New & Cool: A New Dimension in Mekong Cruising

L’Horizon Private Charters offers a new dimension in luxury cruising on the Mekong. Based in Luang Prabang, L’Horizon presents a private four-seat modern motorboat and captain to do you want…explore, relax, water ski, fish…you can even power to Vientiane in a day. It’s up to you.

Many upscale visitors to Laos envision a multi-day Mekong cruise in a traditional wooden vessel converted to a 5-star floating hotel. L’Horizon reached out of the box to create an innovative charter alternative.  

“We currently operate two Morningstar Bay Fisher 498F vessels,” said Alistair Jones, the man behind the venture. “The decision to import these boats was based on a lot of research. Their construction is perfect for cruising in remote and difficult conditions, and they have all the latest safety features,” he noted.

“They are ideal for operating in difficult conditions and strong enough to withstand the rocky nature of the Mekong…A modern boat such as this gives time-poor tourists the ability to see more in one day on the river than was ever possible before.” The boats’ Yamaha F60 engines are capable of speeds of more than 30 miles per hour (28 knots).

And since it is your boat for the day, you get to choose from a list of novel activities. The Raymarine Dragonfly fish-finder sonar aids anglers. Do you know anyone who has water skied on the Mekong? L’Horizon’s boats are equipped to make you among the first.

You can stop for a picnic in wilderness, enjoy a sunset cruise, visit the Elephant Conservation Centre, stop at all the popular sites, and that’s just the start.  

“Each client comes to us with differing needs. We aim to treat all with the same high standards,” Mr Jones pointed out. “We have just completed an assignment with a US TV production company. Their needs were complex and varied. We pulled out all the stops to accommodate every request. The result? A very happy client, a very happy OTA, and a very happy me.”

He added, “We believe we can transport guests to Vientiane safely and comfortably in just one day.” Currently this cruise is only offered by luxury lines on multi-day itineraries. Likewise, L’Horizon can cut the time for the classic two-day cruise to Houay Say and on to Thailand.     

What led to this unparalleled new dimension on the Mekong today? According to Mr Jones, “My background is hospitality. It’s all about the details. We have spent an excessive amount of time in training and coaching our pilots to be intuitive to their customer’s needs. We’ve thought through almost every scenario possible and how we will deal with it.”

Mr Jones had lived in Vientiane for four months before heading to Luang Prabang to assess the opportunities for his vision.

“I was caught in a dilemma,” he explained. “Vientiane would provide an easier market place for innovative ideas. Luang Prabang has more tourism, but a savagely short season. Luang Prabang won out because it suited my skill set more.”

L’Horizon is also dedicated to preserving the environment and being a player in Luang Prabang’s tight-knit community.

“We operate our boats with one of the world’s cleanest engines,” Mr Jones said. “It’s called ‘The California, and is designed to meet the planet’s strictest pollution controls. It’s a 5-Star eco-engine. This doesn’t come cheap, but it does allow bragging rights when it comes to our environmental credentials.”

He added that all waste produced on on board is collected and returned to base for recycling. “Nothing is allowed to be thrown in the river. Use of plastics and single-use items has been stripped away to almost zero.”

Regarding L’Horizon’s fishing activity, Mr Jones said, “Most sporting fishermen understand catch and release; it’s not going to be a hard sell. We will work hard to protect the environment, however, the constant netting of immature fish will negate all of our efforts to preserve fish stocks.”

Occasionally, emergencies arise on the Mekong, much like any body of water, and those Yamaha F60 engines can easily get there first.  

“We have already registered our intent to serve the community with the boat office in Ban Don,” Mr Jones said. The boats are equipped with sonar that helps searchers during accidents. “We will always be on standby to help the emergency services or assist as a safety boat for the festival races.”

After its first year, L’Horizon remains dedicated to providing a new dimension in Mekong cruises, though Mr Jones has no major expansion plans. “To grow slowly and organically, to consistently achieve positive reviews, and to gain market awareness in the coming year will be just fine.”

To visit L’Horizon, click here.