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Asian Wedding Cruise Idea

Words by Susan Moynihan
Photos courtesy of Viking Cruises

River cruising is travel’s hottest trend, with new lines and itineraries popping up every year. But, is it right for a honeymoon? I signed up for a 15-day adventure with Viking River Cruises to find out.

Viking’s Mekong Delta trip through Vietnam and Cambodia is one of their most physically active, with temple visits and multiple excursions a day in the Southeast Asian heat. I was drawn to its combo of land and sea: the 15-day itinerary included seven nights of hotels (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Siem Reap, Cambodia) and seven nights cruising down the Mekong River.

At our first-day orientation, Viking promised to immerse us in the local culture and they more than delivered. From riding pedal-powered rickshaws through the frenetic, scooter-filled streets of Hanoi to visiting a tin-roofed wooden farmer’s hut in the rural Mekong Delta – where the owner proudly showed off her battery-powered television and outdoor kitchen while neighborhood children climbed a tree to pick us star apples – it was more immersive than any other cruise I’ve taken.

The boat itself was lovely: a replica 1920s-style steamer, with relatively spacious rooms, a small front bar and a rooftop deck with plenty of pillow-topped seating for river-watching. What it lacked in amenities (no pool or hot tub; the gym was a set of free weights; entertainment was DVD movies on a bad screen), it made up for in ambiance. It was the perfect way to travel the rural Mekong. We’d stop along the way, visiting Buddhist temples and silk weavers in Cambodia and walking through a Vietnamese silversmith village, alive with the sound of hammering artisans. After a busy day of touring, we’d all gather on the top deck for cocktails, then head down to the dining room for four-course dinners paired with unlimited wine.

As expected, the Viking crowd definitely skews older; our group of 53 people had three people in their 40s and the majority in their 60s. But, we had a ball with our travel companions; it was a social group, well traveled and interesting.

That said, the romance quotient is limited; even on this, their smallest ship, you’re with 50-plus other people for excursions and most meals (room service is not an option at sea). But the cruise tour’s city-river combo gave us time to sneak away on our own: for bar-hopping in Siem Reap, shopping in Ho Chi Minh City and exploring Phnom Penh by tuk-tuk, with dinner at the famous Foreign Correspondents Club – definitely a highlight.

VERDICT: Viking is great for older honeymooners looking for seamless cultural exploration. But, you have to be social. If privacy is your goal, add on some post-cruise time on your own.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Spring/Summer 2017 issue. You can order a copy here.

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