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Emerald Waterways expands to the Mekong in 2016

Emerald Waterways expands to the Mekong in 2016
Emerald Waterways, Europe’s new river cruise company, is expanding in 2016 to include a16-day itinerary through Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River. A new 16-page brochure, available online and by mail, details the program. Bookings by June 30 come with free round-trip air from major North American gateways.

Travelers will sail aboard the recently built Mekong Navigator. Fares range from $4,995 to $7,095 per person, double occupancy.

Launched in September 2014, the deluxe Mekong Navigator is a 230-foot vessel built to accommodate only 68 passengers. The ship blends French colonial style furnishings with modern comforts. Features include a lounge, sun deck, spa, fitness room and library as well as spacious suites.

Each suite includes a minibar, bottled water daily, flat-screen television with on-demand movies, Internet access, a safe and air conditioning. Many rooms have floor to ceiling windows and either French or full balconies. Passengers in the Grande and Prestige suites have their mini-bars restocked and receive a one-hour spa treatment, all minibar consumption, daily laundry and in-suite evening canapés.

In the north, Hanoi combines modern and traditional Asia. Travelers will visit the former home of Ho Chi Minh, tour the city’s historic quarter and see an ancient temple rising from a single pillar in the center of a square-shaped lotus pond. An overnight cruise in Halong Bay spotlights hundreds of sheer limestone pillars towering from emerald waters.

In central Vietnam, travelers visit the former imperial capital, Hue, with its palaces and tombs of former emperors, plus elaborate pagodas and temples along the Perfume River. Hoi An is especially popular with photographers for cobblestone streets and colorful doorways inside the city and farmlands and beaches beyond.

In the south, the busy Ho Chi Minh City continues to progress into a modern city while maintaining strong traditions. Vietnam War reminders are never far away—whether Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground passageways constructed by the communist guerrillas, or the War Remnants Museum.

In the Mekong Delta region, highlights include a tour of a French gothic cathedral in Cai Be and bustling floating markets in Chau Doc; while a visit to Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh contrasts the elaborate Royal Palace complex with the tragic reminders the Khmer Rouge regime at the Killing Fields. A stop at a local monastery offers up a traditional Buddhist blessing.

And in Siem Reap, travelers visit the spectacular 500-acre ruins of Angkor Wat.

Emerald Waterways’ on-board experience includes cultural performances, educational talks and traditional entertainment, while daily excursions are accompanied by local English-speaking guides. Culinary director Jorg Pennek offers dining reflecting local flavors and provides a variety of Western favorites with unlimited wine, beer and soda at lunch and dinner.

The 'Discover More' program enables travelers to customize their sailing. In Hoi An, they can visit a local market to select fresh ingredients to use in cooking a traditional Vietnamese meal, which they eat for lunch. In Ho Chi Minh City, a four-hour Vietnamese art history tour guided by an art expert comprises private and museum collections from 1850 to the present.

Extension packages include five-day/four-night trips to Sapa and four-day/three-night trips to Luang Prabang, both cultural hubs of Southeast Asia. And for those who want to explore on their own, at their originating or final destination, Emerald will arrange overnight stays at Silk Path Hotel in Hanoi, Shinta Mani Resort in Siem Reap or Grand Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. A three-day/two-night stopover at Singapore’s Park Regis hotel is also available.