Call us free on 0800 023 1273

Mobiles / International call 0203 371 7641


Emerald Liberté


Make sure you don't miss out on the best deals! Sign up to receive our latest deals e-newsletter.

We never give out your personal details to third parties or spam you with unwanted emails

Built in 2017, this sleek and shiny ship is operated by Australia's Evergreen Tours, known in other countries as Emerald Waterways. Owned by Scenic, the line benefits from its parent company's expertise and experience in river cruising but at lower prices. Sailing in France's Rhône area, Emerald Liberte is the fifth vessel in the line's Star-Ship fleet but it's 82 feet shorter and carries a maximum 138 instead of 182 passengers. However, it still manages to fit in features such as a resistance pool, cinema, two bars, a massage room, hair salon and 13 bicycles.

The smaller size is most noticeable in the cabins. Perfunctory and no-frills, the standard staterooms are a squeeze, the bathrooms even tighter. It's quite cramped for two people, especially if the queen beds are separated into two singles.

The ship's other point of difference is it attracts an unexpected breakdown of nationalities. The simple reason is that Liberté's one-week France itineraries appeal to more British and North Americans than the rest of the fleet's longer cruises on the Rhine and Danube, which tend to draw more Australians. With less dominance of one nationality but all English-speaking, Liberté is a great choice for meeting a wider range of fellow travellers.

Without doubt one of the ship's best assets is the crew. Unfailingly friendly and professional, everyone from the captain and the cruise director to the wonderful waiters, housekeeping and guest services teams impressed us every day. The food is also commendable, very varied and tasty, and the perfectly fine free wine is regularly topped up too. The bad news for beer lovers is that only one brand (Bitburger Premium) is included. The good news is that beverage packages are reasonably priced.

Emerald Liberté will appeal to people who don't want to pay a premium for luxury features such as butlers, unlimited free drinks and fancy décor. But that's not to say it lacks any luxuries at all. Airport transfers, gratuities, most shore excursions, Wi-Fi, and wine and beer with meals are included in the fare. Another treat is Top Chef France's Fabien Morreale joining every cruise to prepare a three-course Provençal dinner.

For a first-timer who doesn't know what they're missing from all-inclusive luxury lines, or past passengers who don't need all the extras, Emerald Liberté is a worthy choice. Whatever it lacks is largely counteracted by the relaxed ambience and superb service, which pulls it up several notches.

The dress code is casual during the day ashore and onboard, except during meals, when shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate in the restaurant or terrace. For dinner, it is suggested that men wear collared shirts and trousers; jackets and ties are not required. Women can wear dresses or long pants and top, glamming up for the captain's welcome and farewell dinners. There is no formal night. Comfortable, rubber soled shoes are recommended for walking tours. Also bring a hat, sunglasses and jacket or cardigan for cooler weather.

Emerald Liberté Inclusions

Fares include a transfer from Nice Airport on the day of the cruise departure; all onboard meals; wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner; tea and coffee; most shore excursions; bicycle hire; Wi-Fi; and gratuities for crew, cruise staff, drivers, tour guides and porters. Passengers in suites receive concierge service, and some free laundry and pressing, depending on the category; passengers in other cabins pay per item for laundry. The mini-bar in the Owner's Suite is restocked daily. Onboard currency is the euro.

Days are devoted to shore excursions. The only daytime activity organized onboard is an olive and cheese tasting. Before dinner every day, the cruise director gives a port talk about the next day's destination. After dinner, the resident musician or a special guest performs in the lounge. Movies are also screened in the cinema on some nights.

Shore Excursions

Walking tours are offered at no extra charge each morning (except on days of embarkation and disembarkation). Sometimes a coach is used to get to the towns but passengers should be fit enough for one or two hours of slow walking on flat ground.

The only active option on the Arles-Lyon itinerary is a 20 kilometre guided bike ride from Tournon-sur-Rhône to Glun. Taking three hours, participants should be moderately fit as the bikes are pedal-powered (not electric) and there are a couple of slight inclines. Some cycling is done on local roads with light traffic but the majority of the route is a flat, riverside path. The ship's bicycles can also be borrowed for self-guided cycling along the riverbank at any port.

