Q – My agent is really pushing us to sail a four-night cruise on the Mekong River on a line called Aqua. I’ve checked them out and they seem to be fine. The CEO of the line will be aboard and I wonder if this is enough of a reason to select this line. I get the feeling that my agent doesn’t know Aqua that well, she has admitted to having never sailed them, and I wonder why the cruises offered are so short. We had said we wanted between a week and ten days for this total vacation. It’s a simple flight as we live in Orange County.
A – Lots of moving parts here. This question is making us dizzy. Let us summarize our response for purposes of clarity:
01 – We rate Aqua Expeditions as one of the world’s top three river cruise lines. They do not appear in our full ratings because they do not operate in Europe. We recommend them without hesitation. Another top-tier river line that does not appear in our ratings of Europe’s Leading River Boat Lines is Belmond, formerly known as The Orient Express Brand. Since the trains don’t operate well on the Mekong and the Irawaddy Rivers (pistons get water-logged) they changed their name. But always consider Aqua and Belmond in southeast Asia.
02 – Aqua’s CEO, Galli Zugaro, is a charismatic, thoughtful gentleman. His time aboard would be interesting as he likes to talk about his vision for his company and how his product was designed. Very much insider stuff most of our readers would find of interest.
03 – There is no way we would recommend a program in Vietnam of this duration. You may think flying from LAX to Vietnam is a total breeze – we can assure you it isn’t unless you will be traveling by private jet with your own sleep therapist/masseuse. Of course, since you’re from Orange County you might be. Don’ even consider this trip unless you can give it a minimum of eight or nine nights.
04 – The two “Sail with Our CEO” scheduled sailings are in Late May and late August. This is not the time to be visiting Vietnam. We forbid you to go to Southeast Asia in August. The only appropriate place to cruise in August is Alaska. For cooler, tolerable temperatures, you want to visit the Mekong on a cruise between September and March.