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13 Emerald Waterways Basel Cruise Reviews

We wanted to be on a river that we haven't sailed on, to visit new places & see castles. The Majestic Rhine cruise fit the bill. We had this trip booked for August 2018, but as we all know now, the water level of the Rhine River ... Read More
We wanted to be on a river that we haven't sailed on, to visit new places & see castles. The Majestic Rhine cruise fit the bill. We had this trip booked for August 2018, but as we all know now, the water level of the Rhine River was too low then, & as such, Emerald Waterways cancelled our trip. We, however, still wanted to fulfill the aforementioned & rebooked for August 2019. We were cautiously optimistic as this trip came to fruition & it did not disappoint. We are frequent ocean cruisers & have been on 3 Avalon river cruises & 1 other Emerald river cruise on the "Mekong Navigator" from Vietnam to Cambodia. So this is our 1st time sailing on an "Emerald" ship. We found the Emerald Sun to be a very clean & comfortable. It appears to me, more modern & brighter than the Avalon ships, perhaps because of their use of mirrors throughout the ship. Other than Emerald's indoor swimming pool, which morphs into a movie theatre, its lay out is quite similar to that of the Avalon ships. The crew & staff on Emerald Sun are second to none. There were all very friendly, courteous & helpful. The food on the Sun was very good, albeit the selection was understandably a bit limited. However, in my opinion, the fish served on the Sun was probably the best I’d ever had on any of the cruises we’ve been on. It was freshly cooked & moist to perfection. We also had a great cruise director, the animated “Wes”. On our 8 day cruise, we had 2 evenings with guest performers, one day with opera singers & the other day with a violinist. We also had 2 days of great singing by “Sarah”, our activity manager. On the other days, Sarah hosted trivia games & the like. There was also 4 movie nights with pop corn in the theatre. We did not partake in any of the available activities, except for Sarah's singing performances. The included excursions, although subjective, but for me, they were very good, with lots of photo ops of old, well kept colourful buildings & churches. Then on the 7th day of our 8 day cruise, we'd left Koblenz at approximately 7 AM enroute to Rudesheim & sailed through the Middle Rhine Gorge, where castles sat proudly on hilltops. All in all, a very satisfying trip. We are ready to set sail again with Emerald. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise because of the location and price. We were met at dockside by the tour director (Nina), dropped our bags off. She took us onboard where we could have a snack and a coffee. We then went off to explore Amsterdam. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the location and price. We were met at dockside by the tour director (Nina), dropped our bags off. She took us onboard where we could have a snack and a coffee. We then went off to explore Amsterdam. There was no set seating in the dining area so you could choose to join others or be by yourself. The meals were a la carte and lunch and dinner usually consisted of five courses, breakfast was a very good buffet. Service was great, attentive but not hovering over your shoulder. The only negative about food/dining was that sometimes it was slow but overall very good. The Rhine River was spectacular, the shore trips were excellent and very well organised, english speaking guides on every occasion and we were provided with a listening device so that it wasn't necessary to be next to the guide to hear him. My big gripe is that on this particular trip Emerald/Evergreen had a film crew on board,complete with models to produce a advertising clip. That was a pain, go to the pool and they were there filming, you're lying in the sun on the top deck and the next thing there is a drone buzzing up and down,around the ship filming. I thought it was intrusive. Another thing it seemed that the film crew had special privileges, they were allowed to smoke on the Terrace (which is a non smoking area) everyone else had to smoke at a special area at the stern. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Having completed a river cruise 3 years ago on the Danube with another river cruise line we were looking again to another great cruise. This time it was with Emerald and we weren’t disappointed. Our pickup at Zurich airport went ... Read More
