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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise due to there being new ships, good discounts, tips included, an excellent brochure and that the Danube is a good start for first time cruisers. the on board experience was top notch with the service from all the staff ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to there being new ships, good discounts, tips included, an excellent brochure and that the Danube is a good start for first time cruisers. the on board experience was top notch with the service from all the staff being beyond outstanding. Example - bar staff remembering your preferred drinks from one night to another after only one bar order. Reception staff providing help well beyond the call of duty; high quality food; cabins cleaned thoroughly and bathrooms twice daily; unobtrusiveness; genuine friendliness. So, great attention to detail. However, the pre-cruise administration was very poor with one error after another. Limited communication except frequent marketing for 2018 cruises even before we had experienced this cruise; a failure to confirm transfers + details before final payment required; double booking of airline seat for my partner; then no baggage allowance on the plane for me; then a failure to inform us of the possibility to stay in Budapest for another night (at cost, of course) which would have allowed a direct flight back to the UK rather than having to transfer planes in Brussels which led to delays. If only the admin. was half as good as the on board experience!! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Full trip report Overview We researched the various cruises available on the Douro, including Viking, Scenic, AMA, and CroisiEurope who all run their own ships. We also looked at Agents who buy blocks on other boats. We chose ... Read More
Full trip report Overview We researched the various cruises available on the Douro, including Viking, Scenic, AMA, and CroisiEurope who all run their own ships. We also looked at Agents who buy blocks on other boats. We chose Emerald as, for us, they had the best overall offering, a new ship. We had cruised with them before on the Danube and knew the standard to expect. We booked direct, and early, to get the best discounts and cabin choice. We had a chance to have a tour around their Scenic sister ship, Azure, whilst moored alongside. They are the same size with identical sun deck, although we preferred the partial shade on Emerald rather than the solid awning on Scenic. Scenic is all suite (white-chrome, and a bit clinical) with butler service (who wants their smalls unpacked!) with less guests/different crew ratio (96/33 against 112/37 on Emerald) and more dining options. We were told by our crew, who swap between boats when required, that the food is the same on both boats but all silver service in Azure. They also far preferred working on Radiance as although busier, the guests were more friendly and inclusive. I genuinely think it was their honest view, not said to please. Inclusive liquor packages are the same but they have a 3-piece band at night rather than a pianist! Apparently, they play to an empty lounge after dinner as the Scenic guests all were in bed, unlike the Emerald bar which was lively most nights until midnight. We honestly couldn’t see the extra value in paying thousands of £/$ to sail Scenic rather than Emerald. Pre/Post Cruise The Emerald price includes air fares to/from the UK. From our own experience, we knew that this generally included transfers in Paris/Frankfurt or Amsterdam if not flying from London airports. When our flights were offered they included a 06.15 departure and a 55-minute connection-a disaster waiting to happen. We took a price reduction of £250 each, booked direct flights to Oporto the day before departure and stayed at the OPO airport hotel and still had some change. Our advice-investigate the alternatives. Other guests, who had lost luggage/missed connections/late arrivals wished they had knew this option. Joining The Emerald price includes collection/drop off at the airport so we made our way, refreshed after a good sleep and breakfast, to Porto Arrivals to be collected with two other guests and transferred to the Emerald Radiance just as the last group were disembarking. We were the first of the new guests to arrive. Bliss. We had the ship to ourselves, and a private guided tour, until after lunch when the next few arrived. We sat in the sun, watching the Red Bull Air Race Practice and enjoyed a delightful buffet lunch with local wine & beer before we were shown to our suite promptly at 3pm. 10/10 The Ship The newest on the Douro, it’s first cruise was in June. The early cruises attracted criticism with early teething problems with cabin fittings and service levels but the all Portuguese crew had got their act by the time we joined the September cruise. As you would expect, everything is new-and it shows. The Horizon Bar & Lounge are the hub of the ship and the service from head barman Abel, supported by Sandra, sparkled. Guests had an option of having a light breakfast/snack lunch here or on The Terrace whilst the full buffet breakfast and lunch was laid out in Reflections 9/10 Suites (as they are called) Although they vary in size from 150to300 sq ft and you get what you paid for. Everyone we spoke to seemed to be happy with their rooms, however grand or modest, especially the comfort of the beds. We heard of only one flooding and one complaint of noise, a cabin directly below the crane which started up at 06.30 am as we prepared to depart each morning-note there is no night sailings on the Douro. Our suite at the stern was very quiet with only propeller noise at 7am on departure. 9/10 Dining and Beverages The Emerald price included, for most guests, all liquor and future cruises are fully inclusive. This included fine Spirits included premium Gins and Black label whisky, Vintage Port and included Cava/Prosecco but not Champagne. The Douro wines stocked and served were excellent. We thought the food was of very high standard with a wide choice to match all tastes. Lobster, crab, scallop and prawns were a feature on one night and every evening included a local signature dish. The Captains Gala dinner was excellent but we, and many others, enjoyed the buffet evenings rather than waiter service. Much wider choice, hotter food and we ate at our own speed. The farewell dinner should have been buffet-instead it was table d’hote. A big error by management with guests wanting an early night and still waiting for their main course at 9pm This is however the only real moan as the food and service was really good, well cooked and presented, a wide choice to meet all tastes and always the alternatives of Chef’s Specials of Grilled Salmon, Chicken or super Sirloin steak with fries-delicious! Two final points, both frequently reported and taken on by Management. Everyone was banging their legs, and there were a few near tumbles, because of the splayed rear legs of the chairs. Change them… And there are no soup spoons, only dessert shovels which are useless for soup. Buy some… 7.5/10 Crew All Portuguese, they have only been together for 3 months but are now working as a team. Good English, big smiles and always willing to help, The Captain Alfonso Ribeiro, speaks perfect English and is full of stories, some not printable. He is the most senior captain on the river, poached from Viking, and was originally a DS trawler captain. The waiting staff are worked really hard, especially at dinners as do the bar staff who despite the pressures from thirsty guests, smile through it all. Housekeeping is immaculate and the laundry service is spot on. The cruise director Luis Gomes worked on large cruise ships catering for the US market and it shows. (-: 8/10 Cruising and Excursions The highlights for us was the actual cruise itself, up (and down) the magnificent river Douro winding through the steep sided vineyards. We were blessed with fabulous weather, a warm 21c in Porto climbing as we passed through the mountains and onto the Spanish high plain to 36c in Salamanca. Sitting in the sun, G&T in hand watching the vineyards of Taylor, Crofts and Sandemans go by, was a real treat Passing the locks was a great experience but we soon learned to take shelter from the sun deck when leaving the lock to avoid getting wet with drips from the overhead gantry. Only two optional excursions were offered- Mateus Palace and Guimaraes and although guests who took the Mateus tour enjoyed the house and gardens they did not like the trip to Guimaraes as it was long motorway journey with little to enjoy or see in Guimaraes. All other excursions are included and our favourites were Porto itself, the lovely river side town of Pinhão and the full day in Salamanca. For those on board, when cruising, there was always an afternoon activity-cocktail making, tile painting and talks. In the evening, there was always music in the bar or a quiz or competition for those up for it although many, knackered, preferred an early night. 