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128 Emerald Waterways Cruise Reviews

We chose it because we wanted to see the towns and cities on this particular Danube cruise. We had never done any kind of cruise before, and didn't really know what to expect. We found the cabin comfortable and spacious and the staff ... Read More
We chose it because we wanted to see the towns and cities on this particular Danube cruise. We had never done any kind of cruise before, and didn't really know what to expect. We found the cabin comfortable and spacious and the staff were excellent. The food was much better and more varied than we had imagined it would be, and the choice of wines were very good. The only downside was that the low levels of the Danube meant that halfway through our cruise, we had to pack up and be bussed upstream from the Emerald Sky to the Emerald Dawn, but it was handled with the minimum of fuss and we didn't miss a day's sightseeing. The Dawn was a more recent boat, and the cabins in the Sky not quite so well designed, but at least we were able to continue our cruise by transferring. The highlight of our trip was visiting Vienna and attending a concert there in the evening. The music was wonderful. It lead us to wonder why the same music (Strauss, Mozart etc) was never played on the boat itself while cruising down the Danube! Our only real complaint would be that in the evening, the music was often too modern and too loud and there was nowhere else to go to sit and talk to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise because of the excellent experience we had with Emerald on the Douro earlier this year. The company were very helpful with choosing flights and sorting out embarkation and disembarkation.The ship was very clean and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the excellent experience we had with Emerald on the Douro earlier this year. The company were very helpful with choosing flights and sorting out embarkation and disembarkation.The ship was very clean and staff were helpful and the Cruise Director was exceptional - thanks Darren! Having a larger pool was a bonus, as were the acuarobics. Entertainment was up to the usual Emerald standard, and the shore excursions and activities each day were interesting and good value. Food was generally very imaginative and we had the services of a famous French chef one evening, who produced a really splendid dinner. It was a very hot week, and the air conditioning throughout the ship was welcome. This meant that outside activities were restricted. I would have preferred a more relaxed dining option like we had on the Douro - i.e. dinner from 7.30 - 9.00 p.m. rather than the set time of 7 with a 15 minute window. Too early for us, but I understand that the Americans like to dine at that time. The ship mainly sailed through the night, and that meant we didn't enjoy much of the wonderful countryside and the excitement of going through the 12 locks - the nicest days were the last two, leaving at 3.15p.m. for the journey. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
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
The quality of food and the service on board this ship is excellent. Unfortunately the disembarkation and the situation we found ourselves in was traumatic to say the least and it robbed us of the last two days of our cruise which was very ... Read More
The quality of food and the service on board this ship is excellent. Unfortunately the disembarkation and the situation we found ourselves in was traumatic to say the least and it robbed us of the last two days of our cruise which was very expensive. Let me explain - after our evening meal on Thursday the captain announced that we had been ordered to return to Lyon by the French Authorities- no explanation as to why and we still don’t know why. We were told that on Friday morning we were to have breakfast between 7am and 8am as the staff, who were all wonderful, had been ordered to cease all services at 8am. So if you stayed on board, which we did, there was no lunch, no evening meal not even a cup of coffee. We elected to stay on board instead of subjecting ourselves to a very long coach journey. When the coach did return we were told to pack our cases and be ready to leave as we were to be transferred the hotel Radisson in Lyon. This is not what you expect to experience on an expensive river cruise with a reputable company. I must say the Cruise Director Jana (I hope that is how to spell her name) was absolutely marvellous and was assisted by Drazen who was also marvellous. They had arranged wonderful entertainment. One thing we were disappointed with was that we couldn’t enjoy sitting on the top deck when the ship was sailing as we did when we were on the Rhine cruise. I’m not sure the French Authorities want to have cruises on their rivers if this is how they treat the people on them. We still haven’t had an explanation as to why this situation occurred. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Having (Ocean) cruised for a few times we decided we should try a river cruise. We had heard good reports from friends so gave it a go. We arrived at Bucharest expecting to go on Emerald Destiny and found out it was going to be Emerald ... Read More
