We chose to sail from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Emerald Luna. Initially we chose Emerald because of their all inclusive policy and option of active activities in addition to the regular tours. We were initially apprehensive as Emerald's offices have been difficult to reach since they were hacked several months ago. However, we received our documents the week before by email and our flights to Budapest from San Francisco booked by Emerald went off without a hitch. On arrival in Budapest we were greeted in the arrivals lounge by two Emerald reps who directed us to a waiting van. Less than 30 minutes later we were at the dock where we were greeted on board the Luna with a beverage and taken to our cabin for a brief tour.
The highlights of our trip: the boat is new and sparkling clean. Our cabin was well designed with the top half of the full length window sliding down to create a french balcony. The bedding was exceptional comfortable, and the room was kept spotless with twice a day housekeeping. Our food was much better than I expected: breakfast and lunch were buffet style: breakfast offered eggs and omelets to order, a range of hot and cold cereals, fresh fruits and yogurt/kefir/smoothies, assorted bacon/sausages, potatoes, veggies, a vast array of hearty breads, danishes, donuts, and bagels with smoked salmon and all of the fixings. Lunch at the main restaurant included a pasta of the day (the frutti di mare was especially good!), a variety of salads, a variety of cheeses (different each day) and meats, a soup of the day, the usual assorted fresh breads, a sandwich of the day and a range of desserts including two different gelatos or ice creams. You could also choose to dine in the lounge which included two light entrees like pizza, hamburgers or chicken wings, a variety of salads and soup plus dessert. 24 hours a day you could get assorted coffees from a self serve espresso machine in the lounge and in the pool area.
Dinners were served at 6:30 or 7, depending on the itinerary that day. We had a choice of 3 different appetizers, a meat, fish and vegetarian entree and dessert. Many of the meals featured wines (beer and wine included with lunch and dinner) and courses from the region we were visiting. The appetizers ventured into gourmet territory with such choices as a well prepared beef tartare, a delicate and crispy tempura, a smooth pate, seared salmon tartare and a delicate scallop preparation. The range of seafood included salmon, halibut, perch, trout and monkfish, all prepared well without drying them out and featuring fun sauces and preparations. Some of the beef dishes were cooked more than I would have preferred, but I do tend to like rarer temps. If you didn't care for the offered entrees, steak, salmon or chicken was always available.
The cabin was well designed, with plenty of storage space in the closet and many drawers. There was plenty of room under the bed for storing our luggage. In the closet was an umbrella and hiking poles, as well as robes and slippers. The french balcony featured a full length window with the top half retracting down for open air sailing. Like all river cruise ships, we were occasionally tandem docked with another ship, so had to keep our shades down in the evening. The bathroom was well designed with nearly instant hot water and nice shampoo, conditioner and soap and a hair dryer were provided. There was an outlet for European plugs and USB charging at the desk, as well as an outlet in the bathroom. Bring an adaptor for US plugs. The only negative is the powerful and noisy suction toilet, the price of its efficiency. The large flat screen TV had standard European channels, as well as a bow camera, ship map locator, lounge camera and a daily schedule.