My wife and I have just returned from cruising along the Danube from Nuremburg to Budapest. Much of what your previous correspondent said I fully agree with, although I have to say that we found the food generally pretty good. Staff were pleasant and attentive and kept the ships public areas as well as our cabin spotlessly clean.
Compared to an ocean going cruise this is an expensive holiday and we were looking forward to something very special. Sadly the organisation and accommodation failed to reach anything like expectations.
Our flights from Manchester with Lufthansa were booked through Emerald. Our outgoing flight was at 7.15 am necessitating an early start leaving home at 4.00am. We arrived at Munich mid morning and then had a 90minute coach trip to Nurenburg. On arrival we were advised that the cabins would not be ready until 3.00pm. There was an option to take a coach to Nurenburg to explore the city. Having been on the go since 4.00am we were in need of refreshment. A very limited menu was available including the smallest plate of fish and chips you have ever seen, at a cost of £12.50 per portion. For the price paid for this holiday I would have expected complimentary sandwiches or at least a light buffet and soft drinks.
Cost containment? Not a good first impression.
We paid a premium for a Panorama Balcony Cabin on deck 3, it was small, so small that the sliding door into the toilet/shower room was no more than 12ins from the bed. Who wants to sleep right next to the loo door! Emerald place great importance on their innovative sliding windows. Yes, the top window does slide down giving you the opportunity to stick your neck out and admire the countryside. However, if you sit down, your view is interrupted by a thick wooden bar in the middle of the window, requiring you to either stretch your neck above it, or bend your neck to avoid it. When you dock, you frequently get other ships docking alongside you making these sliding widows completely useless. Also, if you don't want others from the adjoining ship peering into your cabin you have to draw the blinds down making the cabin during daylight hours gloomy and for all practicable purposes unusable.
At the end of the holiday our return flights were booked from Budapest departing the ship at 4.00pm then flying to Frankfurt, before catching a connecting flight to Manchester at 9.55pm arriving Manchester at 10.40pm. My wife and I are both retired and considered these arrangements very inconvenient especially at the end of the holiday At the time of booking at the beginning of September I inquired with Emerald as to whether there were earlier or more direct flights. This apparently was not the case and no alternatives were offered. So it came somewhat of a surprise to find from other guests who had booked after us that they were returning on an early afternoon flight to Manchester. Whilst killing time waiting at Budapest airport, surprise, surprise, a Ryanair flight direct to Manchester took off at 5.25pm.
So much for Emerald's customer help and advice, or rather lack of it.
For the cruise price being charged, Emerald will have to do a lot better than this if they are going to improve customer satisfaction. We did enjoy the cruise along the Danube, but for the reasons given we did not feel 'valued' and will not be returning customers, better value and service can be found elsewhere!
H B Jones