Ev­er­green euro ex­pan­sion

Travel Bulletin - - EUROPE -

In­tent on pi­o­neer­ing new pro­grams in the pre­mium river cruise seg­ment, Ev­er­green Tours is fast track­ing ex­pan­sion of its ac­claimed Euro­pean ‘Star-ship’ fleet in 2017 with ves­sels for South­ern France and Por­tu­gal. Ev­er­green Tours will com­ple­ment its 14-night Am­s­ter­dam to Bu­dapest and seven­night Am­s­ter­dam to Basel cruises on sis­ter brand Emer­ald Wa­ter­ways ‘Star Ships’ - also part of the Scenic Group - with new week-long sail­ings on the Saone & Rhone Rivers of France and Por­tu­gal’s Douro River. Gen­eral Man­ager An­gus Crich­ton ex­plained the strat­egy to trav­elbul­letin as to why Ev­er­green is “tak­ing the risk” with two new ships in two new mar­kets. It is to ap­peal to re­peat trav­ellers and fill a void for time sen­si­tive trav­ellers. “Usu­ally growth is one ship a year or one re­gion for a com­pany. We de­cided in typ­i­cal Scenic Group fash­ion, let’s go big. Let’s go big and do it prop­erly rather than wait­ing for one re­gion to hap­pen, and then sit back and wait for the next.” En­ter the 70 suite & state­room Emer­ald Lib­erté which will launch in Lyon on 01 April 2017 and the 56 cabin Emer­ald Ra­di­ance, de­but­ing in Porto on 08 April 2017. Lib­erté and Ra­di­ance are ships six and seven of the Emer­ald Wa­ter­ways fleet, both based on the four 182 suite & state­room Emer­ald ‘Star Ships’ (which will ex­pand to five when Emer­ald Belle en­ters ser­vice in com­ing months). The pro­por­tion­ally smaller ves­sels of­fer the same fa­cil­i­ties but are made smaller to in or­der to ne­go­ti­ate their re­spec­tive wa­ter­ways. Lib­erté and Ra­di­ance’s core itin­er­ar­ies are seven nights in length and de­part on Satur­days. Crich­ton says guests will be able to seam­lessly com­bine Rhine and Rhone, Rhone and Douro and Rhine and Douro cruise op­tions to cre­ate 15 night, dual-river itin­er­ar­ies. Europe prod­uct An­drew Kelle­her says af­ter as­sess­ing the mar­ket, it was ap­par­ent there was no easy way for cus­tomers to cruise South­ern France and the Douro in­side 15 days. Now Ev­er­green has tailored the prod­uct to en­able pas­sen­gers to make same-day flight con­nec­tions be­tween Lyon and Porto. Kelle­her ad­mit­ted that other com­pa­nies of­fer the sim­i­lar com­bi­na­tions, how­ever they do not op­er­ate on a like-for-like prod­uct or with the level of fre­quency Ev­er­green is go­ing to of­fer. “We’re pro­vid­ing a much broader range of dates for guests,” he said. Emer­ald Lib­erté will op­er­ate be­tween Lyon and Ar­les with stops at Chalon-sur-saone (to ac­cess Beaune), Ma­con, Tournon and Avi­gnon. Guests on the France cruises will visit vil­lages, mu­se­ums, sam­ple wines, eat cheese, visit the Pa­pal Palace in Avi­gnon, sweat a lit­tle on an Emer­ald Ac­tive bike ride and en­joy a fancy ‘You’re In­vited’ meal with a highly recog­nised chef. The 112-pas­sen­ger Emer­ald Ra­di­ance will op­er­ate roundtrip from Porto on the Douro - a re­gion likened by Kelle­her as a “nar­rower & steeper Rhine Gorge”. There will be ex­cur­sions each day in to Regua, Pocinho, Pin­hao and a high­light, a full day trip to Sala­manca from the port of Vega de Terron.

We de­cided in typ­i­cal Scenic Group fash­ion, big’ let’s go

In Por­tu­gal, the 90-me­tre Ra­di­ance also fea­tures a new suite cat­e­gory at the rear of the ves­sel where the pool/cinema of other Star Ships are lo­cated. Crich­ton ex­plains that due to Por­tu­gal’s re­stric­tion to day-time cruise only, there’s no en­gine noise by night, en­abling the de­vel­op­ment of two 330sqft Hori­zon Deck Bal­cony Suites at the ship’s stern. The new state­room of­fers two out­side views – a first in the Emer­ald ‘Star Ship’ fleet – a sin­gle pane glass at the rear and drop down bal­conies on the side.

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