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 was inaugurated 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 the Red Sea (Arabian Gulf/Dubai) and Indian Ocean (Seychelles). Azzurra's sistership Emerald Sakara was inaugurated in 2023 August. The similarly designed but larger Emerald Kaia is currently scheduled for inauguration in April 2026.

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 COVID pandemic, Scenic Group's travel entities suspended passenger operations (land tours, yachts, riverboats) 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 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.

Family river cruises 2023 Rhine and Danube

In February 2023 were announced two family voyages on Danube and Rhine departing in July 2023.

  • (departure July 17, 2023) 8-day "Family Rhine River Cruise" (boat Emerald Luna) from Basel was promo-priced from US$2770 pp (4-person family deal).
  • (departure July 15, 2023) 8-day "Family Danube River Cruise" (boat Emerald Dawn) from Budapest was promo-priced from US$2545 pp (4-person family deal).
  • Pricing was inclusive of savings, onboard gratuities, port charges, shore excursions, airport-ship-airport transfers, all meals, wines and beers by the glass (with lunch and dinner), soft drinks (for the children).

The voyages were kids-friendly (allowing boarding of children 10 to 18 years old) and with discounted pricing for booking two adjacent staterooms (50% off the second cabin).

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 started with two 100-passenger superyachts (Emerald Azzurra /2022, and Emerald Sakara /2023). In April 2024 was announced the third yacht - Emerald Kaia, slated for inauguration in April 2026.

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

Emerald Yacht Cruises 2021 program grouped 47 different itineraries to destinations in 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.

In March 2021 was announced Azzurra's 2023 program. In addition to voyages in the Adriatic, Aegean, Mediterranean, Red seas, the collection included two Black Sea itineraries.

  • The 15-day "Mykonos, Gallipoli and Essence of the Black Sea" voyage (Piraeus-Athens to Istanbul) visited Mykonos before the Black Sea ports in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey. 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 included more Greek islands (Amorgos, Patmos, Rhodes) plus 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.

"Epic Voyages 2023" were two expanded/B2B voyages combining several shorter itineraries.

  • The 26-day "Discover Gems of the Mediterranean Coastlines" itinerary visited Western and Eastern Mediterranean ports, including on the French and Italian rivieras (between Villefranche-sur-Mer/Nice and Civitavecchia-Rome) before Sicily and the Ionian Sea to Greece. The last leg was 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 started with a Greek island and the Turkish coastline before the Adriatic (Dubrovnik, with call ports in Montenegro and Albania). Followed northbound cruising along the Dalmatian Coast and debarkation in Venice. Earlybird fares started at USD 13840 pp.

In August 2021, to Azzurra's 2022 schedule were added two new itineraries, both visiting Saudi Arabia and transiting the Suez Canal.

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

In August 2022 was opened for booking the 2023-2024 yacht cruise schedule listing both ships (Azzurra and Sakara). Regions included Caribbean and Central America, Transatlantic crossings, new/maiden call ports in Europe (Mediterranean and Adriatic). The program (winter 2023-2024) featured 15 new Caribbean islands and countries.

  • (departure November 24, 2023) 10-day "Grenadines and Grenada" itinerary (roundtrip from Bridgetown Barbados) visited Tobago Cays, Bequia Island, Saint Vincent, Union Island, Mayreau Island, Carriacou Island. Fares started from GBP 4805 per person.
  • 10-day "Coastal Adventures - Costa Rica and Panama" itinerary from Puerto Caldera/Puntarenas (Costa Rica) visited Curu and Isla Tortuga, Quepos, Golfito, Isla Cebaco, Darien NP, San Jose Island, and Panama City. Fares started from GBP 5200 pp.
  • 11-day "Highlights of Spain, Morocco and Italy" itinerary from Tenerife visited Arrecife/Lanzarote (Canaries), Casablanca (Morocco), Gibraltar UK, Malaga (Spain), Cartagena (Spain), Palma de Mallorca (Balearic Spain), Mahon/Menorca (Balearic Spain), Bonifacio (Corsica France), and Civitavecchia-Rome, with fares from GBP 5550 pp.

Emerald also scheduled three Atlantic Ocean crossings (RepositionCruises.com), including a 13-day from San Juan Puerto Rico to Santa Cruz de Tenerife Canary Islands, with fares from GBP 4895 pp.

Emerald Kaia ship's schedule for 2026 (inaugural season) was announced in April 2024. The program listed only 8x voyages (opened for booking on April 10th) and is based entirely on the 14-night/15-day "Discover the Best of the Croatian Coast" itinerary. These voyages leave roundtrip from Dubrovnik's Port Gruz (departures May 2, Aug 8, Aug 22, Sep 26) and from Venice (departures Jun 20, Aug 1, Aug 15).

Kaia's Maiden Voyage departs roundtrip from Dubrovnik on May 6th, 2026. The 15-day voyage starts with an overnight in Dubrovnik and visits Split Croatia (Day 3-4/overnight), Zadar Croatia (Day 4), Opatija Croatia (Day 5), Piran Slovenia (Day 6), Venice Italy (Day 7-8/overnight), plus Croatia's ports Rovinj (Day 9), Sibenik (Day 10), Trogir (Day 11), Vis (Day 12), Hvar (Day 12-13/overnight), and Korcula (Day 14), ending in Dubrovnik.

2024 Europe river cruise itineraries

In March 2023 was announced Europe 2024 river cruise program featuring a selection of Epic Voyages (multi-river itineraries up to 23 days in length) and two new European itineraries.

The new 10-day "Danube Explorer and Highlights of Budapest" voyage visits ports in 5 countries and includes a host of locally-focused experiences. The itinerary allows tourists to visit a farm in Passau Germany (for a Bavarian brunch), enjoy an onboard Slovakian performance in Bratislava, and an onboard dinner with a folklore show in Budapest Hungary. Also are offered bus tours to Veste Oberhaus and Bratislava Castle, as well as 6 EmeraldACTIVE hiking and biking tours. An extended stay in Budapest allows touring the UNESCO-listed downtown, exploring the city's nightlife, visiting one of its baths, and enjoying a culinary tour of the Grand Market.

Emerald's second new European itinerary in 2024 is the 11-day "Rhine Castles and Moselle Vineyards" visiting ports in 4 countries. While cruising in Germany, tourists can enjoy tours to the Reichsburg Castle in Cochem and the Marksburg Castle in Koblenz as well as a hiking tour to Landshut Castle Ruins (above Bernkastel). Rhine's vineyards are featured in Emerald's tour/tasting at Schloss Johannisberg (in Rudesheim) and the bus travel to the Alsace Wine Route complete with a tasting in Strasbourg.

In Emerald's two new Dutch ports of call - Utrecht and Nijmegen, is offered a canal cruise and a visit to the UNESCO-listed windmills of Kinderdijk.

Emerald's four Epic Voyages in 2024 range in duration between 15-23 days. These B2Bs combine some of the brand's best-selling itineraries into back-to-back/longer vacations, either on the same boat or with a short flight/bus travel to embark on a new boat halfway through.

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