Pandaw Ceases Southeast Asia and India River Cruise Operations

Pandaw, a major river cruise operator in Asia, ceased all operations on October 26, citing the cessation of sailings, a lack of liquidity and failure to find new investors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Founded in 1995, the cruise company had pioneered river voyages in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and India, paving the way for many other operators there in recent years.

In an e-mail announcement, Pandaw said: “Due to the continuing COVID-19 impact on international leisure travel, the closure of its destinations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and India, and the critical political situation in Myanmar, the company has no alternative but to cease its river cruise operations due to the lack of financial liquidity and failure to find additional funding in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.”

While “forward bookings for a restart in 2022 remained strong, with great support from the ever-loyal Pandaw community,” the statement said, "the company lacks the funding to continue lay-up operations of their 17 ships for another year, and then undergo essential refurbishment to prepare for renewed operations.”

Pandaw added that any restart timing would be “highly uncertain, even assuming this may occur for the winter 2022/23 season.” The river cruise line said it “had worked tirelessly over the past year to find new investors or other forms of finance to carry the company through these times but without success.”

“This is a very sad moment for me, my family, our crews and clients,” said Paul Strachan, Pandaw’s founder. “It marks the end of an era for all of us after 25 years of real adventure. We are truly sorry to disappoint our regular passengers who were so looking forward to making a trip after the lifting of travel restrictions. We are also heartbroken for our 300-plus crew members and shoreside personnel who have stood by Pandaw and were hoping to get going again next year”.

Prior to the impact of COVID-19, the river line reported a loyal following of travelers, high occupancy rates and year-over-over-year growing revenues with positive financial results.

Despite the closure of Pandaw Cruises, the statement said that the Pandaw Charity, which has helped support the people in Myanmar during the ongoing crisis there, will continue its work under the guidance of its trustees.

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