1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Emerald Dawn
First time river cruise for us. Had seen the commercials on television and we had always wanted to enjoy one. Emerald Waterways offered us half off and a drink package so we chose a 14 day sailing up the Danube starting in Budapest. Random knowledge which might help you in your choice: Ship sails under 2,000 bridges and goes through 68 locks on its way from Budapest to Amsterdam. A lot of traffic is on these rivers and will dictate how your trip will be (and of course if it is high water or low water level). One town we stopped in was cut short by 1 1/2 hours because we couldn't get through some of the locks during our time period. The ship is about 2 years old. You don't need an adaptor for your iPhone. The ship is great everything worked well. Our room, on the third floor, had ample storage, was clean and bright. Small but you are rarely there. One elevator. By law you are not allowed on the top deck of the ship for 5 days in a row. The reason being is that the space between the ship and bridges can be measured in inches! The ship takes on water to lower its profile on some of these bridges and the Captain's wheelhouse would sink down. Shorts were worn at dinner time I noticed except for the two special events. Internet worked well except when we were in a dock or in the countries of Hungary or Slovakia. Sometimes video would take a while to buffer if a lot of people were on it but very good for email or texting. On our ship most of the passengers were Australians followed by Canadians then people from the UK and finally Americans. Service was exemplary, most of the staff was from Serbia. Food was good, sometimes very. I felt that they tried too hard to make it look good instead of taste good. They varied it with the country the ship was in. Ship had three levels for the rooms. We walked through them all before most had boarded. The first deck the windows were very small and you had to look up to see through them. The people in them complained that it felt like a dungeon. Second and third decks were fine. You will be amazed at the number of river ships sailing. Sometimes we would dock and there would be ten other ships docked there. And you will have to walk over them to get to the destinations as the ships dock against each other. Do some walking before you go. This trip entails walking miles over uneven terrain. Bring a pair of shoes with you, get used to climbing stairs. There is usually a slower group you can join if walking is a problem. The ships in the commercials show the ships docking right in town. This is a fallacy. Usually you are bused (not far) into where you are going. Depends on the Dock Master of the city and the time you arrive but we usually docked out of the city center. Bring something to read, have a internet device or a hobby. You spent a lot of time on the ship sailing between stops. You will usually stop in the morning, have a tour, some free time in the city and then back to the ship. Get to your starting city a few days early if you can. Heard a lot of stories from fellow passengers about delays, lost baggage, etc. More air flights are delayed in summer than any other time due to storms. Great water pressure, almost instant hot water all the time. They allow you to ride their bikes. You sign them out. We did eight miles one day. They offered a stop where you could ride between cities next to the Danube (26 miles). We passed as the bikes were not that good. Our ship started out with 169 passengers and at Nuremberg we lost 38 and picked up 10. The ship brought on local entertainers and we enjoyed them all: Dancers from Hungary, a German Oom-Pah band, a German glass blower, Austrian lady whose family business made wine and jam. Ports: Budapest: Our second favorite port. We flew in here and enjoyed our cooking class, city tour, time at the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths. The ship cruised down the river here at night while it was illuminated. Hungarians lined the many bridges and cheered at us while we passed underneath. Wonderful! Bratislava: Favorite stop. Wonderful little place. Ship stopped right in town. Lots of time here, very inexpensive. Vienna: Lovely time. A large town though and very busy. Did the walking tour and went to the Spanish Riding School and attended a concert at night (had to buy it--worth it). Durnstein: Lovely little town. We skipped the palace tour but others said it was lovely. Melk: must do of course for the Monastery. Jaw dropping. Linz: another fine little town. Passau: we skipped this one and took the optional tour to Czech Republic city of Cesky Krumlov which we thought was superior. Even though it was about an hour and a half bus ride from the ship we felt we had a lot of time here. Castle, shopping. Regensburg: Wasn't too excited after our trip here. The only thing was another church and the thousand year old place where they had been selling sausages. Nuremburg: another large city we could have skipped. Bombed and ruined over 95% during World War II. Hitler's favorite city and they took us to a few places where he had given speeches. Had time to shop here and lunch outside the ship. Bamberg: Bishop's residence we liked. A nice tour. Gardens. Wurzburg: A charming little town with rivers through traditional German buildings. Miltenberg, Rudesheim- two little cities. You will see churches, cobblestone lanes. Little time in either. Cologne: I felt that the only reason they stopped here was for the church. Another large busy city I wish they had skipped for another one. You can pay to walk up the 532 steps to the steeple top as many on our ship did but we passed. Heard it was cramped and hot and the view was anemic but did not do it personally. Amsterdam: Canal tour on boat, walking tour (or some did bus tour). Ample time here as you get here the night before so you have a full day. We went to Ann Frank's house tour and ate out. Also walked back through the red light district at night time. Transfer to airport was seamless and easy. Ship is small so if you do not get along with someone on the ship there is little room to avoid. Most get the drinking package and will try to get the most out of it. You can understand where that is going. Are we glad we went? Of course. Saw and experienced so much. Wished there had been enrichment classes on board. Small ship with one cruise director who went above and beyond as the ship was never certain to arrive when it was supposed to. Passed at least twenty-thirty castles and man interesting buildings. Bring binoculars. Enjoy! I hope this review has helped.

Sailing down the Danube for first time river cruisers.

