BOKEO, Laos, 3 February 2020: Heritage Line launched its newest river cruise boat last week on the Mekong River in northern Laos.
The vessel was named Anouvong in a simple shipyard ceremony and glided on airbags down a slipway into the Mekong River.
Commercial river cruises on the new vessel are still eight months away once the boat is fitted out.
With just eight months before its maiden voyage, Heritage Line Anouvong has just reached another significant milestone in the ship construction process. On 12 January 2020, the captain and construction crew celebrated Anouvong’s ship christening prior to placing the vessel into the water for the very first time (known as the ship launch, and not to be confused with when the ship formally enters service with its inaugural voyage).
Witnessing mainly the shipyard crew and a few local spectators joined in the “ship-birthing process” took nearly the entire day before Heritage Line Anouvong floated freely on the Mekong.
The vessel is one of just a few river cruise vessels capable of sailing the northern section of the Mekong River passing Thailand, Laos and Myanmar and entering Thailand.
But even with a 0.775 meters waterline above its keel, the Anouvong will still be challenged by the erratic rise and fall of the river controlled by dams in China. Like many tourism operators, resorts and boat companies, the future looks bleak for Mekong River communities that in recent years have turned to river tourism to supplement income.
Overcoming months, the shipyard team fit out the mechanical and electrical systems and then hand the vessel over to the company’s interior designers to fit out the cabins and dining areas.
Heritage Line Anouvong is scheduled to embark on its four-day/three-night maiden voyage 29 September 2020 from Laos, Luang Prabang sailing upstream toward the Thai-Lao border town of Huay Xai. The same cruise will be offered downstream.
Early bird bookers save 10% off the inaugural promotion for the three-night upper Mekong journeys in 2020 and 2021.