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Emerald Cruises Announces CLIA President & CEO and Industry Advocate Kelly Craighead as Godmother of Newest Luxury Yacht Emerald Sakara


Emerald Cruises is honored to announce Kelly Craighead, President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), has been named godmother of Emerald Sakara, the line’s second ocean-going luxury yacht, due to launch in August. The naming ceremony will take place on December 2, 2023 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

As President and CEO of CLIA, Craighead represents a broad and growing community of the world’s most prestigious ocean, river, and specialty cruise lines, as well as a network of more than 66,000 CLIA Travel Trade Members and stakeholders across the industry. With more than 20 years of executive leadership in the private and public sectors, Craighead served as the United States government’s senior representative for travel and tourism, and the first-ever Deputy Assistant Secretary for Travel and Tourism at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She joined CLIA in 2019, bringing a deep knowledge of public policy and how governments around the world work.

Under Craighead’s leadership, CLIA has honed its focus on leveraging its diverse community to advocate for a sustainable cruise industry. During the multi-year pandemic, Craighead and the CLIA team worked tirelessly to help ensure the long-term viability of cruising and the ability to safely return to operations in line with other travel sectors. In 2023, the cruise industry is projected to carry 31.5 million passengers – surpassing historically strong 2019 levels.

In addition to her leadership role at CLIA, Craighead serves as Vice Chair and Executive Director of the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, a non-profit public charity devoted to improving the quality of life in communities served by the cruise industry. Her leadership on sustainable tourism has helped position the cruise industry in a better place than it was three years ago – and well on its way towards achieving carbon reduction goals for 2030 and net carbon-neutral ship operations by 2050.

“I am honored to have been chosen as godmother to the luxury Ocean Yacht Emerald Sakara and am proud to represent this beautiful and ecologically friendly ship in this esteemed maritime tradition,” said Kelly Craighead, President & CEO, Cruise Lines International Association. “The name Sakara reflects my deep personal belief that positive thoughts manifest reality, and the strong rebound of cruise from the past few years – along with our commitment to a future of sustainable cruising – demonstrates the optimism that drives this industry forward every day. Additionally, Emerald Cruises’ Cherish the Planet ethos, built in accordance with the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, aligns with CLIA’s work around environmentally responsible tourism and protecting the destinations we visit.”

Along with its many amenities, Emerald Sakara employs some of the industry’s latest technology, as Scenic Group’s commitment to environmental safeguards and travel sustainability is unwavering. Engines meet IMO tier III emission regulations, including the removal of NOx and SOx from exhaust gases; recycled energy is used to heat water for the yacht’s needs; and advanced sewerage treatment complies with the latest regulations. The company has earned a Green Passport from the EU for its recycling efforts.

Set to launch this August, Emerald Sakara will join sister-yacht Emerald Azzurra sailing the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, as well as the warm waters of the Caribbean. Carrying only 100 guests, the 110-meter Emerald Sakara offers more space-per-guest than vessels of a similar size, and 88 percent of the ship’s 50 staterooms feature balconies. Guests will enjoy a large infinity pool, spa, gym, and marina platform outfitted with aquatic toys including paddleboards, snorkeling equipment and more. 

All guests will benefit from Emerald Cruises’ signature inclusive pricing which comprises all onboard meals; complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks at lunch and dinner; as well as a number of excursions and onboard activities. Emerald Sakara is the 11th vessel in the Emerald Cruises fleet, joining nine river-cruising Star-Ships and sister-yacht Emerald Azzurra.

Emerald Cruises offers a diverse lineup of river and yacht cruises on three continents. Emerald Azzurra, the line’s first ocean-going vessel which debuted in March 2022, is a 100-guest, luxury yacht sailing the warm waters of the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, and new for the 2023/2024 season, the Caribbean and Central America.

In November 2022, Emerald Azzurra was named Best New Luxury Ship in Cruise Critic’s 2022 Editors’ Picks Awards. Emerald Sakara,the brand’s second luxury yacht, launches in 2023. On the rivers, Emerald Cruises sails eight branded Star-Ships in Europe and one on the Mekong. The brand offers innovatively-designed ships, outstanding service and a focus on active shore excursions and onboard wellness offerings through their signature EmeraldACTIVE program. Emerald Cruises is part of Scenic Group, which includes Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Mayflower Cruises & Tours and Evergreen Tours in Australia.

Text: PM Emerald Cruises