8.5/10 Guests Mainly from the UK, making up 75% the rest a mix of Australians, Canadians and from the US. Only a few aged under 45 (travel agents?) with the average age in the high 60’s with a good smattering of lively 80’s (affectionally called the “sticks”) A really good mix and, as the meals are free seating, most guests had a chance to mix and mingle. 10/10 Summary The Douro is a lovely river and has fascinating micro climate winding through vineyards, olive groves almonds and eventually, just over the border with Spain, oaks with the famous black pigs. Porto is a great City to explore and Salamanca is a must Emerald has a well-paced cruise with excursions to meet all tastes, and cabins to meet most pockets and seems to attract a good mix of guests. 8.5/10 Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My sister-in-law chose the cruise. We had a lowest deck cabin that was small and noisy from the plumbing and the ship's intercom woke us up early in the morning. Other cruises that we have been on, only important information was ... Read More
My sister-in-law chose the cruise. We had a lowest deck cabin that was small and noisy from the plumbing and the ship's intercom woke us up early in the morning. Other cruises that we have been on, only important information was broadcast in the state room. The double bed was two beds pushed together and the mattresses came apart easily interfering with our comfort. All the staff were excellent and the cruise director was very amusing and helpful. We had a medical emergency very early in the morning which was handled very well by the night manager. Fortunately we were able to rejoin the cruise the same day. All the inclusive tours and guides were excellent. The gym was small and I used the rowing machine which is good. I think a treadmill would be useful as well as the stationary bike. However, free use of the bikes when in dock was an excellent feature and well appreciated. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was my first cruise on the river. I went with people who I knew who lived in my neighborhood. I had never been on a river cruise And it sounded very appealing. The crew was wonderful They were very helpful. The housekeeping crew ... Read More
This was my first cruise on the river. I went with people who I knew who lived in my neighborhood. I had never been on a river cruise And it sounded very appealing. The crew was wonderful They were very helpful. The housekeeping crew kept my room immaculate. The day tours were very well-planned and very informative I appreciated the information given by each Tour guide. These tours made it possible for me to see many interesting and his stork The stork places. Dining a board was truly an experience that I loved each time I had a meal. The food was prepared beautifully and the service was Excellent. The onboard entertainment was fun. I enjoyed the singers. I enjoyed the music I enjoyed the cruise crew entertaining us. The room we were in was so comfortable .it had every thing I needed while being a board the ship. Excellent time! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2016
went with Emerald last year and found them superb as they were this year. The food, staff,facilities are outstanding. The attention to detail is everywhere from superb maps to complimentary drinks etc. The balance of passengers is ... Read More
went with Emerald last year and found them superb as they were this year. The food, staff,facilities are outstanding. The attention to detail is everywhere from superb maps to complimentary drinks etc. The balance of passengers is excellent with Australians,Brits and Canadians mainly. The pool, as last year was spotless and superb and the entertainment in the evening well thought out. The main on-board tour organiser was of the very highest calibre which is very important-she dealt with every situation with humour and aplomb. The standard of included trips was high-all the guides spoke good English and were prepared to have feedback and discussion. We had a trip to a family home in Slovakia which was a new and interesting idea to allow us to experience something of the local lifestyle. The standard of the coaches used for trips was high. We would have no hesitation in recommending Emerald and would choose no other for ourselves. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
As we had never experienced a River Cruise we were very pleasantly surprised to find that we enjoyed the cruise immensely. The crew were all excellent, the ship was most comfortable and kept spotlessly clean. The design of the ship was ... Read More
As we had never experienced a River Cruise we were very pleasantly surprised to find that we enjoyed the cruise immensely. The crew were all excellent, the ship was most comfortable and kept spotlessly clean. The design of the ship was super, very modern and they seemed to have thought of everything when planning the interiors. The food was delicious, dinners well balanced, not too heavy with 4 or more courses. Unfortunately the weather after Budupest turned cooler and wetter, but this was October and only to be expected. The guides onshore were all excellent and we enjoyed the walking tours very much. The cruise director was superb at her job, as were the other crew members. I agree with other reviewers that it is not ideal to be sometimes moored right alongside another boat, but River cruising is so popular that this is inevitable, there are many cruise boats on the Danube. All in all I would recommend a River Cruise with Emerald as a very relaxing and enjoyable way to see areas of Europe. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We chose Emerald as a result of attending presentations by both Emerald and Scenic (same ownership). They said that Emerald was a step lower than Scenic in terms of luxury, but I would challenge anyone to fault Emerald for its comfort and ... Read More
We chose Emerald as a result of attending presentations by both Emerald and Scenic (same ownership). They said that Emerald was a step lower than Scenic in terms of luxury, but I would challenge anyone to fault Emerald for its comfort and a great cruising experience. Our cabin was large - a smaller one would have sufficed, but the extra room in the Owner's Suite was terrific. The food was excellent. We opted for the light breakfasts and lunches as it's so easy to overeat on a cruise ship. Dinners were fabulous ad while they were four course meals, serving sizes were just right - not too large. The crew were fantastic and provided terrific, very friendly service, led by a great hotel manager and cruise director. Excursions were thoroughly enjoyable and great learning experiences, particularly the visit to the Nazi rally grounds in Nuremberg. Most excursions involved walking tours with audio units so you could still hear the guide even if you wandered off a little. We appreciated the daily exercise. I cannot speak highly enough of the entire experience with Emerald. The only comment I would have is that it would have been nice to have had more time in Budapest. We did a Prague add on with Emerald before boarding in Budapest and we only got one day in this city. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
