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Road to Mandalay Returns to Cruise Ayeyarwady River

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After an absence of more than twelve months, Orient-Express’ Road to Mandalay river cruiser will once again take to Burma’s Ayeyarwady River on the 26th August 2009, plying the scenic waters between Bagan and Mandalay.

The relaunch follows a complete remodelling and refurbishment, led by French-born and Laos-based architect Francois Greck and carried out by teams of local craftsman, after damage suffered in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The new-look ship now features larger cabins and a capacity of just 82 passengers, down from 108, making an even more indulgent onboard experience.

As before, the Road to Mandalay will offer a range of itineraries along Burma’s main artery giving passengers access to the very heart of the country. Three, four and seven night cruise itineraries between Bagan and Mandalay will be a regular feature of the schedule as well as three special voyages each year to Bhamo, in the remote northern area of the country. All itineraries can be combined with stays in Yangon, Inle Lake or Ngapali on the Indian Ocean.

On board, passengers can enjoy stylish new surroundings, courtesy of lead interior designer Ali Kennedy in collaboration with Ateliers de la Péninsule, that complement the colour and atmosphere of the riverbanks seen through its picture windows, whilst maintaining the ship’s relaxed and comfortable feeling.

A new spacious Governor’s Suite and 34 new State and Deluxe Cabins have been created with maximum comfort and attractive en-suite bathrooms featuring Burmese Jade wall tiles and large walk-in showers.

The restaurant, too, has received a complete makeover with a fresh new colour scheme of soft yellows, greens and reds, which complements the traditional Burmese natural matting on the walls and ceiling, hand woven by local village craftsmen. There is also craftsmanship in the detailed teak wall carvings, which are handmade by Burmese artisans in Amanpura near Mandalay. New chrome wall and standing lights designed by Greck give the restaurant a more intimate feel, which is decked out with furnishings covered in luxurious Jim Thompson fabrics from Bangkok.

Outside, the Top Deck and Bar boast a newly laid teak floor with comfortable large cane sofas and chairs that have been made in Yangon. The sun deck area will feature 15 new ‘steamer’ style deck chairs, also made in Yangon.

The indoor Piano Bar and Observation Lounge have also been restyled with new wall fabrics and banquette seats. The forward part of the Observation Lounge has new comfortable rattan lounge chairs and ottomans adjacent to a small library stocked with an array of interesting books about Burmese history and culture.

The new Road To Mandalay Wellbeing Centre boasts exercise machines, floor workout area and changing facilities. Next door to this is the hair and beauty treatment area, which offers a range of relaxing treatments using Decleor products.

New menus have been developed for the relaunch of the restaurant by Executive Chef Christian Markert-Bourdon. A buffet-style lunch is served on the Observation Deck or in the Restaurant in seven different themes - Burmese, Shan, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and European. For dinner, guests will be able to enjoy courses from the Asian and European style menus that change daily.

Originally a traditional Rhine river cruiser, this deluxe ship can now accommodate 82 guests, is air-conditioned throughout and has accommodation across four decks including a gourmet Restaurant, Piano Bar, Observation Lounge, Alfresco Café, Sundeck with Pool, Signature Boutique and Wellbeing Centre.

The majestic pagodas and saffron cloaked monks of ancient Burma can once again be viewed from the serenity of The Road to Mandalay. Cruise only prices start from Ł1,400 per person.

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