VESSEL REVIEW | Traditionally-built, shallow-draught boutique cruise ship for inland Asia

Pandaw Cruises’ latest vessel, the 28-berth Sabaidee Pandaw, has successfully completed river trials ahead of her launch on the Laos to China route across Yunnan.

The double-decker vessel is designed to meet the navigational challenges of shooting rapids in the Laos gorges and sailing through shallow waters all the way to China.

The company has 17 beautifully crafted ships in operation that Pandaw built itself.

The biggest challenge in building the vessels is the location, as the ships are built in Laos in the area know as the Golden Triangle, near the borders of Thailand and Burma. 

As Pandaw has been building these ships for many years, the company already has the skill and blueprint for what to do, however for the Sabaidee Pandaw, Pandaw added an indoor dining area on the ship, as it realised that it was needed for the extreme weather conditions experienced in the area.

There is no dry dock, and the vessels were built and fitted on a remote river bank in Laos. Each ship, hand-finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen, is itself an object of great beauty.

“The secret of our success is that, whilst luxury and comfort are ever-present, on our ships it is the colonial-era character and friendly atmosphere that predominate,” commented Pandaw.

The Sabaidee has just fourteen staterooms, with eight on the main deck and six on upper deck as well as an open plan saloon with flexible indoor or outdoor dining.

The Pandaw fleet have ultra-shallow draughts and can travel to remote areas, which are unreachable by other passenger-carrying vessels, let alone overland.

The propulsion system comprises twin propellers and a twin hydraulic rudder system for accurate navigation in the rapids and meandering rivers.

The ships are specially engineered with propeller shafts and propellers designed for harsh river conditions, including the high flow rate and meandering corners of the Mekong river.

Sabaidee Pandaw also has high-powered marine diesel engines for the sharp cornering and shooting the rapids. Twin Cummins diesels with Stamford alternators provide 120 kVA of 220-watt uninterrupted power.

Sabaidee Pandaw
Type of vessel:River cruise vessel
Classification:Laotian Registry
Port of registry:Huay Xai, Laos
Owner:Pandaw Cruises
Operator:Pandaw Cruises
Builder:Mongkolcharoenlohapun LTD Partnership 2, Laos
Hull construction material:Steel
Superstructure construction material:Steel/teak wood
Deck construction material:Steel/teak wood
Length overall:52 metres
Length waterline:45 metres
Length bp:43 metres
Beam:9.5 metres
Draught:1.8 metres
Depth:2.8 metres
Gross tonnage:350
Main engines:2 x Weichai, each 540 kW
Gearboxes:2 x hydraulic
Propulsion:Twin screw
Steering system:Direct drive
Maximum speed:12 knots
Cruising speed:10 knots
Range:2,000 km
Batteries:4 x 200 amp
Deck equipment:Anchor windlass
Watermakers:12-stage filter/treatment – RO/UV
Type of fuel:High-speed diesel
Fuel capacity:20,000 litres
Fuel consumption:70 L/hr
Freshwater capacity:7,500 litres

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