From start to finish this cruise is excellent. The ship is really impressive with amazing staff. The sihip Emerald Sun was built in 2015 and looks brand new. We had a panorama balcony suite on 2nd floor. These rooms are bigger than other ... Read More
From start to finish this cruise is excellent. The ship is really impressive with amazing staff. The sihip Emerald Sun was built in 2015 and looks brand new. We had a panorama balcony suite on 2nd floor. These rooms are bigger than other rooms we have had on other river cruise ships as the window is from floor to ceiling and can be lowered with touch of a switch. The ship has about 180 people onboard so it is easy to meet new people and make friends as you see them every day. There is a more friendly feel on a river cruise rather than an ocean cruise ship. Each morning we would open the window blind, lower the window and watch the world sail by while lying on the bed...magic. This is better than having a separate balcony area which sounds good but makes your room smaller. The cruise director Ray Bauer is a natural at his job, very knowledgable, friendly, always a joy to meet and talk to. Food was Michelin star quality at every meal. Inclusive with cost of holiday is wine, soft drinks or beer at lunch and dinner and guided walks at every destination. Highlight of the week for us was a private concert by Vienna Imperial orchestra in a beautiful room include tenor and soprano singers. We had to pay for this extra but well worth it. We will definately book again with Emerald Waterways a totally professional organisation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Our travel consultant suggested Emerald Waterways (Evergreen Tours is the Australian agent) as a low cost but good quality river cruise company - she was correct on both counts. This was our first river cruise (although we have done a ... Read More
Our travel consultant suggested Emerald Waterways (Evergreen Tours is the Australian agent) as a low cost but good quality river cruise company - she was correct on both counts. This was our first river cruise (although we have done a number of ocean cruises) and we wish to congratulate Evergreen and Emerald for a fantastic experience which far exceeded our expectations. Embarkation was smooth and we were able to board not long after midday and had lunch and all afternoon to unpack and settle in. The next morning, we were taken on an Amsterdam canal cruise in small glass roofed boats which was very good. We were impressed by the layout and quality of the ship (only two years old). The public spaces were excellent but we were unable to use the sun deck when passing under low bridges which meant that we did not use it for a number of days as it is quite a job to lower and raise the safety rails and deck furniture. This is an observation not a complaint as it is part of river cruising. The food was excellent with good variety and good quality. The beer and wine were not cheap house varieties. Breakfast was a buffet style with a wide choice ranging from Continental to hot food with an omelette/egg cooking station staffed by a chef. Lunch was again a buffet with a wide and varied range of hot and cold foods. Wi-Fi reception could be patchy due to the hills and gorges through which the river passed but we were warned of that in the pre-embarkation literature. Not really a problem. The itinerary, shore excursions and tour guides were excellent and we had a reasonable amount of free time on shore. The ports in which we stopped were excellent. The daily on-board entertainment was excellent including the resident piano player/DJ, Norbert, and the Oompah band and Hungarian dance troupe, among others. Not the least important was friendliness and excellence of the staff. We were especially impressed by the cruise director, Ray, who was always helpful, cheerful, knowledgeable and informative and always available. When we had to travel by coach for two days due to high water levels, he was sympathetic and very helpful and kept us informed of what was happening. Also, Maritta, the hotel director, was excellent as she was always cheerful and helpful. In our opinion, they were the icing on the cake! However, all the staff and crew were friendly and helpful. We were very impressed with the effort put in by the head office staff in organising excellent coach transport and 4+ star accommodation when we were unable to continue on the river. This certainly did not detract from our experience as we completed all but one of our tours and did not miss any meals or included drinks. Often the back office goes unnoticed but we acknowledge that they did a great job in keeping us going. Luckily, we were able to rejoin the ship a couple of days before Budapest. Disembarkation was very smooth and as we had a 2 pm transfer to the airport, we stayed in the Horizon lounge and had lunch before we disembarked - sad to leave the ship. We will certainly be recommending Evergreen Tours (Australia) to our friends and would certainly travel again with Emerald. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Honestly, we chose this cruise line because it was less expensive than some of the other luxury river cruise lines and because it had very good reviews overall. We were not disappointed all all and are very glad we chose Emerald Cruises ... Read More
Honestly, we chose this cruise line because it was less expensive than some of the other luxury river cruise lines and because it had very good reviews overall. We were not disappointed all all and are very glad we chose Emerald Cruises and the Emerald Sun. The cruise was a great value and we didn't feel like we missed out on anything by paying a lower rate. The facilities and public rooms aboard the Emerald Sun a very nice and have an elegant look and feel. Our cabin was great...no complaints at all. They manage to squeeze a lot of room and amenities into a small space and still give us plenty of storage for our things. We really liked the cabin-wide picture window that lowered half-way down to let the outside in. We didn't miss a balcony at all and think this is a much better way to maximize space. The crew worked very hard to give us a good experience and almost all of them were very friendly. The food was basic, but was well presented. One thing to note...if you're looking for the typical big cruise line food extravaganza with midnight buffets and unlimited food all day, this may not be for you. Food was available only during breakfast, lunch and dinner, which was fine with us, but may not be for everyone. Of course there were bar, coffee, and soft drink services available throughout the day. Ports of call on this cruise were quite lovely. I love the walking tour concept...it's a great way to get a feel for a location. The headsets they have for the walking tours are great also, allowing you to hear the tour guide even if there's a lot of noise in the area. The only stop on our cruise I didn't care for was Bratislava, which feels like a place that wants to be a tourist destination, but doesn't know how to do it yet. I also enjoyed going through the locks, I think there were more than 20 of them on the portion of the Danube we travelled...very interesting thing to experience. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This was our first river cruise and the standard of accommodation, food and service on the Emerald Star was hard to fault. The staff made everything - even passing through the deepest lock on our journey - a cause for celebration and a ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and the standard of accommodation, food and service on the Emerald Star was hard to fault. The staff made everything - even passing through the deepest lock on our journey - a cause for celebration and a glass of bubbly. They were constantly friendly, cheerful and hardworking. We were a little younger than most passengers who were 60+ and that meant we found some of the trips a bit slow but you could always leave the organised tour and explore on your own. The vast majority of the other guests were Australian which made for a great atmosphere with loads of people who were ready to chat and a lot of fun. We loved the clever design of the boat and were amazed at the amount of space and storage in our cabin. The pool is tiny but was underused so it was possible to get a proper swim, albeit with a lot of turns! Would also say that I can be seasick on a 20 minute ferry crossing but the boat was so stable I was absolutely fine. We travelled from Budapest to Amsterdam and found the stops in Bavaria especially beautiful - for a shorter cruise we'd say do the Danube and Main rather than the Rhine, but that was just our taste. We'll definitely be cruising with Emerald again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2016
