Latest Cruise Cancellation Information
  • Over 1.5 Million Happy Cruise Customers

  • Rated Great
  • ATOL Protected

Cruise Blog

A Customer Review of the Rhine with Emerald Waterways

16th July 2018

Some of our lovely customers – Marjorie and Bob Hewiitt – have recently returned from a wonderful European river cruise on the Rhine, with the brilliant Emerald Waterways. Luckily for us they were kind enough to share their thoughts about the experience in this helpful and authentic review.

 

Amsterdam

 

The following comments are honest, and include opinions gathered from the many other passengers who we came into contact with on our cruise. River cruising is a far more intimate affair than deep sea cruising in large ships, and the Emerald Dawn held just 180 passengers as opposed to the several thousand in a deep sea cruise ship. This meant that we not only enjoyed repeated contact with our fellow passengers, but formed good friendships with a number of like-minded people. If anything, however, it was a common view that this ship was a little too large and many passengers reported a preference for smaller ships with say 100 guests.

It was clear however that the vast majority of passengers were very happy with the holiday, and with the general management of the ship. In fact we only met one passenger who was unhappy with his holiday, but his main complaint seemed to be that it suffered in comparison with a more expensive experience. Perhaps it would help if I broke down the different elements of the holiday separately.

 

The Ship

 

The Emerald Dawn is a relatively new ship, and this showed in the general condition of the fittings. In fact we have to say that it was absolutely the cleanest vessel we have yet travelled in. Everything was sparkling clean from cabins to common areas. Robert, the hotel manager, deserves much praise for his attention to detail and for the incredible attitude of his employees. Bali, our cabin steward, kept the place spotless without being in any way obtrusive.

The management of the ship was excellent. The captain and crew were highly professional and provided a smooth and trouble free experience. One, and possibly the greatest attribute, was the incredible energy and humour of Alexander Berger - the cruise director. He seemed to be involved in everything, and kept things moving seamlessly through the day. His commentary on the afternoon when we passed the castles on our way to the Lorelei was very informative and amusing. His two evening events, one a form of dance bingo and the other a game of lies, were a triumph. He really got everyone involved and a good time was had by all. He definitely deserves a high level of praise, as do the staff on the reception desk who worked tirelessly to resolve any query which arose.

 

Cologne

 

Embarkation

We thought this went seamlessly, but there was some criticism that we had to spend many hours in the lounge awaiting the message that our cabins were ready. I think many passengers would have spent the afternoon in Amsterdam had they known, but felt it necessary to stay in the lounge until called for.

 

Disembarkation

The organisation for getting off the boat was brilliant. Once again Alex was to the fore moving cases from cabin to bus. We went down to breakfast at 7am, and there he was beavering away with luggage; what an asset to the ship, he truly deserves a medal.

 

Food

The general opinion was that the food onboard was excellent. Of course individual customers noted that they had enjoyed better previously, but it always transpired that they were comparing it with more expensive holidays. There was some irritation with the queues at breakfast particularly when a queue for one item meant joining another one for additional items. A little further thought may be helpful if a solution could be found which removed the need to join multiple queues. We coped with this by arriving in good time, and joining different queues with one getting toast and eggs while the other dealt with other items such as bacon and sausages, etc. These are small things however, and I have only mentioned them as the issue was raised by many of our fellow passengers. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed all the meals and found the restaurant staff to be extremely helpful and attentive. In short; full marks for food from us.

 

Strasbourg

 

Excursions

These were well-organised and very interesting. On the whole the guides were good, but the lady who looked after us on the final day in Strasbourg was exceptional. The coaches were well-appointed and very clean, and the drivers were careful and helpful.

 

Entertainment

The entertainment onboard was relatively low-key compared with the shows provided on the large ocean going cruise ships. Nevertheless, the cruise director Alex did a great job on a number of occasions. A violinist came onboard one day and two classical singers on another. The resident pianist, Benny, did a great job and proved to be a popular member of the team. Given the size of the ship the entertainment was perfectly adequate and once again the cruise director proved his worth.

