Emerald Sky Cabins
Sky's 92 cabins are located on three passenger decks. They are divided into four categories, and the majority is Panorama Balcony Suites, followed by standard Staterooms. There are four Owner's Suites, eight Grand Balcony Suites and two single cabins.
This is one ship where passengers -- women, in particular -- will never complain about a lack of mirrors. There are two full-size floor-to-ceiling mirrors in most cabins, mirrored cupboards in the bathrooms, mirrors over the basins (although no makeup or shaving mirrors are provided) and mirrored panels beside the beds, all of which make the cabins seem light and airy.
The bathroom has a small sink, although the shower cubicle, with a door, is a good size. Soap, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion from the Italian brand Prija are supplied as standard in all cabins and replenished as needed.
Cabins all have air conditioning, safes, bottled water replenished daily, plug-in hair dryers and flat-screen TVs with a variety of English-speaking channels, films (for free!) and ship's webcam. The minibar is stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks, which have to be paid for (except in the Owner's Suites). The bedside table next to the bathroom is in a fixed position; however, the one nearest the window can be lifted out so the beds can be separated for passengers requesting a twin-bed configuration.
The onboard electricity current is 220V, and each cabin has European points in the cabin and bathroom, plus one Australian socket. U.S. travelers will need to bring adapters.
Other amenities include an umbrella, shoe cleaner and shoe horn, plus two sets of ear plugs. Although river ships are generally fairly quiet -- and soundproofing between cabins is very good on Sky -- this is a thoughtful touch for light sleepers. Also useful is the "do not disturb" switch, which illuminates a red light outside the cabin door and saves hanging a sign on the door handle.
There is an onboard laundry, available for a fee per piece, with items picked up from the cabin by housekeeping. There is also a clothesline in the shower.
Instead of the usual key cards, passengers are issued a "magnetic chip" that fits into a corresponding space to open the door. These are attached to lanyards, which you can hang around your neck, making them more difficult to lose or mislay.
Panorama Balcony Suites, located on the upper Horizon Deck and middle Vista Deck, are 180 square feet apiece, and the Staterooms, all located on the lower Riviera Deck, are each 162 square feet. The single cabins are also on this deck and are 130 square feet each. While called Balcony Suites, these cabins are one room with an "indoor balcony" that replaces the French balcony setup common to many other ships. This comprises a floor-to-ceiling window that drops down halfway at the touch of a button, giving an open-air feel; it's wonderful in good weather and a boon for those who want some fresh air at night. There is also an inner screen behind the main curtain to prevent insects from flying in when the window is open. The opaque screen is also useful to provide some privacy in the cabin during the daytime when the vessel is docked. There are two chairs and a table on wooden flooring directly in front of the window, giving the impression of a balcony, although there's nothing to separate this area from the main carpeted cabin. The standard cabins all have fixed windows, set high up the walls.
The sliding window and muted, understated decor of the Panorama Balcony Suite are lovely, but there are a few design glitches, such as the huge amount of space devoted to six deep drawers in relation to the comparatively small wardrobe, where part of the hanging and storage space is taken up by the minibar. (The line is planning to redesign the wardrobe and move the minibar in time for 2015 sailings.) There is no kneehole in the run of drawers, making it uncomfortable to try to use the surface as a worktop.
Possibly the biggest problems involve the bathroom. The door is sited alongside the bed, as opposed to facing out into the cabin, and the amount of room between the two isn't great. Some people might have difficulty walking between the two, and anyone getting up in the night would probably disturb the person sleeping closest to the door.
Each Owner's Suite is 315 square feet and situated on the Horizon Deck. Each has a separate bedroom and lounge, walk-in closet and sit-out balconies that offer two wooden chairs with padded seats and a small circular table that's big enough for drinks and small items. Although the bathroom is large, with two sinks and a shower, there is a notable lack of storage space, with no cupboards or shelves and only a small area and the basins to place toiletries. Passengers in these suites benefit from additional amenities like a complimentary minibar, restocked daily with wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks; a Nespresso machine; use of an iPad; continental breakfast; predinner canapes and after-dinner sweet treats served in the room; four complimentary items of laundry per day and an invitation to dine at the captain's table.
Each Grand Balcony Suite, also on the Horizon Deck, comprises one room with a verandah that has sliding doors and can be closed off from the rest of the cabin. The suite includes a Nespresso machine, continental breakfast, canapes and sweets served in the room, two complimentary items of laundry per day and an invitation to the captain's table.
Next: Emerald Sky Dining
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