With the launch of emerald azzurra, river cruise operator Emerald Cruises made a powerful debut on the oceans. This 100-passenger magnificence will not be your typical cruise ship, both. I might name it extra of a luxurious superyacht, with a fantastic profile and intimate, elegant areas on board — plus service that shines.
If you take a cruise on emerald azzurra, you simply may really feel like a member of the jet-set crowd cruising the Mediterranean with a giant gathering of your latest buddies. I do know this as a result of I used to be invited onboard and hosted by Emerald Cruises throughout a weeklong crusing within the Western Med that took us throughout charming small port cities in Italy.
Here’s a batch of my greatest experiences aboard the brand new emerald azzurra.
1. Charming Port Stops
Port stops on our voyage included the quaint cities of Monopoli and Otranto within the southern area of Italy known as Puglia (you understand it because the heel of the “boot”). We additionally visited Crotone and Giardini Naxos within the Taormina area of Sicily, in addition to Amalfi and Sorrento on Italy’s western coast, earlier than disembarking in Civitavecchia within the Metropolitan Metropolis of Rome.
We had been at all times the one cruise ship within the ports we visited, and our small group of about 95 allowed us to mix in with the locals seamlessly.
These locations supply an exquisite combine of outlets, eating places, and cafes, in addition to cathedrals, museums, and different factors of curiosity that you could completely get pleasure from with out feeling like a part of a herd coming by means of city.
The ship docks at ports or offshore anchors near historic previous cities and fairly marinas.
My spouse Colleen and I took a motorcycle journey in Monopoli (the ship carries a fleet of e-bikes) and pedaled by means of city to a reasonably seashore crammed with residents swimming and having household picnics on a Sunday.
We delighted strolling the maze-like alleyways of Otranto. This seaside neighborhood on the Salento Peninsula is dwelling to a reasonably marina and a few historic sights: the Fifteenth-century Aragonese Citadel and Eleventh-century Otranto Cathedral.
Crotone provided an opportunity to buy with the chef. Azzurri Government Chef Li and a few staff members took our small group into the market space, and it was a pleasure to see the method of choosing recent elements and haggling over costs.
The haul of squid, clams, mussels, octopus, chilis, and cheeses was introduced again to the ship, and only a couple hours later, we sampled what the chef and the remainder of the galley staff had been capable of put collectively utilizing unique objects like squash blossoms (made right into a scrumptious, crispy fried tempura crammed with dill and ricotta) and water pumpkin.
That is the way it went for all the voyage, with extra stops in Taormina, Amalfi, and Sorrento bringing day by day delights like a “Godfather Tour,” journey kayaking, and a metropolis tour and gelato tasting in every vacation spot.
Professional Tip: It is simple to load your schedule with formal shore excursions, booked by means of the ship or independently, however give your self a break and depart a day or two open. You may admire a extra informal tempo, and you will have time to stroll by means of some nice previous city facilities.
2. Scrumptious Eating places
Emerald Azzurra affords two eating places: La Cucina and Agua Cafe.
La Cucina is the primary restaurant. It serves breakfast and lunch buffet fashion, then dinner with open seating and a menu that includes meals made with regional elements and a choice of day by day favourites.
We favored having lunch every day outdoors on the Aqua Cafe up on Deck 6, proper by the pool. Aqua Cafe is a small eatery that seats about 30 folks in comfy chairs and banquettes. Having a meal within the recent air is incredible and actually enhances the truth that it is a yacht and never a cruise ship. Our captain, Julian Burgess, was at all times proud to level that out as we interacted with the extremely participating and extremely seen grasp of the vessel all week.
Aqua Cafe is an informal eatery that serves a continental breakfast for early risers and affords a pleasant menu with a incredible array of consolation meals for lunch.
That is the place you’ll be able to order one of many artistic flatbreads topped with meats, veggies, cheeses, and even seasonal fruits. The choices additionally embody juicy gourmand burgers or sizzling canine with crisp fries.