 

Overall Impression

We have enjoyed a significant number of cruise holidays, both deep sea and river. This was one of the best. As we have already noted, the ship was quiet and clean and the staff were ever helpful and courteous. The food was excellent and the entertainment wholly adequate. Our fellow passengers were similar to ourselves. There were no children onboard, a ‘leisure’ option was provided for excursions, there was no abuse of alcohol or any gratuitous noise. All passengers arrived on time for excursions and the whole experience was one of respect and calm.

 

Basel

 

This is definitely a holiday which I would recommend to anyone looking for a river cruise; we have no complaints to report and would be happy to use Emerald Waterways again. In fact, we are already booked onto a cruise on the Douro River next May and are looking forward to that.

 

If Marjorie and Bob have inspired you, take a closer look at the places you could discover on a Rhine river cruise.


River vs Ocean Cruising

9th May 2018

If you’re new to cruise, or indeed have always stuck to either river or ocean cruising, you might be curious to know more about the differences between the two. The fact is, both kinds of cruising offer some incredible opportunities, but of course there are many aspects which contrast. Find out more with our overview of river vs ocean cruising.

 

 

The Destinations Visited

There aren’t many crossovers when it comes to the destinations travelled to on river and ocean cruising. While an ocean liner can sail across the seven seas transporting you to countries and islands all over the globe, river ships traverse the world’s rivers, from The Rhine in Europe to the exotic Mekong in Southeast Asia. Usually, a river cruise will allow guests the opportunity to be in a new destination every day, with the ship sailing through the night, whereas on an ocean cruise you might find one or more sea days. So depending on whether or not you’re looking to spend time relaxing on the ship, or prefer a port-heavy itinerary, this could sway your decision.

Activities on the Ship

With the above in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that ocean liners will generally offer a lot more in the way of things to do onboard than river ships. You’ll usually find a plunge pool, gym, and possibly spa facilities on a river ship, however on an ocean cruise ship there will this plus a lot more. From F1 simulators with MSC Cruises and ice rinks with Royal Caribbean, to cookery schools and Strictly Come Dancing events with P&O Cruises, there’s no denying that ocean ships offer a lot more onboard activities. This is one aspect specifically worth considering if you’ll be cruising with children.

 

 

Atmosphere Onboard

There is a certain family-friendly, excitable atmosphere on larger, mainstream ocean cruise ships that you won’t find on a river cruise ship. With more guests, – Symphony of the Seas can hold almost 7,000 – more attractions, and larger social areas, these vessels are great for kids and those looking for fun and thrills. Alternatively, if you want to relax and soak up the surroundings and local culture, a river cruise could be the better option. With a much lower passenger-count, and often just one bar and one restaurant, the ambience on a river cruise ship is calmer and arguably more refined. Having said this there are a number of luxury ocean cruise lines which provide a similar experience.

Onboard Food and Drink

Those travelling with little ones, or foodies who enjoy plenty of choice and variation, would probably prefer an ocean cruise where dining is concerned. Some of the bigger lines offer a fantastic array of restaurants, for instance Carnival Cruises boast everything from Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que to the brilliant Dr Seuss themed Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast for kids. On a river cruise on the other hand, you’ll often get just one or maybe two restaurants, serving a small a la carte menu. While the food onboard is delectable, there is limited choice. Those with dietary requirements should mention these at the time of booking, and then again when onboard.

Entertainment on the Ship

Generally speaking, entertainment on a river cruise ship involves some unique experiences which allow the guests to become immersed in local culture. You can expect things like local musicians and dancers, or talks about upcoming destinations. These sorts of opportunities are also seen on ocean liners, however you’ll also often get some extravagant productions. Find the likes of Hairspray and Jersey Boys among other Broadway/West End style performances, and a fantastic aquatic acrobatic show with Royal Caribbean.

 

 

Conclusions

The differences between river cruising and ocean cruising can be seen as pros and cons depending on your likes and dislikes, and what you’re looking to get out of your cruise holiday. Each certainly have their merits, and while cruisers might tend to stick to one or the other, it can be refreshing and usually rewarding to try something new, so be sure to be open minded and consider all options.

On the other hand, some cruise lines offer both ocean and river cruising itineraries, ensuring you never have to choose between your favourites. With the highlights of ocean cruising on a smaller scale, more intimate-sized ship, passengers will love the best of both worlds. One of the most popular cruise lines to cater to both markets is Thomson-Marella who also operate TUI River Cruises. If you’re still unsure of what option to go with, get in touch with our expert team for more advice!


