Travel writer Jo Kessel filmed her seven-night Greece cruise on Australian-owned Emerald Cruises’ first-ever ‘superyacht’, the 100-passenger Emerald Azzurra.
The footage shows the bijou ship’s swish facilities, from its infinity pool to its infrared sauna and watersports platform, and Jo honking the ship’s horn and making her own ‘fabulous’ cocktail.
Australian-owned Emerald Cruises is best known for its luxury river cruises in Europe and Southeast Asia. But a year ago Emerald launched its first-ever sea-faring luxury yacht, Emerald Azzurra.
And, ever since, this glitzy, gleaming vessel has been turning heads and making holidaymakers on bigger cruise ships just a little bit envious.
And that’s because whereas bigger vessels tend to dock in commercial ports outside of town, Azzurra can be found parked up in central marinas, rubbing shoulders with superyachts belonging to the rich and famous.
Travel writer Jo Kessel filmed her seven-night Greek-island cruise on Australian-owned Emerald Cruises’ first ever ‘superyacht’, the 100-passenger Emerald Azzurra. Pictured above is Jo in the stunning infinity pool
Jo tries a breakfast ‘shot’ comprising grapefruit, pomegranate, berries and cinnamon. She says: ‘Nice? Not really! Good for you? Reckon so’
Indeed, that’s where I met the seven-deck Emerald Azzurra, moored in an enviable location bang opposite the old town of Rhodes. As I hopped on board my first ever superyacht there were so many questions. Would it be stuffy? Would I feel out of place? What would my fellow guests be like? As well as getting answers, I hoped to capture the vibe on camera – the glitz, the glamour, the luxury.
The film first finds me testing one of Azzurra’s lounging pads – vast, cushioned sunbathing areas typical of mega yachts. This one flanks the ship’s infinity pool, but there are plenty more one floor up on top deck, next to the oversized hot tub.
For such a small vessel the seven-deck Azzurra packs a punch with a gym, an infrared sauna and a watersports platform at the back of deck two.
This transforms into what’s called a ‘marina’ – a giant watery playground decked with toys ranging from a trampoline to paddle boards and floating mats. If I’d been braver I’d have tried the yacht’s ‘Sea Bob’ instead of a kayak. Watch a fellow guest whiz past me on one as I paddle – it’s like a motorised float that you lie on prone and steer as it takes you for a spin. Looks fun, but utterly terrifying.
The shot glasses that feature in the film next would need to have been filled with something a lot stronger to get me onto that Sea Bob! But instead these shot glasses contain a daily ‘raw boost’ for guests to down at breakfast. The concoctions aren’t for the faint-hearted. Ginger, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in one; pineapple, cinnamon, berries and pepper in another. The one I try is grapefruit, pomegranate, berries and cinnamon. Nice? Not really! Good for you? Reckon so.
The ship’s top deck comprises an oversized hot tub, which Jo is pictured here trying out
‘Emerald Azzurra oozes style without being stuffy,’ says Jo
Ship happens: Jo says the best thing about Azzurra’s size is perhaps the fact that ‘it’s small enough to transit Greece’s Corinth Canal’
Far more palatable is the Bahama Mama that barman Colin taught us to how mix during a cocktail-making demo. Cue big pours of rum, liqueur and pineapple juice followed by vigorous shaking. Tastes sensational – more please.
Emerald Azzurra oozes style without being stuffy and, as the footage moves to the cabins – mine’s a balcony suite with a high-tech blackout blind – it shows how décor is minimalist chic with splashes of colour, from eye-catching stripy beach towels to designer cushions, both courtesy of luxury brand Missoni Home. I later learned that these cushions cost a whopping £250 a pop!
My Greek itinerary prioritised getting out and about in port either by exploring independently (the ship has free-to-use E-bikes) or by joining one of the included excursions. Four free excursions were offered during my sailing and I signed up for a visit to the archaeological site of Delphi. The footage showcases the awe-inspiring ancient remains of Greek temples and statues, including a stadium dating back to 500BC.
‘The video shows how spectacular the Corinth Canal is to transit [above], especially when illuminated at night,’ writes Jo
As Emerald Azzurra navigates the Corinth Canal’s four-mile length it’s the hairiest, tightest of squeezes
Jo explains that only ships narrower than 58ft (17.5m) can move through the Corinth Canal
Emerald Azzurra has 50 cabins and can sleep 100 passengers
Jo was able to visit parts of Greece like the Cyclades island of Amorgos, pictured here, thanks to the ship’s smaller size
Emerald Azzurra perfectly illustrates the saying that ‘the best things come in small packages’. Because of its petite size (it’s only 360.9ft / 110m long) it can go places bigger ships can’t reach, like the easternmost Cyclades island of Amorgos, only accessible by boat and with nearly as many churches as inhabitants – 350 to be precise!
Another benefit to being tiny is that the captain is relaxed about guests visiting the bridge to watch him steer.
Thrillingly, he lets me honk the horn as we leave port.
And Azzurra’s dimensions also come in handy when it comes to dining. Its restaurant can seat the majority of guests on its rear outdoor terrace with food consistently top-notch and wines included. Everything tastes better al fresco, lit by the setting sun.
And one night we’re treated to a supermoon so bright that it casts a beam across the sea.
But perhaps the best thing about Azzurra’s size is that it’s small enough to transit Greece’s Corinth Canal.
It might not be as well-known as its Panama and Suez counterparts but, as one of the world’s smallest canals designed as a shortcut to link two bodies of water (the Ionian and Aegean Seas), it’s still an impressive feat of engineering.
It took 2,000 years for work on it to properly get underway (after several failed attempts) and in 1893 it was finally completed.
The ship offers facilities including an infrared sauna and a watersports platform, as seen above
Jo explores Greece on an E-bike, pictured, which is offered by Emerald Azzurra for free
Jo’s balcony suite with a high-tech blackout blind
A seven-night Greek Islands and Turkish coastline cruise on Emerald Azzurra costs from £4,345pp, full board.
Price includes return flights and complimentary wine/beer/soft drinks with lunch and dinner.
For more info visit www.emeraldcruises.co.uk.
The video shows how spectacular the Corinth Canal is to transit, especially when illuminated at night.
Only ships narrower than 58ft (17.5m) can fit between the steep limestone walls that hem in the narrow waterway.
Emerald Azzurra is 52ft (16m) wide and as it navigates the canal’s four-mile length it’s the hairiest, tightest of squeezes.
One of the most memorable cruising experiences ever.
The video’s finale shows how this is a ship that likes to party… in a classy way.
The mood is laid back, fun and informal with the tiniest whiff of exclusivity.
Fellow guests hail from Australia, America, Canada and the UK – they all like letting down their hair, socialising and hitting the dance floor.
Do I feel out of place? Absolutely not! It’s a blast from start to finish with the ship’s deluxe design and personal service making me feel like I’ve chartered my own private yacht. Problem is this is definitely a lifestyle I could get used to. Same time next year anyone?
For more videos from Jo, visit her YouTube channel Go With Jo.
EMERALD AZZURRA AND THE CORINTH CANAL BY THE NUMBERS
Emerald Azzurra has 50 cabins and can sleep 100 passengers.
It has seven decks and is 361ft (110m) long.
The Corinth Canal is four miles long and only 81ft (24.6m) wide at sea level.
It took 11 years to build, was completed in 1893 and has a water depth of 26ft (8m).
The canal’s sheer limestone walls soar 300ft (91m) above water level.
The canal saves ships a 400-mile excursion.