The old Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was revived in 1995 by the Burma historian Paul Strachan, who is a Scot. We were the first since the Second World War to offer pioneering cruises on Burma's spectacular Irrawaddy River, reaching Bhamo, one thousand miles from the sea, and went on to be a first on the stunningly attractive Chindwin River.
The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was established by Scots merchants in 1865. By the 1920s the company ran over 650 vessels on the rivers of Burma. It had become the largest privately owned fleet of ships in the world. Mainly paddle steamers, the largest class of vessels were 350ft long and licensed for 4,000 passengers. In 1942 the fleet in its entirety was scuppered as an Act of Denial when the Japanese invaded.
In 1998 Paul Strachan discovered an original Clyde-built steamer called the Pandaw and arranged for its lease and restoration. Thus Pandaw was born and a unique concept and style of river cruising was created.
In 2003 we took our Pandaw concept to the Mekong River in Indochina where in 2012 we will have five Pandaws plying between Saigon in Vietnam and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Here, the Pandaws broke the seemingly impenetrable river border between two very different countries. In high water our vessels accomplished the first cross navigation of the Tonle Sap, an inland sea previously un-navigated by anything other than local speed boats.In 2009 we inaugurated new cruises on the Rajang in Borneo and Ganges in India. Another two magnificent Asian rivers, rich in things to do and see, with varied topography of great beauty. We pulled out of India as a result of operational and safety issues.
We now have ten beautifully crafted ships that we built ourselves. Each ship, is hand finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen are in themselves objects of great beauty. The secret of our success is that on our ships, whilst luxury and comfort are discreetly present, it is the colonial character and friendly atmosphere that predominate.
All our Pandaws have ultra shallow drafts and can travel to remote areas, which would be unreachable by other vessels, let alone overland.