Emerald Cruises

History, Review, Itineraries, Ships, Deck Plans, News

Emerald Cruises cruise line logo

Emerald Cruises fleet

Review of Emerald Cruises

Scenic Group (shipowner) is the parent company of three travel brands - Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Evergreen Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises (Emerald Waterways and Emerald Yacht Cruises).

Company history

Fka "Emerald Waterways", Emerald Cruises (emeraldcruises.com) is a Scenic Group-owned travel brand and an affordable river cruise line established in 2013 and operational since 2014. The company is a division (subsidiary/brand) of the Australian cruisetour operator Scenic Tours.

The parent company Scenic Group offers a huge variety of leisure travel deals - from 5-star luxury riverboat cruises to land tours and coach travel excursions in Australia, Europe, and the USA. Scenic Group's river cruise brand "Emerald Waterways" is known on the Australian market as "Evergreen Waterways".

In early-2020, Scenic Group established "Emerald Yacht Cruises" as a separate (from Emerald Waterways) brand specializing in premium yachting vacations. The new brand is planned for inauguration in 2022 with the newbuild 100-passenger superyacht Emerald Azzurra. Scenic's yacht brand operates itineraries in Europe's southern seas (Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black Sea) and also in Red Sea (Arabian Gulf/Dubai) and Indian Ocean (Seychelles). In 2021 started the construction of Azzurra's sistership Emerald Sakara (planned for inauguration in 2023-Q1).

On March 9, 2021, was officially announced the merger of Scenic Group's brands "Emerald Waterways" (EmeraldWaterways.com) and "Emerald Yacht Cruises" (EmeraldYachtCruises.com) into a single brand - "Emerald Cruises" (EmeraldCruises.com).

Emerald Waterways logo - CruiseMapper

Emerald Waterways as a cruise line debuted with 2 top-luxury riverboats - Sky and Star. In 2015, the second pair of sisterships joined the fleet - Dawn and Sun. The 5th boat was scheduled for launch in 2016 (Emerald Belle), but a construction yard fire accident postponed the launch for 2017. The boat's name was also changed to "Emerald Destiny", joining the 2017-inaugurated boats Liberte and Radiance.

Overall, the company has raised the bar within the budget river cruising market. The brand is positioned somewhere between the 3- and 4-star cruise lines. It competes with renowned brands like Avalon Waterways and Viking Cruises by boasting less expensive fares and innovative design touches.

The following YouTube video provides information regarding Emerald Waterways ships' general onboard amenities and services on the company's "Star-Ship" class boats. It provides information on onboard activities and amenities, along with the boats' best deck plan features.


One of the new river cruise companies, Emerald targets the European inland waterways cruising market exclusively. The line operates the following Scenic Tours-owned riverboats:

Emerald Waterways ships have some of the best crew-to-guest ratios for European riverboats. One of the best fleetwide innovations is the dual-purpose area - the brand's signature "pool cinema" complex) located Deck 3 aft on the "Star Ships". The area transforms from a heated indoor pool (with a retractable roof) at daytime into a cinema at night - a unique river cruise ship feature. The second impressive feature is Emerald's balcony stateroom that transforms into a conservatory with a button touch.

Emerald Waterways ship pool-cinema

The rest of the innovations are fairly standard on newbuilds in the modern era of European river cruising. Among those are the private balconies for the majority of cabins, good-sized suites, and open-air alternative dining spots. The alfresco dining area at the bow of the ships provides informal alternative dining options for breakfast and lunch, but most meals are served in the Reflections Restaurant - the riverboat's main dining room.

Next YouTube video is about shipboard dining options.