We went on Emerald's 1st cruise down the Danube last year from Budapest to the Black Sea. We enjoyed it all so much that as soon as we got home we booked to do the journey up the Danube and down the Rhine to Amsterdam. It was ... Read More
We went on Emerald's 1st cruise down the Danube last year from Budapest to the Black Sea. We enjoyed it all so much that as soon as we got home we booked to do the journey up the Danube and down the Rhine to Amsterdam. It was excellent in all respects. From arrival at Budapest to departing at Amsterdam Schiphol, everything went like clockwork. The staff are amazing - all of them. They are efficient, calm, friendly, helpful - they made both cruises wonderful experiences and we do hope that there will soon be an Emerald cruise including Russia and the Baltics. The meals were all we could have wished for and the restaurant is informal but slick, service is efficient and local specialties are offered at each stage. Shore tours are well organised, local tour guides were in most cases excellent and opportunites were offered for all levels of activity and involvement. The pool is a huge bonus for us, we do not know of another river cruise line offering pool facilities. Our cabin on the top deck was spacious, had a huge picture window with indoor balcony, was well serviced daily and was very comfortable. Entertainment was available including local artistes, folk groups etc and these were all of high standard. We particularly enjoyed the opportunity to meet a local family in a small group (12) and discuss traditions, education, jobs and prices of daily needs with them. We became more travellers than tourists. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We were absolutely overwhelmed by our cruise experience! The ship is new and tastefully modern, with very comfortable balcony staterooms. There was always a variety of choices of very delicious foods, served at appropriate temperatures ... Read More
We were absolutely overwhelmed by our cruise experience! The ship is new and tastefully modern, with very comfortable balcony staterooms. There was always a variety of choices of very delicious foods, served at appropriate temperatures (i.e. - Food was hot when it needed to be). Included tours and activities were well-planned, entertaining and educational. We went on two extra tours (private Vienna concert and medieval feast at Rothenburg) which were superb. The Emerald Star crew provided top-notch service. They were very gracious and welcoming, fun, hardworking, efficient, and took care to learn individual passenger's names & to accommodate personal preferences when possible. Numerous times, to the delight of passengers, they arranged "above and beyond" surprises. For example, one night after dinner, we were invited to quickly come to the top deck where we were greeted with champagne and music to take advantage of the wonderful acoustics at the bottom of the largest lock. A magical evening! We chose to make our own arrangements for time in both Amsterdam and Budapest. Both embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly and very efficiently. We appreciated the extra lunches and hospitality we were given the day we arrived early and the day we disembarked. We would definitely recommend this trip to others and would go again. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
Wow ! - Having done several ocean cruises including the Panama Canal - this gave us the idea of a river cruise, Bavaria, Austria & Hungary were places on our list to visit, so this cruise ticked all the boxes! The ship is fairly ... Read More
Wow ! - Having done several ocean cruises including the Panama Canal - this gave us the idea of a river cruise, Bavaria, Austria & Hungary were places on our list to visit, so this cruise ticked all the boxes! The ship is fairly new (2015) and our crew had only been together a few weeks, but Captain Boris, Cruise Director Jana, Hotel Director Robert - and all the crew were exceptional - helpful friendly and efficient- nothing was too much trouble - many thanks to all ! The UK flight and transfer from Munich to the ship was well organised and effortless, like wise the return flight from Budapest to Munich and transfer to UK flight although a very short transfer window went like clockwork - and all luggage arrived back with us in the UK - well done Lufthansa! Note though - only one suitcase per person and must meet Emeralds dimension guidelines (length,width & depth these are added together and must not exceed a set limit) weight 20 kgs - less than the airline 23kg limits - we had to buy new cases as existing ones were too large! Before the Cruise Emerald had sent us a rucksack each as the only allowable hand luggage - worked well and useful for all the day trips. All the stops/ tours were exceptional - Passau, Melk, Linz, Dürnstein Wien & Budapest the organised mixed walking/ coach guided tours were well organised and informative (rechargeable radios with headsets are available in all cabins for these trips) and used local guides with local knowledge and very good English! - also there was always one group available for those who's walking was slower and less challenging. A private evening concert in Vienna was a definite highlight. Captain Boris organised an evening Budapest river Cruise - although a bit chilly was fantastic and we were well fortified by glasses of ''Blue Danube Cocktail'' . Freetime during the organised tours was also available and in the main achieved a good balance Most of the distance cruising was done at night so you awake to a new town or city, though some short & scenic parts of the river (Wachau Valley etc) were by day and included a commentary which was most informative - with some spectacular scenery ! Bicycles were on the ship and available though advanced booking advised. Crew present to make adjustments to suit - cycle tracks along the river were good and flat! Having read horror story's of rivers with no water or floods we chose late April as a reasonable chance of having neither ! - our weather was generally good only one bad day of rain, layers and umbrellas (available on board) recommended though ! Food and Wine (both local where appropriate) were excellent - we did not have a menu that failed to inspire us (there were always other options available - steak, fish etc) and the lunchtime buffet had plenty of variation hot cold etc. Tea and several types off Coffee freely available from a machine in the lounge, mini bar in cabin but we did not need to use it - bottled water still and carbonated in the cabin and replaced as required foc. The included wine was often ''local'' and not to every ones taste (mostly on the swsweet or dry) - on request a different wine was served - no problems ! As far as I could tell the lift only travelled on the internal floors and