Emerald Radiance Cruise Review by Firthworks
- Sail Date: August 2017
- Destination: Europe River
We'll start with the documentation pack, which arrived in the post a few weeks before the cruise. We were most impressed with the elegant presentation, and with the very comprehensive and well-organised information supplied. We were delighted by the river map, and later, on the ship, by the Douro guidebook, which was specifically tuned to all the places we visited.
We were warmly and efficiently met at the airport by the cruise director, and transferred to the ship, where the captain greeted us at the gangplank. This was such a nice touch, and indeed Captain Afonso -- a most pleasant gentleman -- was often to be seen around the ship, doing everything from mingling with the passengers to helping with the mooring ropes, quite apart from his superb skills at the wheel. On the first night we had a short cruise under the Porto bridges as the sun went down. Emerald didn't have to give us that outing, but it was a lovely surprise.
Our stateroom was not large, but the width and height restrictions needed to get the ship through the five locks make this understandable. It was nicely finished, and contained everything we could possibly need. There was a problem with intrusive mechanical noise on the first night, but Hotel Director Bruno resolved the situation promptly and very graciously.
In fact, all of the crew were wonderfully warm and friendly; nothing was too much trouble for them. We won't list all the names, but nobody put a foot wrong. The one person we must mention is Executive Chef Nuno, who produced three wonderful meals every day: great variety, great flavour, great personality. He was often to be seen in the Reflections Restaurant, explaining the various dishes he had created, and frequently manning the egg station at breakfast. All the wines were Portuguese; every lunch and dinner featured at least one Portuguese speciality.
We did only some of the included outings, on account of the very tiring heat, but we enjoyed those that we did. We avoided the evening trip in Folgosa, not only because of the heat, but also because of our dislike of mass catering.
At the end of the holiday, our flight home wasn't until 6pm. We really appreciated being able to stay in the Horizons Lounge, and eat one more delicious lunch there, before our airport transfer at 2pm.
After all that glowing praise, there were just a few minor things we weren't so happy about; we've written separately to Emerald about them. But the overall experience was excellent, and we're looking forward to our next Emerald cruise in 2018.