The Story of Emerald Cruises

Since our humble beginnings in 2013, we have gained an award-winning reputation within the cruise world. 

Since our humble beginnings in 2013, we have gained an award-winning reputation within the cruise world. Today, Emerald Cruises is a leading small ship cruise line, placing innovation and our exceptional EmeraldVALUE promise at the heart of everything we do.


Whichever destination you yearn to explore by water, our collection of river cruises and yacht cruises continues to grow. From Europe’s major cities and the stunning coastlines along the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia’s mystical landscapes and beyond, every journey with Emerald Cruises is one to remember. View our interactive timeline to learn more about our evolution as an award-winning cruise line.

Emerald Waterways Emerald Sky

August 2013

Glen Moroney, founder of the Scenic Group, announces the launch of Emerald Waterways throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, and the USA. A sister brand of Scenic Tours, Emerald Waterways was born of a desire to innovate the river cruise industry. We’ve paired modern and innovative Star-Ships with the promise of exceptional value for money – our EmeraldVALUE promise – from day one.

April 2014

Our first Star-Ship, Emerald Sky, is christened in Amsterdam. Global style icon, Twiggy, is announced as her Godmother. Mirroring the way the supermodel rose to fame due to her iconic and trendsetting style, Emerald Sky sets a new standard for innovative river cruising. Catering to just 180 passengers and a closely matched crew-to-guest ratio, the Star-Ship acts as a boutique floating hotel for guests to explore Europe’s many charms.
Correspondants: Twiggy

August 2014

Very quickly, our second Star-Ship, Emerald Star, joins the fleet. Expertly designed to navigate the Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers, both Star-Ships feature contemporary interiors that mirror the beauty of these majestic waterways. Offering the small ship experience with intimate guest numbers and spacious public areas, our first Star-Ships set the scene for what is to come. Authentic, carefully curated dining menus are served daily in the Reflections Restaurant, the Horizon Bar & Lounge acts as each ship’s social heartbeat, a beautiful Sun Deck spans the full length and width of each Star-Ship, and the daytime indoor pool transforms into an evening cinema – our most innovative feature. A choice of spacious suites and staterooms cater to all guest requirements, offering unrivalled comfort throughout.
August 2015

One year later, we celebrate a double christening in Budapest. Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn join our fleet of Star-Ships sailing the Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers. Designed with the same innovative features and contemporary interiors, guests can bask in unrivalled comfort while on board.

Explore our ships

April 2017

Our growth continues as we introduce our fifth, sixth and seventh Star-Ships to the fleet. Emerald Destiny completes our earlier Star-Ships sailing along the Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers.

We also announce two new river destinations with Emerald Liberté sailing along the Rhône and Saône rivers in Southern France, and Emerald Radiance along the Douro River in Portugal. Custom-built to sail these rivers, Emerald Liberté has an aura of effortless sophistication and beauty to reflect the French countryside, while Emerald Radiance is our most intimate Europe Star-Ship to date, with a capacity of just 112 guests.

February 2018

We enter the world of yacht cruising, chartering two boutique yachts sailing along the Croatian coastline. Each yacht offers the ultimate small ship experience on the Adriatic Coast, welcoming just 28 guests per sailing.
a body of water with a mountain in the background
Giza, Egypt

September 2018

Expanding beyond the charms of Europe, we launch river cruises along the world-famous Nile River, sailing on board the specially chartered MS Hamees. Guests are invited to experience the awe-inspiring archaeology and ancient tales of Egypt, Israel and Jordan on our river cruise and land tour itineraries.

We also charter the MS Nizhny Novgorod and launch a brand new cruise along Europe’s biggest river – the mighty Volga River in Russia. This insightful itinerary is ideal for those seeking to learn about the imperial heritage and political history of this majestic country.

April 2019

Continuing our position as leaders of innovation in the river cruising industry, we are the first river cruise line to introduce Activity Managers on board our European Star-Ships. These dedicated members of our team complement our EmeraldACTIVE programme, letting guests stay active with on board fitness classes, including yoga and aqua aerobics. Our team also keep guests entertained on board with karaoke nights, cards tournaments and gameshow-style quizzes.

September 2019

Having previously chartered the Mekong Navigator, we introduce our first self-built Star-Ship outside of Europe – Emerald Harmony. Specially designed to sail along the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia, Emerald Harmony is the only ship of her class to meet European safety standards. Guests can enjoy a balance of time spent river cruising and on shore land touring.

December 2019

We win ‘Best River Cruise Line for Value’ at the Cruise Critic UK Editors’ Pick Awards for the 5th year running, strengthening our promise of exceptional EmeraldVALUE.

View our awards
a view of a snow covered mountain

January 2020

As our EmeraldEXPLORER loyalty base continues to grow, along with the popularity of river cruising, we announce the commencement of building our 9th Star-Ship, Emerald Luna. Set to sail along the Danube and Rhine rivers from 2021, Emerald Luna will offer the same unrivalled comfort and contemporary design of the rest of our European Star-Ship fleet.

February 2020

After the success of our two chartered yachts sailing the Croatian coastline, we announce the launch of Emerald Yacht Cruises, our brand new sister brand. Our first super yacht, Emerald Azzurra, commences build, set to sail along the Red Sea and Mediterranean from December 2021. Designed for an intimate 100 guests, Emerald Azzurra will offer modern luxury on the ocean, with an abundance of spacious public areas and a choice of balcony suites and staterooms.