Travelers wishing to explore exotic Southeast Asia while maintaining a level of luxury comfort and style should look no further than Emerald Waterways’ Mekong River cruises. The signature 16-day itinerary on board the purpose-built Mekong Navigator explores Vietnam and Cambodia along the iconic Mekong River.
A new brochure, available online as well as by mail, offers details on the itinerary, the enhanced shore excursions, and the ship amenities, as well as opportunities to customize experiences with optional extensions and the Discover More program. Early planners enjoy the valuable rewards of best fares and cabin selection, and, if booked by May 31, free roundtrip air from major North American gateways. Fares start at $4,695 US ($5,295 CAN) per person, double occupancy.
In addition to the 16-day land and river journey from Hanoi to Siem Reap, Emerald Waterways offers an eight-day Magnificent Mekong cruise, 12-day Mekong Discovery cruise, and a 19-day Vietnam and Cambodia Explorer and Mekong cruise.
The Mekong River, the longest in Southeast Asia and the lifeblood of the region, encapsulates the region’s centuries-old culture while supporting nearly 60 million people who live, work and play in the heart of Indochina. Guests traveling aboard the Mekong Navigator meet local inhabitants in remote areas, sample exotic cuisine purchased from floating markets and learn of a culture based on intensive agriculture and a warm community spirit.
In the North, the romantic city of Hanoi combines modern and traditional Asia. Guests 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 covered in lush vegetation.
In Central Vietnam, guests visit Hue, formerly the Imperial capital, and current home to 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.
In the South, the historically busy metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City continues to progress into a modern city while maintaining roots in strong traditions. Vietnam War reminders are never far away – whether the Cu Chi Tunnels, a fascinating network of underground passageways constructed by the communist guerillas, 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, guests visit the ruins of the world’s largest temple, Angkor Wat.
Launched in September 2014, the deluxe Mekong Navigator is a 230-foot vessel built to accommodate only 68 guests. The ship blends traditional French Colonial style furnishings with modern comforts to reflect the timeless elegance of a complete contemporary cruising experience. Features include a lounge, sun deck, spa, fitness room and library as well as spacious oversized suites to create a genuinely indulgent journey. Each suite offers included luxuries: minibar, bottled water daily, flat screen TV with on demand movies, internet access, a safe and air conditioning. Many have panoramic floor to ceiling windows and either French or full balconies.
The Discover More program introduces a variety of ways guests may customize their sailing. In Ho Chi Minh City, a three-hour Vietnamese history tour takes visitors through some of the city’s most well-known landmarks including Ben Thahn Market and Antique Street. Also in Ho Chi Minh City, guests explore Saigon’s best street food as part of a four-hour, three-course progressive banquet. In Siem Reap, guests can choose from a Khmer Rouge cooking class in a traditional Cambodian home or a visit to the mysterious Beng Mealea jungle temple.
To enhance guests’ experiences even more, Emerald’s Extension Packages include 5-day/4-night trips to Sapa, Vietnam and 4-day/3-night trips to Luang Prabang, Laos – cultural hubs of Southeast Asia. And for those who want to explore on their own – either 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.
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours’ Family of Brands has grown over its 30-year history to include award-winning, all-inclusive escorted tours that take participants to many of the world’s most fascinating destinations; two award-winning river cruise lines – Scenic and Emerald Waterways; and, in 2018, the World’s First Discovery Yacht – Scenic Eclipse. Emerald Waterways’ seven Star-Ships offer deluxe cruises in Europe, the Mekong, and Russia, while Scenic’s 15 Space-Ships offer the only truly all-inclusive, five-star river cruises in the same destinations as well as the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.