Europe’s newest river cruiser, the Emerald Sky, was speeding down the Rhine today after champagne christening in Amsterdam.
Twiggy, now a fashion designer but once the darling of the sixties, broke a bottle over the bows of the 135-metre vessel, the first purpose built Evergreen river ship and packed with fascinating innovation.
Owner Glen Moroney, who also runs luxury brand Scenic Tours, revealed he and wife Karen, creator of the vessels interiors, had gone back to the drawing board after signing up a Dutch shipyard to build Sky last October.
Almost everything, from the air conditioning system to the steel construction of the hull and thickness of the cabin walls, was redesigned.
Electric motors pull floor-to-ceiling cabin windows down to create half-balconies.
A pool at the back of the ship converts to a cinema at the touch of a button, raising the pool floor through the water to become a 20-seat cinema or a meeting place.
There are two singles cabins and the capacity to create another eight with special deals on double rooms.
Sky is a “Star Ship”, and a second is already being completed. Another two Emerald ships will be in service next year.
“A pool at the back of the ship converts to a cinema at the touch of a button.”
But Mr Moroney revealed that 2016 would see a “major expansion” for his company, with new routes and a substantial amount of extra capacity, including Southern France.
He has already upgraded the entire Scenic fleet.
So what’s different about the Emerald offering?
Karen Moroney explained it is a five star ship that allowed passengers to mix and match.
Scenic’s all-inclusive promise meant the price could not be changed. But Evergreen’s Sky allows passengers to choose to have different packages at different price points.
Drinks, for instance, are included with meals, but not throughout the day. And some tours are optional and offered at an additional price.
Sky carries 182 passengers in 72 suites and 20 staterooms. Emerald product manager Andrew Kelleher revealed that 2014 as already 92 per cent full.
This year, the only cabins left were in September, October and November. And 2015 already had 1,000 pre-registrations.
The ship will offer entertainment, including gypsy dancing, an oompah band and singers.
Cruise Passenger is travelling as a guest of Evergreen Tours. You can win an Evergreen European cruise in the latest issue of Cruise Passenger magazine.
Check out the video below to see Twiggy breaks the Champagne bottle on the hull of the ship.