Taking its name from small, beak-less dolphins that inhabit the rivers of southern Asia, Belmond's elegant 50-passenger Orcaella was built in Yangon in 2013. This recreation of an Irrawaddy Flotilla Company ship is flooded with light from picture windows, and even the cabins have floor-to-ceiling windows. Due to its shallow draft Orcaella can explore Myanmar's two main rivers: the remote Chindwin and the mighty Ayeyarwady on 3- to 12-night sailings.
What We Love
Impressive Hospitality: The endearing hotel team of 44 Burmese staff is adept in the art of hospitality. Life on board is, by design, laissez-faire and fellow guests are intrepid yet jovial Americans, Europeans, and Australians.
True Intimacy: A spiral staircase connects the three passenger decks. The hub of the vessel is the Observation Deck with bar and swimming pool. This open sun-deck area is perfect for soaking up the magnificent views and unmatched at cocktail time.
Best Known For
Superb Food: Breakfast is buffet-style; lunch comprises fresh, Oriental-style salads, soups, and authentic hot dishes. Asian and European specialties feature on the dinner menus and are nothing short of a triumph.
Off the Beaten Track Options: The voyages along the remote Chindwin River (July and August) offer a glimpse in secluded rural life.
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Who It's Best For
Adventurous Foodies: All meals are served in the restaurant, which is evocative of a Parisian boutique hotel. On longer cruises along the Ayeyarwady a lavish dinner is served in the impressive Min Hla Fort, site of a momentous battle during the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War in 1885. There, delicious Burmese specialties are sampled under a canopy of stars.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Oppressive heat: Myanmar has two distinct seasons – the dry season runs from October through May, the wet season from May/June through early October. In May and June temperatures can reach astronomical highs.
Gary Buchanan is a UK-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written multiple books about cruising.
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Orcaella at a Glance
- Line: Belmond
- Number of Passengers: 50
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 2013