Emerald Cruises aimed for the moon when searching for inspiration to name their latest river ship, Emerald Luna. But in terms of hardware, the cruise line landed on continuity. As the ninth river cruise ship (or Star-Ship, as Emerald refers to its vessels) in the line's fleet, Emerald Luna sports the same modern and sleek look of its sister ships, with mirrored walls, minimalist yet elegant decor and floor-to-ceiling views in most cabins and public areas.
Introduced in 2022, Emerald Luna is Emerald Waterways' first new river cruise ship since 2019, and the first new one to debut on Europe's waterways since 2017. The 180-passenger vessel has all the basic features you'd look for in a river ship -- a spacious sun deck, restaurant, lounge -- plus the highlights that Emerald is known for, such as an indoor swimming pool with a retractable roof, a small gym, a spa/treatment room and a fleet of electric bicycles for passengers to use ashore..
Emerald Luna appeals to the traveler who prefers a casual atmosphere and their choice of active excursions and onboard inclusions. Base fares on Emerald Luna come with an attractive number of inclusions, such as Wi-Fi, gratuities, transfers to and from the airport, shore excursions and alcoholic beverages complimentary at lunch and dinner.
Emerald Luna spends the lion's share of its time sailing in the heart of Europe, with 7- to 14-night itineraries sailing on the Rhine, Danube, Main and Moselle rivers on seasons that run from April to October.
Our sailing, titled "Netherlands and Belgium in Bloom," is an itinerary that Emerald Luna does a few times in early spring to take advantage of the tulip season in the Low Countries. While our 7-night Amsterdam roundtrip itinerary had the right amount of days, it was a little short on ports when compared to the average Emerald itinerary, as we only called in Rotterdam, Willemstad (not the Curacaoan port), Antwerp and Arnhem.
Emerald's daily included tours as well as the extra fee shore excursions, however, more than made up for it by adding destinations like The Hague, Delft, Edam and Apeldoorn to the voyage. Plus, we had overnight stays in Amsterdam and Rotterdam that allowed for deeper exploration of these ports and their nearby attractions.
The 443-ft Emerald Luna is a good fit for the Dutch waterways, comfortably sailing the diverse canals and rivers of the region. The urban character of the itinerary, particularly when we sailed across the the densely-populated Randstad region of the western-central Netherlands, meant that this sailing had less opportunities to embark on more active tours like nature hikes. Electric bike tours, however, were available on several ports of call.
Emerald Luna features an easy to navigate layout spread across its four decks -- named Riviera Deck 1, Vista Deck 2, Horizon Deck 3 and Sun Deck 4. The heart of the ship is its three-deck Atrium, with its glittering lighting arrangements and sweeping staircases.
Riviera Deck is home to a handful of cabins as well as the ship's tiny boutique shop. On the ship's Vista Deck, you will find the reception and the main restaurant, named Reflections. More than half of the deck is devoted to cabins and at the end of the long cabin corridor, towards the aft of the ship, you'll find Emerald Luna's gym and spa treatment room.
The heart of Horizon Deck is the aptly-named Horizon Bar and Lounge, towards the front of the ship. The lounge gives way to The Terrace -- an indoor/outdoor space suitable for informal meals or sightseeing. Horizon Deck 3 is also where you'll find one of Emerald's signature amenities: the indoor pool area that also converts into a cinema by night, thanks to a telescoping floor that completely covers the pool area and allows for chairs to be placed on its footprint.
The uppermost Sun Deck features an assortment of deck chairs, a walking track and a small golf putting green. Beware that the Sun Deck can be closed periodically in order for the ship to transit bridges with low clearance.
· All dining venues
· Mealtime beverages
· Shore excursions in every port
· Transfers to/from airport
· Premium excursions
· Premium beverages
· Spa treatments
Thanks to its mix of active and conventional tours, as well as its emphasis on value, Emerald Cruises tends to appeal to a broader demographic than the average river cruise. On Emerald Luna, we also noticed that our particular sailing attracted multigenerational cruisers -- specifically adult children with senior parents.
Our sailing in the Netherlands had an almost equal numbers of American, Canadian and British passengers, although Emerald is known to also attract Australian cruisers thanks to the Aussie roots of parent company, Scenic. Solo travelers can also take advantage of the two available cabins on Emerald Luna and other Star-Ships.
Emerald Luna is equipped with elevators in the Atrium that go between decks 1 and 3, making most ship areas and gangways easily accessible for cruisers with mobility concerns. Access to the Sun Deck, however, is only via stairs (located at the front, aft and midship).
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