Life onboard as a teenager

2nd July 2015

Updated December 2017

 

 

There is no better account of cruising than from a first person perspective, and we are always interested to hear about your experiences.

To gain a new point of view, we had guest blogger Henry Dalton offer us the teenage angle on cruising with the family...

 

As a fifteen year old boy, I’m lucky to say I’ve already been on four cruises. If you’re a teenager who instantly says no to cruising, think again.

Are there many other teenagers?

You might think that cruising is a dull holiday, full of old people strolling around, but that’s not necessarily true. Onboard alone, there’s a wide range of activities for us teens. For a start, almost every cruise line will have a teen club where you can meet people your age and do different types of activities. You can meet people, play snooker, Xbox or whatever it has to offer. Usually these clubs have a detailed schedule of more planned activities throughout the week, that are not confined to one room.

Royal Caribbean's FlowRider

 

What is the food like?

If you’re a food lover, a lot of ships have free pizza services running throughout most of the day, as well as the breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets that go on for a long time. The food tastes brilliant and you’ll probably miss it when you go home.

What active things are there to do?

If you think being on a ship is limiting in terms of doing sports, you’re wrong. Most ships have fully equipped, air conditioned gyms, which will help you keep fit. Usually positioned at the front of the ship, the treadmills, striders, and more, tend to have TV screens with Sky Sports, BBC News, and other main British channels. As well as gyms, sports courts are frequent on big ships. There are sometimes free to use 5-a-side football pitches, basketball courts, mini-golf (if that counts as a sport!), rock climbing, ice skating, and even surfing!

 

 

Are there places to chill out?

You can book to go to the spa for a relaxing massage or treatment, although prices tend to be quite steep from a teenager's perspective. If you want entertainment, a lot of ships have theatres with free shows every night - including magicians, comedians, musicians, and more.

On the outdoor deck, there are swimming pools surrounded by loads of deck chairs, perfect if you’re a lazy sunbather. On a Princess cruise that I went on, I watched Divergent on a big screen, lying on a deck chair under the stars.

 

 

What about the destinations?

As well as activities on the ship, many underestimate the magnificence of arriving in a port with beautiful views. One of my personal favourites was waking up and having breakfast whilst looking at the city of Monte Carlo, Monaco. Lots of teens would find the idea of walking around cities very boring, and admittedly, I thought that at first. But you start to appreciate the iconic features that every place has to offer, and very soon you start looking forward to the next place. If you absolutely can’t walk around, I suggest going on a summer cruise to a place with lots of beaches.

 

 

Overall, cruising is a very fun experience. You get to visit lots of world-famous places without spending too long there, whilst living on a ship that has loads of brilliant activities. So before you associate cruising with veterans listening to classical music, do your research!

Browse our family cruises departing during school summer holidays.

 

Cruises for Young Adults

There are also more and more options for slightly older guests who don't necessarily want a traditional cruise experience. Uniworld River Cruises have introduced their incredible and innovative U by Uniworld brand; a brand which is designed with the needs and wants of 21 to 45 year olds in mind. Think stunning and vivacious European cities, a range of excursions from wine tasting to kayaking, and top international DJs onboard. See what U by Uniword itineraries you could enjoy.


Book with Confidence

We are ATOL Holders and members of ABTA for your financial protection.


Price Match Guarantee
Search Cruises
Your Shortlist

You do not currently have any cruises in your shortlist.


What our customers say


"I booked a Fred Olsen cruise with IGLU last month and was so impressed by the service I received. The staff member I spoke to was Kimberley and she was exemplary. Capable, kind, professional, patient, friendly and knowledgeable. She went through every step of the way calmly and thoroughly. IGLU were recommended to me by friends and I have no hesitation in passing the recommendation along. Well done IGLU and thank you. "

Christina
(March 2019)

"So easy to deal with, I studied the Cruise I wanted, did my research with different company's and returned to Iglu. I had three quotes matching Iglu’s cost, but with one phone call they beat the price themselves by £40 without me even asking, how easy was that! "

Gary
(February 2019)


Read more feedback


Are you rebooking a cancelled cruise due to Covid-19?