Emerald Waterways in Review

Emerald Waterways is one of the newest lines in the European river cruise market.  About a year ago, our own John Lane cruised with Emerald from Budapest to Nuremberg.  Read more below:

Cruise Escapes:  Since this was not your first river cruise, what was the first Emerald distinction you noticed once you boarded?

John:  It was very open and airy.  Lots of glass floor to ceiling windows bring the outdoors in.Emerald Waterways dining room

CE:  What about accommodations; how did your cabin compare to your other river cruises?

John:  The cabin was  also open and airy with a wall to wall and floor to ceiling window that lowered by a push of a button.  It was very well designed with the most storage space in any cabin that I have seen.  The bathroom was smaller but adequate with a sliding door.  Cabin service was good but you would have to ask for extra toiletries and no tissues were in the cabin which bothered me.

CE:  So would you rate your cabin as about the same, as your previous (with AMA and Tauck), better, or less impressive?

Emerald Waterways cabinJohn:  I would say I was more impressed with my wall of glass (window) that brought the Danube into my cabin.  I boarded in Budapest and we were docked directly across from the Parliament building and I had the most magnificent view of it.  At night it took on a completely different feeling.  I just sat their and savored the view.  It was wonderful.

CE:  That sounds great!  Now, how about the food onboard; what would you have to say about dining on Emerald?

John:  Dining was open seating breakfast, lunch and dinner like all river cruise lines.  Breakfast and lunch were buffet only.  I would have preferred at lunch to have had an option to order from a menu a lighter lunch instead of the standard luncheon buffet.   Made to order options were not available as they stuck to the menu.  The wine and beer flowed at both lunch and dinner.

CE:  On your Danube itinerary, did you have a favorite port, or what were the most memorable highlights for you?

Emerald Waterways Christmas MarketsJohn:   I was on a Christmas Markets Cruise and it was quite magical. I highly suggest a Christmas Market cruise!   We were fortunate to have beautiful warm weather in December.  The itinerary was full of wonderful ports:  we had an extensive tour of Budapest, a home visit in Bratislava (a Emerald exclusive) along with an evening concert in a monastery,  toured the beautiful Melk Abbey which is a must see, Vienna and a side trip to Salzburg captured the beauty of the Austrian countryside.

CE:  So Emerald sounds like a good choice for river cruises; are there any special offers coming up?

John:   Yes!  Emerald just notified us of a really attractive offer for 2017 sailings with FREE AIRFARE from DFW & most major U.S. cities!  There is a flyer below, but for full details and rates give us a call soon; this won’t last long!

click image to enlarge:

Emerald Waterways fly free offer

A Bed With A View

by Don McCann

Avalon Waterways Panorama Suite

Avalon Waterways likes to make a big deal out of the way their “Panorama Suite” cabins have the layout designed with the bed facing the window (as almost ALL river lines have the bed facing sideways, toward the wall).  Well, I’ve sailed in one of these cabins, as well as on another river line, and I can tell you that they are correct – it IS a big deal!  With the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling sliding windows, these cabins give you a fantastic view from the bed, as well as from anywhere in the cabin.  European river cruising is all about the scenery and you’ll not miss anything with the Avalon accommodations.  In addition to the bed layout, the bathrooms are also extremely well designed and spacious (even more so than many ocean ships I’ve seen).

October is THE time to reserve your river cruise.  If you’d like more info on Avalon, click here and don’t miss this month’s outstanding special offer, found here

River Cruise French Balcony


by Don McCann

Most of our experienced ocean cruisers prefer to travel in a balcony cabin (and if you have ever experienced one, you certainly know why!)  So when booking a river cruise, many are unsure as to the meaning of a “french balcony” and how that will compare.  Well, to begin with, the entire river cruise experience is so different that the balcony preference is not nearly as relevant.  In Europe, all river ships are restricted in size due to the many locks which they will traverse during the cruise.  This limited size requires the ship designers rethink and rework the standard cruise accommodations.  So in order to allow the maximum amount of space for the cabin itself, the ‘balcony’ space is a challenge.  Therefore, many ships feature the french balcony, which is really floor to ceiling, sliding glass doors which open up for the fresh air (and to stick your head out), but you don’t actually step out onto a true balcony; many people like to think that this transforms the whole cabin into a balcony!  Also, the nature of river cruises is such that you are in port a great deal, so there is not as much time to sit out on the balcony as you might think.

To illustrate how different lines offer their accommodations, I’m enclosing a few photos:

Avalon Suite Ships cabin

Avalon Waterways Suite Class French Balcony


AMA Waterways split balcony

AMA Waterways French Balcony (left) and Outside Balcony (right)


Viking River Cruises balcony cabin

Viking River Cruises balcony cabin

As you can see, there are many options and we can help you sort them out.  Whichever you choose, river cruises are wonderful and we hope you’ll be taking yours soon!!

July is River Cruise Month!

by Don McCann

AMA generic

AMA Waterways, gliding through Europe

River Cruises, primarily in Europe, have exploded in popularity in recent years and there is a very good reason:  They are WONDERFUL!  As we have mentioned in past posts, they carry between 130 to 190 guests and dock in the heart of the city in many ports of call.  A very good industry friend told us “on an ocean cruise, you cruise TO a country; on a river cruise, you cruise THROUGH a country“.  Simple observation, but yet so true.

So we take July as River Cruise Month for several reasons….

  1. Now is the best time to book for next year, 2017; river cruises fill far in advance
  2. Most lines have advance booking discounts which will expire soon
  3. Crystal River Cruises has their inaugural cruise in July; an exciting, new product

This month we’ll be sending out examples of special offers for River Cruises, but we’ll also be sending out some photos and observations on our own past River Cruises.  Watch for more posts and remember to THINK RIVER CRUISES all month long!!!

River Deal?

Emerald Waterways Rhine Gorge

Emerald Waterways on the Rhine Gorge

by Don McCann

European river cruises continue to gain in popularity, but the limited availability is difficult for some experienced cruisers to comprehend. When we’re all used to taking ocean cruises with hundreds and many times thousands of passengers, a river cruise with about 150 people is quite different. The first difference of note is how soon they fill up! With so few cabins and such high demand, they are filling up farther and farther in advance. However, there are always some exceptions. Emerald Waterways is still relatively new and so they have some space for 2016 which is, not only available, but currently on sale! So if a river cruise is on your travel radar for this year AND if you’d like a great deal, then we suggest that you might want to consider Emerald – but act quickly.

For an example of Emerald Waterways reduced fares, click here, then call us for details.

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