I chose this cruise because it was an itinerary that covered a lot of ground and I chose Emerald Waterways because it was more economical than others I looked at and the ships are new.
We spent three days in Amsterdam before the cruise, staying in a wonderful VRBO apartment in the central canal area. We did a fun bike and brewery tour with Rodrigo and an interesting photo walk of Zaanse Schans with Roelof from With Locals, bought tickets ahead of time for Anne Frank House, Rikjsmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum. Everything was wonderful except the Van Gogh museum, which we found to be too crowded and difficult to find our way around.
We located the ship with no problem and embarkation was a piece of cake. Our cabin #232 was not as tiny as I expected, clean, super comfy, with lots of storage in lots of nooks and crannies. The shower was surprisingly spacious (compared to many European hotels we've stayed in). The window that opens into a panoramic balcony was very nice, but in truth, we didn't spend much time in our room, so never really just sat there watching the scenery. The hallway was quiet at night, but there were often surprising noises when negotiating the locks, so I recommend ear plugs.
The passengers were mainly Australians and Canadians, with a smaller representation from U.S. And U.K. And one couple from New Zealand I think! Everyone we met were happy to be there and very friendly. I think the average age was 70 to 75, but we met a few that were older than us and put us to shame for being active, healthy and fun-loving!!
The staff and crew was, without fail, smiling and friendly, and seemed happy to be there. We found a couple of tables in the dining room where the service at dinner was not quick and efficient, but overall, we could not have asked for better service. Jana was our Cruise Director and I can't say enough good about her. She was friendly, efficient, personable, organized, etc, etc! We celebrated our 30th anniversary while on the cruise and she made it very special.
The food was always very good; sometimes a bit bland, but there were many choices.
- Breakfast could be a quick choice from the lounge or a more involved buffet in the dining room. There was one station for omelets, so could be very slow, but the buffet line had scrambled eggs, bacon, hash brown patties, yogurt, toast, pastries, fruit, etc, etc.
- Lunch in the lounge had a couple of selections that sounded good, but we always went to the dining room. It was buffet style again with a full range of selections. Sometimes the line could be long, but it moved surprisingly quickly.
- Dinner was one seating and a free-for-all as far as finding a chair goes. Sometimes we sat with our new friends and sometimes we made new friends! A menu was provided with several choices. Sometimes the options were unusual, but always tasty. The portions were on the small side, so we didn't leave the table feeling stuffed. There were so many opportunities to eat something, that we were never hungry (for very long)!
We had onboard credit so used some of it for a beer and wine package. Wine and beer was included (and freely provided) with our meals and through our purchase of the package, it was included other times as well. We thought that having two more glasses of beer or wine during the day or evening paid for the package.
We spent a lot of wonderful time on the top deck the first few days, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery on the Rhine River. On the Main river, the top deck was closed due to low bridges and we really did miss being out there! The crew opened the deck when possible, but it was not open every day. So my advice is to get up there when you can!
We also spent a fair amount of free time at the pool. On a nice day, the roof was open and after a hot tour through town, a refreshing dip was very welcome. At night sometimes the pool area would be converted to a theatre, but we never stayed for a movie.
Our trip was interrupted by high water on the Danube. We were given options and chose to take a motor coach trip to Cesky Krumlov, followed by two nights at a fantastic hotel in Vienna. While we would rather that our trip had not been interrupted, Jana (and Emerald) dealt with the situation wonderfully. The river level was beyond anyone's control, but we were very happy with how it was handled.
It was a very busy itinerary but also a nice mix between early morning calls and more relaxed starts. We had a walking tour in almost every port which covered the highlights of the location. We often had free time, but found that the tour had covered most points of interest, so just relaxed with a beer and/or snack. The best experiences were when the ship was docked within easy walking distance of the central town. In Nurmeberg and Vienna, the ship was a bus ride away, which was okay, but just not as convenient.
Disembarkation in Budapest was handled very smoothly and specific to each cabin's request. We spent three additional days in that beautiful city at an AirBnB on Akadémia street.
I highly recommend Emerald Waterways and this itinerary, but be prepared to be busy if you want to see everything!
Our cabin #232 was not as tiny as I expected, clean, super comfy, with lots of storage in lots of nooks and crannies. The shower was surprisingly spacious (compared to many European hotels we've stayed in). The window that opens into a panoramic balcony was very nice, but in truth, we didn't spend much time in our room, so never really just sat there watching the scenery. The hallway was quiet at night, but there were often surprising noises when negotiating the locks and we could hear the engines reversing or revving, so I recommend ear plugs.
We had THE BEST sausages and sauerkraut near the church!
We missed Passau due to high water on the Danube, but Emerald provided this excursion at no additional cost. It was very, very interesting and our guide Sebastian Frankenberger was outstanding.View All undefined undefined Reviews
The Bishops Residence is astounding. Our guide Charles provided a lot of interesting and entertaining information.
I re-read Diary of a Young Girl before our trip. We booked the pre-tour presentation and found it to be extremely interesting. Be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid the chaos!View All 100 Anne Frank House Reviews
Seeing e city from the canal was a different and interesting perspective.View All 311 Canal Tour Reviews
A quick walk from the canal boats to the Rijksmuseum with a bit of free time. The highlight for me was BejinhofView All 148 City Tour Reviews
Very interesting to see where Rembrandt lived. Lots of wonderful paintings too!View All 9 Rembrandt House Reviews
We took the highlights tour and felt it didn't spend enough time with the Dutch masters, so went back to that gallery.View All 77 Rijksmuseum Reviews
We bought timed tickets ahead of time and were surprised at how busy and crowded it was. definitely not my favourite experience!View All 65 Van Gogh Museum Reviews
Like touring with a local friend. Roelof gave us some good photography hints and directed us around the facility so we got a lot out of it.View All 61 Zaanse Schans Windmills Reviews
Our first stop in Germany with a guide who was determined to break the stern German stereotype! Cologne cathedral is amazing and Emerald gave us a coupon to try the local Kolsch beer.View All 148 Walking Tour Reviews
Beautiful, peaceful glide over vineyards! We stopped at Rudescheimer Schloss for some of their signature coffee (along the lines of Irish coffee).View All 54 Niederwald Cable Car Reviews
Very pretty and picturesque half timbered streets
Super pretty town! We tried the smoky beer.
Another good walking tour. The sausages here were not as good as the ones we had in Nuremberg, but the restaurant on the Danube is very nice.
A motor coach tourView All 169 City Tour Reviews
Vienna is a beautiful city with lots to see!View All 183 Walking Tour Reviews
A highlight! I highly recommend this excursion.View All undefined undefined Reviews
A mildly interesting walking tour followed by a wonderful local experience after lunch. Wine, coffee and cake with a local family was a highlight and not to be missed!
A bus tour with time to walk around the various sites. Also, the evening sail past the beautifully lit buildings was magical.View All 353 City Tour Reviews