Some soft adventure tours are a little softer than others, as a small group of Travellers Choice members were delighted to discover on a recent eight-day Peregrine Adventures small ship Adventure Cruise around the beautiful Andaman Sea.
The agents travelled on board Panorama II, a stylish motorised yacht featuring 25 spacious cabins and carrying a maximum 49 guests on an itinerary that explores the blue-green waters and idyllic beaches of the Similan and Surin islands.
Brandon Norton from Byron Cruise & Travel says that what stood out was the relaxed pace of the trip, and the positive group dynamics unique to small ship cruising.
“There was always something happening – whether it was swimming, kayaking, hiking in the island rainforests or beach BBQs – so that it felt like the days were filled, but it was not too much and not too little,” says Norton.
“The ship itself was the perfect size, with plenty of public spaces and just the right number of people. If you wanted to be social you could, but you also had your own space if needed. And the passengers represented a surprisingly broad range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds, which made it easy to mix and mingle, and created the sense that we were all one group.”
The Peregrine Adventure Cruise incorporated local cultural experiences, with a stop at Khao Lak on the coast, which was devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami that hit southern Thailand in 2004. As well as visiting the tsunami museum and memorial, the agents travelled to Baan Talay Nok village, which was literally destroyed by the disaster.
Sarah Walsh from Smithton Travelcentre in Tasmania says the visit to the village was a highlight, where agents watched local women making soap, an important source of income, and then helping them prepare a lunch.
"We saw where the tsunami hit and the damage that had been done throughout the town,” says Walsh. “It really wiped out the community, which has now been rebuilt and moved about one kilometre inland.”