The heart of the ship is the Horizon Lounge, situated on the bow on the upper deck. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a mix of comfortable seating -- including sofas, chairs, stools and individual seats, plus an assortment of tables of different heights -- it's the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by, catch up on emails or read the news in the condensed newspapers printed each day. The "library" is a cupboard beneath the coffee machine, and it's not clearly visible. The entertainment manager points out the location during the introductory talk, and crewmembers also put out a selection of books on some of the lounge tables. They include beautiful coffee table books on fashion and design, which complement the vessel's stylish interior, along with novels and local guidebooks. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the public areas and in the cabins, and the signal is generally excellent.
The mismatched furniture, in a variety of colors, is typical of Sky's boutique style. This extends to the striking artwork installed by Dutch company Oasegroen -- "green oasis" -- which specializes in eco-friendly, sustainable art. Eye-catching exhibits in the lounge and other public areas include nonendangered coral, ancient petrified wood that resembles marble, marlin's teeth collected from seashores, and Native American necklaces made from natural materials. The standout items, in every sense of the word, are giant plant holders made out of eggshells.
Glass, mirrors and shiny metal surfaces abound throughout the ship, including the bar where colorful bottles double as another art installation.
Outside the lounge at the front of the ship is the Terrace, with chairs, tables and reclining seats and footstools. There are also plenty of loungers and more chairs and tables up a level on the Sun Deck.
Unless your cabin is on the Riviera Deck, it's easy to miss the nod to an onboard shop, which, in reality, is a number of display cabinets with jewelry, sunglasses and other accessories that can be bought via the reception desk. Toiletries and other small personal items are not stocked and have to be bought in ports of call, which are invariably in the heart of towns and cities and close to shops. As a new and novel cruise line, Emerald has probably missed a trick by not stocking logowear.
The full-length central atrium, which runs through all three decks, is topped by attractive lights and again creates a sense of light and space. The decks are linked by one elevator and a flight of stairs.
Throughout the ship, all of the members of the English-speaking staff were helpful and attentive, with ready smiles and a willingness to help if needed.