not up to the sundeck, this could be a problem to any one with challenged mobility ..... but I am sure the crew will have a solution ! Entertainment - do not expect ocean cruise stage type performances, there is neither space or facility's, excellent Pianist in the lounge - small dance floor, an excellent Hungarian country band & dancers one evening in Budapest , port talks most evenings and other general interest talks local at times. Also probably one of the best/ funniest crew shows we have ever seen ! - well done all. The ''infinity'' pool was excellent and became a cinema in the evening with up to date movies or musical shows running in the evening. Highlights :- Swimming in the infinity pool with views of the river whilst cruising, the evening cruise in Budapest, the private concert in Vienna - the staff and attention to detail ! Also I would just add that all the places visited were clean, tidy, things worked, the roads/footpaths were excellent and people friendly (English spoken by most local people) generally plenty of public convenience's - but 50c coin needed. This sort of cruise will not suit anyone who is after '' big ship entertainment and facilities'' but for luxury /cultural travel with 5 star food and accommodation with like minded guests it will take some beating - well done Emerald ! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
I was reluctant to try a river cruise but my wife persuaded me to put aside my perceptions and give it a try. I am converted! The Emerald Star is a relatively new ship (2014) and is well appointed. The cabins are as large as one can ... Read More
I was reluctant to try a river cruise but my wife persuaded me to put aside my perceptions and give it a try. I am converted! The Emerald Star is a relatively new ship (2014) and is well appointed. The cabins are as large as one can expect given the limitations of the boat's width. I particularly like the balcony being behind the window so that you can sit there and enjoy the views even in inclement weather and simply lower the window when the sun is shining and you want some fresh air. The dining experience was superb and certainly up to the high standards of an ocean cruise line. The one confusion we experienced related to the premium beverage package we had bought and prepaid. It did not appear to offer any choice of wines at mealtimes over and above the free drinks given to all. The shore excursions are included in the price and ensured that we got off the boat every day around 9 am and discovered many towns and cities we would have visited otherwise. The three we enjoyed most were Rudesheim, Koblenz and Cologne. If you are lucky enough to visit Cologne Cathedral during a solemn high Mass then you enjoy a free concert by the Cathedral choir who sing sublimely. The local guides are high quality specialists that add to the enjoyment of the experience. My wife and I are reasonably fit and enjoyed the walking but some may find the exertion a little too much. At each stop the cruise provides a slow walking group for those less mobile but I would not recommend such cruises for anyone needing a wheelchair. Finally, a word about the crew. They are an efficient and friendly bunch, mostly from Eastern Europe, who work extremely hard to provide a good experience for guests. All in all, a great cruise and one I am looking forward to repeating. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We knew this was going to be a special holiday the moment we saw the lovely backpacks and wallet containing our tickets and information, but were surprised at just how special it was. The tour included a couple of nights in Bucharest ... Read More
We knew this was going to be a special holiday the moment we saw the lovely backpacks and wallet containing our tickets and information, but were surprised at just how special it was. The tour included a couple of nights in Bucharest – a wonderfully interesting city, which exceeded our expectations on every level. Our stay at the Sheraton was very good – we upgraded to the Club floor, where the lounge was open from breakfast until 11pm. Bucharest was certainly as clean and safe (or safer) than Barcelona, with an amazing amount of history to discover. A city tour was included and the People’s Palace was a real highlight, even though we only saw 10% of the building – and that took over an hour! We had an extra day in Bucharest, so also took a free walking tour and a “Hidden Bucharest” tour we found on Viator. All three tours showed the city off in different ways. With a freak heatwave of up to 30C, it was too hot to go to the Village museum, so we visited the Peasant Museum – I got told off for taking a photo by a security guard who then started talking on her phone! Apart from that incident, we found the Romanians very friendly and enjoyed very good service everywhere we went. After checking out from the hotel, we went to lunch at Cara Cu Bere, one of Bucharest’s more touristy restaurants, where the food and service was excellent. We were then taken to the ship, docked at Giurgiu, not that we saw the town particularly – the ship was mostly docked a fair way from any of the towns and villages, with the exception of Belgrade and Budapest. On arrival at the ship, we were greeted with a non-alcoholic cocktail and a hot towel with smiling staff showing us to our cabins – and pointing out the cupboards behind the mirrors in the bathroom. Amazingly, our luggage was already in the cabin. I double checked that my bedding was hypo allergenic, however, woke up at around 4am wheezing and sneezing as one of the duvets seemed to have feathers in it, but it was quickly changed (yes, at 4am!) We had an offer that included all drinks, not that we seemed to take advantage of it that much - wine at lunch and dinner was really enough for us! We also liked that there was no tipping - it makes it much simpler and easier - and far less embarrassing - for us Europeans. The cabin was very well appointed – bathrobe/slippers, still and sparkling water, a beautiful guidebook (which we could keep!), along with a big television and a lot of drawer space. However, the hanging space was limited by the safe, which could easily have been put next to the wardrobe on the huge shelf. My only other niggle about the ship was that there was one public toilet on each floor and absolutely no reason why they couldn’t be unisex and weren’t more disabled-friendly. The ship was spotless, service was amazing – I’m allergic to cheese and one day was greeted at lunch by the head chef who greeted me by name and said that the Serbian meatballs had cheese in them, but he’d made a couple especially for me. We did, however, found the restaurant on the noisy side, making it sometimes difficult to hear our fellow travellers. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and dinner was a four or five course meal, with a meat, fish or veggie option. You could also have steak, salmon or chicken for lunch or dinner – one day, I couldn’t choose, so had two main courses! One day, a galley tour was offered, but we were in Belgrade and unfortunately missed it, however, we were brought up to speed by other guests. The lounge was the main room for socialising, although smokers were on top and a smattering of people used the pool. We never saw the cinema in use – on the first night, they lost the DVD and most other nights, there was some entertainment, or we sat chatting to fellow passengers, who, with the exception of some travel bloggers, were just about all retired, making charming and interesting company. The staff were all excellent and the captain was exceptionally friendly and approachable. It’s hard to focus on one person, but Jana, the tour leader, was simply amazing – always friendly and so organised, ensuring everything ran smoothly in a part of the world where I’m sure that there are sudden changes, such as customs regulations sailing in and out of the EU in Serbia. Tours: At each port, tours were included and good maps