Emerald Waterways cruise deals inclusions

Emerald Waterways river cruise tour deals are inclusive of:

  • some flights (depending on market and special offers)
  • all transfers (to and from the ship)
  • guided sightseeing/shore excursions, also city tours
  • gourmet dining, all meals onboard (and some ashore)
  • (top suite cabins only) pre-dinner canapes, after-dinner sweet treats
  • unlimited tea and coffee
  • bottled water (in all cabins / replenished daily)
  • free drinks (wine, beer, soft drinks, espresso, cappuccino) with every meal
  • complimentary bicycle
  • free Internet / WiFi access
  • live onboard entertainment
  • all onboard and excursion gratuities
  • impeccable service

In July 2020, the "Emerald Waterways" brand was officially launched in Australia, where Scenic Group originally operated river cruises via the "Evergreen Cruises and Tours" brand.

In July 2021 officially started operations the brand "Emerald Yacht Cruises". Announced on February 1, 2020, the new brand is served by two 110-m long, 100-passenger superyachts - Azzurra (2022) and Sakara (2023).

(Coronavirus crisis) passenger shipping pause 2020-2021

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, all Scenic Group travel entities have suspended passenger operations (land tours, yacht and river cruises) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 14, 2020, through late-July 2021.

Scenic Group's fleetwide travel operations resumed in August 2021, including the riverboats in Europe, Asia (ship Harmony) and Egypt (ship Movenpick MS Hamees).

With rebooking, Scenic Group provides an FTC (Future Travel Credit) for all canceled departures. To each of the canceled cruise bookings (river or ocean itineraries) is provided 110% FTC (for the booking's full value), to rebook and travel by December 31, 2022. To all booked land tours (including Egypt cruisetours) during the suspension period is provided 100% FTC (for the booking's full value), to rebook and travel by December 31, 2022.

Scenic's FTC is valid for travel departures through to December 31, 2022. The FTC can be applied to any existing booking within the Scenic Group travel companies (Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Evergreen Cruises & Tours, Emerald Cruises) and also when rebooking future travel. The FTC is fully transferrable to another customer.

Upon the expiry of the Scenic FTC voucher (on December 31, 2022), unable to travel customers may request a 100% cash refund (equal to the amount paid). All customers with a booking that departs from July 1, 2020, and customers considering a booking after July 1st, have the option to transfer their booking (up to 30 days prior departure) to an alternate date without a fee. Scenic will waive all cancellation fees with the booking value applied as an FTC and we will review the timing for the full payment when rebooking. Please note, if you choose to cancel there may be third-party fees applicable, which will be at the customer's own expense. This policy applies to all Scenic Group's travel brands.

Itinerary of Emerald Cruises

Besides its owned fleet, Emerald Waterways also charters ships with deployment in the Adriatic Sea (yachts Adriatic Pearl, Adriatic Princess, Swallow, Lastavica), Nile River Egypt (hotel ship Movenpick MS Hamees), Volga RIver Russia (MS Nizhny Novgorod).

Vacation travelers wishing to explore Southeast Asia while experiencing a level of luxury style should check out the new Mekong River cruise itineraries of Emerald Waterways.

A signature 16-day itinerary on the purpose-built Mekong Navigator riverboat explores Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong River. In addition to the 16-day river cruise tour from Hanoi to Siem Reap, Emerald Waterways offers an 8-day "Magnificent Mekong", 12-day "Mekong Discovery" and 19-day "Vietnam and Cambodia Explorer" B2B itineraries.

Owned by the Austria-based company Lueftner Cruises, this luxurious ship is often charted by large European river cruise companies, including Uniworld, Emerald Waterways, Haimark Travel, Vantage Deluxe World Travel, Saga.

Croatia's Dalmatian Coast yacht cruises (Adriatic Sea)

Emerald Waterways offers small-yacht cruises along Dalmatian Coast (Croatia, Adriatic Sea). The company offers an 8-day itinerary (April through October) with "land and sea" packages of 11-days (to Zagreb) and 16-days (to Budapest Hungary.