Having completed a river cruise 3 years ago on the Danube with another river cruise line we were looking again to another great cruise. This time it was with Emerald and we weren’t disappointed. Our pickup at Zurich airport went flawlessly and we were soon on the Emerals Sky. Originally we were supposed to be on the Emerald Destiny but due to low water levels we were changed to the Sky. This didn’t present any problems however as the crew of Sky, excuse the pun, went overboard to make us feel so welcome. Arriving way before our expected arrival time our cabins were soon made ready and we were able to settle in and relax a little from a long flight and have a light lunch. Even Captain Stamen Dimitrov and Cruise Dorector Balazs were there to greet us on our arrival. Certainly a sign of things to come as we could not say more about the great service we received from all of the crew throughout the cruise. The Rhine cruise likely many in Europe is a trip through history and the tours and the guides we were fortunate to have were first class. All were well organized and having an “active” tour was a great option. The only bike option was in Amsterdam however so another on the cruise would likely go over well. Our dining experience was pretty much 4 star and the service was excellent although a little bit of extra help at the omelet station in the morning might have sped things along. Entertainment was fairly low key as things tend to be on a river boat cruise, just a pianist, but we should comment that the electronic violinist who came aboard one evening was excellent. In closing we would like to make special mention of our Captain Stamen Dimitrov who was so personalable, and skilled in navigating our ship safely through low water levels to reach our destinations. Also our Cruise Director Balazs who worked so hard to organize all the tours and events and made them go so well. Thank you. Still waiting for the photo Balazs. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
It was all inclusive the cruise staff were friendly and excellent. The cabin was very good the bed was very comfortable.On suite was great shower was great always plenty of hot water.All of the trips were good and the local guides were ... Read More
It was all inclusive the cruise staff were friendly and excellent. The cabin was very good the bed was very comfortable.On suite was great shower was great always plenty of hot water.All of the trips were good and the local guides were friendly and very knowledgeable.One of the highlights was the Concert in Vienna superb! The balcony suite cabin was great apart from the cigarette smoke drifted in when we had our window open shame the ship wasn’t no smoking. Apart from that everything was very good. We thought the meals were first class from breakfast to the five course evening meal. The all inclusive drinks package and the tips all included was brilliant. The whole package was very well organised and from the cruise director to our cabin cleaner were second to none. Most enjoyable five star service and ship was very good. Cruising down the Danube was very magnificent. Thank you again to everyone. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
After much research for our first river cruise, we decided to book with Emerald. While, I usually book my own vacations, I did go through a travel agent this time as I have never been to Europe. I did book my own airfare and hotel ... Read More
After much research for our first river cruise, we decided to book with Emerald. While, I usually book my own vacations, I did go through a travel agent this time as I have never been to Europe. I did book my own airfare and hotel pre-cruise but did the Emerald add-on with the hotel and transfer at the end of the cruise which was well worth the price. My wife and I left mid-June and spent five nights in Munich before taking a train to Zurich for four nights. Using trains and trams was a new experience for us and while we were a little intimidated at first, we quickly adapted. We decided to visit the Zurich airport the day before pickup to make sure that it was easy to find the pickup spot. Pickup and transfer to the ship was easy and on time. Passengers were primarily from England, USA, Canda, but also included Ireland, Scotland, and Australia, Average age would be early 60s. We are early 50s and were on the younger side. We did see two families with teenagers. I think pricing for River Cruises, in general, makes this situation. For the price of a River Cruise, we could have done about three Caribbean cruises. The ship was easy to navigate compared to large Caribbean ships only have three floors with one main dining area and one lounge. The trip from Basel to Amsterdam was wonderful. We couldn't have asked for better weather! Each day we had city tours, sometimes we would have to take a bus but not all the time. All the tours were excellent and were done by local guides with the exception of Cologne which was just OK. The guides on this tour were much younger and a little inexperienced IMHO. But the tours were only two hours so we had plenty of time to do our own sightseeing if we wanted. We had French Balcony cabin 220 which was probably the nicest cabin we ever stayed in. This was a standard