After having travelled a lot around South East Asia on the Vegan Food Quest, we have come to love this part of the world and all it can offer to the vegan traveller. So it’ll come as no surprise that the aptly named ‘Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong’ river cruise, from award winning luxury river cruise operator AmaWaterways, sparked our interest.
The cruise on the the RV AmaDara, the newest addition to the AmaWaterways fleet, was 8 days in duration and we were more than intrigued by the thought of taking such a long journey by river, all the way from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
We boarded with excitement but like all vegan travellers we wondered if they would they be able to organise vegan food for us? Because if they couldn’t, it was going to be a long 8 days…
Our cabin was compact but seemed to offer a great amount of space with an outside balcony (a key feature of the ship is that all rooms have their own outside space) and inside seating area as well as the huge bed.
There was plenty of space to explore on the ship including a lounge area, library, outside pool area, sundeck and gym (OK we lied, we didn’t explore the gym).
The daily agenda was packed and would arrive the night before via a printout of ‘The Daily Cruiser’ which covered everything sunrise and sunset times, the daily schedule, useful background information about places we were visiting and most importantly, what the cocktail of the day was.
We loved that we could pick and choose which tours we wanted to join; this not only meant that we could control our level of activity but it also meant that we could select the things that we were most interested in. Not a day went by when we weren’t pleasantly surprised by something we learnt or experienced on one of those excursions, making for a truly thought provoking and memorable trip.
We’ve never really travelled on an organised tour before and you can read more about some of our thoughts and revelations in our blog post, “Travelling out of our comfort zone”, where we describe some of the trips we went on and what we thought about them in more detail.
The brand new boat and the good quality of the tours was however outdone by the staff team on board, who must have read the manual on excellent customer service from cover the cover. Every member of staff we encountered was helpful, polite and really friendly even though we were constantly asking them questions about the ingredients of the food being served (we can’t help it, it’s a vegan thing).
The Vegan Food:
With a full breakfast buffet in the morning and a 4 course lunch and dinner, it’s hard to go hungry on the AmaDara, even for those of us who have dietary requirements. There was a mix of Western favourites and some local specialities to sample which the staff were always happy to try to veganise for us. Once everyone got into the swing of it, the vegan food was flowing.
Each day the restaurant manager and our waiter would come and talk through the options for the day, taking suggestions about things we wanted to try or ingredients we wanted included in our dishes (like tofu for example). With this excellent customer service we managed to end our days full of food.
We loved that there was always a choice of soy milk, healthy salad, fruit and delicious brown bread which was seriously good meaning we ate far too much of it. We must also admit that we managed to eat enough ‘treat food’ to make it feel like a proper holiday (little fried treats and potato wedges on demand may well have been our downfall).
There was the option to eat in speciality restaurant ‘Fusion’ whilst on board, which we chose to do with some of our new found friends. We fell in love with the pumpkin soup that they served and so the chef kindly made it for us at our request on the remaining days of our trip (it really was too good just to have once).
Even the excursions gave us opportunity to find tasty vegan food, with a trip to ‘Sa Dec’ local market in Vietnam not only giving us a visual treat with the awesome sight of loads of local fruits, vegetables and different types of tofu (always interesting as tofu loving vegans) but we also got to sample some vegan street food.
The Vegan Essentials:
There was a spa on board with treatments that were suitable for vegans (such as the hot stone massage for example).
We used our own amenities as we weren’t sure if those supplied (AmaWaterways own brand) were suitable.
The bed was comfortable (like the rest of our cabin) with a synthetic duvet as well as the option of a feather free pillow (a sleep free from animal products – just what we like).
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Take a cruise on the RV AmaDara with AmaWaterways to enjoy the journey, just as much as the destinations you explore. Tick off ‘must visit’ attractions in both Cambodia and Vietnam as well as more ‘off the beaten track’ sights and experiences.
Eat a mix of Western inspired or local Cambodian or Vietnamese cuisine (depending on which part of the river you are on), veganised by a staff team who will listen to your requirements and do everything they can to meet your needs.
We were guests of AmaWaterways but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
26010 Mureau Road,
United States of America.
Cost From: £1515 / $2,299 per person for 8 day / 7 night cruise