Emerald Waterways is one of the newest river cruise lines, having been introduced to the world in 2014. The company is Australian but has been marketed to all English-speaking travelers since its launch. Although the company is young, Emerald Waterways' older sister company Scenic has operated world-wide land tours since 1986 and owned/operated luxury river ships sailing under the Scenic brand since 2008.
Emerald Waterways Onboard Lifestyle
Emerald Waterways markets itself as a "deluxe", 4-star+ river cruise line. However, the company features many touches that most travelers would consider "luxury" such an almost all-inclusive pricing and modern new ships. The value-added pricing is directed towards younger travelers, but most guests are over 50. The onboard lifestyle is comfortable and casual, with an interesting mix of English-speaking guests from around the world. Most passengers are from Australia, the UK, Canada, and North America. Since Scenic is very well known in Australia, a larger percentage of guests are from that country, which adds to the fun.
Emerald Waterways' almost all-inclusive fare for all guests includes all transfers to and from the ship; complimentary WiFi onboard the ship, a shore excursion daily; 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; and all gratuities on and off the ship. The top suites also receive limited room service that includes a continental breakfast, before dinner snacks and nighttime sweets.
Emerald Waterways Ships
Emerald Waterways currently has four almost identical, 182-guest river ships sailing the Rhine, Danube, and Main Rivers in Europe on 8 to 15-day journeys:
- Emerald Sky (2014)
- Emerald Star (2014)
- Emerald Sun (2015)
- Emerald Dawn (2015)
The cruise line plans to add three more new ships to its European fleet in 2017--the 138-guest Emerald Liberte, which sails between Lyon and Avignon in southern France; the 112-guest Emerald Radiance, which sails the Douro River in Portugal; and the Emerald Destiny, which sails the Danube, Main, and Rhine Rivers of central Europe with its four older sisters.
Since 2014, Emerald Waterways has chartered one river ship, the 68-guest Mekong Navigator, which sails the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. The company also charters the Irrawaddy Explorer, a river ship sailing the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar (Burma).
Emerald Waterways Passenger Profile
Emerald Waterways' lower prices attract a somewhat younger demographic, but most river cruise travelers tend to be older than those on ocean ships since the onboard activities and entertainment are limited by the size of the ship, and the destinations are what attract most river cruise travelers. The mixed English-speaking demographic facilitates making new friends and learning more about travelers who live in other parts of the world but have English roots.
Emerald Waterways began adding active excursions to some ports of call in 2015. These include more strenuous hiking opportunities like walking up to Wertheim Castle and in the Black forest and biking tours in quaint towns like Melk and cities like Belgrade.
Emerald Waterways Accommodations and Cabins
The cabins and suites on the Emerald Waterways' ships feature comfortable beds, a great shower, and lots of storage space. Most of the staterooms include a huge window that slides downward at the push of a button, turning the cabin into an open-air balcony. The cabins also have individual temperature controls WiFi inside the cabin, a large flat screen television, and a night light in the bathroom.
Emerald Waterways Cuisine and Dining
Emerald Waterways' river cruise ships feature one main dining room with excellent river views from both sides. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, and dinner is ordered from a menu. A light breakfast and lunch are also available forward in the Horizon Lounge, which is the large panoramic lounge. Guests can take their light meals outdoors and dine on The Terrace or eat inside the lounge. One lunch is a barbecue on the sun deck.
The food on the Emerald Waterways' ships ranges from good to excellent, and most guests on our cruise cleaned their plates at each meal, which is always a good sign. (Some even order complimentary seconds!) The Emerald Cruise ship menus are designed by the home office and vary on each itinerary, with regional specialties and guest favorites on the dinner menu each evening.
Emerald Waterways Activities and Entertainment
Like most river cruise lines, the destinations are the focus of Emerald Waterways' cruises, so much of the daytime hours are spent ashore. A guided shore excursion with the "whisper audio devices" is included at each port of call. The guide uses a microphone and the guests wear earpieces so that they can hear him/her without having to stand close. Guests keep the devices in their cabins and re-charge them nightly.
The ships have local speakers or entertainment come onboard the ship in some ports, and all the ships have a piano player/DJ. The cruise director has a port talk each evening before dinner to discuss the next day's schedule, and sometimes leads discussions on local foods or customs. On some evenings after dinner, the swimming pool and aft lounge are transformed into a cinema. On other nights, the cruise director leads a trivia game or a game designed to get everyone dancing. When the ship is sailing during the day, the chef might lead a cooking demonstration or a tour of the galley. We had a local glass blower come onboard to demonstrate his skill when sailing in Germany.
Emerald Waterways Common Areas
The Emerald Waterways ships are comfortable but contemporary and modern. Since they are all new, they include excellent technology like ship-wide WiFi and an easy-to-use television system in the cabins. The most distinctive common area is the aft pool area. Not many river ships have a swimming pool. This one is small and heated but perfect for relaxing and watching the river scenery passing by. Its retractable roof makes it accessible in all types of weather.
Emerald Waterways Spa, Gym, and Fitness
The Emerald Waterways ships all have a small spa and gym. The spa staff offers all sorts of traditional treatments like massages and facials. The gym has some exercise equipment, but most guests get their exercise by walking or running when the ship is in port. The sun deck has a walking/jogging track, which was only used by a few travelers on our cruise.
The most popular fitness activity on the Emerald Waterways ships is riding the complimentary bicycles when the ship is in port. The staff provides maps and tips on where to ride.
Emerald Waterways Web Site: https://www.emeraldwaterways.com/
Contact Emerald Waterways in the United States: 1-855-222-3214
Travel Agent Reservations Line: 1-888-778-6689
USA Address: Emerald Waterways, One Financial Center - Suite 400, Boston, MA 02111 USA