balcony cabin which we paid a premium for the view and the window that slid down. However, if we do another river cruise we would opt for the lowest level and use the money saved for upgraded airfare. Other than sleeping, we really didn't spend much time in the cabin. Food Breakfast had a light offering of food in the lounge area and a standard buffet with omelette station in the main dining room. Lunch in the main dining room was buffet style as well and didn't change much from day to day. You could order off the menu which was the same items that were on the buffet which really didn't make sense with the exception of a few Classic items: steak and chicken breast and Cesar salad. The dinner menu changed nightly with meat, fish, and vegetarian options with the Classic items also available. Food was good but many felt that the portion sizes were too small with the exception of the Captains Farewell dinner. Same issue with dessert. We noticed the salad dressings, especially at lunch, looked and tasted watered down. I have never seen such thin blue cheese dressing, but then I am from Buffalo and we are used to thick Blue Cheese! The late night snack at 10:30 was disappointing. It mainly consisted of leftover desserts or appetizers from earlier in the day and the portions again were small. We stayed off ship one evening for dinner in port. Emerald includes beer and wine at lunch and dinner. Most of them were very good and the servers made sure your glass was filled. I had a wine/beer drink package for 10 Euros/day which was a great deal compared to Caribbean cruises. There was another package for around 22 Euro for spirits as well. Drinks prices are reasonable and depending upon your drinking habits, it may not be beneficial. Bar service was fair to good with the exception of Svetlana who was the best. We usually tried to sit in her area as we knew she did a great job! Emerald should let passengers know that there are drink packages available at check-in. While I was asked by a server if I had a drink package when I ordered my first glass of wine, a couple we met didn't know there were packages available until the last night! The packages are listed in the lounge menu book but most people usually know what they want when they walk into a bar and therefore didn't pick them up. We didn't use the complimentary bikes or go to movie night in the pool area. The pool was nice though! This was a great cruise and absolutely loved it. We met a lot of nice people from all over the world! While there is room for improvement, we would consider Emerald again for a future cruise. Their all-inclusive package and payment structure is the main reason why we chose them. Another company wanted full payment almost 11 months in advance which we felt wasn't reasonable. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose Emerald Waterways after researching 6 popular cruise lines that sailed the Rhine river, and can say that our 1st ever cruise experience was overall fantastic. The cruise lived up to our expectations, and exceeded some, in all ... Read More
We chose Emerald Waterways after researching 6 popular cruise lines that sailed the Rhine river, and can say that our 1st ever cruise experience was overall fantastic. The cruise lived up to our expectations, and exceeded some, in all areas except the food quality. Being all-inclusive was important to us, no worries about calculating gratuities, port fees, etc.. We loved the Swissôtel Basel that Emerald booked for us pre-cruise. All the airport to hotel / to ship transfers went smoothly and on time. We had fun exploring the city on our own for a day (and recovering from jet lag), before embarking on Emerald Sun. Lunch the first day was not included but they prepared a light buffet for us new passengers in the lounge, a thoughtful touch. We cruised from Basel to Amsterdam over 8 days under sunny skies. Our cabin was spacious, well-designed, and like the ship itself, absolutely immaculate. The bed was the most comfortable 'hotel' bed I've ever slept in (I usually suffer bad sleep during vacations) and the attentive cabin steward saw to our every need. Top marks. The fleet is quite new, our ship was 3 years old, and are of a modern and sleek design. It featured a beautiful infinity pool at the stern, small gym, hairdresser, cinema (pool transforms for film night), huge sundeck with shade canopies and mini-putt, bicycles for excursions, large main dining room, and a bar & lounge for relaxing or to enjoy a light breakfast or lunch. The shore excursions were included, except for one optional tour to Moselle and Cochem--which I highly recommend, it was fantastic!. We enjoyed all of the guided tours, either walking or by coach. The local guides really knew their stuff and the sites selected were interesting (and not only churches). The 'QuietVox' system let us meander about and still hear our guide. Of