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Emerald Waterways — which is less expensive and skews a bit younger in passenger demographics than its parent Scenic — is showing vigorous growth. The company debuted with two European river vessels in 2014 and added another two ships this year. An additional vessel is also scheduled for 2016. And now that Emerald is building a loyal clientele, the line has added its first itinerary outside Europe with six, 16-day cruise-tours from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Siem Reap, Cambodia, on the Mekong River next year.
The new itineraries will be conducted through a partnership with Haimark Ltd., which both operates its own cruises and provides charters for other lines including Avalon Waterways and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.
The 68-passenger Mekong Navigator, which debuted last year, will sail Emerald’s Mekong cruises. Features include a sun deck, a spa, a fitness room and a library. Suites have minibars, flat-screen televisions with on-demand movies, Internet access and safes. Some suites offer French balconies, full balconies or floor-to-ceiling windows.
The 16-day Highlights of Vietnam & Cambodia, sailing from Hanoi to Siem Reap, includes a seven-night cruise out of My Tho, Vietnam, the gateway to the Mekong Delta, along with a visit by a “sampan” boat to Cai Be, one of Vietnam’s lively floating markets. Guests will also visit Cambodia’s capital Phenom Penh, including the palace complex and the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields. There are overnight stays in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Phnom Penh.
In addition, guests can purchase special experiences with Emerald’s Discover More program. In Hoi An, Vietnam, guests visit a local market to choose ingredients for a traditional Vietnamese meal, then have the meal for lunch. In Ho Chi Minh City, there’s a three-hour progressive street food meal from the best vendors.
Emerald also offers Extension Packages, including a four-night visit to Sapa, Vietnam, a picturesque hill trekking center. Guests could also opt for a three-night stay in Singapore and a three-night trip to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the royal capital and seat of government of Laos.
Emerald is very inclusive; the cruise fare includes wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. Also included are onboard meals (and some on shore), bottled water in staterooms, transfers, Wi-Fi connectivity, gratuities and daily shore excursions, plus lectures and onboard cultural performances.