were given out, although on this trip, most stops were away from too much to see and do. Alfatar – we had an English guide, Denis, who married a Bulgarian wife and had lived in Ruse for over ten years. He wasn’t that keen on talking about Bulgarian history (cutting it down to a few minutes!), but did give some insights into the practicalities of living in Bulgaria. Our tour to a school was imaginative and exceptionally interesting – the kids were just adorable and exceptionally well behaved. Veliko Tarnovo / Abarnassi – Denis was once again our guide and told us much more about the history of the two towns. Veliko Tarnovo was the old capital of Bulgaria and our time there was a little short, however, we had a lovely lunch with a fantastic view and agreed we’d like to visit the town in more depth. Arbanassi was a lovely little village with a fascinating church where a local Bulgarian guide explained all about it, and then a four piece choir sang, showing off the acoustics of the church, not to mention their singing prowess. The next day was spent cruising through the Iron Gates. It seemed to go by very quickly, and was a lovely relaxing day. Belgrade Our day outside the EU meant that any mobile phone calls went from being included in our tariff to 40p a minute, so they remained firmly switched off! A lot of our friends came to Belgrade when they hosted Eurovision in 2006, and called it Hell-grade. Our guide was only too aware of the city’s failings and painted a colourful picture with a great deal of detail in the very sad history of this region, remnants of the war are still in evidence. We found the city very interesting and possibly rather different to how it was 10 years ago. It was very strange to see lots of souvenirs with Putin, exceptionally off putting and a little scary for a same sex couple. Our tour should have included Tito’s mausoleum, but it was closed on a Monday. We weren’t sure how safe Belgrade was so opted for the additional Theatre tour in the afternoon which was very interesting and worth the €29. It’s a beautiful theatre, interesting to go backstage. We ended with a short concert by two young opera singers (along with a glass of bubbly!) which was yet another highlight of the trip. We were going to go back for the galley tour, but decided to have a little wander around the city and walked back to the ship, which was down a flight of stairs, so shuttle buses were arranged, leaving every 30 minutes until about 6. After dinner, a very energetic group of dancers and musicians entertained us. Vukovar/Osijek It was time for the Croatian side of the story to be told – Vukovar has a very sad recent past and our guide brought it all to life. She was definitely the most talkative guide we had, combining history with culture. The tour around Osijek was interesting enough, but then we went to a fisherman’s house who entertained us with humour, wine, ajvar, sausages and cake. We then got back on the coach and went to our home hosted lunch which was a true highlight of the tour. There should have been ten of us, but somehow 12 came in, meaning that the host didn’t sit with us. However, she did tell us about her life in Croatia and how she’d had to go to live with her sister in Stuttgart during the war. All too quickly, it was time to get on the bus again. Kalosca Again, the ship didn’t dock near a town, but a coach took us on a three in one tour – firstly, to the paprika museum where we were greeted by an old woman and some bread/paprika. She gave an interesting talk, then we were offered paprika brandy – an acquired taste. It was then onto an old style house museum where our guide showed us round – the house had a fascinating kitchen with the ovens ingeniously heating the rooms to the sides. He also pointed out a cricket bat shaped object, asking what we thought it was – I can’t remember its real use, but one of the passengers did ask whether it was to beat their wife?! The final part of the tour was to a horse farm, where some amazing horsemanship was shown – including a rider standing on two sponges on two horses and leading 10 horses around the track. We were also treated to more wine, bread and dripping and cake – and a ride round on a farmer’s carriage. We then got back to the ship for a late lunch and had the afternoon to pack – including the paprika that had been given to us as a gift on our return to the ship! It worked well as a bribe for the questionnaires which we also filled in during the afternoon! After dinner (which included the obligatory baked Alaska parade – with real sparklers!) – we were treated to a spectacular view of Budapest by night, a wonderful way to end a wonderful trip. Disembarkation was exceptionally civilised. Our transfer was organised for 11 – the suitcase had to be out by 8.30 and we could use our cabin until 9.30. We went out earlier for a quick walk around Budapest. Only regret? Not leaving this holiday for a big birthday or anniversary. But then again, we’re so lucky to have been able to take this trip as this area has been rocked by war so many times. We had the most sensational holiday, travelling in comfort through some of Europe’s most troubled areas and how they’re making progress since the communist era. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
Just back form a 7 night Danube cruise from Nurenburg to beautiful Budapest on Emerals Sun, what a fantastic week, each and everyone of the crew were brilliant from Georgina our cabin stewardess to Robert our waiter in the dining room and ... Read More
Just back form a 7 night Danube cruise from Nurenburg to beautiful Budapest on Emerals Sun, what a fantastic week, each and everyone of the crew were brilliant from Georgina our cabin stewardess to Robert our waiter in the dining room and Olga in the lounge bar though every crew member made sure we wanted for nothing. Simona the Cruise Director made sure that all the excursions ran smoothly and pick ups and drop offs were exactly as planned, a hard job logistically. What a beautiful ship with fantastic food. The excursions were great with very frinedly, knowledgeable tour guides, especially Eva who was our guide for the Slazburg tour, she had us all singing the songs from Sound of Music, not everyones cup of tea but it just seemed appropriate when we were in he locations were it was filmed. I will definately be back on an Emerald river cruise and would highly recommend them to all my family and friends, if you haven't tried it then I would say you are missing out on a wonderful cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
The brand new Emerald Dawn sparkled with attention from the hard-working and friendly staff. Much more glam and sparkly than what I anticipated. We enjoyed the local entertainment that was brought on board in the evenings (eg. Hungarian ... Read More
The brand new Emerald Dawn sparkled with attention from the hard-working and friendly staff. Much more glam and sparkly than what I anticipated. We enjoyed the local entertainment that was brought on board in the evenings (eg. Hungarian dancers from local school, Romanian dancers) and the hilarious show the crew put on the second last evening of the cruise. Although I knew the cruise was likely to be senior citizens, I was disappointed with the number of guests that were of the younger crowd (At 50, I believe I was the second youngest on board). It was definitely a luxurious method of travel, but the best way to see these countries as the daily excursions were planned to take in the highlights of the area. A few of the excursions were not the original plan, as the water levels of the Danube had become too low, and therefore the excursions were not as interesting as anticipated. However, those are some of the risks of river cruising--nature accommodates no one!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
My husband is disabled and we took a foldaway mobility scooter with dry lithium battery that is allowed on airplanes. All went smoothly at both Heathrow and Schiphol and was brought on board and stored in the reception area where staff ... Read More
