This Week in Cruise: Cuba, Mekong Top 2016 Itinerary News

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This week in cruise travel news saw a flurry of new itinerary announcements for 2016, including new options for Cuba and on the Mekong.

Pearl Seas Cruises announced plans to offer a series of seven- to 10-night cultural voyages to Cuba in the spring of 2016.

The roundtrip voyage aboard the Pearl Mist from South Florida will visit several Cuban ports including Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. Pearl Seas Cruises plans itineraries on both the Southern and Northern coasts of Cuba, with People to People cultural exchanges authorized under U.S. law to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

These voyages are pending approval by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury, the Department of Commerce and the Cuban government.

In Southeast Asia, Emerald Waterways announced a new 16-day sailing on the Mekong River as part of its 2016 itineraries, which also include a new Star-Ship, two new voyages in Europe and discounts of up to 21 percent off 2015 pricing. 

2016 will mark Emerald Waterways' first foray into Asia with a 16-day cruise along the Mekong River from Vietnam to Cambodia. Sights will range from the capitals of Ho Chi Min City and Phnom Penh to small villages like the floating Kampong Chhnang and majestic spots like the Angkor temples. The Mekong Navigator, a 230-foot vessel built to accommodate 68 guests, has a lounge, sun deck, spa, fitness room and library. Each suite offers a minibar, bottled water daily, flatscreen 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. Sailings along the Mekong are scheduled in early spring and fall, with pricing starting at $4,995.

Also in 2016, the line will offer 10 itineraries in Europe, including the new Paris & Legends of Moselle, Rhine and Main and Enchanting Forest, Mountains & Rivers sailings — both of which offer the opportunity to extend the journey with land-based tours before and after the cruise. The 14-day Paris & Legends of Moselle, Rhine and Main itinerary begins in Paris and travels to Prague, giving guests two full days to explore each of the cities. The cruise portion of the trip, which sails from Trier to Nuremberg, winds through Southern Germany and explores small towns steeped in history. Pricing starts at $3,735 and includes the sailing as well as lodging in Paris and Prague. For those who wish to forgo the land portion of the trip, the eight-day cruise is being sold separately, with pricing starting at $2,395.

Guests will have the opportunity to travel from Munich to Budapest on the Enchanting Forests, Mountains & Rivers itinerary, also debuting in 2016. This 13-day trip spends two days on land in both Munich and Salzburg, while the cruise sails from Passau to Budapest on the Danube. The itinerary also includes an overnight in Vienna, allowing more time to explore the city. Pricing on this itinerary starts at $3,855 including the cruise and hotels. The eight-day cruise alone is being sold separately, with pricing starting at $2,445.

Finally, June 2016 will see the launch of the Emerald Belle, the newest addition to Emerald Waterways' fleet of Star-Ships. All of Emerald’s Star-Ships carry 182 guests in 72 suites and 20 staterooms, including two built for solo occupancy. Unique items include an onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable glass roof, which transforms into a movie theater in the evening; two restaurants: Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for breakfast and lunch; and a new type of cabin design that replaces a French balcony with an indoor balcony with a decked area and an open-air system. With the push of a button, guests can lower the upper half of their floor-to-ceiling panoramic window to allow an open-air opportunity. Top suites separate the balcony from the cabin with glass folding doors. Ships also have an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area.

In terms of excursion options, Oceania Cruises has announced a new selection of Culinary Creations Land Tours, available starting in spring 2016.

The new tours will be offered in Rome, Barcelona, Provence (Monte Carlo), Tuscany (Rome/Civitavecchia), Greece (Athens), London and Argentina (Buenos Aires) during select sailings aboard Nautica, Marina, Riviera and the newest ship in the Oceania Cruises fleet, Sirena.

Culinary Creations Land Tours provide guests with epicurean interests an opportunity to interact with local culinary experts by exploring local food markets, cooking schools, restaurants and attractions. Tours range from two to three nights and are available as pre-, post- or mid-cruise options.

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