With the launch of emerald azzurra, river cruise operator Emerald Cruises made a formidable debut on the oceans. This 100-passenger magnificence is just not your typical cruise ship, both. I would name it extra of a luxurious superyacht, with a wonderful profile and intimate, elegant areas on board — plus service that shines.
Whenever you take a cruise on emerald azzurra, you simply would possibly really feel like a member of the jet-set crowd cruising the Mediterranean with a giant gathering of your latest pals. 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 referred to as Puglia (you already know 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 have been all the time 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 retailers, eating places, and cafes, in addition to cathedrals, museums, and different factors of curiosity you can totally get pleasure from with out feeling like a part of a herd coming by city.
The ship docks at ports or offshore anchors near historic previous cities and fairly marinas.
My spouse Colleen and I took a motorbike journey in Monopoli (the ship carries a fleet of e-bikes) and pedaled by city to a reasonably seaside stuffed 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 residence to a reasonably marina and a few historic sights: the Fifteenth-century Aragonese Fortress and Eleventh-century Otranto Cathedral.
Crotone supplied an opportunity to buy with the chef. Azzurri Government Chef Li and a few group members took our small group into the market space, and it was a pleasure to see the method of choosing contemporary substances 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 group have been in a position to put collectively utilizing unique gadgets like squash blossoms (made right into a scrumptious, crispy fried tempura stuffed with dill and ricotta) and water pumpkin.
That is the way it went for the complete 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 easy to load your schedule with formal shore excursions, booked by the ship or independently, however give your self a break and depart a day or two open. You may respect a extra informal tempo, and you will have time to stroll by some nice previous city facilities.
2. Scrumptious Eating places
Emerald Azzurra affords two eating places: La Cucina and Agua Cafe.
La Cucina is the principle restaurant. It serves breakfast and lunch buffet type, then dinner with open seating and a menu that includes meals made with regional substances 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 individuals in comfy chairs and banquettes. Having a meal within the contemporary air is incredible and actually enhances the truth that this can be a yacht and never a cruise ship. Our captain, Julian Burgess, was all the time 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 off-the-cuff 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 possibly can order one of many artistic flatbreads topped with meats, veggies, cheeses, and even seasonal fruits. The choices additionally embrace juicy gourmand burgers or sizzling canines with crisp fries.
The eatery is open all through the afternoon, and the choice of sandwiches, salads, and fruit cups was all the time attractive. The very best, for me, although, have 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 resolve on what to order for dinner? emerald azzurra encourages sharing midmeal programs — sometimes 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 among these in Sorrento that included a stroll across the new and previous districts with our pleasant information, Patty. Plus, we obtained to attend a gelato demonstration and tasting at Gelateria David to shut out the tour. The issues they’ll do with lemons on this area of the world are wonderful.
I appreciated leveling up my cruise expertise with the premium DiscoverMORE choices.
They value $150 or extra. We picked a kayaking expedition round Amalfi, and several other of our fellow cruisers loved small-group visits to spots like Pompeii, Positano, and Capri.
4. Infrared Sauna & Parts Spa
All passengers on emerald azzurra are given entry to the spa facility’s stress-free infrared sauna room. It is a good perk and a good way to chill out after a busy day ashore. The sauna makes use of red-light remedy, and it has 5 seats that enable the warmth to heat up your backbone and emanate by your physique to ease stress.
Spa supervisor Ozay and his group take great care of cruisers, getting ready natural teas and waters to get pleasure from within the facility.
The ship additionally affords a spread of massages, equivalent to sizzling stone and deep-tissue therapies, in addition to facials. You may also cease by the salon for haircuts, styling, manicures, and pedicures.
The wellness space is so good that we made positive to schedule time there day by day, usually waking as much as be part of Mahesh, who taught a morning yoga class, or hitting the hooked up health heart 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 chill out and ease our muscle groups 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 seaside in a wonderful cove. At Giardini Naxos, we took a difficult journey as much as Taormina (thank goodness for the e-assist function).
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 type of water scooter that propels you thru the water — and even under 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 possibly can chill waterside, taking a dip within the sea as the necessity arises.
6. Stress-free Out of doors Areas
emerald azzurra affords such pretty outside areas that the ship actually seems like an intimate yacht chartered by a gaggle of pals. 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 rest.
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 high of the ship additionally has welcoming seating with unbelievable views over the seas. That is the place you discover the massive sizzling tub, the Sky Bar, and extra inviting seating areas superb for lazing about as you sail with new pals.
The Statement Lounge on Deck 4 is a quiet house with 270-degree views by the large home windows. The house additionally opens as much as an outer deck space on the bow. Inside, you possibly can get pleasure from a recreation of chess or learn from the library of books and magazines.
The deck outdoors is the placement for yoga courses led by members of the spa group. 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 have all the time needed to get pleasure from.
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