Emerald Cruises appears to be stepping out of Scenic’s shadow: Travel Weekly
Word is spreading: Emerald Cruises, long considered the thrifty little sister of Scenic Luxury Cruises that promised a good time on a budget, is no longer just the “alternative” option on Scenic Group’s roster.
Instead, Emerald has positioned itself as a top choice for luxury cruisers for some time now.
At least that’s the point that Scenic Group USA Vice President of Sales, Ann Chamberlin, delivers to the industry, and more importantly, to travel advisors and their clients.
“One of the misconceptions about having both brands is that Scenic is known as luxury,” Chamberlin told me aboard the Emerald Sun, where we sat tucked into a corner of the Horizon Lounge, the ship’s elegant cocktail bar.
“There’s a misunderstanding that Emerald might be more value driven when that’s absolutely not the case,” she said. Chamberlin spoke as if Emerald Cruises was an overlooked brand that everyone underestimated for years – maybe they did?
We were cruising the Lower Danube, visiting Serbia and Croatia on a round trip from Budapest after the first ASTA Global River Cruise Expo. For four days, ships from several companies were placed side by side for the first time for travel advisers to inspect and then set sail again.
Scenic Amber and Emerald Sun were among the ships in Budapest for the conference, offering advisors a chance to see for themselves the key differences between Scenic and Emerald, a chance to learn how to sell the two different brands. The post-cruise, at least for Emerald’s purposes, gave advisors the opportunity to experience the ship and her upscale qualities: high-end accommodations offering gourmet cuisine and immersive, active itineraries that allow guests to choose their own inclusions that will enhance their personality. experience on board.
“You might get a really good price or equipment or offer when you book [Emerald]but it’s about having that overall experience on board and thinking, ‘Wow, I was really looked after’ or ‘I can’t believe the chef was so amazing,’ Chamberlin said. “All of these experiences are what we hope Travel Advisor customers leave wanting to come back and book with us again.”
Onboard service, onboard and off-ship activities, and all-inclusive amenities are what set Scenic and Emerald apart, while included sailing itineraries and gratuities are areas where both brands find common ground.
Scenic ships and Emerald ships sail the same major waterways in Europe – the Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine and Rhône – but sometimes, as Scenic Group National Accounts Director Richard Hickey, the two brands may use different ports. in order to provide certain experiences ashore.
“With the Emerald brand, you have an onboard activities manager, you have included daily active excursions, you also have Emerald Plus,” some of which are shore excursions that offer authentic cultural experiences that are included, as well.
“There’s also Discover More, and those are optional tours that customers pay for,” Hickey added. “When you look at the Emerald experience, it gives your customer the freedom to choose, depending on what they are looking for on vacation.”
The Rhine, Main and Danube are where the majority of Emerald Cruises and its largest Star Ships sail, ranging from the North Sea to the Black Sea. Smaller Emerald Starships sail in smaller waters, such as the 130-passenger Emerald Liberté sailing in southern France, the 112-passenger Emerald Radiance sailing on the Douro River in Portugal, and the 84-passenger Emerald Harmony , which sails the Mekong in Southeast Asia.
Having experienced the Emerald product myself, I thought it was by all accounts a premium premium brand that would be a solid first choice for anyone looking for a luxurious experience. Don’t get me wrong: a Scenic cruise package that includes a premium beverage package plus daily restocking of the minibar fridge (I need to have my Pringles!) is pretty tempting. You don’t even have to pedal your own bike on a scenic shore excursion if you don’t want to, as the line offers e-bikes (as opposed to Emerald’s manually powered two-wheelers.
But with Emerald, you have the flexibility to make your cruise as lush as you want — as comfortable, all-inclusive, and as active (or inactive) as you want. And it worked very well for me.
That said, I’m looking forward to taking a ride on a Scenic ship very soon (PS, Ann: DM me!)