Cruise Critic staffers set sail every week, traveling the globe to bring you the latest cruise ship trends, port sneak peeks and onboard observations. Here’s where we are this week.
(Got questions about any of the ships we’re boarding? Ask us in the comments!)
Ship: Two new ships – Emerald Sky and Emerald Star, part of Emerald Waterways (which will be called Evergreen in Australia/New Zealand), are part of the first brand-new river line to be created in six years. The line, and the pair of ships, debut on Wednesday, April 9. Emerald Waterways (Evergreen) is part of the mighty Oz-based Scenic Tours conglomerate, which already operates a more luxe, more inclusive, river cruise line.
Where: In Amsterdam, the heart of Europe’s Rhine River/Danube River circuit.
Who: Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief, and Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic contributor.
Why There? This new river line seems to be a cross between Viking River (with its contemporary and sleek appeal) and no other line out on the rivers. Both ships are newbuilds, and feature an outdoor pool that’s covered by a dance floor at night. There’s a movie cinema, several bars, a massage therapist and beauty salon. Cabins offer all the usual amenities you’d expect – hotel beds, flat screen televisions, infotainment centers on the television and free WiFi (though how well it works is subject to consideration).
We Can’t Wait: Buried in all the gloss about these new ships is the fact that Emerald/Evergreen has a mantra of value-for-money cruising. We look forward to finding out what that means, beyond the line’s reasonably priced fares. Twiggy, the model-actress, will be godmumming both vessels; that’s a pretty nice pedigree for a new cruise line (her last stint christening a ship was for Seabourn).
Who: Dori Saltzman, News Editor
Why There? MS Inspire is Tauck’s first river boat in the Inspiration class, which is notable for having only 130 passengers on a longship set-up. Considered part of the luxury end of river cruising, Tauck’s Inspire also has 22 300-square-foot suites, with upscale features such as 400-thread-count sheets and Molton Brown bath products. For 2014, Inspire will sail a variety of Rhine and Moselle river itineraries.
We Can’t Wait: This will be the first sailing of Tauck’s newest boat, which features a handful of unique lower deck “loft” cabins with larger windows — that actually open! (besides fresh air, these windows will allow lower deck passengers much more natural light than you’d normally get in this cabin class).