The rumors of a new river cruise line have been floating around for a number of months – and now they are confirmed.
Emerald Waterways is the first new European river cruise company to set sail in more than six years and aims to make a big splash in the fast-growing market. With the industry’s newest ships, custom-built to exceed guest’s expectations and offering such amenities as a heated swimming pool and a movie theater, Emerald Waterways is aiming at both experienced travelers and the younger demographic looking for strong value and great pricing.
Eight- to 15-day well-designed itineraries launch April 15, 2014 at fares starting at $2,230 per person, double. What sets Emerald Waterways apart from other major lines on the rivers are its ship amenities and fare inclusions.
The new ships – Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 20 staterooms (two stateroom are built for solo passengers) and 72 suites. Unique items include an onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, which in the evening, transforms into a movie theater; two restaurants – Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for breakfast and lunch; and a new type of cabin design that replaces the run-of-the-mill French Balcony, common to most ships, with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system. The system allows guests to push a button and the upper half of the floor to ceiling panoramic window drops down to allow an open-air opportunity; top suites separate the balcony from the cabin with sliding doors. As well as an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area.
On average, all Emerald Waterway staterooms and suites are larger than most other companies (162 to 210 ft). The Owner’s One-bedroom Suites (315 ft) are particularly impressive, boasting a separate bedroom and lounge; walk-in wardrobe; complimentary mini-bar re-stocked daily with wine, beer and soft drinks; Nespresso machine; and even an iPad to use throughout the cruise. Plus, Grand Balcony and Owner Suite guests can order a continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapés and after-dinner sweet treats to enjoy in their suite, all of which is included in the price of the holiday.
Strong value continues with the fare inclusions: all transfers to and from the ships; all onboard (and most on shore) meals; a choice of two dining venues; unlimited tea and coffee; wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; bottled water in the cabins; continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapés and after-dinner sweet treats served in the top suites; WiFi onboard the ship, at least one included shore excursion almost every cruise day and visits to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and more. And while other operators charge as much as $600 per couple for tipping on a 15-day cruise, all gratuities is just another one of the things included on all sailings, as are port charges that normally range from $200 to $400 per person.
Emerald Waterways has injected all of its itineraries with a number of EmeraldPLUS excursions – special experiences that uncover more than just the usual tourist attractions. Examples include glass-blowing demonstrations, a glass-top canal cruise in Amsterdam, the Winzerexpress mini-train, and a night of dancing and entertainment at a local Czech tavern – to name just a few – also included in the fares. And itineraries are designed to allow for a greater amount of flexibility – giving guests enough free time to explore Europe their way – with a cruise director and crew who are more than happy to offer expert advice and help plan the independent time.
Four itineraries are being offered by Emerald Waterways in 2014.
• “Danube Delights” is an eight-day adventure between Nuremberg to Budapest, priced from $2,230 to $4,330 per person, double.
• “Classic Prague & Danube Delights” is an 11-day itinerary that adds three days in beautiful and historic Prague to the eight-day Nuremberg to Budapest sailing. Fares are yet to be priced.
• The 12-day “Magical Rhine & Moselle” travels between Switzerland’s Basel and the canal city of Amsterdam. Prices are $3,483 to $6,548.
• “Splendors of Europe” allows guests to spend 15 days exploring many of Europe’s top sights – between Amsterdam and Budapest – and is priced from $3,760 to $8,965.
Dining aboard is just as special as any of the other wonderful amenities and tours. Guests can choose to dine at the ship’s main restaurant, Reflections, where they will taste some of Europe’s finest foods. Reflections offers a buffet breakfast or the resident Egg Chef’s special selection of freshly prepared morning meals; a variety of hot and cold choices for lunch; and a four-course dining event in the evening, with fresh seasonal ingredients. For those guests wishing to enjoy their breakfast or lunch outside, The Terrace offers spectacular scenery and wonderful fresh foods – with a light breakfast or a choice of café-style foods for lunch – be it pasts, pizzas, soups and sandwiches – even fish and chips. Again – all included!
As part of the Scenic Tours Group, Emerald Waterways is also backed by the award-winning expertise of the world’s leading luxury river cruise operator. Emerald Waterways’ website, www.emeraldwaterways.com; consumer reservations line, 855-222-3214; and travel agent reservations line, 888-778-6689, go live on or before August 21 while digital brochures will be available on or before September 1.
Photos Courtesy of Emerald Waterways