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Having enjoyed an excellent river cruise with Viking last year, we decided to try an Emerald Waterways cruise to compare the quality against the more expensive Viking cruises. We booked the 8 day trip from Budapest to Bucharest on board the Emerald Sky. From the outset the service we received was just as good as that offered by Viking. The booking process was very easy and the staff very friendly and helpful. By using Emerald we were able to afford an Owners Suite for the price that we paid for a Veranda State Room with Viking. Consequently we had a much superior room on Emerald Sky. Also by making an early booking we benefited from a free premium drinks package. Other than some interior design differences the ship was every bit as good and comfortable as the Viking Estla on which we travelled last year. The big bonus for us was that with Emerald Waterways, all tips are included in the price whereas with Viking they were not and this represented an overall saving of €300 - €400 and tipping did not become the main talking point amongst passengers as the cruise neared its finale' as was the case on our Viking Cruise. Without exception the staff on board were excellent throughout the cruise. Nothing was too much bother at any time. The land excursions were very enjoyable and overall this was an excellent river cruise. The food was excellent and the restaurant staff very attentive. We enjoyed the cruise so much that as soon as we arrived home we booked with Emerald to cruise from Amsterdam to Basel next year. The main area for improvement on Emerald Sky is the seating arrangements in the restaurant. This is mainly due to the way in which the tables are set out. There are far too many rectangular 6 'seater' tables which made it difficult for everyone at the table to talk to each other. These need to be replaced with round tables which make it much easier to talk to everyone at your table. There are also a number of tables for two situated next to the windows and this tended to encourage some passengers to panic, miss the daily pre-dinner Port Talk from the Cruise Director, to enable them to be first into the restaurant to ensure that they could sit at their favourite table. This was the big difference between Viking and Emerald. Viking actively encourage all passengers to sit at different tables each day to enable all passengers to get to know each other. Sadly this did not happen on Emerald Sky and cliques formed (which did not happen on Viking) and there were far too many on board reserving seats for friends (towels on sunbeds scenario) that quite often made it difficult for others who wanted to attend the Port Talk to find seating. This is the only major gripe we have from an otherwise excellent holiday.

Excellent Cruise But Not Quite Perfect

Emerald Sky Cruise Review by Liz and Rob

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Having enjoyed an excellent river cruise with Viking last year, we decided to try an Emerald Waterways cruise to compare the quality against the more expensive Viking cruises. We booked the 8 day trip from Budapest to Bucharest on board the Emerald Sky. From the outset the service we received was just as good as that offered by Viking. The booking process was very easy and the staff very friendly and helpful. By using Emerald we were able to afford an Owners Suite for the price that we paid for a Veranda State Room with Viking. Consequently we had a much superior room on Emerald Sky. Also by making an early booking we benefited from a free premium drinks package.

Other than some interior design differences the ship was every bit as good and comfortable as the Viking Estla on which we travelled last year. The big bonus for us was that with Emerald Waterways, all tips are included in the price whereas with Viking they were not and this represented an overall saving of €300 - €400 and tipping did not become the main talking point amongst passengers as the cruise neared its finale' as was the case on our Viking Cruise. Without exception the staff on board were excellent throughout the cruise. Nothing was too much bother at any time. The land excursions were very enjoyable and overall this was an excellent river cruise. The food was excellent and the restaurant staff very attentive. We enjoyed the cruise so much that as soon as we arrived home we booked with Emerald to cruise from Amsterdam to Basel next year.

The main area for improvement on Emerald Sky is the seating arrangements in the restaurant. This is mainly due to the way in which the tables are set out. There are far too many rectangular 6 'seater' tables which made it difficult for everyone at the table to talk to each other. These need to be replaced with round tables which make it much easier to talk to everyone at your table. There are also a number of tables for two situated next to the windows and this tended to encourage some passengers to panic, miss the daily pre-dinner Port Talk from the Cruise Director, to enable them to be first into the restaurant to ensure that they could sit at their favourite table.

This was the big difference between Viking and Emerald. Viking actively encourage all passengers to sit at different tables each day to enable all passengers to get to know each other. Sadly this did not happen on Emerald Sky and cliques formed (which did not happen on Viking) and there were far too many on board reserving seats for friends (towels on sunbeds scenario) that quite often made it difficult for others who wanted to attend the Port Talk to find seating.

This is the only major gripe we have from an otherwise excellent holiday.
Liz and Rob’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 303
Excellent. Could have done with more space for toiletries in shower room.