  • The 8-day "Island of Dalmatia Cruise" starts or ends in Trogir Croatia - UNESCO Site popular with its historic downtown, Renaissance architecture, medieval streets. The Adriatic cruisetour visits Sibenik, Hvar, Pucisca (on Brac Island), Korcula Island, Ston (guided tour with wine tasting) and Dubrovnik.
  • The 11-day "Island of Dalmatia Cruise and Zagreb" package offers 8-day yachting plus 3 nights in Croatia's capital Zagreb.
  • The 16-day "Discover Croatia and the Islands of Dalmatia" package offers the 8-day cruise; 3 nights in the seaside resort Opatija on Kvarner Gulf; 2 nights in Slovenia's Lake Bled, situated at the base of Julian Alps, and 3 nights in Zagreb.

Emerald Waterways yacht cruise deals are on the ships Adriatic Princess (2017) and Adriatic Princess II (2019) - newbuild 36-passenger boats featuring a salon-restaurant with bar, lounge terrace, aft marina platform with pool ladders (for sea access), and serving watersports.

Emerald Yacht Cruises

In July 2021 was planned for inauguration the company's new brand "Emerald Yacht Cruises". Announced on February 1, 2020, the new brand will be served by two 100-passenger superyachts - Emerald Azzurra (2022) and Emerald Sakara (2023).

The custom-designed ships will be operated in warmer climates, including Southern Europe's Mediterranean (Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea) as well as the Red Sea and Indian Ocean (Seychelles).

Emerald Yacht Cruises 2021 program had grouped a total of 47 different itineraries to destinations like Italy (Ligurian Riviera), Spain (Costa del Sol), France (Cote d'Azur), Greece (Greek Islands, Cyprus, Crete), Adriatic Sea's Dalmatian Coast (Croatia, Montenegro, Albania), Malta, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan.

The Azzurra yacht's inaugural itinerary program (2021) included:

Emerald Yacht Cruises deals are fly-cruise and ATOL-protected (Air Travel Organiser's Licence) and ABTA-protected (directly booked flights with non-ATOL airlines).

In March 2021 was announced the 2023 program for Emerald Azzurra. In addition to voyages in the Adriatic, Aegean, Mediterranean, Red seas, the 2023 collection included 2 new Black Sea itineraries.

  • The 15-day "Mykonos, Gallipoli and Essence of the Black Sea" voyage is between Piraeus-Athens and Istanbul, visiting Mykonos, Greece prior to the Black Sea ports in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey. Passengers can explore Mykonos Island (guided tour), visit a private recital in Odessa and learn the history of Sinop (Turkish prison fortress). Prices started at USD 8100 per person with double occupancy. Departures were scheduled for August 5 and 19, 2023.
  • The 22-day "Discover the Greek Islands, Turkey and the Black Sea" itinerary includes more Greek islands (Amorgos, Patmos, Rhodes) as well as Turkey's Bodrum and Kusadasi-Ephesus. Early booking promo prices started from USD 11820 pp, with departures scheduled for July 29 and August 19, 2023.

Also were announced 2023 “Epic Voyages” - two expanded/B2B voyages combining several shorter itineraries.

  • The 26-day "Discover Gems of the Mediterranean Coastlines" itinerary visits ports in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, including the French and Italian rivieras between Villefranche-sur-Mer/Nice, France and Civitavecchia-Rome) prior to the Sicily Island and the Ionian Sea to Greece. The last leg is roundtrip from Piraeus-Athens. Earlybird booking promo fares started at USD 13910 pp.
  • The 22-day "Discover the Pearls of Croatia, Greece and Turkey" itinerary begins with a Greek island and the Turkish coastline prior to the Adriatic Sea (Dubrovnik, with call ports in Montenegro and Albania). Follows northbound cruising along the Dalmatian Coast and debarkation in Venice. Earlybird fares started at USD 13840 pp.

In August 2021 were included 2 new itineraries in Emerald Azzurra's 2022 schedule, both visiting Saudi Arabia and transiting the Suez Canal.