Optional afternoon excursions incur a fee. These include wine-tastings in Tournon, visits to other villages such as Les Baux-de-Provence, Pérouges or Pont du Gard, an olive oil farm, the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny and an in-depth tour of the Pope's Palace in Avignon. Reservations are required for the optional excursions but can be booked onboard on the first day of the cruise.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

Afternoon tea with cakes and sandwiches is held in the Horizon Lounge every day at 4 p.m. In the evening a musician or special guest, such as a French singer or local band, performs in the lounge. Theme nights include disco, 50s and 60s, and a trivia quiz. A crew show is presented on the second to last night after the captain's farewell dinner, which is a lot of fun. Films are screened in the cinema some evenings with popcorn provided (the movies are also loaded on your in-cabin television).


The only lecture is an olive and cheese tasting presented in the main lounge by the cruise director. There is no charge.

Emerald Liberté Bars and Lounges

The ship has two bars and top-notch service. Although the drinks aren't free between meals, the beverage packages are so reasonably priced -- or added as a free perk with some special fare deals -- that most passengers tend to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail, gin and tonic, beer or wine. Bar service is also provided on the Sun Deck, with ever-efficient waiters coming up to take orders and deliver drinks.

Horizons Lounge (Deck 3): The main lounge, where almost everyone gathers for a drink before dinner, is designed in high-gloss black, white and grey. A piano is set up on one side, where bands also perform, in front of a small dance floor.

The bar is fully stocked with a large selection of mostly French, Austrian and German wines, draft beer (Bitburger Premium), bottled beers (Heineken, Budweiser, Guinness, Kölsch, Pilsner Urquell, Hefeweizen, Kristallweizen), cocktails, aperitifs, spirits, liqueurs and liqueur coffees. The menu also offers an opportunity to sample some European specialties including the local Calvados, brandies, grappa, schnapps and lesser-known drops such as Slivovitz from Serbia. Non-alcoholic beers, mocktails, juices and hot beverages are also served here, and there's a tea and a coffee station near the entrance.

The Terrace (Deck 3): At the end of Horizons Lounge, overlooking the bow, is an alfresco terrace with a few chairs and tables. This is a great spot to catch the river views from the front of the ship or to take a drink outside in the fresh air.

Pool Bar (Deck 3): At the stern, next to the indoor pool, is a much smaller, quieter bar. With wraparound windows, it offers a panoramic view of the ship's wake and scenery on both sides. The menu is shorter with only one house white wine, one house red wine, five beers, two cocktails, a mocktail, juice and soft drinks. A self-serve tea station, coffee machine and a jar of cookies are also set up on the bar.

Emerald Liberté Outside Recreation

Lined with artificial grass, the top deck has a jogging/walking track, mini-golf putting green and a giant tic-tac-toe game. An abundance of seating includes reclining sun lounges, deck chairs and lot of tables with chairs under shade.

Emerald Liberté Services

The ship has a reception/guest services desk, cruise director's desk for shore excursions, a main lounge, restaurant, terrace café, Sun Deck, wellness room, hairdressing salon, library, gift shop and a heated resistance pool that is covered by a floor at night to convert the space into a cinema. The back of the ship also has a second bar, which is a quiet alternative at night. Laundry services are available for a fee per item or wait for the special deal to fill the bag to be washed and pressed. A deal is also offered on the first night to iron a bag's worth of your unpacked clothes. Wi-Fi is free. It is not suitable for watching movies, music, Skype or other large data downloads.

Massages, facials and hairdressing services are provided for reasonable prices in the wellness room and a well-equipped hair salon.

The fitness room has a rower, stationery bike, a bench and a few weights. The Sun Deck has a running/walking track (four laps equals 1 kilometre) and 13 bicycles to ride ashore.

Considering this is not a five-star luxury cruise line famed for its gourmet cuisine, our expectations were exceeded in the restaurant. All of the food on Emerald Liberté is free and flavoursome with no repetition over a week. In an exclusive get for the ship, top chef France finalist Fabien Morreale comes onboard once per sailing to create a special dinner showcasing the region's fresh produce and his impeccable presentation. Morreale, who runs two restaurants near Marseilles, also trains Emerald Liberté's chefs. Chateaubriand, lamb confit, duck cooked two ways, chicken liver pâté, an assortment of terrines, cheeses and vegetables provide a lovely local flavour. It's not in-your-face French; it's just enough to reflect where you are.

Breakfast and lunch are buffet style, with waiters bringing tea, coffee and water. Dinner is à la carte, served by waiters. There are options for lighter fare, early risers and afternoon tea, but sometimes no food is available so be sure to make it to the designated meal times. There is no room service on the ship. Once per cruise, weather permitting, a barbecue lunch is held on the open-air Sun Deck. Passengers with special dietary requests should advise their travel agent six weeks prior to departure as well as the cruise director once onboard. Chefs will do their best to accommodate dietary needs but there is no guarantee due to the ship's limited facilities. A friendly maître d' assists passengers but seating is open and reservations are not required.

