Launched in 2011 by AmaWaterways, the 124-passenger AmaLotus runs Mekong River itineraries year-round between Vietnam and Cambodia. On board, guests can anticipate spacious (from 226 square feet), Asian-inspired staterooms and public spaces, all designed to maximize the passing riverbank views (almost all of the cabins have true balconies). Look, too, for a restaurant serving Asian and Western fare, a duo of lounges, and a small fitness room, salon, and spa. Bonus: The expansive sun deck touts a small swimming pool and bar.
What We Love
Asian Decor: From dark wood paneling to regional artifacts and textiles, the Khmer-inspired decor ensures a transporting sense of place continues on board.
Local Crew: AmaLotus employs a largely local staff — on our sailing, we loved our charismatic Cambodian monk-turned-tour guide, quirky Vietnamese cruise director, and the slate of enthusiastic young staffers from the region.
Best Known For
All-Inclusive Pricing: All guided excursions, plus wine and beer with meals (and house spirits and nonalcoholic beverages at other times), are included in the rates.
Balcony Cabins: Ninety percent of the staterooms on AmaLotus come equipped with proper balconies, a relative rarity for any riverboat.
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Who It's Best For
Sophisticated Couples: On board, you'll find mostly well-traveled couples in their 50s or older who are eager for exotic exploration.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Pool Is Small: The on-deck swimming pool can be a tight squeeze, but hey, it's a riverboat, and having a pool at all is already an unexpected treat.
Anticipate Language Barriers: The ship's friendly local staff, hailing mostly from Cambodia and Vietnam, is one of the best parts of the experience, but keep in mind you might need patience with their level of English at times.
Elissa Garay is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.