The eatery is open all through the afternoon, and the choice of sandwiches, salads, and fruit cups was at all times attractive. The most effective, for me, although, had been the chewy gourmand cookies (chocolate chip, white chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, and peanut butter), wealthy brownies, creamy gelatos, and decadent macarons (six varieties!).
Professional Tip: Cannot determine on what to order for dinner? emerald azzurra encourages sharing midmeal programs — usually risotto or pasta. They even have gluten-free choices.
3. Subsequent-Degree Shore Excursions
whereas emerald azzurra a number of options included shore excursions throughout your voyages. A number of stops featured a pleasant metropolis tour, and we joined one in all these in Sorrento that included a stroll across the new and previous districts with our pleasant information, Patty. Plus, we received to attend a gelato demonstration and tasting at Gelateria David to shut out the tour. The issues they will do with lemons on this area of the world are wonderful.
I preferred leveling up my cruise expertise with the premium DiscoverMORE choices.
They price $150 or extra. We picked a kayaking expedition round Amalfi, and a number of other of our fellow cruisers loved small-group visits to spots like Pompeii, Positano, and Capri.
4. Infrared Sauna & Components Spa
All passengers on emerald azzurra are given entry to the spa facility’s enjoyable infrared sauna room. It is a good perk and an effective way to calm down after a busy day ashore. The sauna makes use of red-light remedy, and it has 5 seats that permit the warmth to heat up your backbone and emanate by means of your physique to ease stress.
Spa supervisor Ozay and his staff take fantastic care of cruisers, getting ready natural teas and waters to get pleasure from within the facility.
The ship additionally affords a variety of massages, similar to sizzling stone and deep-tissue remedies, in addition to facials. You too can cease by the salon for haircuts, styling, manicures, and pedicures.
The wellness space is so good that we made certain to schedule time there day by day, typically waking as much as be a part of Mahesh, who taught a morning yoga class, or hitting the hooked up health middle for a exercise (the fitness center has treadmills, a rowing machine, an elliptical, and weights). Then, we might return on the finish of the day for time within the infrared sauna to calm down and ease our muscle tissue earlier than preparing for dinner and the remainder of the night.
5. E-Bikes And Water Toys
The ship carries electrical bikes that cruisers can use in port. They even get them ashore at locations that require taking smaller boats in whereas the ship is anchored offshore. We biked in Monopoli to go to Porto Paradiso, a well-liked seashore in a fantastic cove. At Giardini Naxos, we took a difficult journey as much as Taormina (thank goodness for the e-assist characteristic).
When emerald azzurra Anchors offshore at picturesque locations, the marina is open and all of the toys are put out within the water. We had a blast utilizing the trampoline, laying on the floating mats, tooling round within the kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, and even attempting out Seabobs for the primary time. These are a sort of water scooter that propels you thru the water — and even beneath it — like a dolphin.
Professional Tip: The marina platform itself is a vacation spot. When it is open, it serves as a sundeck, the place you’ll be able to chill waterside, taking a dip within the sea as the necessity arises.
6. Stress-free Outside Areas
emerald azzurra affords such beautiful outside areas that the ship really appears like an intimate yacht chartered by a bunch of buddies. We discovered ourselves spending hours outdoors throughout the day, having lunch at Aqua Cafe on Deck 6, which additionally options a big infinity pool with enormous floating pillows for final leisure.
I caught a number of of my fellow cruisers napping on the loungers and day beds that encircle the pool space. The Sky Deck one stage up on the very prime of the ship additionally has welcoming seating with unimaginable views over the seas. That is the place you discover the large sizzling tub, the Sky Bar, and extra inviting seating areas perfect for lazing about as you sail with new buddies.
The Statement Lounge on Deck 4 is a quiet area with 270-degree views by means of the large home windows. The area additionally opens as much as an outer deck space on the bow. Inside, you’ll be able to get pleasure from a sport of chess or learn from the library of books and magazines.
The deck outdoors is the situation for yoga courses led by members of the spa staff. We joined teacher Mahesh there for an exquisite session because the solar rose over Monopoli.
With all of this, emerald azzurra Delivers on the promise of that luxurious yacht life you’ve got at all times wished to get pleasure from.
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