Emerald Star is the second of four ships launched by Emerald Waterways, a European river cruise line that made its debut in 2014. The line is part of Australian-owned parent company Scenic Tours, which also boasts the all-inclusive river cruise brand, Scenic Cruises.
It marks an exciting departure from existing river cruise vessels, with an exceptionally bright, modern look and a unique, new-to-river feature: A swimming pool with a retractable roof that transforms into a cinema at night. The three, airy passenger decks pack in plenty of other facilities, including a hair salon, gym, massage room and bikes that passengers can use to explore independently. Some initial issues with the new ship -- such as an extremely steep staircase onboard -- have been fixed in the months following its launch.
Between March and November, Star sails on three Rhine-Main-Danube itineraries that range in duration from seven to 14 nights.
Star has 92 cabins divided into five different categories –– two solo (130 sq ft.), 18 staterooms (162 sq ft.), 60 Panorama Balcony Suites (180 sq ft.), eight Grand Balcony Suites (210 sq ft.) and four Owner's Suites (315 sq ft.). The Owner's Suites each comprise a separate, closed off bedroom; a separate lounge area and an outdoor balcony with space enough for a table and two chairs. The cabins also have sinks in the bathroom, a walk-in wardrobe, a coffee machine and a complimentary mini-bar restocked with wine, beer and soft drinks. Each one is also fitted with an iPad.
The Grand Balcony Suites and Panorama Balcony Suites are a bit of a misnomer -- they aren't suites at all (in the sense of either having a separate room or even area) -- but they do have balconies with space enough for two chairs and a table. The Staterooms have picture windows, as do the solo cabins. All classes of cabins will be equipped with iPod/iPad docking stations and speakers.
Meals onboard are served in the main dining room, Reflections Restaurant, and will offer an alfresco dining area at the bow of the ship -- The Terrace -- as an informal alternative dining option for breakfast and lunch. Dinners at Reflections Restaurant are open seating with table service, but there is also a buffet on offer at dinner as well as an omelette station at breakfast. There are two bars, the Horizon Bar and Lounge, which has floor-to-ceiling windows, and leads out onto The Terrace. And the pop-up Sky Bar on the top deck.
The most innovative bit of design planned for the pair 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, showing recent releases and classic movies. 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.
There will also be a hairdressing salon, and a small massage therapy room and a separate gym at the aft of the ship.