(12:01 a.m. AEST) -- Emerald Cruises made its official Australian debut at a launch party in Sydney on November 29.
Formerly known as Evergreen Tours in Australia, Emerald Cruises is the more "budget friendly" sister brand of Scenic Cruises, established by the Scenic Group’s Chairman and Founder Glen Moroney in 2006.
The launch follows the successful sea trials of its first superyacht, the 100-passenger Emerald Azzurra (pictured), and the keel-laying of Azzurra's twin, Emerald Sakara, in Vietnam.
Anthony Laver, Group General Manager Sales & Marketing, Australasia said at the event, "Emerald Cruises represents the ultimate in small-ship cruising and the two innovative superyacht products will provide guests with intimate and unique experiences.
"We are proud to be growing our global fleet and creating a new class of luxury yacht cruising."
The cruise brand now encompasses Emerald Waterways, which launched in 2014 and operates a fleet of nine Star-Ships on European and Southeast Asian rivers; and the new oceangoing Yacht Cruises division.
Scenic operates 16 all-inclusive river ships and the luxury expedition vessel, Scenic Eclipse, which carries 228 passengers.
Emerald Cruises has won Cruise Critic’s "Best River Cruise Line for Value" awards for five years running and while its fares are less inclusive than Scenic's, they cover most shore excursions, wine and beer with lunch and dinner, and all tips.
Emerald Azzurra is due to set sail in the Red Sea and Mediterranean in early 2022. What can passengers expect? "Superyachting but not at super prices," said Angus Crichton, the line's Director of Sales, Marketing and Product.
Emerald Cruises' superyachts are designed for warm-water coastal cruising and will also sail in the Adriatic Sea. When Emerald Sakara joins the fleet in 2023, Black Sea and Indian Ocean itineraries will be added to the collection.
At 110 metres long, the superyachts can dock in small ports that are inaccessible to larger, mainstream ships. Passengers can join free EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE excursions, opt for DiscoverMore tours at an extra cost, or do their own thing. "Because we have a maximum of 100 guests, we won’t disrupt local life in small port towns," said Mr Laver. "We will also buy a lot of fresh produce and wines locally."
Onboard, passengers will be accommodated in six categories of staterooms and suites ranging from 17 sqm – 19 sqm oceanview staterooms to the 110.8 sqm Owner's Suite -- there are no interior cabins and every room is individually ventilated. Amenities in staterooms and suites include luxurious bathroom products, flatscreen HDTV and infotainment system, and complimentary water and Wi-Fi.
Six passenger decks feature the line's signature clean, contemporary interior designs and there are plenty of secluded and social spaces. The Sky Deck (Deck 7) has a spa pool and bar, and the Pool Deck (Deck 6) features an infinity pool with a glass viewing wall, cafe and gelato bar. The Observation Lounge on Deck 9 leads onto a forward deck where yoga sessions will be held in the morning and movies screened at night. Inside there are board games, a library and a Swarovski telescope.
Reflections Restaurant on Deck 3 serves buffet breakfasts and lunches, and a la carte dining in the evenings. Aft of the restaurant is The Terrace, another socialising spot. The Horizon Bar & Lounge, reception and shop are also on Deck 3. On Deck 2 there's a spa and beauty salon and the marina platform, which is stocked with kayaks, paddleboards, Sea Bobs and a water trampoline.
Will two superyachts be enough to meet demand? Mr Laver said that as Glen Moroney is looking at long-term global investment, he would be "surprised" if there weren’t more newbuilds in Emerald Cruises' superyacht category. As for deploying the ships Down Under, Mr Laver cited the enormous demand for Scenic Eclipse's inaugural 2021 Kimberley season, which had to be cancelled due to government restrictions. "There are great opportunities for this new class of superyacht in Australia and New Zealand."