(1:35 p.m. EST) -- Emerald Cruises has marked a major milestone with the float-out of the brand-new Emerald Azzurra, the line's first custom-built oceangoing vessel.
The company, the parent of river cruise operator Emerald Waterways and its oceangoing arm, Emerald Yacht Cruises, marked the floating out of Emerald Azzurra at the Halong Shipbuilding Company in Vietnam, where the vessel is currently under construction.
Capable of holding up to 100 passengers, Emerald Azzurra is scheduled to embark on its first sailings in January 2022.
"We are incredibly excited to see Emerald Azzurra successfully enter the water as the next stage of her build, the completion of the interior, commences," said Glen Moroney, founder and chairman of the Scenic Group, which includes Emerald Cruises.
"Once again Emerald Cruises is looking to the future and building a game-changing vessel at a time when small-ship experiences are gaining popularity. We can't wait for past river cruise guests and new customers alike to join us on board our very own ocean-going yacht in 2022."
When it debuts, Emerald Azzurra will operate itineraries primarily in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Red Sea. It has the distinction of being the first custom-built oceangoing vessel for Emerald Cruises and will debut on January 28, 2022 with an eight-day "Best of the Red Sea" voyage sailing roundtrip from Aqaba, Jordan, not far from the ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra.
The line notes that some cabins are still available for the inaugural voyage.
When it debuts, Emerald Azzurra will offer yacht-like ambiance and styling coupled with 50 deluxe suites and staterooms, 88 percent of which will offer private balconies. The ship will also offer an onboard wellness center; three onboard restaurants; an aft-facing marina platform for watersports activities, along with three passenger tenders and a zodiac raft for remote shore landings.