What does April 15 mean to you? While Tax Day springs to mind, cruise fans should delight in the fact that April 15, 2014 will see the launch of a new river cruise company, Emerald Waterways. As river cruising's popularity continues to grow, this new venture will focus on the rivers of Europe; its inaugural sailing departs from Basel and heads for Amsterdam.
The Ethos of Emerald Waterways
Emerald Waterways was specifically developed for value-seeking travelers. Per-passenger fares include transfers to and from the ship; all onboard meals in a choice of two dining rooms as well as most meals on shore; unlimited tea and coffee; wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; bottled water in cabins; WiFi; gratuities; and at least one shore excursion every day.
Designers and engineers developed the “Star-Ship” concept for Emerald Waterways; the lines’ first two ships are named Emerald Sky and Emerald Star. Capitalizing on the growing trend of solo travel, both ships were designed with two cabins meant exclusively for single occupancy, a nice touch considering that most ships focus on family staterooms and large suites. Of course, these ships also offer plenty of options for couples by way of 72 suites and 20 staterooms. In all, each ship can accommodate up to 182 guests per voyage.
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Cabins employ a unique “indoor balcony” design element that allows the floor-to-ceiling panoramic window to drop halfway down—allowing for a bit of fresh air. On top suites, the balcony is separated from the living space by sliding glass doors.
Lots of thought went into the public areas of the ship as well, and while many riverboats offer a pool and movie theater, Emerald Waterways’ Star-Ships are the only vessels in which the swimming pool complex with retractable roof actually converts into the cinema viewing area in the evening.
Meals can be taken at Reflections Restaurant, the main dining room offering buffets at breakfast and lunch and a four-course meal in the evenings, and The Terrace at the bow of the ship for a light breakfast and café-style lunches of pizzas, pastas, soups, salads, and fish and chips.
8-day Danube Delights (Nuremberg to Budapest)
Calling on: Nuremberg, Weltenburg, Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.
Price: From $2,555 per person.
11-day Classic Prague and Danube Delights
Calling on: Prague, Nuremberg, Weltenburg, Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.
Price: From $3,015 per person.
15-day Splendors of Europe
Calling on: Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, Rhine Gorge, Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Wertheim, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Weltenburg, Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Durstein, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.
Price: From $3,810 per person.
12-day Magical Rhine & Moselle
Calling on: Basel, Black Forest region, Strasbourg, Mannheim, Mainz, Rhine Gorge, Bernkastel, Trier, Cochem, Koblenz, Cologne, Amsterdam.
Price: From $3,533 per person.
15-day Christmas Markets of Europe
Calling on: Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, Rhine Gorge, Rudesheim, Miltenberg, Wertheim, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Weltenburg, Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Durstein, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest.
Price: From $3,810 per person.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Cruise Critic, and other websites and magazines. Her latest book is Tom Petty: Rock ‘n’ Roll Guardian. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.