Emerald Waterways is continuing its Europe expansion for 2017 with two new ships and a new itinerary in Portugal's Douro River Valley. The new Emerald Liberté will sail France's Rhône and Saône rivers, while the new Emerald Radiance will be dedicated to the new itinerary on the Douro River in Portugal. Fares for the seven-night sailings will start at $2,195 per person, double occupancy, for the Douro and $2,695 for the Rhône and Saône, both with 30 departure dates. A 15-day offering combines both cruises into a single adventure at fares from $5,385. Early-booking pricing is set through February.
The new ships will join the Emerald Belle, which will join the river cruie line's fleet this year on the Rhine and Danube rivers. The new additions will bring Emerald's fleet total to seven. They will be smaller versions of the original design in order to best take advantage of the rivers’ structures, Emerald Waterways said. The Emerald Liberté will carry 138 guests in 70 suites and staterooms, while the Emerald Radiance will sail with 112 guests in 56 suites and staterooms, both with a 3-to-1 guest-crew ratio. The only difference in the ships is that, on the Emerald Radiance, the pool will be on the top deck and will not hold a cinema. A new category of stateroom will also appear on the Radiance, with 330 sq. feet of living space and panoramic floor-to ceiling windows on two sides. The Emerald Liberté will have the Emerald signature onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable glass roof, which transforms into a cinema in the evening.
Guests on the Douro will enjoy stops in Portugal ranging from the World Heritage city of Porto to the Roman settlement of Regua and in Spain - Vega de Terron and Salamanca. Highlights include the Roman ruins in Lamego; Portuguese cooking and cocktail demonstrations; pre-historic carvings showcased in Coa Valley Museum; tapas tastings; and dinner at a traditional local wine estate. A day trip to Spain’s Roman city of Salamanca offers a first-hand look at the seat of the Spanish language and a feel for life in medieval times. Four-day extensions are offered to Lisbon ($650) and Madrid ($695) and includes sightseeing, one dinner and breakfast.
The Emerald Liberté's eight-day France itinerary for 2017 will travel from Lyon to Arles along the Rhône and Saône Rivers, passing through Chalon-Sur-Saône, Tournon and Avignon. Guests will visit several of the quaint country villages that are synonymous with this region and be introduced to its rich history with tours of the area’s castles, palaces and ruins, including ancient Lyon; the Hospices de Beaune, one of Europe’s finest examples of 15th-century French architecture; and Arles’s 2,000-year-old Roman Amphitheatre, still in use today. And of course, the region’s wine and culinary offerings are highlighted through tastings of the region’s wines, cheeses and olives on-board and ashore. Guests may choose to extend their journey with a three-night extension in Nice, which includes a tour of Monte Carlo and Monaco, breakfast daily and one dinner.
Guests on the ships will have a choice of two restaurants: Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for light breakfast and lunch. A new type of cabin design replaces a French balcony with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an open-air system. All ships also have an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area, as well as bicycles free for use by all guests.