The New Cruise Line Making Yacht-Style-Cruising the Med Affordable
Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?
The Emerald Azzurra is the first ship launched under the new Emerald Yacht Cruises brand, which is now part of the newly formed Emerald Cruises.
You may already be familiar with Emerald Waterways’ affordable river cruises. Now, the company is bringing that same accessibility to a new cruise line and new, 100-guest ship with inclusive prices – and those are only two of the features normally associated only with luxury, small-ship cruising.
When the Emerald Azzurra launches in July 2021, the ship will be a game changer, introducing a new class of Mediterranean cruising.
Described as a ‘super-yacht’, the ship was designed for the small, off-the-beaten path ports of the Mediterranean and features:
- only 50 staterooms, nearly 90% with balconies;
- a spacious layout, with a restaurant capable of seating dozens more guests than are accommodated on the ship;
- onboard wellness center complete with gym and spa; and
- modern design and upscale amenities.
Spaces and experiences that make you feel part of that mega-yacht lifestyle, like
- an aft affinity pool;
- marina off the back of the ship to disembark on paddleboards and zodiacs to play in the waters and explore places only yachts can access;
- a top, ‘Sky Deck’, including one of Emerald’s signature experiences its European river cruise guests will know and love, Sky Deck Cinema.
It’s not just the Azzurra’s design and amenities that make you feel like you’re on a yacht with a few dozen friends.
Guests will be able to cruise into small, lesser-known ports, usually only accessible to private yachts and luxury, small-ship cruise lines.
The ship’s 25 inaugural itineraries include small and secluded ports in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and even Red Seas that take guests to the Holy Land. You may have to look up some of the ports the Emerald Azzurra will visit on her inaugural year of sailing in the Mediterranean. They include multiple ports in Greece, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, France, Turkey, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
You’ll sail into the marquee ports in these destinations, then veer away onto the routes less followed, with smaller ports, authentic local towns and villages you might only expect on a boutique yachting experience.
And just like private yachts, the Azzurra’s chefs will also visit local markets along the itinerary for re-provisioning, bringing a true local flavor and atmosphere on board.
Imagine yourself as one of only 100 guests on a yacht on any one of these sample itineraries in the Azzurra’s inaugural season:
· The 8-day Cyprus, Turkey and Greece Delights in the Aegean Sea—which will also be the ship’s inaugural sailing, departing from Limassol, Cyprus and calling on Paphos (also in Cyprus) Fethiye, Bodrum, Kusadasi (all Turkey), Mykonos and Santorini, before arriving in Athens (all Greece) for the flight home.
· The 8-day French & Italian Rivieras with Corsica itinerary in the Mediterranean departing from Citavecchia (Rome) and visiting Porto Ercole (Italy), Bonifacio, Calvi (both Corsica), Portoferraio, Portofino (both Italy), and Menton before disembarking in Nice (both France).
· The 12-day Ancient World Wonders itinerary departing from Limassol (Cyprus) and calling at Haifa (Tel Aviv, Israel), Ashdod (Jerusalem, Israel), Alexandria, Port Said and Sharm el-Sheik (all Egypt) before ending in Aqaba (Jordan).
Yachting lifestyle – affordable pricing
Where the Azzurra differs from private yachts and luxury small ships is in pricing, which has been compared with river cruising rather than yachting.
Much like the most ultra-luxury small ship cruise lines, pricing on the more affordable Emerald Cruises is inclusive. The cruise line lists á la carte menus at dinner; breakfast and lunch buffets stocked with fresh, locally sourced ingredients; complimentary sommelier-paired wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner; all on-board gratuities; transfers to and from the airport; port charges and all taxes included in your cruise fare.
On shore, guests will enjoy included cultural experiences, a range of included active excursions, and you can also book additional excursions to immerse yourself in the ports of call in ways tailored to your own interests.
If you dream of sailing the remote reaches of the glorious Mediterranean on an intimate yacht, Emerald Cruise’s new line and new Emerald Azzurra ship will allow you to chart new cruise vacation territories - without breaking your holiday budget.
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by Lynn Elmhirst
in River or Ocean Cruises