Having (Ocean) cruised for a few times we decided we should try a river cruise. We had heard good reports from friends so gave it a go. We arrived at Bucharest expecting to go on Emerald Destiny and found out it was going to be Emerald Star. We had not been told, in fact our agent had checked only a few days previously and was told there were no changes. No matter, the ships are virtually identical. We found the plusses tp be ALL inclusive, a more personal feeling (only 169 passengers) able to regularly meet the same people who we enjoyed being with and more to see as always in sight of land. On the minus side we found cabin space quite limited especially hanging space which was only fifteen inches of usable rail. Despite having a 'balcony' passengers were encouraged not to open the window when moving. Entertainment was very limited unless you are keen on quizzes and games. The couple of performances by local artists were however very good. The dining room was so noisy. All glass and chrome it did not absorb any of the sound. It was almost impossible to talk to people on the same table. This was made worse by only the one sitting where almost everyone came in at once which significantly affected the time it took to be served. Dinner times were consistently over two hours long which may be fine for some but too long for us. Mooring places could sometimes be a bit grim. Just a floating dock in the middle of nowhere. Two or three of the trips took place whilst the ship was moving to another place so with quite a bit of overnight cruising there was not a great deal of moving whilst on board during the day. We had to try it but I think it will be big ship cruising from now on. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
We where looking for a different idea for our holidays and went to a presentation for Emerald Waterways in Vancouver. We were impressed with the presentation and the all inclusive price no nickel and dimming you at very turn. So we took ... Read More
We where looking for a different idea for our holidays and went to a presentation for Emerald Waterways in Vancouver. We were impressed with the presentation and the all inclusive price no nickel and dimming you at very turn. So we took a brochure and a couple of weeks later booked the 8 day trip down the Rhine. We had an excellent trip, enjoyed all the off boat excursions. They were all very well organized with each days itinerary and map of the excursions. The guides where quiet knowledgeable and with the Quietvox system you could easily follow and hear your guide. Topping it off was the excellent food and service with lots of choices. I really liked the extra touch of the towels sculpture left at the end of the bed with the next day programme. We will be looking forward to another Emerald Waterways trip in 2020, somewhere ??? Had a great holiday and highly recommend Emerald Waterways. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Good ship and service. Friendly crew. The Duro River is winding and beautiful. The tours are good but the stops have limited appeal. The wine and port is very good. Need more ship board entertainment and physical activities. Overall ... Read More
Good ship and service. Friendly crew. The Duro River is winding and beautiful. The tours are good but the stops have limited appeal. The wine and port is very good. Need more ship board entertainment and physical activities. Overall relaxing and enjoyable. The food and wine were excellent. The wait staff was very good. The crew was friendly and helpful. We had good weather that made the cruise very enjoyable. The three night stop was good and the old city is interesting. Porto is a great city with many hills and small winding streets. Salamanca is a beautiful city in Spain with an interesting history including its focus on educate. The dinner at the Pacheco winery was awesome in the wine cellar. The tours we took required us to get on buses. The streets of the towns are quite narrow and winding; the bus drivers did incredible jobs navigating us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Overall, a pleasant week-long cruise from Nuremberg to Bernkastel on a clean modern ship. We saw some beautiful countryside and historic places in the company of people we got on well with, but - due to a few niggles - we would rate this ... Read More
Overall, a pleasant week-long cruise from Nuremberg to Bernkastel on a clean modern ship. We saw some beautiful countryside and historic places in the company of people we got on well with, but - due to a few niggles - we would rate this cruise only 3½ stars and might try a different company next time. Excursions: Sightseeing was our main reason for taking this holiday and Emerald’s included excursions were interesting with knowledgeable guides. Typically they were walking tours of old towns and castles, with an informative and humorous wine-tasting at the Residenz palace in Würzburg. Most allowed about half an hour’s free time, but in Bamberg the 1½ hours’ wait for the bus back to the ship was excessive. We took an optional excursion (€52 pp) to Trier, which unfortunately we found over-rated, though there were some stunning views on the return to the ship. Food & drink: At dinner (single sitting around 7 pm) tables were mostly for four, with some for two that filled up straight away. Food was fine but nothing special, eg steak might not be cooked as you liked. Service was friendly but rather inflexible, as anyone who didn’t want a starter had to wait for others to catch up, and at 9 pm the lights were turned on in an unsubtle way to get people to leave. Apart from a local red wine, included wines were indifferent, and reds and whites were all served at the same temperature. Breakfast tables weren’t re-laid so it could be hard to find somewhere to sit. We usually had a light lunch and afternoon snacks from the bar. Public areas: Low-backed chairs in the lounge were uncomfortable. Entertainment wasn’t to everyone’s taste and there’s nowhere else to go indoors except the humid pool area when a film isn’t showing. So we probably didn’t get our money’s worth from the premium drinks package (€23 pppd to us). The sun deck was closed for much of our cruise, due to height restrictions. Airport transfers: Arriving at Munich, we followed Emerald’s written instructions to meet at a café in Terminal 1, only to be rebuked as a rep had been waiting for us in Terminal 2. On departure, a 1¾ hour transfer to Frankfurt turned into 3 hours, with a rest break, an unplanned stop at a different terminal, and an unpleasant 15 minute walk (with luggage) from the coach to check-in. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We had previously cruised with Emerald (15-Day Splendours of Europe in 2017) so we felt familiar with the Emerald tours. As expected, the ship was very clean everywhere, rooms, restaurants, common areas. Portugal did not disappoint but ... Read More
We had previously cruised with Emerald (15-Day Splendours of Europe in 2017) so we felt familiar with the Emerald tours. As expected, the ship was very clean everywhere, rooms, restaurants, common areas. Portugal did not disappoint but even though the staff on the ship tried very hard to be welcoming and accommodating, there was one major irritant. Communications, especially by staff whose jobs it was to communicate with passengers. The reception staff were excellent, however. On our previous cruise we had enjoyed the announcements which gave simple instructions like which busses were going where & at what time, what's next on the schedule, reminders for when to turn in our extra excursion requests etc. On this cruise, there were no such announcements. They would have been extra useful on this cruise because the English language proficiency of some of the crew was low. For example, the first night's Sunset Cruise was missed by many of us because it wasn't clearly indicated that we would sail in Porto harbour before (or during) dinner. Subsequently many of us simply went to dinner. On our previous cruise, the evening sail in Budapest was a highlight, commentated by the cruise director and clearly communicated beforehand. Hint: Cruise first, then dinner OR dinner first, followed by cruise of Harbour. One of the on-board activities was tile painting but it was not clearly indicated when or where we could pick up our finished tiles. Our bus to Lisbon was delayed because some of the passengers were told to wait on the ship while the rest of us had already embarked on the bus. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Never having been to North Portugal, we thought this cruise on the Douro would cross a lot of boxes which it certainly did. A most comfortable ship though, splitting hairs, the Emerald Destiny which we sailed in last year on the Danube, ... Read More
Never having been to North Portugal, we thought this cruise on the Douro would cross a lot of boxes which it certainly did. A most comfortable ship though, splitting hairs, the Emerald Destiny which we sailed in last year on the Danube, was better as it had a small covered swimming pool not an open air jacuzzi! The ship was very clean, the crew were caring and efficient - nothing seemed too much trouble - and the excursions were well managed and interesting. One problem though was that an excursion we wanted to go on, despite being advertised, was not possible since it was scheduled at the same time as another very interesting excursion. Our cabin (NOT a stateroom) was slightly compact though its design was efficient. Arguably it had a little too much glass. The laundry we had done was very well handled with the clean and dry clothes returned within the day. Unfortunately there was a virus making hay within the ship - probably half the passengers were suffering from bad cough and colds, some having to spend at least a day in bed. It has to be noted that medical assistance was poor - where was the medicine cabinet and where was the paracetamol needed to help reduce bodily aches and pains? Generally this was a very enjoyable week, seeing new sights, visiting interesting locations and meeting new friends, despite having to return home with heavy colds and coughs which took a little gilt off the gingerbread. We certainly are looking forward to our next Emerald cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I had many great things about Emerald waterways and their ships. Once i realized that they were owned by The Scenic group, i knew I had to check their ship out. Danube Delights was the first river cruise that i have ever been on. I ... Read More
I had many great things about Emerald waterways and their ships. Once i realized that they were owned by The Scenic group, i knew I had to check their ship out. Danube Delights was the first river cruise that i have ever been on. I wanted to do this one as I was told that it is a great cruise for beginners and most people can trace some family heritage to that area. I was not disappointed with my choice. Not know what to expect, I was really surprised at how much detail and organization the cruise director had. He had us well prepared for what we were going to do the next day and where to be when it was time to go. Between the cruise director and the activities director, you had a ton of choices for things to do to fill your morning, day and evening. The food and the restaurant were amazing. The staff absolutely made sure you had more than enough to east and drink. If you somehow left hungry, it is your own fault. I was amazed at how many of the staff members knew the guests by name and what they drank. The front of the house/hotel staff has embrocation and disembarkation down to a science. It only took a few minutes each