River cruise line Pandaw has been forced to shut down its operations due to a lack of financial liquidity and failure to find additional funding in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Pandaw said in a statement that the continued impact of the pandemic on international leisure travel, the closure of its destinations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and India, and the critical political situation in Myanmar, left the company with “no alternative” but to cease its river cruise operations.
“Though forward bookings for a restart in 2022 remained strong, with great support from the ever-loyal Pandaw community, the company lacks the funding to continue layup operations of their 17 ships for another year, and then undergo essential refurbishment to prepare for renewed operations, the timing of which is highly uncertain, even assuming this may occur for the winter 2022-23 season,” statement read.
“The company has worked tirelessly over the past year to find new investors or other forms of finance to carry the company through, but without success.”
Founded in 1995, Pandaw pioneered river expeditions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and India with its iconic, boutique ships.
Up until the impact of COVID, the cruise line had enjoyed the support of a loyal following of travellers, high occupancy and year-on-year growing revenues, with positive financial results.
Pandaw founder Paul Strachan said: “This is a very sad moment for me, my family, our crews and clients. 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.”
Despite the closure of Pandaw’s cruise operations, the Pandaw Charity, which has done much to support people in Myanmar during the ongoing crisis there, will continue its work under the guidance of its trustees.
Featured image source: Pandaw