  • The 10-day "Mysteries and Treasures of the Red Sea and Saudi Arabia" voyage starts from Limassol Cyprus and ends in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. En route are visited Egypt (Giza's Great Sphinx and the Pyramids, from Port Said. The itinerary visits Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt, Aqaba-Petra Jordan, Dubai UAE, Al Wajh Saudi Arabia.
  • The 12-day "Ancient Wonders of the Red Sea and Mythical Greece" itinerary starts in Jeddah and visits Al Wahj (optional tour to AlUla), Dubai, Aqaba, Sharm-el Sheik, Ain Sokhna (the closest beach resort to Cairo), Crete, Santorini, and ends in Piraeus-Athens. From Sharm El-Sheikh are offered a glass-bottom boat tour (at Naama Bay), a Felucca boat tour (on Nile River), bus tour to Giza's Pyramids.

With Emerald Sakara, Scenic Yacht Cruises introduces in 2023-Q1 a new destination in the Indian Ocean - Seychelles Islands. The 7-day itinerary (themed "Tropical Charms of the Seychelles") roundtrip from Victoria (Mahe Island) visits the islands Sainte-Anne, Cousin, Praslin, Grande-Soeur, Curieuse, La Digue and Aride.

Emerald Cruises 2021-2022 Mekong River

Emerald's 2021-2022 Mekong River cruises (in Vietnam and Cambodia) are scheduled for the newest boat - Emerald Harmony. The 2019-built Emerald Harmony carries 84 passengers and, unlike most similar-sized Mekong ships, is designed to navigate all the way through to Saigon.

Emerald Harmony offers 4 itineraries, each designed to allow passengers to discover a new way of life, warm community spirit, exotic cuisine, and learn about a culture that is rooted in agriculture.

The 8-day "Majestic Mekong Cruise" is between Prek Kdam and Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City. The 13-day "Majestic Mekong Discoverer Cruise" itinerary is between Saigon and Siem Reap (with Angkor Wat). The 17-day "Treasures and Temples of Vietnam and Cambodia Cruise" additionally visits Hanoi and Halong City. The 21-day "Grand Tour of Vietnam and Cambodia Cruise" visits Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Siem Reap.

In April 2021, Emerald Cruises announced its Southeast Asia river program scheduled for the newbuild boat Emerald Harmony. Itineraries include:

  • 15-day "Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong" (starting August 24, 2022) visits Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Halong Bay, Angkor Wat (Siem Reap). Fares started from GBP 3545 per person.
  • 19-day "Treasures and Temples of Vietnam and Cambodia" (starting August 12, 2022) features Halong Bay cruising, Mekong River junk boat cruising, visiting Phnom Penh. Prices started from GBP 4395 per person.

Christian-themed river cruises 2022 (Passion Play)

In 2022, Emerald Cruises scheduled 6x "Passion Play" themed river cruisetours designed for North Americans. The 10-day voyages combine an 8-day Danube cruising with the extension package "Passion Play". Departures are offered in May, June, July and September (2022).

The Passion Play in Oberammergau (Bavaria's Garmisch-Partenkirchen district) is a performance only that takes every 10 years. Since 1634, when the town's inhabitants have put on a portrayal of the life and death of Jesus, this unique event has been performed 42 times, making it the world's longest-running show. Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the scheduled for 2020 performance was rescheduled to 2022.

Depending on departure dates, passengers can either begin or end their 8-day voyage on one of Emerald’s 180-passenger riverboats with the "Passion Play" package. The itineraries visit 4 countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany) and the capital city ports Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, in addition to small villages and towns.

The special package includes 1-day admission to "Passion Play" (in Oberammergau), 1-night hotel stays in Munich (with a city tour) and Oberammergau, also airport-ship transfers and meals.

Emerald River Cruises 2022 Europe

In February 2021 was released "2022 European River Cruise Preview" brochure with an extensive collection of cruisetours and new land packages.

New for Emerald Waterways offers include an extended port stay in Amsterdam Holland (on Rhine itineraries), a special excursion to Amsterdam’s Floriade Horticulture Expo, and 5-day Christmas Market cruises (Danube, Rhine, Rhone).