course one could always opt out of a tour and explore individually, or stay and relax on ship. With all that was wonderful, the very ordinary food was a disappointment. I don't know if the wait staff was new, but they lacked polish and some never smiled at the guests. The service varied greatly and the food quality & preparation was . . . okay. Not the high standard I was expecting of Emerald. We had to return a fish dish, it was hard, dry and tasteless. A fellow diner returned some veal that was all gristle. We were only told on day 3 that we could order from a menu at lunch, as well as partake of the buffet. This would have helped. Everyone we met complained of the small portions served at the evening meal—2 or 3 bites of the meat or fish, a couple of tablespoons of rice or potatoes, and a few vegetable bits. Very artsy but not enough to fill 5 year old child. One meal featured mashed potatoes dyed Smurf blue??? The white and red wines offered with the meals were rarely from the regions we were travelling through, but mainly Austrian or Slovakian. Mediocre quality, and the white served at room temperature. On the last day I discovered there were other wines one could have, despite me asking a waiter earlier in the week if they had a German Riesling since we were in the Rhine Valley. The wait staff did not seem to all have the same information. Training? However, the salads were good and varied, and they offered wonderful cheeses and bread. I ate a lot of bread. The 2 soups I tried were extremely salty so I had to give them a pass. The desserts were commercial, not much better than supermarket quality. Food aside, the trip was wonderful and we enjoyed the sights along the scenic Rhine. The crew was courteous and professional and the ship elegant and quiet. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We cruised the Danube with Emerald in 2016 and enjoyed ourselves so much we booked the Jewels of the Rhine cruise for 2017. We were not disappointed, the Emerald Sun was the standard we would expect, the staff friendly and helpful and the ... Read More
We cruised the Danube with Emerald in 2016 and enjoyed ourselves so much we booked the Jewels of the Rhine cruise for 2017. We were not disappointed, the Emerald Sun was the standard we would expect, the staff friendly and helpful and the excursions well organised. My only comment would be at the beginning of the cruise I can only describe the standard of the food as variable. There may have been a problem in the kitchen as after the first couple of days, the standard stabilised and equalled that of our previous cruise. The cabin was clean and well maintained as were all the public areas. There is limited entertainment in the evenings with a musician and dancing every night but this is just a relatively small river cruise. Some nights there were quizzes or an additional musician and of course there was the Crew Show. We were certainly not bored. Would certainly cruiese with Emerald again Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Having been on numerous sea cruises we decided to try a river cruise for the first time with friends who have been before and recommended Emerald Waterways. Emerald Waterways delivered a good cruise with only some small changes to the ... Read More
Having been on numerous sea cruises we decided to try a river cruise for the first time with friends who have been before and recommended Emerald Waterways. Emerald Waterways delivered a good cruise with only some small changes to the itinerary, for example we had a buffet dinner the first night instead of a cocktail reception and welcome dinner which we had on the second night. This was actually better bearing in mind people would have been travelling the first day. The food was excellent considering the small kitchen and drinks flowed freely at lunch and dinner. We had a top deck R category cabin which was a tad small and the wardrobe space was not enough, but everything else was excellent. The entertainment could have been geared more to the area we were travelling in, but having said that the artists we saw were good. The crew were excellent giving a friendly service. In this day and age security could have been tighter, always a difficult balance between relaxed atmosphere and good security. One thing that struck us was the fact that smoking was allowed at the front on the top deck which meant when the boat was moving everybody at the back enjoyed the smoke as well!! All in all a good first river cruise, enjoyed the Rhine, super scenery and will book again with Emerald Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
First (and last) river cruise for us. Emerald Sky is a great ship, and a great way to see several destinations with no hassle. Our cabin 311 was well decorated with good space and it was kept immaculately clean by our super cabin attendant ... Read More