day to unload the entire ship The cabin was awesome. Plenty of room for everything. It is like a nice hotel room in the states... a little bit smaller but very nice. Very sleek modern design with A/C great for American travelers. The bathroom/shower is a little small, but i am a big guy and I was still able to use it without much effort. Even thought he shore excursions are very planned outwith guides, you have plenty of free time to take care of all of your shopping needs or go see something that might not be on the tour. They are also extremely flexible if you do not want to go on the tour or if you wan to break off at any point The nightly entertainment was great. The entire ship was engaged and having a blast. I would absolutely use Emerald again for a river cruise and recommend to anyone Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We went on a seminar by Emerald and they offered a lot of incentives so we decided to give it a try. It was our first River Cruise so we didn't know what to expect and it was overall a great experience. The staff were very ... Read More
We went on a seminar by Emerald and they offered a lot of incentives so we decided to give it a try. It was our first River Cruise so we didn't know what to expect and it was overall a great experience. The staff were very pleasant and helpful and the ship itself was very comfortable and well maintained. The only drawbacks that we found is the entertainment in the evening was not to our liking, a lot of games such as trivia and karaoke where we would have preferred more relaxing music after dinner. The activity director was good at trying to accommodate everyone but what he was asked to offer was not for everyone. On the couple of nights that he entertained it was great, he had an amazing voice and you could tell everyone enjoyed it as that was the only time the lounge was full after dinner. The breakfast and lunch buffets were great but dinner most nights were boring as in the selection was not what we expected, a lot of stew like meals and little variety. A couple of nights the dinner meals were really good such as the night they had duck and another night was a Chateaubriand. We were expecting possibly shrimp or scallops to be on the menu. The shore excursions were really good, the guides were well informed and their communication skills were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Wanted to see something of the South of France & sample some of the wines. We have travelled with Emerald twice before & really enjoyed the holidays. This cruise was of similar standard however there were a few minor problems. The ... Read More
Wanted to see something of the South of France & sample some of the wines. We have travelled with Emerald twice before & really enjoyed the holidays. This cruise was of similar standard however there were a few minor problems. The cabins were smaller than The Emerald Sky - lacking in storage space. When the weather was really hot & we wanted the swimming pool roof open non of the staff knew how to operate the roof so it remained closed. The food in the evenings was OK - the meat was on the whole was tough & I was unable to eat it at times, the restaurant staff never noticed that I was not eating until dinner was over so I was unable to have another meal. One of our party is Gluten Free therefore unable to drink beer/lager, as we had had a problem with getting cider on the Emerald Skye I contacted Emerald before our holiday & was told they would inform Liberte staff however the bar staff did not understand cider & insisted on serving it in a small wine glass even though we were paying for a full 330mls, they were obviously keeping what was left in the bottle for the next drink which consequently was flat & undrinkable. We enjoyed the excursions, saw some amazing places, the guides were excellent. The staff on the whole were enthusiastic & friendly & accommodating. It was a shame that most of the sailing was at night so we were unable to sit on the sun deck & watch the world go by & see the sights unlike the Rhine cruise. The ship was clean, the cabin staff efficient. One the whole we had a lovely week and would sail with Emerald again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
A group of retired high school friends travelled together to experience the delights of the Rhine and enjoy quality time together. This line was a repeat for a few and highly recommended. Booking was convenient for a geographically diverse ... Read More
A group of retired high school friends travelled together to experience the delights of the Rhine and enjoy quality time together. This line was a repeat for a few and highly recommended. Booking was convenient for a geographically diverse group. The cabins were well equipped, the food plentiful and varied and excursions diversified. Where I found it lacking was in the entertainment and excursion/tour areas. A violin player one night and an opera trio another night were the sole “real” entertainment. The other nights had either a movie option (attended by 3 guests) or really lame karaoke or “game” shows. The guided tours were scheduled early and lasted less than 2 hours. Most took us to tourist areas, encouraged shopping, and only “free” time scheduled for the long afternoons. Weather was unseasonably cold and rainy so we couldn’t use the lovely sun deck except for one day. Emphasis was placed on the meals which were delightful and exquisite. I guess I depended on the cruise line and should have done more research into the visited cities. We also encountered 2 holidays during our week which added to larger crowds and less business openings. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise primarily for the visit to the tulip gardens. The vessel itself was good as were the trips and the crew. The guides and the equipment to hear the guides were good. We particularly liked the lady guide when we went to ... Read More
