Just a few days ago, I wrote about one of my favorite river cruises of 2016. That trip, on the Danube in Eastern Europe, was on Emerald Sky. I found the two-year-old Sky to be bright, contemporary and inviting, with spacious staterooms featuring “indoor” balconies that with the touch of a button opened stateroom floor-to-ceiling windows to the outside air.
Now Emerald Waterways is launching three brand new ships, almost doubling its fleet. The new ships will allow the company to expand its European offerings to include France and Portugal, new cruising destinations for Emerald Waterways.
Emerald Destiny will begin sailing the Rhine and Danube rivers in April; Emerald Liberté starts sailing the Rhone and Saône rivers in France in April; and Emerald Radiance will sail Portugal’s Douro river beginning in May.
Emerald Destiny will feature the same specifications as its sister ships, Sun, Star, Dawn and Sky, carrying 182 guests and boasting the popular indoor balcony in most cabins, complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system, and pool-turned-cinema on the ship’s aft. See my story My Take On Emerald Sky: Five Favorite Things
Emerald Liberté will host 138 guests and offers all the same amenities, including the swimming pool and cinema. The April launch of the Liberté will mark the first time Emerald Waterways will sail its own ship on the Saône & Rhône rivers, plying between Arles and Lyon, with optional extensions in Paris and Nice. The itinerary has been enhanced to include Emerald Active programs and an onboard meal prepared by award-winning French chef, Fabien Morreale.
Emerald Radiance, which carries only 112 passengers, will offer an intimate way to traverse Portugal’s Douro River. Riverview Suites, a new cabin category, are located on the Horizon Deck and clock in at a spacious 330-square feet. These suites feature panoramic vistas from Emerald’s unique drop-down windows and a separate bedroom and living area. With a deluxe walk-in wardrobe, larger bathroom and complimentary mini-bar, these suites offer all the amenities of the Owner’s Suites.
Emerald Waterways is also kicking off the year with free or reduced air on all 2017 European sailings. Guests booking a Balcony Suite, including Panorama Balcony Suite, Riverview Suite, Grand Balcony Suite and Owner’s One Bedroom Suite, on any 2017 Europe river cruise itinerary will get free round-trip airfare from major U.S. and Canadian gateways. Guests booking a stateroom cabin category on a Europe itinerary will be eligible for a reduced airfare rate of $795 US/CAD per person. Guests wishing to book their own air will receive $1,000 US/CAD air credit in lieu of flights ($600 for guests booking staterooms). This offer is good on new bookings made between January 1 and March 31, 2017.
Emerald Waterways caters to the four-star-plus market by using deluxe ships and service and an incredibly inclusive pricing plan. The cruise fare includes some flights (depending on market and special offers); all transfers; all onboard (and some on-shore) meals; unlimited tea and coffee, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; bottled water in the cabins replenished daily; continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapés and after-dinner sweet treats served in the top suites; complimentary Wi-Fi onboard the ship; most shore excursions as well as all onboard and excursion gratuities.