Western Advocate

Serene luxury on the mighty Mekong River reflects future plans for trailblazing Aussie company

APT's Mekong Serenity lets guests experience Vietnam and Cambodia on the famous Mekong River. Picture supplied
APT's Mekong Serenity lets guests experience Vietnam and Cambodia on the famous Mekong River. Picture supplied

This is branded content for APT Luxury Travel.

Ah, how's the serenity? That's sure to be a line uttered at least once by every guest aboard one of the newest and most beautifully appointed river ships cruising the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia.

Peace, tranquility and adventure wrapped up in the comfort, service and ambience of a small luxury hotel is the experience onboard the Mekong Serenity, from Australian river cruising experts APT.

Unveiled in late 2023, the Mekong Serenity allows travellers to immerse themselves in the sights, culture and beauty of these two South-East Asian destinations in the most relaxing and comfortable way possible.

With river cruising now a booming sector in travel, APT has been leading the way in investment and innovation, with the launch of a series of its own luxurious new river ships, including the Mekong Serenity.

It's almost 20 years since APT owner Geoff McGeary launched the trailblazing company's first river cruises in Europe at a time when Australian travellers were just starting to wake up to the exciting possibilities of sailing down the Rhine, Main or Danube rivers.

Mr McGeary had already pioneered outback camping holidays into Central Australia and Queensland, as well as luxury trips into Western Australia's Kimberley region.

He was confident Australians would embrace river cruising, a chance for travellers to discover magnificent waterways and countryside in probably the gentlest, most luxurious and picturesque way possible.

Today, APT is redefining river cruising with the newest and most luxurious fleet in Europe plus the Mekong Serenity in South-East Asia.

Its brand new MS Estrela will embark on its maiden voyage plying Portugal's Douro River in June, and the APT Solara and APT Ostara are set to launch in 2025.

The Solara and Ostara were created in Melbourne by the world-renowned, award-winning Hecker Guthrie design team.

The Mekong Serenity features luxuriously-appointed staterooms all with an Asian touch. Picture supplied
The Mekong Serenity features luxuriously-appointed staterooms all with an Asian touch. Picture supplied

APT Luxury Travel's CEO, David Cox, said the ships drew inspiration from Europe's waterways, blending European elegance with unpretentious Australian ease.

"The aim was to create a European experience through Australian eyes alongside the brand new MS Estrela," he said.

The Mekong Serenity was designed to bring to the majestic Mekong the same level of service and luxury of APT's European river cruises.

Mr Cox said customers who had fallen in love with river cruising in Europe had embraced the opportunity to have a similar experience in South East Asia.

"We wanted to be able to give them a similar hassle-free premium experience they can trust as that's what our guests desire," he said.

The Mekong Serenity itself is a stylish and contemporary ship, while still paying homage to its Asian location.

APT's General Manager of Ship Building, Alex Agathocleous, says many of the artefacts on display throughout the ship were handpicked at local Vietnamese and Cambodian markets.

"Some of the striking stone statues are well over 200 years old," he said.

The ship has just 44 spacious suites, with ample storage so that guests can unpack once and stow their suitcases away. All suites feature deluxe queen-size beds, sitting areas, spacious en suites, floor-to-ceiling windows, an indoor panoramic balcony and outside private balcony so you can sit back and enjoy the views along the Mekong.

It features a sophisticated bar and lounge and two dining establishments, the casual Lemongrass and the intimate Indochine, where guests can indulge in a six-course chef tasting menu.

Plus there's a rarity for river ships - a sizeable and refreshing pool.

"It's a floating luxury hotel," said Mr Cox, "a home away from home for our guests, an all-inclusive cruise where they don't have to think about where they're going or what they're doing and it can be as organised or as free as people want it to be."

The Mekong Serenity's Harmony Lounge. Picture supplied
The Mekong Serenity's Harmony Lounge. Picture supplied

As the company approaches its 100th anniversary, still as a family-owned company, Mr Cox said it would continue to innovate with new products and initiatives to maintain its status as one of the industry's leading luxury brands.

"The Mekong Serenity is an example of our strong commitment to investing in the future of luxury travel," he said.

"We'll continue to invest in more luxury ships, more offerings across the globe and on our own home soil, and greater experiences into the future. We're always looking for opportunities."

Ready to book your cruise? Find out about APT Luxury Travel's itineraries here.