We chose this cruise primarily for the visit to the tulip gardens. The vessel itself was good as were the trips and the crew. The guides and the equipment to hear the guides were good. We particularly liked the lady guide when we went to Delft, and the gentleman when we went to Arnhem (he was 8yrs old during the battle for Arnhem and was able to relate to it and the Dutch views about it). The on board entertainment was poor. The musician/pianist employed on board has gone and been replaced by an entertainments/activities officer. The evening entertainment was poor and it drove most of the passengers out of the lounge in the evening. There are only so many quizzes anyone can tolerate ! Notably on the last night a duo played on board, admittedly only for 35 minutes, but the lounge was full for this. Surely Emerald would benefit from having better entertainment for which they may have to pay, but it would be more than recompensed in bar sales. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Chose this cruise for 2 reasons: a) My birthday b) Mary Berry on board as my wife is a fan! The crew were excellent; all seemed to get on really well and were very efficient & cheerful Excursions were also v.good with free time ... Read More
Chose this cruise for 2 reasons: a) My birthday b) Mary Berry on board as my wife is a fan! The crew were excellent; all seemed to get on really well and were very efficient & cheerful Excursions were also v.good with free time to explore. Local guides spoke good English & were easily understood. The cabins have a poor layout & poor sound insulation. The wall which has your headboard has the neighbouring cabin's TV on the other side. It would be better if dividing walls had BOTH TVs on it. Also the bathroom door is a sliding one which is only 18inches from the bed. Every time our neighbours used the bathroom we could hear the door opening and closing. The bed is comfortable but it is 2 single beds pushed together & more floor space could've been made by having a standard double bed. Not shown how to convert the room into a balcony; certainly wasn't obvious. Didn't like sailing at night as we missed many scenic views along the way. Minimal daytime sailing which was a great shame. Also going through locks at 3am wakes you up! Please Emerald STOP SAILING AT NIGHT!! The food on board was excellent; except the one time buffet which was lukewarm and with a good choice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
WE chose this cruise over Viking because of the great deal. Our fare included the Premium Liquor package, r/t airfare for $295, an upgraded room, and one extra excursion. Viking's fare was almost $2000 more for all of that. (Note: ... Read More
WE chose this cruise over Viking because of the great deal. Our fare included the Premium Liquor package, r/t airfare for $295, an upgraded room, and one extra excursion. Viking's fare was almost $2000 more for all of that. (Note: Viking's trip includes 10 days vs. our 7 and also 3 days in Lisbon, which we did on our own for probably less.) Not having sailed with Emerald before we kept our expectations low. But we were pleasantly surprised. The ship was relatively new, full of chrome and glass with comfortable seating in the lounge. The staff were friendly, very accommodating, and helpful. Our room, albeit small like most river cruise cabins, was still comfortable with great beds. Given that it was November and the weather was not that good, it was nice to have the full window and a little extra space in the cabin to view the passing landscape vs. a regular balcony....much more comfortable. The food was very good - probably not up to the par of Viking (which I have taken 4 trips on), but still good....and the Portuguese wines were excellent...and they were not stingy with the pours. We did have to cope with cloudy and rainy days, but for the most part, our excursions were fine. One comment....on the first day the cruise director decided to give the full itinerary in much too much detail. You could see passengers just nodding off - and of course not listening. She then reported every night on the next day. Most cruise directors just give a short overview on the first night and then give more specifics daily. Suggest she do the same. The other comment, it would have been nice to have had a little more free time to wander the towns we visited...but we were told the ship had a tight schedule with the locks....I am sure the summer tours are better about this. Our disembarkation was one of the smoothest I have experienced. The cruise directors ordered a taxi and then personally escorted us to the car and helped with the luggage. Nice touch. Big kudos to the staff manning the concierge desk, the bar staff, the waiters and waitresses, and the cabin attendants. And the captain was very accessible. They all made the trip that much more special. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Although veteran ocean cruisers, we'd never tried river cruising until August 2017, when we sailed with Emerald Waterways on the Douro in Portugal. Reader, we loved it! Measured against our vague criteria of Ambience (the ship and its ... Read More
