Three new ships will join Emerald Waterways’ fleet in 2017. // © 2016 Emerald Waterways
Feature image (above): Emerald Destiny will be deployed on the Douro River in Portugal. // © 2016 iStock
Emerald Waterways will launch three new ships next year, bringing its fleet to seven vessels, while also adding new combination itineraries and a program of active shore excursions.
The value-oriented line will first debut the 182-passenger Emerald Destiny in April to sail the Main, Rhine and Danube rivers. Emerald Radiance, to be deployed on Portugal’s Douro River, will follow, with capacity for 112 passengers in 56 staterooms and suites. A new cabin category will debut onboard: Riverview Suites on the Horizon Deck, each 330 square feet. These offer panoramic views using Emerald’s floor-to-ceiling drop-down windows and a separate bedroom and living area. The suites have walk-in wardrobes, large bathrooms and complimentary mini-bars.
Emerald’s Douro itinerary includes stops such as the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto, Portugal; the Roman settlement of Regua, Portugal; and Salamanca, Spain’s charming university city. Guests can explore the Roman ruins in Lamego, Portugal; sample Portuguese cooking and attend cocktail demonstrations; see prehistoric carvings showcased in Coa Valley Museum; enjoy tapas tastings; and dine at a traditional local wine estate. Four-day extensions are offered to Lisbon, Portugal ($650 per person), and Madrid ($695 per person).
Despite its smaller size, the third new ship, 138-guest Emerald Liberte, which has 70 staterooms and suites, will offer the same amenities as Emerald’s other Star-Ships, including a swimming pool that turns into a cinema. Its April launch will mark the first time Emerald will operate its own ship between the French cities of Arles and Lyon on the Saone and Rhone rivers, with optional extensions in Paris and Nice, France. Emerald Active programs will be available on the route, as will an onboard cooking demonstration by an award-winning chef. The ship will sail through the French cities of Chalon-Sur-Saone, Tournon and Avignon, visiting several quaint country villages, and guests can tour the area’s castles, palaces and ruins, including ancient Lyon; the 15th-century Hospices de Beaune; and Arles’ 2,000-year-old Roman Amphitheatre, still in use today. On the ship and onshore, wine and culinary tastings will focus on famous regional wines, cheeses and olives.
Guests on the new ships will have a choice of two restaurants: Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace, for light breakfast and lunch. There will be an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area, and complimentary bicycles will be available.
Emerald is also bringing out new combined cruises, which save travelers money on international airfare by providing two seven-night cruises packaged seamlessly into a 14-night vacation, with transportation between the trips included in the ticket. For example, passengers can combine Jewels of the Rhine with Sensations of Southern France sailings, or pair Sensations of Southern France with Secrets of the Douro, and there are pre- and post-cruise extensions available to Amsterdam; Paris; Madrid; Lisbon, Portugal; and Nice.
The line’s value proposition is great for younger cruisers, and the new Emerald Active program gives all passengers the option of more physical pursuits, such as guided bike tours and invigorating hikes on six of Emerald’s most popular European itineraries. Guests can choose treks in Germany’s Black Forest, urban biking in Belgrade, Serbia, or a guided bike tour of the Austrian city of Melk, all included in the cruise fare.
Emerald is offering reduced airfare on all cruises booked by Sept. 2, 2016. Travelers choosing cruises of 15 days or more can fly to Europe from $495 and receive a 200 euro per person onboard credit to be used on drink packages, Discover More optional tours, spa services or laundry. Passengers booking seven- to 14-day cruises can fly from $995, plus receive a 100 euro per person onboard credit.