Emerald Liberte Entertainment & Activities
Days are devoted to shore excursions. The only daytime activity organized onboard is an olive and cheese tasting. Before dinner every day, the cruise director gives a port talk about the next day's destination. After dinner, the resident musician or a special guest performs in the lounge. Movies are also screened in the cinema on some nights.
Walking tours are offered at no extra charge each morning (except on days of embarkation and disembarkation). Sometimes a coach is used to get to the towns but passengers should be fit enough for one or two hours of slow walking on flat ground.
The only active option on the Arles-Lyon itinerary is a 20 kilometer guided bike ride from Tournon-sur-Rhone to Glun. Taking three hours, participants should be moderately fit as the bikes are pedal-powered (not electric) and there are a couple of slight inclines. Some cycling is done on local roads with light traffic but the majority of the route is a flat, riverside path. The ship's bicycles can also be borrowed for self-guided cycling along the riverbank at any port. In 2019, the line is introducing Active Managers to help faciliate fitness and wellness activities.
Optional afternoon excursions incur a fee. These include wine-tastings in Tournon, visits to other villages such as Les Baux-de-Provence, Perouges or Pont du Gard, an olive oil farm, the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny and an in-depth tour of the Pope's Palace in Avignon. Reservations are required for the optional excursions but can be booked onboard on the first day of the cruise.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Afternoon tea with cakes and sandwiches is held in the Horizon Lounge every day at 4 p.m. In the evening a musician or special guest, such as a French singer or local band, performs in the lounge. Theme nights include disco, 50s and 60s, and a trivia quiz. A crew show is presented on the second to last night after the captain's farewell dinner, which is a lot of fun. Films are screened in the cinema some evenings with popcorn provided (the movies are also loaded on your in-cabin television).
The only lecture is an olive and cheese tasting presented in the main lounge by the cruise director. There is no charge.
Emerald Liberte Bars and Lounges
The ship has two bars and top-notch service. Although the drinks aren't free between meals, the beverage packages are so reasonably priced -- or added as a free perk with some special fare deals -- that most passengers tend to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail, gin and tonic, beer or wine. Bar service is also provided on the Sun Deck, with ever-efficient waiters coming up to take orders and deliver drinks.
Horizons Lounge (Deck 3): The main lounge, where almost everyone gathers for a drink before dinner, is designed in high-gloss black, white and gray. A piano is set up on one side, where bands also perform, in front of a small dance floor. In our opinion, Horizons is not as conducive to socializing as much as you may like on a river cruise. Overpowering the center of the room, the bar is a huge glass island that doesn't welcome passengers to sit around it. Instead people are relegated to lounges and leather chairs that are crowded together and too heavy to move, keeping you trapped in that space. Half the furniture is facing the wrong way for the port talk, the captain's speech and the crew show, and it's awkward to turn yourself around in the unmoving seats. Additionally, only half of the room can see the entertainment because the bar is in the way. Our advice is to get there early to snap up the most comfortable, convenient positions. On the positive side, you don't need to leave your seat because the table service is so fast and polite.
The bar is fully stocked with a large selection of mostly French, Austrian and German wines, draft beer (Bitburger Premium), bottled beers (Heineken, Budweiser, Guinness, Kolsch, Pilsner Urquell, Hefeweizen, Kristallweizen), cocktails, aperitifs, spirits, liqueurs and liqueur coffees. The menu also offers an opportunity to sample some European specialties including the local Calvados, brandies, grappa, schnapps and lesser-known drops such as Slivovitz from Serbia. Nonalcoholic beers, mocktails, juices and hot beverages are also served here, and there's a tea and a coffee station near the entrance.
The Terrace (Deck 3): At the end of Horizons Lounge, overlooking the bow, is an alfresco terrace with a few chairs and tables. This is a great spot to catch the river views from the front of the ship or to take a drink outside in the fresh air.
Pool Bar (Deck 3): At the stern, next to the indoor pool, is a much smaller, quieter bar. With wraparound windows, it offers a panoramic view of the ship's wake and scenery on both sides. The menu is shorter with only one house white wine, one house red wine, five beers, two cocktails, a mocktail, juice and soft drinks. A self-serve tea station, coffee machine and a jar of cookies are also set up on the bar.
Emerald Liberte Outside Recreation
Lined with artificial grass, the top deck has a jogging/walking track, mini-golf putting green and a giant tic-tac-toe game. An abundance of seating includes reclining sun lounges, deck chairs and lot of tables with chairs under shade.
Emerald Liberte Services
The ship has a reception/guest services desk, cruise director's desk for shore excursions, a main lounge, restaurant, terrace cafe, Sun Deck, wellness room, hairdressing salon, library, gift shop and a heated resistance pool that is covered by a floor at night to convert the space into a cinema. The back of the ship also has a second bar, which is a quiet alternative at night. Laundry services are available for a fee per item or wait for the special deal to fill the bag to be washed and pressed for 24 euro. A deal is also offered on the first night to iron a bag's worth of your unpacked clothes for 12 euro. Wi-Fi is free and ranges from very slow to nonexistent, especially when the ship is near bridges, locks or mountains. It is not suitable for watching movies, music, Skype or other large data downloads.