The cruise started its operation since 1st July 2009 disembark its passengers near the dock at Jalan Khoo Peng Loong, Sibu and was once been believed could bring positive growth to the tourism industry in this region. Just Sharing had briefly reviewed about it before the cruise started its maiden voyage.
However, after about two and a half year's operation, the company announced the cessation of its operation in Borneo through one of its official newsletter titled "Last Chance to Join a River Expedition in Borneo!". There are no clear reason been explained, but as written in the newsletter dated 24th November 2011, "The logistical and operational difficulties of working in so tough an environment have make the project commercially unsuccessful."
But as cited from a report by The Star dated March 21, 2012:
"Sources familiar with the cruise earlier said costs to operate RV Orient Pandaw were 60-70% higher than those in Myanmar, Vietnam or Cambodia.
The same sources also claimed that a longhouse here would charge up to RM3,000 for a three-hour programme, which included cultural performances, sampling of traditional food and rice wine as well as photo-taking session.
In comparison, tourists are free to visit villages along the cruise’s routes in Indo-China."(Source: After its final Rajang tour, RV Orient Pandaw will be deported to Myanmar, The Star)
"It is also understood that the busy Rajang River also poses a number of challenges for the cruise boat as it is particularly risky to sail at night or in early morning when visibility is poor due to heavy mist, and also when the river is strewn with floating wood debris.", reported by Philip Hii from The Star in the same article.
I am not sure how deep is the impact resulted from the cessation to the tourism industry in central region of Sarawak, but I believe more or less the industry will be affected and Sibu as well as the small towns at upstream such as Kapit and Kanowit will be at the losing end.
The steamship is now still berthing at the dock near Jalan Khoo Peng Loong and waiting to be sent back to Myanmar. The body had been covered up with canvas to prevent direct sunlight damage to the wooden surface.
1. After its final Rajang tour, RV Orient Pandaw will be deported to Myanmar
2. Cruising into the sunset
3. Last Chance to Join a River Exepdition in Borneo!