Emerald Waterways Danube River Cruise
My husband and I were very fortunate to be invited on a Danube river cruise on board the award winning Emerald Star and what a fabulous time we had! We embarked on our journey in Nuremberg and continued along the Danube towards Budapest where we left the cruise after 7 wonderful nights!
Day One - Embark Emerald Star in Nuremberg.
Arrived to the Emerald Star and one thing we noticed straight away was how easy it was to embark the ship. No lines & our luggage taken straight to our cabin. We were lucky enough to have been allocated a Panorama Balcony Suite on the Upper Deck. The room was bright and spotlessly clean. The first thing that hit you was how amazing the view was from our floor to ceiling window. As it was a Panorama window this mean that the top half of the window dropped down electronically controlled by a switch. There was plenty of drawer space and the bathroom was a decent size. If I was going to make any criticism at all it would be the size of the wardrobe to hang your cloths – this is one wardrobe between 2 adults where on other cruises you get a wardrobe each. The other thing is that the water pressure from the shower head could have been stronger. Apart from that the cabin was amazing.
Following the safety briefing we had a Port Talk from Karla, the Cruise Director. This talk is very informative and gives you all the information that you need for the following day.
Our first meal on board was beautiful. It was in the main dining room and was a buffet. There was a good selection of food including options associated to the area we were visiting. There were Soups, Salads, and Breads, different types of vegetables, meat and fish dishes. The deserts were also very tempting. Our meals were accompanied by complimentary wine of the day – a red and white wine were offered and again linked with the areas we were visiting.
Following the meal we went back to the Lounge and enjoyed listening to the music played by Rado.
Tea and Coffee is available 24 hrs/day from both the Lounge and the Pool area. In an evening the Pool area is transformed into an alternative venue and often used as a cinema – we found it quite relaxing to sit here for a coffee after dinner.
Another nice touch is each evening we received a different type of chocolate on our pillows. We would also have animals made out of the towels.
Day Two – Kelheim & Regensburg
We docked In Kelheim in the morning, our excursion began with a short walk to the 4 coaches. We had to take our ‘receivers’ from our cabins – they are a little box and headset that enabled us to hear what the guide had to tell us. We then visited the Abbey – very picturesque indeed. Immediately struck by the Baroque architecture and design – all very ornate. It was interesting to hear that two brothers built the abbey, one was a painter and the other was a sculptor – needless to say all the artwork was fabulous. After an explanation of the history of the Abbey we then proceeded to sit inside the brewery where we were offered locally produced beer. We then made our way back to the ship via a smaller boat – this sailed through a narrow gorge with breath-taking scenery.
Lunch on board – buffet style – again amazing choice. The deserts always a highlight with many guests taking pictures before we demolished them.
Whist having lunch we sailed to the pretty town of Regensberg. One thing that surprised me was having to pass through Locks. These were massive and the drop was very impressive – if you have never experience this before, it’s definitely worth a few pictures from the top deck.
At Regensburg we had the afternoon at leisure to wander around the pretty German town.
We had Captain’s Welcome Gala Night when we got back on board. This involved the Captain introducing all his team. We were treated to Champagne and Canopies which were very welcome. The other highlight of the evening were the Guest Entertainers – A local Oompah Duo. They played the accordion, spoons, and guitar. They also got the guests to take part in a local folklore dance - much fun had by all.
The Gala Dinner was a treat – plenty of choice from the menu with 3 courses before even getting to the Entrée. For fussier palettes there was always a choice of Steak, Chicken or vegetarian dish.
Day Three – Passau to Linz
Here we opted to stay local, there were 2 optional excursions that we could have done – a full day trip to Salzburg or a trip to the UNESCO site of Cesky Krumlov, again a full day.
We enjoyed a local tour of the town of Passau – famous for having 3 rivers merge and continue as the Danube. The guide was excellent and very knowledgeable. We were shown inside Passau Church – famous for having the largest church organ in Germany. After our little walking tour we returned to the ship and were treated to a light lunch in the Lounge.
