Passengers aside, there was quite a lot riding on Emerald Azzurra when it launched in 2022. As Emerald Cruises’ first-ever luxury ocean cruising yacht, Emerald Azzurra represented a new stream for the company, which has built its glowing reputation in river cruising.
Given Emerald Cruises’ pedigree as a part of Scenic Group, however, the luxury element of the 100-passenger Emerald Azzurra was never in question. With the look and feel of a megayacht but the intimacy of a river cruise, Emerald Azzurra has staked out an entirely new niche in the cruise industry.
Equipped with the trappings of her bigger cousins, such as designer furnishings, an infinity pool, a top-of-the-line wellness center, private balconies and a variety of fine dining options, Emerald Azzurra has a sizable advantage. At 110 meters in length, it can reach ports her larger contemporaries can’t, providing guests with an exclusivity that’s matched by her state-of-the-art amenities.
“Emerald Cruises’ luxury yachts were created for everybody to be able to ‘superyacht’,” says Angus Crichton, Director of Sales, Marketing and Product at Emerald Cruises.
“Our Scenic Group Founder, Glen Moroney, saw a gap in the market for small ship luxury leisure cruising, a way to take our guests to places massive cruise ships can’t reach so they can enjoy a port or town like a local.”
Unsurprisingly, Emerald Azzurra was a hit from the moment her maiden voyage began in the Red Sea, picking up the Cruise Critic Editors’ award for ‘Best New Luxury Ship’ along the way. Since then, she’s explored the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic coast and more.
Introducing Emerald Sakara
So popular was Emerald Azzurra in her first cruising season that she sold out very quickly, disappointing a swathe of potential guests. It quickly became apparent that one good stern deserved another. “We quickly commissioned a second luxury yacht,” Crichton says.
It makes sense, then, that Emerald Cruises would seek to replicate Emerald Azzurra’s success – literally. In August, the company launched its second luxury yacht, Emerald Sakara, in the Ionian Sea. “There are some slight tweaks, but generally they’re twins,” he explains.
Together, the sister yachts traversed the Corinth Canal before Emerald Sakara set off on an eight-day cruise from Athens to Rome, with plenty of picturesque stops along Italy’s western coast on the way.
“With Emerald Sakara, we are opening up even more exciting new destinations for our guests to explore,” Scenic Group Chairman Glen Moroney said in August.
“With Emerald Sakara, we are opening up even more exciting new destinations for our guests to explore.” – Glen Moroney
“Being able to add Emerald Sakara nearly a year after we launched Emerald Azzurra speaks volumes about how well our yacht cruising program has been received by guests, travel advisors and charter partners.”
With features not seen in her sister, such as interiors featuring lighting by designer Tom Dixon, internet services by Starlink and brands including Gervasoni and Tribù, Emerald Sakara is a fraternal twin rather than identical.
Under the experienced command of Captain Jon Edwards, who was at the helm of Emerald Azzurra in 2022, Emerald Sakara will take to the Caribbean and Central America from November to March 2024.
“One of the best parts of my job on Emerald Cruises’ luxury yachts is letting guests play with the toys in our fantastic marina facilities,” Edwards says.
“Paddleboarding, kayaking, jumping off the trampoline or just sitting by the pool or in the jacuzzi and enjoying the sun, all while being waited on by staff for anything they may want.”
Service at sea
As captain, Edwards also has a duty to acquire a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the ports his vessel will visit.
“It’s important, especially on a cruise liner, to understand the ports and what they have to offer,” he says. “When you’re engaging with the guests and they ask you questions about upcoming ports, you can give them some insight.”
One of the most common questions Edwards is asked is which of the many ports he’s visited is his favorite.
“Bonifacio, Corsica,” he says without pause. “It’s an absolutely gorgeous island with a lovely port that we back up into. We’re the biggest vessel that can go there.”
The smaller size of Emerald Azzurra and Emerald Sakara means a bigger challenge for Edwards, who as captain must balance careful navigation with providing spectacular views to guests.
“It’s fun, but it does have a little bit of a challenge,” he says. “For the captain it’s all about making sure everything’s safe and sound all the time. With monitoring the weather and the regulations attached to the waters we’re sailing in, there’s lots to be done. But we have a team on board dedicated to making sure we’re in full compliance all the time.”
On top of that, the Emerald Cruises team works even harder to make sure passengers’ needs and wants are met. “That’s been a great delight with Emerald Cruises, that I can go the extra step for guests,” Edwards adds.
Emerald Sakara’s 2024 calendar will keep Edwards on his toes, as it is packed with enough spectacular destinations to last a lifetime, from the Caribbean to Tenerife to the Eastern Mediterranean. If the response to Emerald Azzurra is anything to go by, Emerald Sakara (and her guests) will have a place in paradise for some time to come.