April 10, 2014 Updated April 10, 2014
(11:50 a.m. EDT) -- Emerald Waterways, river cruising's "new kid on the block," has launched in Europe with the 182-passenger Emerald Sky christened by British style icon and 60s supermodel Twiggy.
The ceremony, held in Amsterdam, saw a bottle of Champagne broken across the bow before a sailaway celebration as the ship embarked on its first sailing to Basel in Switzerland.
The new "Star-Ship" is part of an 80 million Euro investment this year by Australian-owned parent company Scenic Tours. Sky's fleetmate, Emerald Star, launches in April, and Scenic Tours will also debut two more of its all-inclusive vessels, Scenic Gem and Scenic Jade, later this year.
Founder and managing director Glen Moroney said: "This is the first new line since Scenic launched in 2008 and offers a different price point and product to our Scenic vessels, providing passengers with more choice, including more freedom and more activities."
The 443-foot long Emerald Sky, which will cruise on five seven- to 14-night itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Danube and Mosel rivers, has 82 staterooms ranging from two 130-square-foot single cabins to four 315-square-foot owner's suites with a separate lounge area. Decorated in a contemporary style, with extensive use of glass and mirrors, Sky's standout feature, is a heated swimming pool, with a retractable roof, bar and sun loungers, situated at the aft of the ship. At night the area is transformed into a cinema -- complete with popcorn and ice cream -- screening popular films and moves linked to the cruising area, such as "The Sound of Music."
Other onboard amenities include a small gym, massage room and bicycles, which independent passengers can use to explore the river bank and ports of call. Daily excursions, beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner plus all gratuities are included in the price of cruises.
Moroney told guests he planned to continue expanding Emerald and Scenic in Europe and introduce vessels in Asia.
--By Jeannine Williamson, Cruise Critic Contributor