Emerald Dawn Cruise Review by MichinganTwoSome

16 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2017
  • Destination: Europe
First time river cruise for us. Had seen the commercials on television and we had always wanted to enjoy one. Emerald Waterways offered us half off and a drink package so we chose a 14 day sailing up the Danube starting in Budapest.

Random knowledge which might help you in your choice:

Ship sails under 2,000 bridges and goes through 68 locks on its way from Budapest to Amsterdam. A lot of traffic is on these rivers and will dictate how your trip will be (and of course if it is high water or low water level). One town we stopped in was cut short by 1 1/2 hours because we couldn't get through some of the locks during our time period.

The ship is about 2 years old. You don't need an adaptor for your iPhone. The ship is great everything worked well. Our room, on the third floor, had ample storage, was clean and bright. Small but you are rarely there. One elevator.

By law you are not allowed on the top deck of the ship for 5 days in a row. The reason being is that the space between the ship and bridges can be measured in inches! The ship takes on water to lower its profile on some of these bridges and the Captain's wheelhouse would sink down.

Shorts were worn at dinner time I noticed except for the two special events.

Internet worked well except when we were in a dock or in the countries of Hungary or Slovakia. Sometimes video would take a while to buffer if a lot of people were on it but very good for email or texting.

On our ship most of the passengers were Australians followed by Canadians then people from the UK and finally Americans.

Service was exemplary, most of the staff was from Serbia.

Food was good, sometimes very. I felt that they tried too hard to make it look good instead of taste good. They varied it with the country the ship was in.

Ship had three levels for the rooms. We walked through them all before most had boarded. The first deck the windows were very small and you had to look up to see through them. The people in them complained that it felt like a dungeon. Second and third decks were fine.

You will be amazed at the number of river ships sailing. Sometimes we would dock and there would be ten other ships docked there. And you will have to walk over them to get to the destinations as the ships dock against each other.

Do some walking before you go. This trip entails walking miles over uneven terrain. Bring a pair of shoes with you, get used to climbing stairs. There is usually a slower group you can join if walking is a problem.

The ships in the commercials show the ships docking right in town. This is a fallacy. Usually you are bused (not far) into where you are going. Depends on the Dock Master of the city and the time you arrive but we usually docked out of the city center.

Bring something to read, have a internet device or a hobby. You spent a lot of time on the ship sailing between stops. You will usually stop in the morning, have a tour, some free time in the city and then back to the ship.

Get to your starting city a few days early if you can. Heard a lot of stories from fellow passengers about delays, lost baggage, etc. More air flights are delayed in summer than any other time due to storms.

Great water pressure, almost instant hot water all the time.

They allow you to ride their bikes. You sign them out. We did eight miles one day. They offered a stop where you could ride between cities next to the Danube (26 miles). We passed as the bikes were not that good.

Our ship started out with 169 passengers and at Nuremberg we lost 38 and picked up 10.

The ship brought on local entertainers and we enjoyed them all: Dancers from Hungary, a German Oom-Pah band, a German glass blower, Austrian lady whose family business made wine and jam.

Ports:

Budapest: Our second favorite port. We flew in here and enjoyed our cooking class, city tour, time at the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths. The ship cruised down the river here at night while it was illuminated. Hungarians lined the many bridges and cheered at us while we passed underneath. Wonderful!

Bratislava: Favorite stop. Wonderful little place. Ship stopped right in town. Lots of time here, very inexpensive.

Vienna: Lovely time. A large town though and very busy. Did the walking tour and went to the Spanish Riding School and attended a concert at night (had to buy it--worth it).

Durnstein: Lovely little town. We skipped the palace tour but others said it was lovely.

Melk: must do of course for the Monastery. Jaw dropping.

Linz: another fine little town.

Passau: we skipped this one and took the optional tour to Czech Republic city of Cesky Krumlov which we thought was superior. Even though it was about an hour and a half bus ride from the ship we felt we had a lot of time here. Castle, shopping.

Regensburg: Wasn't too excited after our trip here. The only thing was another church and the thousand year old place where they had been selling sausages.

Nuremburg: another large city we could have skipped. Bombed and ruined over 95% during World War II. Hitler's favorite city and they took us to a few places where he had given speeches. Had time to shop here and lunch outside the ship.

Bamberg: Bishop's residence we liked. A nice tour. Gardens.

Wurzburg: A charming little town with rivers through traditional German buildings.

Miltenberg, Rudesheim- two little cities. You will see churches, cobblestone lanes. Little time in either.

Cologne: I felt that the only reason they stopped here was for the church. Another large busy city I wish they had skipped for another one. You can pay to walk up the 532 steps to the steeple top as many on our ship did but we passed. Heard it was cramped and hot and the view was anemic but did not do it personally.

Amsterdam: Canal tour on boat, walking tour (or some did bus tour). Ample time here as you get here the night before so you have a full day. We went to Ann Frank's house tour and ate out. Also walked back through the red light district at night time.

Transfer to airport was seamless and easy. Ship is small so if you do not get along with someone on the ship there is little room to avoid. Most get the drinking package and will try to get the most out of it. You can understand where that is going.

Are we glad we went? Of course. Saw and experienced so much. Wished there had been enrichment classes on board. Small ship with one cruise director who went above and beyond as the ship was never certain to arrive when it was supposed to. Passed at least twenty-thirty castles and man interesting buildings. Bring binoculars. Enjoy! I hope this review has helped.
MichinganTwoSome’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Emerald Dawn price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email