This was our first river cruise and it was our honeymoon, so we decided to splash out and book the best. Emerald included everything, meals, wine, tours, tips and this was a perfect way to get a feel of river cruising. We chose our cabin, mid boat and on the top deck with panoramic balcony. This was perfect, roomy, comfortable, clean and with great facilities such as WiFi and free movies. Lovely touch of turn down each night, towel animals which made us smile and chocolate on the pillow. The staff looking after the rooms were friendly and helpful, they couldn’t be faulted. The boat was beautiful and easy to navigate.
The reception staff were helpful and friendly, always willing to answer questions and the cruise director worked hard and spoke well at the evening meetings. There were however a couple of issues which did lead us to think we would try an alternative cruise line if we went again. The breakfast and lunches were great, lots of choice and lovely food but the food at dinner was well below par. Portion sizes were small and the quality was lacking, definitely not worth the money. The serving staff were friendly but there were some language issues and there appeared to be issues with the kitchen staff, mainly the head chef. There were lots of complaints which was a shame. The other thing we didn’t enjoy was the way the tours were set up. We often only had 30 mins to an hour to have coffee and look round and then had to rush back to the boat for lunch. Packed lunches weren’t an option for some reason. The best trip was the day we had in Strasbourg, we opted to miss lunch and stay in town. If we did a river cruise again we would check the tours out first. We felt like sheep being herded most of the time rather than valued travellers. Not sure if this is a common issue on river tours? If we had thought ahead we would also have booked a couple of nights in Switzerland at the end of the cruise as no time to see otherwise.
Entertainment on board was limited, a good evening violinist and not so good singers on one afternoon. There was a keyboard player in the bar each evening who was good but not a lot of atmosphere. The welcome and farewell dinners weren’t outstanding. Lots of clapping the staff but as the farewell dinner was on the Thursday rather than the actual last night it all felt a bit strange. The best entertainment was a guest who had brought along a harmonica! Great American blues.
Overall the cruise was a lovely relaxing holiday, we would just choose to try an alternative cruise line in future to see if they offer a more individual service.