We then set sail for Linz. This was lovely – the scenery was some of the nicest we have ever seen – passing little villages, going through locks and even seeing Castle’s. Very peaceful afternoon.
In the evening we again had another port Talk from Karla. I forgot to mention that in each port Karla, the Cruise Director, bought little gifts. At the end of the cruise cabin numbers were drawn and the winners received these little gifts – a nice touch.
Following dinner there was more live music in the Lounge or alternatively there was a movie being shown in the Pool/Cinema area.
Day Four - Melk & Durnstein
Today we were taken to Melk Abbey – today part of the Abbey is used as a private school for Austrian Children. The Abbey is situated overlooking the Town of Melk and commands a view over the Danube. The Abbey is also known for having one of the most famous libraries in Austria. Again the Abbey boasts Baroque architecture.
Following the visit to the Abbey we walked back to the ship - short 10-15 minute walk.
We had a tour of the ship this day which included vising the hair salon, beauty treatment room, gymnasium plus the different types of cabins – the ship is lovely, very modern and the extra amenities (such as the pool and hair salon) are a bonus!
We had lunch on board and set sail for Durnstein. Richard the Lion heart was imprisoned here on his way back to England following the Crusades. The remains of the Castle can still be seen. Durnstein & Wachauer also famous for their peach Schnapps – we were able to sample some of this on board.
Following Dinner we went to the Lounge. Karla hosted her version of Horse Racing. I must say it was great fun – everyone staked just 1 euro.
Day Five – Vienna
Vienna is a beautiful City. We had the choice of doing the City Tour with the Guides or simply doing our own thing. We chose to take a Taxi to the Hoffburg Palace – These days it is a library. All of the buildings had very impressive architecture with amazing sculptures, fountains and gardens. We saw the Opera House, The Parliament Buildings and the Town Hall. We also walked down the fashionable shopping streets and saw all the Christmas lights being put up. We enjoyed a hot chocolate and apple Strudel in a traditional coffee & cake shop – you could see the bakers making wonderful creations in the back of the shop. We also saw one of the Christmas Markets that was due to open the next day. The smells were amazing – apple cinnamon and mulled wine – and brought smiles to our faces.
In the evening there was an optional excursion to see a Viennese Concert. The concert was out of this world and quite exclusive. There was an orchestra, some ballet and also singing. Everyone reported on how fantastic it was.
Day Six – Bratislava, Slovakia
There was a guided walking tour of the City including visiting the Castle. The old town was lovely and Richard (my husband) was impressed with the old style trolley buses.
There was an optional visit to a Slovakian Family in the afternoon for a hosted traditional afternoon Tea. Everyone who went on this tour had great feedback.
This evening it was time for the Captain’s farewell Cocktail followed by Dinner.
After Dinner there was a Crew Show in the Lounge – this was very funny and finished with a disco and dancing.
Day Seven – Budapest, Hungary
What impressed us here was the wonderful view from our Cabin. We were so lucky to be overlooking the Danube and on the opposite banks we had the Government Buildings. I would never get sick of looking at this.
The trip in the morning was a city tour of Budapest – mostly on the bus but some walking close to St Matthias Church. Lunch was served on board and then in the afternoon we were free to take another look around Budapest.
We were treated to Hungarian Folklore Show after Dinner. This comprised of a String Quintet plus local dancers in traditional clothing.
Highlight of the night was an evening cruise along the Danube with Karla explaining all the different bridges, buildings and History. They looked beautiful at night and it was a wonderful end to our cruise.
Day Eight – Budapest, Hungary
After an brilliant week, it's time to disembark and head home!
If you would like to hear more about my fantastic time onboard Emerald Star please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0800 810 8229 and ask for Gill!
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Gill Williams - RiverCruising.co.uk