Although veteran ocean cruisers, we'd never tried river cruising until August 2017, when we sailed with Emerald Waterways on the Douro in Portugal. Reader, we loved it! Measured against our vague criteria of Ambience (the ship and its facilities, the river, its scenery and towns), Service (the crew's friendliness, helpfulness and professionalism) and Food (quality, variety, flavour, novelty), everything was absolutely excellent. Especially the food: great news, since it's a major focus of every holiday we take. Portugese chef Nuno Gomes was an absolute star, turning out delightful delicacies, dish after dish. Not only talented, but also enthusiastic and proud of what he created, Nuno was to be seen running the egg station each morning at breakfast, and at lunch explaining the regional dishes which he'd that day prepared. He was a highly-competent professional, and he absolutely made our holiday. And so we returned to Emerald in October 2018, this time on the Rhône in France (from Lyon to Arles). Well, the Ambience was again excellent, and so indeed was the Service (everyone from Captain Dario on down was lovely); we've nothing negative to say about either. Which brings us to the Food. The Food was, well, OK. It wasn't poor, it wasn't unpleasant, the ingredients were excellent... it just wasn't as well-prepared as we'd hoped for. Chef Teodor (much younger than Nuno) seemed to be just going though the motions; there was no passion in his food. Favours were indistinct or muddy, corners were cut (eg 'glazed carrots' were plain boiled, fruit wasn't fully peeled) and, boy, were potatoes over-used! Every soup was potato soup; the 'fresh carrot' soup had added hints of carrot, the 'fresh fennel' soup had only added aniseeds, and the 'fresh cauliflower' soup had been shown a photograph of a cauliflower. Even a 'Quiche Lorraine' (classically eggs, cream and bacon, plus optional cheese) was padded with potato; sheesh! And if you're dishing up a succession of bland wispy gelatine-set savoury mousses, please don't try to dignify them as 'parfaits', or 'pates', or 'terrines'. So, meal after meal, we were left thinking: with a little more care and imagination, that could have been so much nicer. (The star of every lunch and dinner was waiter/sommelier Sasa, whose insightful comments on the wines he was serving were very much appreciated.) In summary, the cruise was a bit disappointing -- for us -- only because of the cookery. On the other hand, most of the other passengers seemed perfectly happy, so maybe you shouldn't pay too much attention to these remarks... unless food means as much to you as it does to us. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I went on this cruise unexpectedly. My mother and sister had gone on several river cruises but I had not - they always struck me as an over-controlled experience with more focus on the ship than on the places visited. But when my mother ... Read More
I went on this cruise unexpectedly. My mother and sister had gone on several river cruises but I had not - they always struck me as an over-controlled experience with more focus on the ship than on the places visited. But when my mother set up this trip for her 80th birthday I got a chance to see what the fuss was about. Wow. WOW. First off, you do get to see PLENTY! And one of the wonderful things about Emerald Waterways is that they do all of the planning for you: passes, passport review (Enchantment of Eastern Europe goes through 5 countries in 9 days, so this is a LOT of paperwork off my plate), tour buses, guides, the works. Given I'm over burdened with logistics in my day-to-day life, this all-inclusive experience takes a lot of the stress out of planning a vacation. Emerald also coordinates experiences that going it alone can't, most notably an in-home visit for a homemade lunch with a Croatian family. The guides on all off-ship excursions are excellent. If you're a history buff (like me!) you get a lot of history and context for what you're seeing, from someone who lives there and has lived that history. Given how little I knew about eastern Europe in general this was a huge plus for me. I didn't know about the long shadows both the Roman and Ottoman empires cast over this part of the world, nor the varied and nuanced experiences of the Cold War and communism in the Balkans. I went back to the ship each night with a dozen notes for follow up at the library when I got home. The ship itself was exceptional. Service was incredibly attentive - within two days the waiters knew me and my coffee preferences on sight. The cruise director briefed us each night, so we'd know what to expect in terms of activities, local currencies and time changes, menu (more on that later), and was incredibly approachable and knowledgable. One thing that always daunted me about the idea of a cruise was getting lost on a huge boat of hundreds of people. I appreciated the fairly small ship and crew/crowd size (I think plus crew it was less than 200 people). I think this allowed both for better service and easier interactions between fellow vacationers at dinners and on excursions. The food was fantastic. They never overfed you, but I can honestly say my stomach never growled once the entire time I was on board. Dinner was previewed each night with a handout and chef recommendations, the latter of which almost never set a foot wrong. The food was excellent, in small enough portions to not feel overstuffed by appetizer, soup, main course and dessert. "One" glass of wine is provided with dinner, but that glass is constantly refilled by the attentive wait staff. Breakfast and lunch buffets were equally good. All meals included vegetarian options, and the staff even accommodated dietary restrictions on the family lunch visits. My only reservations: I'd have preferred a bit more "quiet space". Even during in the quietest times in the public areas there