When we hear the word “cruise,” we cringe. It makes us panic thinking of being stuck on a ship, surrounded by old people, bad music, buffets, and a way-too-slow-for-our-taste itinerary. However, our friend and travel blogger extraordinaire Johnny Jet has us reconsidering that stereotype. A European River Cruise sounds delightful, however, not just any European River Cruise!
For us, giving a cruise another chance means that a) it can’t be a ship the size of Disneyland, b) it can’t feel or look like Disneyland, and c) it can’t have food that belongs at Disneyland. What does that boil down to? With the risk of sounding snobby, it means luxury, refinement, and attention to detail. A personalized experience. Options. Uniqueness. Amenities. High-end food and drinks. Entertainment that isn’t cheesy. Guest rooms that don’t feel like closets. And all of the things for which the cruising industry isn’t the best known.
Which brings us to Emerald Waterways. We first learned about the pleasures of river cruising through Johnny Jet, after he returned from two trips — one cruising the Danube with Scenic Cruises (Emerald is their brand new sister company), and the other was on Viking while visiting the Christmas Markets of Europe. The photos and the descriptions of the trips got us thinking – maybe there IS another way to cruise that isn’t lame, old, boring, and blah.
From the photos we’ve seen, the ships are beautiful, with less than 200 passengers on board. The decor and design is modern, clean, and stylish. The guest suites are spacious and full of amenities. And the dining options are top notch, offering some unique local tie-ins. For example, on their cruise stops in Bratislava, you not only taste the destination’s traditional fare, but also learn more about everyday life there by having the opportunity to visit a local home for a hosted afternoon tea with a Slovakian family.
Here are the five European River Cruise itineraries offered by Emerald Waterways in 2014 and what we like about them:
- “Danube Delights,” an eight-day adventure between Nuremberg and Budapest. We LOVE that it makes a stop in Linz, because we call Lindsay, “Linds”, and “Linz” sounds the same, so we can already see the tweet: “Linds in Linz! #meanttobe” — plus, Budapest has long been on our bucket list to visit.
- “Classic Prague & Danube Delights,” an 11-day itinerary that adds three days in beautiful and historic Prague to the eight-day Nuremberg to Budapest sailing
- “Magical Rhine & Moselle,” a 12-day trip between Switzerland’s Basel and the canal city of Amsterdam. You had us at “fairytale” in the first sentence of the full itinerary description. We can just imagine the instagrammable sights!
- “Splendors of Europe,” a 15-day exploration of many of Europe’s top sights between Amsterdam and Budapest
- “Christmas Markets of Europe,” a 15-day voyage through Christmas markets big and small in five countries. This one’s at the top of our list — Christmas time in Europe is something neither one of us has fully experienced, and from everything we’ve seen and read, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime must-do!
We’re looking forward to learning about Emerald Waterways 2015 itineraries!
***P.S. JohnnyJet.com is hosting a contest to win an 8-day Emerald Waterways European cruise in 2015. You have until April 25 to submit an entry. Here’s how.