Scenic Group’s foray into the premium superyacht market with the Emerald Cruises brand has taken off abroad, with capacity aboard Emerald Azzurra approaching three-quarters full in her debut season next year.
Strong forward demand for the superyacht experience – which continued to sell well in foreign markets during the peak of COVID-19 – saw the company confident to lock in a second vessel last month. Emerald Sakara will launch in February 2023.
But despite the stellar take-up, Emerald Azzurra remains a “relatively unknown” quantity in Australia, says Angus Crichton, Director – Sales, Marketing and Product, ANZ.
The first 100-guest superyacht for the brand was unveiled at the start of February 2020, and is earmarked for launch in January 2022. Azzurra will initially debut in the Red Sea before being deployed to her mainstay, the Mediterranean, for the majority of the year.
However, within one month of the superyacht’s reveal, COVID-19 spun the entire travel and cruise industry on its head and long-running overseas travel bans seemingly stalled the take-up of the new product here. And while Australians have been held back from travelling, markets abroad with greater freedoms to move are swooping on the high-end, new-to-market experience.
“Emerald Cruises’ superyacht cruising is still to be discovered by the Australian market due to COVID,” Crichton told LATTE this week. “We revealed our superyacht at the end of January but once COVID hit we never really got off the ground in this region, unlike our other markets.”
Crichton says Brits, Americans and Canadians have been driving sales.
“The UK took it up quicker than any other market because the Mediterranean is easily accessible for them. North American markets are now coming on strong too but for the Australian market Emerald Azzurra is still a bit of an unknown,” Crichton explained.
The second superyacht, Emerald Sakara, will debut in the Seychelles before positioning to the Mediterranean to operate alongside her sister-ship. Sakara will bolster Emerald Cruises’ sailing options, providing over 35 new departures in the Med.
In the Mediterranean, Azzurra and Sakara will ply the warm, coastal waters of the Aegean and Greek Isles, to Croatia and the Riviera. Passengers will explore isolated towns, communities and cities by day, waking each morning in a new location as the superyacht sails by night.
The top-of-the-line 108 sqm Owner’s Suites, 65 sqm Yacht Suites and 60 sqm Terrace Suites feature private terraces and are among the first cabins to sell out.
“There is limited capacity in the world of superyachting at the best of times, and Emerald Cruises has introduced a fresh concept and style that will appeal to the Australian market.”
“Despite the pandemic, Australians’ propensity to cruise around the world is still there and what a great example Azzurra and Sakara are to present to a customer shying away from the big ships in favour of small ship cruising,” he told LATTE.
At only 100 guests per ship on its superyachts (and over 88% of suites featuring private balconies), Emerald Cruises continues to dominate the small-ship segment of the cruise industry.
“The largest capacity we have is in river cruising with 180 people on our Emerald Starships on the Rhine, Main and Danube. On the Rhone, Emerald Liberte is 140, on the Douro Emerald Radiance is 110, while Emerald Harmony on the Mekong is 82. We are the true small-ship brand.”
“With vessels under 200 people, we personify small-ship cruising,” Crichton said.
For guests interested in cruising in 2022, the best chance of availability are in January and from November onwards through the Aegean Sea, Turkey, the Suez and Red Sea. Crichton said the peak season months of June, July and August are “very full”.
Beyond the Seychelles, Crichton was tight-lipped on other potential future destinations, remarking that “the Indian Ocean is a big ocean and there’s plenty of islands to explore”.
Currently receiving her internal fit-out, Emerald Azzurra is expected to undergo sea trials in Vietnam in the coming weeks before making her way to the Red Sea.
To amplify awareness of the superyacht product in the Australian market, Emerald Cruises will lean on travel agency partners to spread the word, with in-depth training planned, alongside marketing campaigns.