Last week, we told you about the newest river cruise line to hit the waterways of Europe. Emerald Cruises will be an offshoot of Scenic Tours, and its website – and phone reservations – have just gone live, taking bookings for the line’s inaugural 2014 season.
Emerald Cruises will officially begin sailing in April of 2014, operating five distinct itineraries with departures from Budapest, Nuremberg, Amsterdam and Basel. The line wraps up its inaugural season with a 15-day Christmas Markets voyage from Amsterdam to Budapest.
Rather than relying on existing vessels, Emerald Cruises will launch two brand-new, purpose-built vessels: Emerald Star and Emerald Sky. Each will carry 182 guests in 70 suites and 20 staterooms, most of which replace the standard French Balcony design with an indoor balcony that comes complete with special decking and an open-air system.
Both ships will also feature two staterooms apiece designed for the solo traveler. These Category ES Staterooms will offer the same features and amenities afforded to higher-grade cabins, packaged in a 130 square foot space that will likely be adequate for one.
Emerald is also making a big deal of two unique onboard features – and rightly so. The line’s new, purpose-built vessels will feature heated swimming pools with retractable glass ‘Magrodome’-style roofs and nearby gelato stations as well as bars. Emerald Star and Emerald Sky will also boast indoor cinemas, where guests will be able to watch classic favorites as well as recent releases.
Rather than competing with parent company Scenic, Emerald Cruises seems to be designed to purposefully compete with lines like Viking River Cruises. As such, Emerald Cruises won’t offer the same inclusions as Scenic, but the trade-off is a lower price-point that should attract travelers who may have been on the fence about river cruising.
As an incentive, Emerald Cruises is offering $500 per person in airfare savings on voyages booked by October 31, 2013.
One thing is certain: The pressure on river cruise lines to innovate in the European market isn’t letting up one bit.
We’ll have more details on Emerald Cruises as they become available. Until then, why not have a peek at our profile of parent company, Scenic Tours.
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