HALONG BAY, Vietnam — The Emeraude emerged from dry-dock last week with a new suite, an expanded crew of expatriates, a happy hour on the sundeck and a new summer special.
The Captain’s Suite debuts as the third suite on the ship. Slightly larger than the Paul Roque and slightly smaller than the Emeraude, the 12.3 square-meter Captain’s Suite includes a second 3.4-square-meter bathroom.
“We started with one suite – the Paul Roque, named for the colon whose firm built the original Emeraude in 1906,” said Kurt Walter, general manager of Emeraude Classic Cruises. “The demand for more space has been such that we had to add the 15.2 square-meter Emeraude Suite and now the Captain’s Suite.”
In the four years since its launch on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, the Emeraude has earned a reputation as a vessel capable of passage through space and time. Its design and ambiance, from its fin de siècle architecture, to its brass nautical fittings, planked decking and high-backed wicker chairs, evoke the nostalgia of the colonial era.
Spacious decks girdle the main and upper decks while the sundeck provides ample open space for lounging.
“All this space is a key differentiator,” said Walter. “Out here on the bay, you want to spend as much time outside as possible, in as much privacy as possible, be it in a wicker chair outside your cabin or on the sundeck. This is one of the things we do better than anyone – personal, outdoor space.”
With the addition of Sylvain Marmet and Sarah Panigada, the Emeraude’s expatriate crew increases to three French and one Austrian (Chief Purser Thomas Koessler) as a complement to the seasoned Vietnamese crew.
Marmet’s food and beverage career includes stints at a seaside resort in Britain, a ski resort in the US and upscale hotel work on the Channel Islands. Panigada’s hospitality work has ranged from Germany to Belgium, France and Switzerland.
Starting July 5, the Emeraude is inaugurating a new happy hour on the sundeck, with complimentary canapés. As always, the sundeck greets dusk with the whirl of a movie projector and a nightly screening of the French epic, Indochine.
The Emeraude’s current menu was produced and is managed by Marcel Issak, the group executive chef who hails from Switzerland.
In addition to the three suites, the 55-meter Emeraude now features 12 superior cabins and 22 deluxe cabins for 74 passengers maximum.
Emeraude Classic Cruises is owned and operated by The Apple Tree Group, a French-owned, Ho Chi Minh City-based company with interests in tourism and hospitality, real estate and construction and import and distribution all over Southeast Asia. Its hospitality properties also include La Residence Hotel & Spa in Hue and the Press Club in Hanoi, as well as the Kamu Lodge on the Mekong River near Luang Prabang and the Villa Maly, a boutique hotel scheduled to open in Luang Prabang in later 2008.