Cruise business picking up in Myanmar

Singapore: Orient-Express Hotels will launch a new 50-passenger river vessel on Myanmar's Irrawaddy River in July 2013, as the appetite for cruise tourism builds in the rapidly opening up southeast Asian state. 
The Orcaella is under construction in Yangon and will join the company's existing vessel in Myanmar, the 82-passenger Road to Mandalay.

The luxury travel firm said in a statement: “This elegant, four-deck ship will take just 50 privileged passengers to the very heart of Myanmar on leisurely seven- and 11-night voyages.”
The Orcaella, named after the dolphins found in that river, will operate from January to April and July to December.

The Oracella will be competing for business with Yangon-based Ayravata Cruises which has three ships named after the years they were built: Paukan 2012, Paukan 1947 and Paukan 2007.

Boston-headquartered Grand Circle Cruise Line has recently announced that it is adding a Myanmar cruise next year onboard the 34-passenger vessel Paukan 2012. 
"The release of [political prisoner] Aung San Suu Kyi from two decades of house arrest and her election to parliament has helped this once isolated country begin opening its doors to the West," Alan Lewis, chairman and CEO of Grand Circle Corp, said in a release. 
"From calling for a boycott of travel to Burma, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is now encouraging responsible travelers to visit her country, and as result, Burma has become the hottest travel destination of the year," Lewis added. 
Ayravata Cruises is represented in the North American market by new firm Haimark Travel, a company that will focus on river cruises in Myanmar and India as well as handle land operations for Mekong River cruises, according to US-based newspaper Travel Weekly. 
Colorado-headquartered Haimark plans to open an office in Yangon this autumn and is looking to partner with local shipbuilders to build business in Myanmar, Southeast Asia and on India's Ganges River.  [03/10/12]

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