First (and last) river cruise for us. Emerald Sky is a great ship, and a great way to see several destinations with no hassle. Our cabin 311 was well decorated with good space and it was kept immaculately clean by our super cabin attendant Malik. All of the crew were terrific and very helpful. The entertainment wasn't to our taste but we enjoyed what we did join in with. The excursions were well organised and very good, the local guides excellent. The food was good but that's where we found our problem, we really didn't like having to all eat at 7pm which meant a race to get to a table, we hated having our food served like a canteen and the noise level in the dining room was just awful with people shouting across tables. Whilst we realise the crew have to multi-task and move from drinks duty to waiter service etc but this did not make for an enjoyable evening meal as we felt the dinner was rushed and certainly not the relaxed looking photo in the brochure! Thank you Emerald for the holiday, your staff are a credit to you but sadly we won't do another river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
My husband and I wanted to cruise the Rhine and visit places we had never been to before. The emerald sky is a beautiful ship with wonderful staff. We were delighted to have been upgraded to an owners suite which was an amazing ... Read More
My husband and I wanted to cruise the Rhine and visit places we had never been to before. The emerald sky is a beautiful ship with wonderful staff. We were delighted to have been upgraded to an owners suite which was an amazing surprise. I couldn't stop smiling. Rooms were beautiful and clean with everything and more that you needed for a comfortable stay. I have Crohn's disease so have some complex dietary needs. The resturaunt manager Adrian was amazing and helped me every day to choose what I wanted to eat and he liaised with the chef to ensure my meals and snacks were 'Crohn's friendly' so to speak. My only slight complaint is that all bar one of the excursions were early morning, not very relaxing when you have to set alarms to get up at 7 to be ready to go off out. Also most tours were quite rushed. For instance , we visited the beautiful Black Forest museum. We were told we only had time to visit two of the buildings and had maybe 20 mins free time before we had to go to a cake demonstration and then back to the bus to go back to the ship. There was no opportunity to revisit in our own time as it was so far from the port and the ship was sailing in the afternoon. We enjoyed the arranged visits to Koblenz and cologne and then had free time also to explore on our own so this was great. Our last stop was Amsterdam, again an early start, bus from port to city center, short city tour then canal boat tour which were good. We were then promised free time at museum square but because of delays with traffic etc we only had 20 mins before we had to leave to go back to the ship. I would have loved to visit the museums and have a walk around. There were shuttle buses provided in the afternoon for anyone wanting to go into Amsterdam on their own but I wasn't confident enough to do this. I would have liked someone with us who knew the city. I understand that the cruise had a timetable to stick to, that the ship had a lot of locks and ports to navigate and this may have influenced the timing and duration of shore excursions. On the whole though I really enjoyed my holiday. No complaints whatsoever about the ship, staff, service, cleanliness. Just a shame we felt rushed on our shore excursions. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We choose this cruise to celebrate 60-50-10-2.....60th birthday, 50th birthday, 10 year anniversary, 2 years post stem cell transplant. The cruise itself had awesome weather, excursions daily included and friendly staff and captain. I will ... Read More
We choose this cruise to celebrate 60-50-10-2.....60th birthday, 50th birthday, 10 year anniversary, 2 years post stem cell transplant. The cruise itself had awesome weather, excursions daily included and friendly staff and captain. I will say as a food service person we were disappointed with the dinner meals, ( variety never chicken) portion size of protein 2oz. Cooked on these plated and served offerings. Breakfast and lunch buffets seemed better suited for the amount of people ( 176 ) on board. Going down the Rhine I would have expected more German food offerings ( only 1 lunch ). Beer and wine was included at lunch and dinner, but as a non-drinker, no benefit or discount for me. Room service might be an option that would work for everybody. The cinema on board which is the pool converted at night with a floor to cover, actually only had 16 headsets that worked via wireless on a hit and miss basis. I would say overall that if you like cruising this River cruise is totally different than an ocean cruise as far as intimacy and number of people getting ( herded ) around and excursions are a lot easier to function. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