New for 2022, Amsterdam joins the river city capitals Prague, Paris, Madrid and Berlin which can be added as land packages to the beginning/end of the voyage. On select departures ("Jewels of the Rhine" and "Splendours of Europe" itineraries) customers can extend the sailing with 2 nights in a centrally located hotel in Amsterdam, with daily breakfast and airport-hotel-airpot transfers. The 10-day "Jewels of The Rhine" itineraries start at CAD 3840 per person, the 17-day "Splendours of Europe" - at CAD 6595 pp.

A visit to "Floriade Horticulture Expo 2022" is offered on select Rhine cruises from Amsterdam. Floriade Horticulture Expo takes place every 10 years (between April-October) and offers cruisers to visit a huge greenhouse complex, 40 professional presentations, cable car ride (over Floriade Park), arts and culture programs. The 8-day "Springtime Delights" (Tulip Times-themed itinerary from CAD 4245) also visits Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse.

5-day Christmas Market river cruises visit a new market city each day. In 2022, the company adds a selection of 5-day itineraries (Rhine, Danube and Rhone/for the first time). The 5-day "Christmas in Southern France" cruise is priced from CAD 1945 pp.

Early bookings (made by May 16, 2021) receive USD 3000 per couple savings. Suite bookings receive EUR 150 OBC (onboard credit) per person. Fully-paid bookings made by February 28, 2021, received Super Earlybird savings (additional 10%). All daily excursions, port charges, ship transfers, gratuities, meals, wines and beers by the glass (with dinners and lunches) are fares-inclusive. All bookings come with Emerald's new flexible booking policy that allows transfers to alternate departure dates or itineraries up to 60 days prior departure without fees.

Special Interest Cruises 2022

In late-May 2021, the company released details on three "Special Interest Cruises" scheduled for 2022. These themed voyages are highlighted by unique experiences and 3 of Emerald's most popular Moselle-Rhine and Danube itineraries reimagined to focus on wellness, arts, culture and wine-making.

  • Departing August 21, 2022, the 8-day "Wines of the Moselle Cruise" is themed on Moselle Valley's wine-making history (producer of the world's best Riesling). The itinerary is from Mainz to Bernkastel-Kues, includes land tours for visiting wine estates and the call ports Wiesbaden, Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cochem, Trier. The guided excursions and wine tastings are in Eberbach Abbey and Schloss Vollrads (wine estate). Fares started from GBP 2195 (EUR 2530) per person with double occupancy.
  • Departing July 21, 2022, the 8-day "Danube Spa, Arts and Culture Cruise" is wellness-arts-culture-themed and visits three Danube River capital cities. Starting from Budapest Hungary, the voyage has planned an arts and crafts excursion in Szentendre (Hungary) for a traditional Spa experience. In Bratislava Slovakia, tourists are welcomed into a local family house for an Afternoon coffee and cake. Continuing with Vienna Austria, the voyage has an arts-themed excursion visiting the Kunsthistorische Museum (on Vienna's Ringstrasse). A hiking tour through Wachau Valley (Austria’s wine-producing region) and tasting local wines are also planned prior to Linz Austria where a photography tour is offered featuring a Linzer torte tasting event. The voyage ends in Passau Germany where tourists visit a local farm for a traditional Bavarian brunch. Fares started from GBP 2445 (EUR 2820) per person.
  • Departing June 26, 2022, the 8-day "Rhine Spa, Arts and Culture Cruise" is from Mainz to Basel Switzerland. The itinerary visits Heidelberg Germany (walking tour, a Spa tour to Baden-Baden), Koblenz, Rudesheim, Mannheim, Rastatt, Strasbourg, Breisach. As excursions are offered a wine tasting (in Eberbach Monastery), a photography tour (Strasbourg), a food tour (Colmar France), and a day tour to Caracalla Spa (Baden-Baden). Fares started from GBP 2495 (USD 2880) per person.

Next YouTube videos are official releases that review the company's signature river cruise destinations:

Danube River


Douro River


and Asia (Vietnam and Cambodia)


Emerald Cruises related cruise news

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