Irrawaddy Explorer

Why Paukan Cruises?

Travel vloggers Kara and Nate decided to host their 2019 group trip aboard Paukan Cruises’ river boat named Irrawaddy Explorer. After taking a cruise on this same ship the previous year, and having done several river cruises in various parts of the world, Kara and Nate decided that this particular trip was their favorite and wanted to share the experience with their viewers in person.

The Staff

The ship staff to passenger ratio was almost one to one and each of them went above and beyond for us. With little tourism infrastructure, each morning staff had to shovel steps into the sand of the river bank where we were disembarking for an outing. Then as we left the boat they would line up to wish us a good day. When we returned to the ship, both at lunch time and dinner time, the staff would again line up. They welcomed us back, offered us a cool hand towel, hand sanitizer, and a drink. While we were at meals, staff were busy cleaning our rooms, once in the morning and again for turn down service in the evening. The dining room staff quickly picked up on individual habits and would have your favorite drink at your seat waiting for you or whatever it was you usually requested during meals.

Our tour guides lived with us on board the ship, giving us daily evening briefings to prepare us for the next days’ outings and guiding our outings. Some of the sailors served as daily field trip chaperones.

On the last night on board ship the staff surprised us with a music performance in the ship’s lounge.

The Irrawaddy Explorer Staff
The Irrawaddy Explorer Staff

Our Balcony Suite

The Irrawaddy Explorer has four different types of cabins. The Mandalay and Kipling Suites have king beds and the Orwell and Maugham Suites can be configured either with two twin beds or one queen. Some of the cabins have balconies and the Mandalay Suites have jacuzzi tubs.

We stayed in one of the Orwell suites with the queen bed configuration and we had a walkout balcony. The cabin was quite a bit bigger than I expected it would be and it included a bathroom with a hot shower, a mini bar and a small safe. Our rooms were cleaned while we were at breakfast and dinner, which always included new bottled water for brushing our teeth. Each evening during turn-down service a printout of the next day’s itinerary with explanations of what we would see was left on our bed.

Irrawaddy Explorer Orwell Suite
Irrawaddy Explorer Orwell Suite. (Bed can become two single beds.)


For early birds, the day started at 6am with tea and coffee available in the lounge.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served on the boat. Everyone eats together at the set time between activities. Breakfast was 7-8:30am in the dining room, buffet style. Lunch was buffet style also. Dinner was a more formal affair with a three course menu with two different options. The food is a mix of western and Myanmar foods so there’s something for everyone. One day they even made us burgers and fries! The last night we were served family style in one long table formation with more traditional Myanmar dishes.

Although we had little time for snacking between meals due to our busy schedule, we always had an evening cocktail hour, during which potato chips were available on the back deck and in the lounge so we could have a pre-dinner snack while we relaxed.

Entertainment On Board

Although we were mostly too busy to enjoy our on-board amenities, there were a few.

The lounge/bar provided space for relaxing and chatting and contained a small lending library in the form of a cabinet of books to read on board. This space was largely used in the evenings during cocktail hour and after dinner for group game and trivia nights.

The boat spa was just big enough for two people to get massages at a time. The spa had a discount on one particular service each day for those that made time to visit.

The boat had a tiny workout room just big enough for the one treadmill and one elliptical.

The most used space on the ship, however, was the back deck. Most of our group could often be found chatting and relaxing in the shade of the back deck during our down-time.

Relaxing on the back deck of the Irrawaddy Explorer
Relaxing on the back deck of the Irrawaddy Explorer

The Itinerary: 6 Days Sailing Between Bagan and Mandalay

The six day itinerary included tours of temples and rural villages along the Irrawaddy River. The tours were given by our live-aboard guides who were very knowledgeable and happy to answer any and all of our questions.

To read the full river cruise itinerary and see more photos and videos of the week click here

Let’s Chat

Have you taken a small size cruise like this before? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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A Myanmar River Cruise on Paukan Cruises' Irrawaddy Explorer Pin

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