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Orient-Express to Launch New River Cruiser in Myanmar

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Orient-Express Hotels, owners or part-owners and managers of 45 hotel, cruise and luxury rail businesses in 22 countries, is to launch a new river cruiser in Myanmar in July 2013.

 Currently under construction in Yangon, the 50-guest ship will complement Orient-Expressí two other businesses in Myanmar, namely The Governorís Residence which is a 48-key colonial-style hotel in Yangon, and the Road to Mandalay river cruiser which has been cruising the Ayeyarwady River for 17 years.

Named Orcaella after the dolphins known to inhabit the Ayeyarwady River, the Irrawaddy Flotilla style ship will offer a collection of cruises giving passengers access to the very heart of this beguiling country.

 Operating between January to April and July to December, Orcaella will offer seven and 11 night cruise itineraries with plenty of leisurely cruising time.

Orcaella will meander the Ayeyarwady River between Yangon and Bhamo stopping at the key cultural sites and towns as well as dropping anchor at interesting sites off the beaten track.

The nimble ship with its low draft will also cruise on the Chindwin River, passing extensive mountain ranges, winding its way through western Myanmar as far north as Homalin which is less than 30 miles from the Indian border.

With 40 staff onboard, and a maximum of 50 guests, the ship will maintain Orient-Expressí reputation for offering quality service and great attention to detail.

The shipís small size and low draft will enable it to ply remote areas of both rivers giving the rare opportunity to explore this magical countryís rich heritage, natural beauty and friendly people, further adding to Orient-Expressí portfolio offering enriching journeys of discovery.

All the 25 cabins will open on to the river via floor to ceiling sliding glass doors and Juliette balconies providing the perfect frame to the river and its banks. The elegant four-deck river cruiser will feature two Balcony Suites at the bow on the Main Deck, 15 State and eight Deluxe Cabins, across the Main Deck and Upper Deck. All cabins will have air conditioning and en-suite facilities and four cabins will be interconnecting.

On the Observation Deck, there will be a dedicated relaxing area with a retractable awning and reclining chairs providing the perfect vantage point to watch the dramatic scenery pass by.

 A lounge and bar, which will be open all day for refreshments and alfresco dining, will be the social hub of this ship, and will be complemented by a separate swimming pool.

There will also be a well equipped fitness centre and treatment room which will offer a range of relaxing treatments with a local influence.

On the Main Deck will be the restaurant with comfortable seating and large picture windows and two boutiques selling a variety of traditional and local crafts.

 Just like Road To Mandalay, Orcaella will have a medical room and a fully qualified resident doctor situated on the Lower Deck.

When Orcaella commences cruising, its guests will be able to enjoy plenty of cruising time combined with a variety of interesting and informative offshore excursions, in small groups.

 Excursions include the chance to witness a traditional Noviciation Ceremony of local monks, a local Ďtea-shopí experience, trekking though the jungle, the chance to play 9-holes at an old colonial golf course, exploring caves housing 492 Buddha chambers carved into the hillside just outside of Monywa, a visit to the only bespectacled Buddha (thought to have healing powers) close to Pyay, a train journey into thick Kachin jungle and a chance to meet working elephants in the Burmese teak forest.

Highlights of the schedule will include:

Ayeyarwady River Cruises: The Ayeyarwady River is Myanmar's lifeline, the people and economy ever dependent on its vital natural source. Ferries, bamboo rafts, barges and fishing boats, all ply their trade along these waters and over the centuries Myanmar has developed around the banks of this mighty river making it the ideal vantage point from which to view life on the riverbank.

Gorges of the far North: An 11-night cruise which covers 682 miles departing from the storied city of Mandalay up to Bhamo, near the Chinese border and at the foothills of Yunnan, finishing at the spellbinding plain of temples at Bagan.

The Jewels of the Ayeyarwady: A seven-night cruise covering 506 miles commencing in Yangon and ending in Bagan with highlights including guided excursions to Bagan and a visit to the Pyi Taw Pyan Pagoda, known as the ĎRetuning Home Pagodaí which houses the famous bronze Buddha once taken by the British Army and later returned by order of H.M. Queen Victoria.

The Ayeyarwady Experience: A seven-night cruise covering 506 miles starting in Bagan and ending in Yangon with highlights including a visit to Syriam, a sleepy village outside Yangon and a visit to an impressive 20ft Buddha made of straw lacquer.

Chindwin River Cruises: The windy and narrow Chindwin River snakes through North West Myanmar through the most spectacular scenery which is ensconced by sheer cliffs, verdant jungles, and bustling towns and villages and much of it remains unspoiled due to difficulty of access overland.

Discovering the Chindwin River: An 11-night cruise of 854 miles along the Chindwin River through rugged and dramatic scenery with highlights including a visit to a candlelit street market and a monastery housing the Shwe Sagar Buddha: one of ten carved from a single trunk of wood about 1000 years ago.

All itineraries can be combined with stays in Yangon, Inle Lake or stunning Ngapali on the Indian Ocean. Prices start from US$5,040 per person for a seven-night cruise and includes all meals onboard, excursions, transfers and domestic flights.

Road To Mandalay and Orcaella are both available for private charter and can be chartered in tandem, making a total occupancy of 132 guests.

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