My husband is disabled and we took a foldaway mobility scooter with dry lithium battery that is allowed on airplanes. All went smoothly at both Heathrow and Schiphol and was brought on board and stored in the reception area where staff charged it nightly. We had booked an Owner's suite in order to have extra space as my husband only has one leg. There was a lift for easy access to the restaurant and only a few steps up to the sun deck that he could manage OK. We talked over with the cruise director the various excursions and there were alternative easier walking routes for those who needed it. Both staff and guests were very helpful if we had to walk over another boat to access the shore or go up some steps so we were able to take the scooter on all the excursions or it was folded away in the coach. Some of the coaches were a little difficult to access due to the height of the steps. On most of the trips to museums, palaces, etc., there were lifts so that we able to access all parts of the buildings. There were quite a few cobbles so a stick would be helpful. I had recently undergone an operation and was having difficulty with my food but Leo ensured that we had advance copies of the menus to make our selection and gave us priority for dinner so I did not suffer any further problems. The range of food was very good and the standard of cleanliness was excellent. The evening entertainment was mainly Lucas playing music but there were some other entertaining events, particularly the night of the staff show where both guests and staff were obviously enjoying themselves. All the staff pulled their weight when needed to help, including the captain who also pulled cases up and gangplank and tested all the bikes for those going on a cycle ride along the bank. On our departure at Budapest airport, there were no porters or trolleys outside the terminal and we had a substantial amount of luggage, including a spare battery in a case and a spare leg, as well as him being on the mobility scooter. The lady rep helped pull 2 cases but it was still a major problem to get them into the airport unassisted with no signage for help. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
If you have any hesitations about booking this new cruise line...don't have them! This was such a fantastic experience in every way. This was only our 2nd river cruise (we did an Oberoi Nile tour a few years ago) but we have done ... Read More
If you have any hesitations about booking this new cruise line...don't have them! This was such a fantastic experience in every way. This was only our 2nd river cruise (we did an Oberoi Nile tour a few years ago) but we have done many luxury ocean cruises. Wow, after this, we may not go back to ocean-liners. First, this ship is brand new. Everything was sleek, clean and perfect....and I am picky. We had an "Owner's Suite," and initially I was worried about how small it was. But honestly, we got used to it. And now after the 14 days, I see why the rooms and so forth need to be small. These ships efficiently use every bit of space, because the boats cannot be any bigger, or they will not fit into the locks. We were very lucky to have good weather. We had no problems at all. The ship does an amazing job of coordinating activities and providing plenty to do. There are a variety of extra activities you can sign up for. One that I did was a 30k bike ride in Austria. OMG this goes down as one of the TOP five things I have ever done! The whole experience was very educational. They gave us a guidebook and river map at the start, and our amazing, terrific, outstanding cruise director--Simona--gave us daily reviews of what we saw and what was coming up. They did a perfect job of giving us a sampling of regional foods, regional entertainment, great tours, option for smaller tours, help with any request, and just simply more than enough to keep busy, yet relaxed. I am a very light sleeper. I rarely heard or felt anything at night while the boat was moving. I would open my patio everyday to hear and smell the black forest's nature, see the swans and ducks, and was in amazement with what could be seen off the Rhine and Danube Rivers. Castles, medieval villages, beautiful landscapes and great historical sites. While off the boat, throughout Germany, the people could not have been better. We had no negative experiences. We were in a different port everyday. In terms of the ship: plenty of charging stations in the room (priority for us!), decent free wifi, coffee maker, frig stocked with goodies at no charge, super clean, tiny exercise room (you won't have much time for that though), GREAT pool area that transforms into an evening cinema and free beach cruiser bikes to use everyday while in port. LOVED the swim in place device in the pool. Liked the laundry service. Notice that depends on your room-level, but at one point they offered to clean a bag of clothes I think for about 25 Euros. There is no real dress code for the dining room, so simple clothes are all you need. Now, this is not a big cruise ship, but that to me is what made this nice. The simplicity was great. None of our group of four gained weight, because there was a lot of activity and walking (they also provided "easy" walking groups for people who could not walk as well) and portion sizes were not huge. Meals were elegant and everything I ate was good. I particularly liked the light meals served in the lounge everyday for breakfast and lunch. Loved the local wines at each meal. In terms of service: our room hostess, Tiromira was AMAZING and so friendly but not obtrusive. The food and service were excellent. Nothing negative to say here. At the end of the cruise I felt like I was leaving my new family. All the wait staff became our friends and they tried so hard to meet everybody's needs. We will book another without hesitation. The only thing is, I don't think they could top this one! The other thing I have come to realize is the ship has no control over weather, river water levels and other factors that could delay, postpone or cancel a tour. I am not sure what they would do, but it would be good to find that out in advance. Not sure if there is insurance that would cover this, and then you could just go somewhere else in Europe yourself? But, we had NO problems at all. Sunny and warm everyday and going through the 64 locks was very educational. Austria and Bavaria were unbelievable. We did not think we would like Germany, but were we ever surprised! We plan to return to Vienna (loved the private concert in the castle that we attended). Felt that stop needed 3+ days to see it all. We spent five days in Budapest, which is about right to see the highlights. And again, I am a picky, savvy traveler, having been on many, many luxury-type tours. I do not see how you can say anything bad about this line...at least on the tour we did. Just loved every minute of it in every way. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
I must point out that we are not reviewing this trip as experienced conventional cruise travellers. A conventional sea cruise on a large ship with "entertainment", long periods at sea, crowds etc is the nearest thing to hell on ... Read More
