TORONTO — Pandaw is back.
Earlier this fall the boutique cruise line announced that it was closing due to lack of funds as a result of the pandemic. At the time Pandaw had been operating small ship river cruises in Asia for over 25 years.
In the wake of that October 2021 announcement, the company was “inundated with hundreds of goodwill messages from regular passengers. In addition, several would-be investors emerged keen to acquire this iconic brand.”
Pandaw has now secured funding to see it through to September 2022, when it anticipates restarting operations on Asian waterways.
Pandaw is owned by the Strachan family, and CEO Paul Strachan says the cruise line plans to keep the business in the family and relaunch marketing activity as soon as all remaining travel restrictions have been lifted.
“If it were not for the incredible support from the members of the Pandaw community, with so many kind words evoking memories of incredible experiences with us, I think we would have thrown in the towel,” said Strachan. “A big thank you to all our supporters for raising morale after nearly two years of hell.”
Strachan says bookings for the 2022/23 season have been strong and many departures sold out with bookers cancelled by COVID using their credits to rebook.
Strachan notes that many new bookers have taken advantage of the US$100 deposit promotion that reassures against the risk of further cancellations.
He adds that Pandaw’s destinations are reopening with India, Thailand and Cambodia now open to vaccinated travellers. Parts of Laos and Vietnam will be accessible in January 2022 as a first step towards fully reopening later in the year, he added.