to detail permeated the entire ship.

Onboard dining was a particular highlight. We savoured a memorable meal at the 20-seat specialty restaurant Indochine, which is included in the fare. The exclusive Luke Nguyen-designed menu included pan-seared rice cakes with XO tiger prawns and pork floss, which drew rave reviews. Like a floating smorgasbord, the ship’s cuisine changed daily to reflect the flavours of the regions we were cruising through. (Hot tip: Book a reservation for Indochine on the first day of your cruise so you don’t miss out.)
Our stateroom was comfortable – spacious enough for two, with beds so soft it felt like sleeping on clouds.

Days started with a shore excursion in the morning, followed by lunch on the ship as we cruised to a new destination. Each day brought new experiences in different riverside villages – tiny towns off the beaten tourist track with French colonial-era abodes, ornate temples and cathedrals, and colourful markets.

Unlike an ocean cruise, where you are surrounded by nothing but the deep blue, life is happening all around you on the river; you engage with the destination for the entire journey.

The onboard camaraderie was another unexpected benefit. Our fellow cruisers were open to chatting and sharing their experiences. River cruisers really do have their own community, one we were readily welcomed into.

By the time we disembarked at My Tho for our transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, we were river cruise converts. The ease, the organized-yet-flexible itinerary and the inviting onboard atmosphere – this is how we always want to travel.

Visit Flight Centre today and speak to a Cruise expert for more information on river cruises. Go to flightcentre.com.au or call our dedicated Cruise line 13 70 79.