Asia river cruising is all about ‘getting your hands dirty’, says APT Travel Group chief commercial officer Debra Fox.

Speaking at Clia UK’s river cruise and destination forum in Ho Chi Minh City this week, Fox said clients sailing the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia don’t look on from a distance but get a real insight into the culture of the places they are visiting.

She said: “Your clients are baby boomers looking for luxury, which is not just about the ships but also getting access to personal experiences.”

APT has a seven-year partnership with Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen, who joins selected Mekong cruises and take passengers to a part of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam way off the tourist trail where his parents once worked and his aunt, Tung Nguyen, still lives.

“I take them deep into the lives of the locals to show them a different world, away from the five-star hotels and it is phenomenal,” he said.