The 182-passenger, 443-foot long sister ships Emerald Star and Emerald Sky, will launch in April and June next year, respectively, and will cruise seven- to 14-night itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Danube and Mosel rivers.
And although the line hopes to play well with traditional river cruisers -- well-heeled, well-traveled retirees -- the line's managing director said it also hopes to bring a younger crowd onboard.
"We believe we can attract a younger demographic, too, with value for money as the emphasis," said Managing Director for Scenic Tours and Emerald Waterways, Chris Townson, although he stressed the line would not be actively marketing to families.
Townson also said Emerald Waterways is positioning itself as a competitor to brands such as Viking Cruises and Avalon Waterways. He said the line would be competitive within the four-star range of cruise products while also boasting a handful of innovative design touches and nearly all-inclusive pricing.
The most innovative new bit of design planned for the twin ships is a dual-purpose area at the aft of the ship that transforms from an indoor, heated pool with retractable roof during the day to a cinema at night. And although Uniworld's S.S. Antoinette offers separate pool and cinema facilities, the reconfigurable room on Emerald's ships is a new-to-river feature.
The rest of the ships' new features have become standard in the modern, "post-Viking Longship" era of European river cruising. These include: good-sized suites, balconies in a majority of cabins and an open-air alternative dining space.
Emerald Waterways will include soft drinks, beer and wine at meals, shore excursions, transfers and tips within the cost to the overall fare, as is the case with many river cruise lines. Additionally, the line will offer free return flights to U.K. passengers traveling from London's Heathrow airport and other regional airports.
For passengers traveling from cities and countries outside the U.K., a spokesperson for the line said: "We can arrange flights for guests on a case by-case basis -- however if the cost of the flight from a country other than the U.K. goes over an allocated budget, we would charge the guest extra. Or they can take the cruise as a ‘cruise only' and they can book their own flights."
Emerald Waterways will open a reservations line this Saturday, August 17, to begin taking bookings for 2014 sailings.
--by Jamey Bergman, U.K Production Editor