European river cruise ships are shaped by the surrounding environment. Low bridges and locks mean their height, width and length are restricted -- so on the outside most modern four-deck ships all look pretty similar. However, the really clever stuff is on the inside, where cruise lines create very different looks within exactly the same amount of space. This was brought to life graphically on Cruise Critic's exclusive shipyard tour to see the construction of Emerald Waterways' Emerald Star, the day before the launch of its fleetmate Emerald Sky.
The newest cruise line on the block, this budget-conscious sibling to all-inclusive Scenic Cruises (launched in 2008) has some impressive new-to-the-river features and a modern style.
We toured Star at the De Hoop shipyard, located in Lobith in The Netherlands, and it provided an intriguing insight into how a river ship is built and the innovative design touches that are incorporated into this new line. Take a look at our before-and-after slideshow onboard Emerald Star and Emerald Sky, which will take you behind-the-scenes, then show you the same areas on the finished vessel.