You only have once chance to make a good first impression. Many of us had traveled many hours and arrived in Lucerne, tired and a little bit "cranky". We were anxious to get on our coach for the transfer to Basel and Emerald ... Read More
You only have once chance to make a good first impression. Many of us had traveled many hours and arrived in Lucerne, tired and a little bit "cranky". We were anxious to get on our coach for the transfer to Basel and Emerald Dawn. Emerald's representative at the airport, Yvonne, was welcoming and pleasant. Unfortunately she didn't know where our coach was. First it was stuck in traffic (10:00 am Saturday morning?), Then "we aren't certain where it is". Finally it is in the airport and doesn't know where we are. Similar occurrence for guests arriving later. Their delay (over two hours) caused them to miss the light lunch by about twenty minutes and having the beer or wine charged to their room. CD Michael should have taken care of this. That having been said, Emerald Dawn was a great ship with a wonderful crew. Everything was remarkably clean and "fresh" appearing. Room was immaculate , spacious with great balcony and very efficient bath. Breakfast was nicely handled with a large buffet in the main dining room and or a light continental version in the lounge area with access to the open decks. Tours were well organized and had the advantage of starting at "civilized" hours like 9:00 am. Guides were fluent in English, knowledgeable of the local area and offered helpful suggestions for free time exploration. Lunch and dinner were well prepared with many options. Local wines and beers readily available for these meals. The pool and movie area are certainly unique on Emerald and offer a special experience. Thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary and staff of Emerald Dawn. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We booked with Emerald mainly to compare with Viking .Favourable points for Emerald are 1. Bigger and better equipped cabins ,lots of storage space with deep drawers .Bathroom also had hidden storage spaces ,a deep drawer and shelves ... Read More
We booked with Emerald mainly to compare with Viking .Favourable points for Emerald are 1. Bigger and better equipped cabins ,lots of storage space with deep drawers .Bathroom also had hidden storage spaces ,a deep drawer and shelves .Very good hand rain shower and even a pull out washing line .The electric balcony window is superb and the blackout and insect blinds are also well designed .The 6ft bed is extremely comfortable with two duvets which is a nice touch . No hanging labels outside the door to Not Disturb just flick a switch inside the cabin to activate a light outside . 2. Food is better than Viking .The breakfast buffet is vast with the usual egg station for poached,fried or omelettes to order .Lovely crispy bacon,hash browns ,sausages ,beans and tomatoes .The fruit selection is very good ,with prunes,apricots ,pears,and fresh fruit salad ,a good cereal selection,cold meats,cheese , yogurts fresh rolls,pastries and breads Lunch is also varied with cold meats,salad,a pasta dish ,a fish and a meat dish with a variety of fresh veg,rice,potatoes etc .There is always a soup with fresh breads and a variety of desserts ,ice cream ,cheeses and fresh fruits Dinner is a four course delight. On two nights in seven it becomes a six course gala dinner. The food is of a very high standard with a good choice of meat ,fish or veggy option At lunch and dinner the wine flows with abundance with good quality wines There is always afternoon tea with delicious sandwiches and cakes and a late evening snack . 3. Excursions .These are varied ,interesting and not too exhausting . 4. The cruise director Simona was an absolute gem .She was a workaholic and very funny .Now I come to the downside .Due to the number of passengers 180 compared to Viking approx 128 , the restaurant gets very noisy in the evenings .This was particularly distressing to me ,as I suffer from tinnitus so I had to wear ear plugs so couldn't hear what people were saying around me . THIS SHIP IS DEFINITELY NOT FOR YOU IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO NOISE I do not like the inclusive drinks package idea as this encourages people to drink too much and this adds to the noise If you have travelled on the Viking long ships you will immediately notice that the lounge furnishings do not exude quality ,but saying that ,it is comfortable. The small pool is also a plus on Emerald . Ignoring the noise aspect ,the overall experience is excellent .and the staff are very friendly and efficient . Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
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