- Tips, shore excursions, most drinks included
- Heated pool/cinema is signature new onboard space
- Ships sail Europe's Rhine, Main, Danube and Mosel rivers
Emerald Waterways launched in 2014 as a division of the venerable Australian package tour operator Scenic Tours, a company that offers everything from land tours to five-star-style luxury riverboat cruises. Known as Evergreen Waterways in Australia, Emerald made quite a statement with its first two European ships in 2014 and is building its fleet with two more ships set to launch in 2015. Overall, the line has significantly raised the bar within the "cheap and cheerful" river cruise market.
The most innovative bit of design for the fleet 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 unique-to-river feature. A second impressive state-of-the-art feature is the balcony cabins that transform into conservatories at the touch of a button.
The rest of the ships' innovations have become fairly standard on newly built river ships in the modern, "post-Viking Longship" era of European river cruising, but nonetheless represent a significant improvement on the three-star experience. These upgrades include: Good-sized suites, balconies in a majority of cabins and an open-air alternative dining space.
The alfresco dining area at the bow of the ship provides an informal alternative dining option for breakfast and lunch, while most meals onboard are served in the main dining room, Reflections Restaurant.
As is the case with many river cruise lines, Emerald Waterways includes quite a lot within the cost to the overall cruise fare. Shore excursions and transfers are included, although in-depth or unusual shore excursions levy a fee. Coffee, tea and water, as well as wine and beer with dinner are included; all other drinks, from martinis to draft beer to soda, will require you to sign a chit. The line arranges flights on a case-by-case basis, but those cost extra.
About Emerald Waterways
A 2014 debut complete with two innovative new sister ships -- Emerald Star and Emerald Sky -- makes Emerald Waterways the newest river cruise line to launch in Europe. Two more identical ships, Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn, will join the fleet in early 2015.
Emerald Waterways is positioning itself somewhere between the three- and four-star markets. The line aims to compete with established four-star brands like Viking Cruises and Avalon Waterways by boasting a handful of innovative design touches and less expensive fares that still include a lot within the price of the cruise. Folding in the cost of drinks, shore excursions, transfers and tips in the cruise price tag, Emerald's main marketing push is with English-speaking clients.
Emerald Waterways Fleet
Emerald Waterways' fleet will increase to four 182-passenger, 443-foot long ships by the end of 2015. All will be built by De Hoop shipyard in Holland. Emerald Star and Emerald Sky launched in 2014, and Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn are slated to debut in 2015. All four are essentially identical and scheduled to sail interchangeable seven- to 14-night itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Danube and Mosel rivers.
Fellow PassengersEmerald Waterways serves the typical European river cruise passenger -- generally well-traveled cruise veterans in the 55-plus bracket -- but also hopes to attract a younger demographic with its young-at-heart onboard innovations.
Emerald Waterways Member Reviews
I am not really one to write reviews but after my experience on the Emerald Star I felt compelled to share what I can only describe as "the trip ... Read more
I embarked at Nuremburg. I have been on several river cruises prior to booking with Emerald, with a few different cruise companies and have ... Read more
This was our first river cruise. Overall it was an very good experience and very good value for our money.
Embarkation - We made our own ... Read more
We have just returned from a 'Danube Delights' cruise on Emerald Star and can honestly say the whole week was brilliant. The ship itself was ... Read more
We sailed from Budapest to Nuremburg over a period of seven days from 20 Sep. The Emerald Star was a quality vessel and having done river cruises ... Read more
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