Boutique river line Pandaw, which pioneered adventure cruises to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and India, has ceased operations blaming the pandemic and lack of funding. The company has called in liquidators.
With the continuing COVID 19 impact on international travel, the closures of destinations in Asia and the “critical political situation” in Myanmar, Pandaw “had no alternative but to cease its river operations due to the lack of financial liquidity and failure to find additional funding in the wake of the COVID 19 crisis.”
“Passengers or their agents will be contacted in due course by the appointed company liquidator,” the company said.
Despite strong forward bookings for 2022, Pandaw lacked the funding to continue with the lay-up of its 17-ship fleet for another year.
Pandaw has “worked tirelessly over the past year to find new investors and other forms of finance to carry the company through, but without success.”
Founded in 1995 by Glasgow-born Paul Strachan, the company pioneered river expeditions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and India with its iconic boutique ships.
Up until the impact of the pandemic, Pandaw has enjoyed the support of a loyal following with the line offering unique itineraries on the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Chindwin Rivers and India’s mighty Brahmaputra.
Pandaw ships were specially designed with shallow drafts to navigate very shallow waters where other ships cannot go.
“This is a very sad moment for me, my family, our crew and clients. It marks the end of an era for all of us after 25 years of real adventure. We are truly sorry to disappoint our regular passengers who were so looking forward to making a trip after the lifting of travel restrictions.
“We are heartbroken for our three hundred plus crew members and shoreside personnel who have stood by Pandaw and were hoping to get going again next year,” Mr Strachan said.
While researching his book Pagan: Art and Architecture of Old Myanmar, Mr Strachan discovered in the Irrawaddy several rotted hulls of ships that had been built in Scotland. As a true-blooded Scotsman, he bought his first ship with the money he received from his publishers when he delivered his first instalment of his book.
Pandaw’s small, colonial-style ships can accommodate small groups of adventure travellers who are keen to explore the coastal regions of Myanmar to Thailand and more exotic destinations such as the Mergui archipelago in the Andaman Sea.
Despite the closure of Pandaw cruises, the Pandaw Charity will continue its work to support the people of Myanmar during the on-going crisis.