I must point out that we are not reviewing this trip as experienced conventional cruise travellers. A conventional sea cruise on a large ship with "entertainment", long periods at sea, crowds etc is the nearest thing to hell on holiday that we could imagine. We booked this first cruise because we wanted to spend sample time at the advertised destinations, and with that objective in mind Emerald came out a clear winner on price and facilities, in particular the contemporary design of the ships which we saw as a refreshing alternative to the very conventional and crusty looking competition. We hoped that the service offered matched the design i.e. was highly competent, stylish and customer oriented, without being fawning. Our holiday tastes are luxury without pretension, with first rate service and good value. Our cruise was the Amsterdam to Budapest "Splendours of Europe" cruise over 15 nights. I won't cover the itinerary - it is on the Emerald web site in full detail. Suffice to say there were interesting off-ship opportunities every day, sometimes several, all included in the price. On some days there were additional longer trips for an extra charge. We took several of these, and they were excellent and good value for money. The accommodation was, to a confirmed 4/5 star hotel traveller (accommodation/service based, not pretention/frilly curtains based), quite simply excellent. Contemporary, stylish, very comfortable, very well designed, and in perfect condition. We were lucky enough to be able to afford one of the 4 top-level suites, but all that gave us was extra space and some extra inclusive services - the facilities were the same in every room that we saw. Our ship was the Emerald Sun, on its second cruise (new carpet smell!), but all four ships appear to be the same. I won't list the excellent facilities - again they are on the Emerald web site. Maintenance was excellent - we could observe constant maintenance, and contrasted the results several times with the competitors' ships which we saw, some at very close quarters. But the highest point was the staff. Quite simply exceptionally good. Highly professional, excellently trained, cheerful and friendly at all times, always there to help but never intrusive, and efficient to a high degree. You can see from my other reviews that I am critical of anything less that the highest service levels (again, based on service and not pretention), but this group were a cut above the best I have seen anywhere - congratulations to the Emerald trainers and managers. River cruising seems to be expensive compared to sea cruising, due mainly I guess to scale. Looking after 160 customers with just under 50 staff is not cheap, and use of the Rhine and Danube facilities cannot be cheap either. But if you want a truly memorable blow-out holiday in Europe, Emerald seems to us to be the way to go. We are hoping to do another Emerald cruise soon. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
The ship was excellent. The staff were excellent. The food was excellent. HOWEVER there was no cruise. We arrived at Basel airport and were taken on a coach to a muddy field where the ship was moored, not Basel. Due to flooding on ... Read More
The ship was excellent. The staff were excellent. The food was excellent. HOWEVER there was no cruise. We arrived at Basel airport and were taken on a coach to a muddy field where the ship was moored, not Basel. Due to flooding on the Rhine all locks were closed and we spent three days moored at the first lock, with no expectation of moving on. We were moored on the Alsace canal. On the 4th evening everyone was told that they would be leaving the ship the following morning and would not be returning. The rest of the week would be spent in hotels. There had been a warning the previous evening the locks may not reopen soon and that cargo vessels took preference when they did. It was suggested that arrangements could be made for anyone who wished to fly home. We chose this option. TODAY we received a cursory compensation offer in the form of vouchers for a future cruise! After talking to various people on our return it seems that weather problems on the Rhine, Rhone and Danube are not uncommon. In the light of this we are hardly likely to want to use the vouchers. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We love the River Rhine and looked forward to seeing it glide by our cabin window on our first cruise. We were to board in Basel so spent two days there in the excellent Hotel Victoria enjoying the trams and the pouring rain. There ... Read More
We love the River Rhine and looked forward to seeing it glide by our cabin window on our first cruise. We were to board in Basel so spent two days there in the excellent Hotel Victoria enjoying the trams and the pouring rain. There was some alarm when we phoned the boat for confirmation of joining instructions. We were told that because of the rain the Rhine was very high and the boat could not get to Basel so was at Kembs. We should take a bus out to the airport and try to find a rep with transport. A bus took us to a field with a path to the boat. We were not advised to cancel the cruise at that time. The Reception was welcoming and our cases were taken to an excellent cabin that we thought suited us fine. We wandered round the boat and thought that it all looked good, especially the lounge and dining room. The sun deck furniture was all knocked flat for passing under bridges. As it happened, we never passed under a bridge and the furniture was never re-erected. So there were no activities up there. There was an evening briefing when we met Karla the Cruise Director. They had postponed the Welcome Reception until the next day because of the stresses folk had had on the way to the boat. The dining room seemed splendid on entry and promised some good food. However the roof was low and all sound seemed amplified. The service was fairly slow and it was acoustically painful to sit there waiting while everybody else was shouting to make themselves heard. We never managed to finish a meal. No evening entertainment was arranged while we were on the boat apart from an old film each evening in the small swimming pool/cinema area. The boat moved a few kilometres to the Breisach end of the canal but was trapped there by the high water in the canal so daily excursions were at first reorganised. Boats that had been left in the River Rhine got away. Some of the day trips were strenuous for the less fit. On the Tuesday night we were told that we would all have to leave the boat the next day. The main party must leave by 7.am for a gruelling coach tour to Amsterdam. For the rest, arrangements would be made by offices in their own countries for passengers to be flown home. There is a good video under the heading ‘Emerald Sky Jewels of the Rhine’ on Youtube that shows the problems. We flew home exhausted, with very swollen ankles and needing a holiday. A look at the weather records showed that the boat should not have been brought in to the Alsace Canal and been trapped. Having done so though, the ‘cruise’ should never have been attempted. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We were on Emerald Sky early May from Basel to Amsterdam. It was docked in Kembs in France on the canal d'Alsace. As we were already in Basel we had to go to the airport to be bussed to the ship. Due to inclement weather, the ship ... Read More
We were on Emerald Sky early May from Basel to Amsterdam. It was docked in Kembs in France on the canal d'Alsace. As we were already in Basel we had to go to the airport to be bussed to the ship. Due to inclement weather, the ship cruised 45 km to the lock at Breisach. It spent the next 5 days stuck in the lock there with Emerald bussing passengers to the Black Forest (included attraction), then to Colmar on France and finally a whole day tour to Heidelburg (5 hours on a bus) - very strenuous. The last evening the Tour guided announced that everybody must leave the ship by 7am the next day with no return to the ship and be bussed to Amsterdam missing out some of the included sights and staying in hotels on the way. The alternative was to fly home which is what we chose. While we waited for our tickets all the cabins were stripped of bed linen and made ready for the next lot. So we cruised 45 km in 5 days. It was the most expensive bus tour we have ever had. Later Emerald sent a derisory amount of vouchers for money off another booking with them. The day after we returned home I tracked the Emerald Sky with FleetMonitor racing back to Amsterdam to pick up the next set of passengers. Read Less
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