Reflections Restaurant (Deck 2): The vast majority of dining takes place in this cheerful space with lots of natural light beaming in through windows that span the length of the large room. Tables are set up for two, four, six and eight people. A buffet forms the centrepiece, where breakfast and lunch are presented for self-service. The wide variety and quality of hot dishes is very good.

At the cooking station at breakfast a chef cooks fried eggs and omelettes on demand; at lunch he carves the meat of the day, from beef to boar. Every day sees a different terrine (seafood, vegetarian, chicken and so on), a local cheese selection, two soups of the day and fresh salads such as pasta, tuna niçoise or Greek. Complimentary wine (always delicious), beer (Bitburger Premium), soft drinks, tea and coffee are also included during lunch and dinner.

For dinners, the four courses comprise an appetizer (such as a local salad, terrine or salmon tartare), soup (fish bisque and fennel cream were our two favourites), main course (duck, chicken, pork, veal, fish or vegetarian), and dessert (crêpes, cakes, tarts, fruit salad, ice cream and cheeses). Emerald's classics, available any day, include poached salmon with steamed vegetables, rump steak and fries, grilled chicken breast and Caesar salad. You can order more than one of each course but the portions are more than adequate to keep most appetites satisfied. As previously mentioned, the service by the wait staff is second to none.

Horizon Lounge (Deck 3): Continental breakfast for early risers (6:30 a.m.), salads and pastas for lunch (12:30 to 2 p.m.) and afternoon tea with cakes and sandwiches (4 p.m.) are offered in the main lounge for passengers who prefer a quieter, lighter meal.

The cabins are slightly smaller than found on some other river cruise lines but the mirrored walls add a sense of spaciousness. Décor is a palette of grey and beige with no artwork or unnecessary trimmings. The queen bed is convertible to two single beds. Power points are Australian and European (220 volt) and there is an international outlet that is suitable for plugs from most countries.

All cabins have a wardrobe, satellite television, Wi-Fi, hair dryer, two bathrobes, slippers and individually controlled air conditioning and heating. There is enough storage under the bed for suitcases and another shelf along the wall, as well as the wall unit incorporating a desk, two drawers, safe and small fridge (extra charge for mini-bar items).

The TV has 20 channels (such as BBC, CNN, Eurosport, the bow camera, ship position, daily program, weather and a fireplace) and a great selection of free movies, from old classics to new releases.

The bathroom is compact, stocked with fluffy towels and facecloths. The water flow is good and it heats up quickly. Toiletries include miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, bath cream and a small bar of soap. Storage is limited to three narrow shelves and some counter space next to the basin.

Single: Accommodation for solo travellers is located on Deck 1. Measuring 105 square feet, these two cabins have the same amenities as other rooms but just one single bed, no table and chairs, and a small window instead of a balcony.

Riverview: Located on Deck 1 (Riviera Deck), the Emerald Stateroom category is for twin share cabins with a window instead of a balcony. All other amenities are the same as for balcony cabins but with a slightly smaller measurement of 162 square feet.

Balcony: Located on Decks 2 and 3 (Vista and Horizon), these cabins are 170 square feet. The balcony is a drop-down window that spans from floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with a table and two chairs beside it. The window and its insect screen can be opened halfway down with the flick of a switch.

Grand Balcony Suite: At 207 square feet, these four suites on Deck 3 feel noticeably larger. The balcony feels more like a distinct area as it separated from the main room by folding glass doors, a curtain and different flooring. A pillow menu and Nespresso coffee machine are additional to all the standard cabin features. Passengers in these suites receive concierge service, which includes continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapes and after-dinner sweets delivered to the room. Complimentary washing and pressing of two items per day is also included.

Owner's One Bedroom Suite: Spreading across 315 square feet, boasting a separate bedroom, this is the largest accommodation on the ship. In addition to all the other cabin and suite features, the suite has a bigger bathroom and two balconies. Its other point of difference is a free mini-bar that is restocked daily at no extra charge. A pillow menu and Nespresso coffee machine are provided in the room. These passengers are also entitled to concierge service including in-suite continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapes, after-dinner sweets and complimentary washing and pressing of four items per day.

Sun Deck
Horizon Deck
Vista Deck
Riviera Deck
Select a specific date or a range of dates
Select a date to return home by (optional)
Select the min and max duration
7 - 14
Popular ports
Departure Ports
Book with confidence