was music running, when I would have just preferred to hear the lull of the water against the ship's hull. I would have welcomed more opportunities to exchange cash/go to ATMs. While most of the countries on this trip (Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary) take euros some of the time, each country has its own currency and not all vendors take credit/debit cards. It was quite easy to wind up with a handful of currency on Wednesday that you couldn't use Thursday and couldn't exchange easily. I would also have liked the opportunity to visit a post office to send souvenirs home, but this may be out of an unrealistic desire to avoid overweight bag charges. The short version: would I do again? You bet! You get to see a lot with very little logistics on your part and you only have to unpack once. The food is phenomenal and all of it is included, including tips. The staff can help you with just about anything where you might get stuck, and you go home with unique memories and even more curiosity. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The staff were great, in particular cruise director Michael. The maid service for our room was excellent. Tour guides on the excursions were friendly and very knowledgeable. Europe experienced a very hot summer resulting in low water ... Read More
The staff were great, in particular cruise director Michael. The maid service for our room was excellent. Tour guides on the excursions were friendly and very knowledgeable. Europe experienced a very hot summer resulting in low water levels. We were told that many other cruise ships had to bus their guests around the low areas but our very experienced captain was able to sail us through although we had to bypass a stop at one town because of low water. Improvements could be made in food services, particularly for vegetarians. The veggie menu showed little imagination; very heavily potato based, not enough protein based veggies. Accessibility on the shore excursions for persons with limited mobility could be improved by making sure the shore drop off and pickup points were the same place. Often there was a considerable walking distance between these points. Also, more information could be made available on how to access tour trams (cho-cho trains) for those who cannot walk around the towns. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This cruise is sold as Evergreen in Australia and is the "budget" line for Scenic. Not quite so plush and not all-inclusive. However it is a good choice for those who may not want to do all the tours (walking tours were included ... Read More
This cruise is sold as Evergreen in Australia and is the "budget" line for Scenic. Not quite so plush and not all-inclusive. However it is a good choice for those who may not want to do all the tours (walking tours were included as was a night at a winery) and a real highlight was Salamanca. The food is just as good as on any river cruise. I particularly enjoyed sampling the Portuguese choices on the menu and the Vino Verde. The entertainment (if you want this) is low key - mainly just a pianist though on one night there was a delightful duo playing music from around the world and I even got up to dance. The only negatives for me were: firstly all the mirrors on the ship (it is a house of mirrors) which were initially very disorientating and secondly we decided to take a cabin on the lower deck (104) because we thought it might be too chilly to use a balcony. (In fact it was VERY hot in Portugal!) The cabin was comfortable (as was the bed) and fitted out very well but had a smell of damp that was unpleasant. If you are going on this cruise you also need to be aware that you need to get in early to book anything popular such as the tile painting, visit to the Mateuse Palace etc and alternative activities for onboard activities aren't available which is disappointing. Maria, our cruise director was delightful, as were all the Portuguese crew. They were perhaps the most friendly crew we have encountered and were wonderful ambassadors for Portugal. They were also very well organised. I loved the Douro, and would advise one of the upper decks with a balcony is worth the extra money. Just as an aside, we found the average age on the cruise somewhat older than we expected - more late 70s than the 50s to 60s that we were expecting but a nice mix of nationalities. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
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
It was our Emerald wedding anniversary so wanted to go on the Emerald Radiance to celebrate on the day. We were presented with Champagne, chocolates and a bouquet of flowers from the company which was a pleasant surprise. We were met at ... Read More
It was our Emerald wedding anniversary so wanted to go on the Emerald Radiance to celebrate on the day. We were presented with Champagne, chocolates and a bouquet of flowers from the company which was a pleasant surprise. We were met at the airport and transported to the dock at Porto with relevant ease and escorted to our cabin after being greeted on board by Manuel. All the staff were very friendly and helpful nothing was too much trouble. The Radiance was a beautiful ship and a pleasure to be on. Cabin was a little noisy when starting the engines and the shower was a little small to get in and out for a large person but very clean. Excursions were very informative and not too long. Entertainment was varied and mainly good especially the Quiz nights and we were luckyto win both of them. I would definitely travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
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