Cuba tours, airline rankings and more

Tourists walk by an old photo of Ernest Hemingway and Fidel Castro in Havana, where Friendly Planet Travel recently added new tours.
(Ramon Espinosa / AP)
Chicago Tribune

Cuba continues to build on its buzz, with more and more tours popping up. Friendly Planet Travel, which specializes in modestly priced tour packages that include air, has recently added new tours, bringing to eight the number of Cuba packages offered. And, if you book by Nov. 22, you can get reduced prices on two of the new tours. Authentic Havana is priced from $1,999 per person, double occupancy, a savings of $300, and Treasures of Eastern Cuba is priced from $2,899, saving $400. The Authentic Havana tour starts with a night in Miami before flying the next day to Havana. Activities in Havana include visiting the Plaza de la Revolucion, a tour of Old Havana that features a lecture on its rehabilitation, and visits to the studio of a local artist, a cigar factory and the onetime home of Ernest Hemingway. The Artisans Market and Rum Museum also are on the itinerary. In addition to the various tours, the price includes air from Miami, one night’s lodging in Miami and four in Havana, some meals, English-speaking tour leaders and more. 800-555-5765.

Airlines ranked

Alaska Airlines heads the list for best overall performance in the 2016 ranking of U.S. airlines by Rankings were based on performance in these areas: canceled flights, customer satisfaction, denied boardings, mishandled baggage and on-time arrivals. I’ve flown Alaska and found it deserves the high rating. Rounding out the list are Delta, second; JetBlue, third; Southwest, fourth; Virgin America, fifth; Frontier and United, tied for sixth; American, eighth, and Spirit, ninth. In the individual categories, Delta had the fewest canceled flights, Alaska was best for on-time arrivals, Virgin America had fewest mishandled bags, JetBlue had the fewest denied boardings, and JetBlue and Southwest tied in customer satisfaction. Read all the lists at

Mekong River cruise


Cruises on the Mekong River aren’t unusual, but most concentrate on the lower part of the river in Vietnam and Cambodia. Pandaw River Expeditions has a new 14-night cruise that explores the upper part of the Mekong, venturing from Laos to China’s Yunnan Province while making port calls in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Depending on date, the cruise operates upstream or downstream routes, starting in either Vientiane, Laos, or Jinghong, China. The voyage aboard the Champa Pandaw, which has 14 teak-finished staterooms, is priced from $5,670 per person, double occupancy. It’s also possible to explore the Lower Mekong by adding on Pandaw’s cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap, Cambodia. If you do that, they’ll throw in a three-night stay in Siem Reap, including a full day outing to Angkor Wat. Info: 800 729 2651,

Phil Marty is a freelance writer.


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