Myanmar river cruise lineup grows for 2014

By Michelle Baran

A rendering of a twin-balcony cabin aboard the AmaPura.Myanmar has witnessed an explosion of investment and travel interest since the military junta began transitioning to a quasi-civilian government in 2011.

While the Southeast Asian nation races to develop infrastructure to keep pace with that interest, shipbuilders and river cruise operators have been offering up alternatives for leisure travelers hungry to discover Myanmar but faced with a lack of adequate hotel room capacity.

This year alone, there will be five river vessels launching for the U.S. market on Myanmar's Irrawaddy River, a waterway that connects some of the country's major sightseeing highlights.

This July, Pandaw River Expeditions is launching two 40-passenger vessels in Myanmar, the Kindat Pandaw and the Kalaw Pandaw. The ships will feature promenade decks wrapping around the outside-facing cabins and will have a shallow draft of less than 3 feet, enabling the ships to pass through channels between Bagan and Mandalay during drier months.

In September, Haimark Ltd. is introducing the 56-passenger Irrawaddy Explorer, which will have a colonial luxury design. It will sail nine-day itineraries from Mandalay to Yangon. The Irrawaddy Explorer will have a spa, fitness room, main dining room, lounge, sun deck and four classes of cabins and suites.

Additionally, Sanctuary Retreats, a division of Abercrombie & Kent, is launching the 48-passenger, all-suite Sanctuary Ananda in Myanmar, and AmaWaterways is launching the 56-passenger AmaPura there this year.

Follow Michelle Baran on Twitter @mbtravelweekly.  

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