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5 Reasons to river cruise with Emerald

7th September 2015

Launching in 2014, Emerald Waterways are a brand new UK based river cruise line with a fleet of five stunning state of the art ‘Star-Ships’. Cruising some of the best rivers in the world, Emerald Waterways have a fantastic selection of destination rich itineraries and provide guests with a deluxe and comfortable home away from home.

Designed with space and comfort in mind, Emerald’s Star-Ships provide a relaxing atmosphere for up to 182 guests. Every cabin comes fitted with a window so you never have to miss the idyllic river views, and with five types of contemporary cabins to choose from there is something to suit all tastes.

We were lucky enough to step onboard and experience the amazing quality of Emerald Waterways first hand and have compiled our top 5 favourite features for you below.

The Destinations

Danube River Germany

Emerald’s European cruises can take you along some of the continent’s most beautiful waterways including the Rhine, Danube and Saone. With ample opportunities to step ashore, join excursions and port talks, you’ll get a fantastic introduction to each new destination along the way. From historical landmarks to pretty villages and towns, the selection of ports are magnificent.

“I loved how in each of the destinations, not only would there be expert guides to help bring it all alive, but the personal radio headsets mean you can benefit from all their knowledge at your own pace” – Margaret McCorriston, Iglu River Cruise Product Manager.

Keep Active

Emerald Waterways Star-Ship pool

Keeping active is a breeze both on and off the ship during an Emerald River cruise. There are plenty of opportunities for walking as you explore each new destination along the way, with bikes available for those hoping to cover more ground. Onboard you’ll find a small gym, river view walking track and even a heated swimming pool.

Unwind

For quiet times you can enjoy the privacy of your comfortable cabin or suite. Check out the onboard book selection or catch a movie in the impressive onboard cinema.

“I was absolutely blown away by Emerald, I thought having seen many of the latest Ocean ships like Anthem of the seas, I’d seen it all – but the attention to detail, service, and innovations like the alfresco swimming pool by day that transforms into an intimate cinema by night were really impressive” – Dave Mills, Iglu Cruise Commercial Director

Keep Connected

Emerald Waterways

We are always on the move so staying connected is important to us. Free Wi-Fi onboard meant we could keep connected at all times and share our journey photos and updates straight away.

Eat Well

The Reflections restaurant kept us smiling throughout with delicious cuisine echoing the tastes of the rivers regions. Breakfast was either enjoyed at the daily self-service buffet or top deck in the sunshine. A resident Egg-Chef is also on hand providing speciality breakfast choices. Complimentary coffee and tea kept us fuelled for our excursions and we also enjoyed eating ashore to experience a taste of local life.



Have you been on an Emerald River cruise? Let us know your highlights in the comments below

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See the latest news for Emerald Waterways including two new ships!


Enjoy the sights and sounds of Porto

14th August 2015

Porto is one of the more understated cities in Portugal. Overshadowed somewhat, arguably unfairly, by its southern counterpart Lisbon, it is a place of immense beauty.

The coastal city sits on the banks of River Douro and is a great place to start a cruise in the heart of southern Europe. Iglu offers a series of packages which begin in Porto before moving into Spain and other parts of Portugal. The Duoro is a focal point of this busy industrial and commercial centre and is regarded as the heartbeat of the city.

Such is the majesty of the area that the historic centre of Porto was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. With a day to spare before setting off on your cruise of the Duoro, take a stroll around and discover everything Porto has to offer.

Discover a historical centre

 


There is no better place to start a tour of Porto than with its historical centre. Head down to the Ribeira, the part of the city near the river, to discover a bustling waterfront. It is a beautiful area with small fishing boats coming in and out of the harbour before making their way out to the Atlantic Ocean.

It is hard to miss the dominating figure on the Ribeira de Gaia which is the Ponte de D. Luis bridge. Built in 1886, this metal arch bridge connects Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, allowing traffic to cross the Duoro. Take a stroll to this magnificent structure to take in some stunning views of the city.

Part of Porto's UNESCO status is the Church of Sao Francisco. Set in the city's historic centre, it is the most prominent Gothic monument Porto has to offer. Originally established in 1223, the church itself was completed in 1425. Inside there is some beautiful Baroque era stylings including an altarpiece which depicts the Tree of Jesse.

Moving away from the waterfront, head towards the Baixa (downtown) part of Porto and visit Mercado do Bolhao. This traditional market is somewhat of a landmark in the city with locals going about their daily business. Stalls sell a range of produce such as fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. There are also a number of small restaurants selling the local dishes at low prices.

Sample the nightlife


After a day of sightseeing it will be time to sit down with a spot of food and drink. You are in luck as Porto boasts some of the finest restaurants in the whole of Portugal. The best are mainly centred around the Matosinhos area near the beach and the seafront known as Porto de Leixoes.

Local cuisine is as unusual as it is delicious. One of the most common dishes in the city is Tripas a moda do Porto which is a hearty meal, but beware as it is made from tripe. It is the reason why natives of the city are known as tripeiros (tripe-eaters). Another favourite is Bacalhau, a salted codfish, which has inspired hundreds of dishes across the city.

However, if you want a true taste of Porto then you must try a Francesinha. Translated as the Little Frenchie, this sandwich has gained huge notoriety and is the ultimate comfort food for locals and tourists alike.

This delicacy is made with bread, wet-cured ham, smoke cured pork sausage known as linguica, chipolata, steak or roast meat, covered in melted cheese and hot tomato or beer sauce served with french fries.

Each restaurant in Porto will have its own take on the Francesinha and have a variation of the sauce, but wherever you choose to indulge in this local staple you will not be disappointed. Combine it with a glass of port wine or beer and you have one of the finest dishes around in a beautiful surrounding.

Browse our Duoro River Cruises


24 hours in Budapest

6th August 2015

A true jewel of eastern Europe is the Hungarian capital Budapest. Dubbed the 'Paris of the East', the city is one of great beauty and has plenty to see and do.

Sitting on the banks of the Danube, Budapest has become the starting point of many Iglu river cruises voyaging through Hungary onto Slovakia, Austria and Germany. The vast majority of these itineraries include a night or two stay in Budapest, so you should take full advantage of this and spend at least a day exploring this glorious city.

Here is our guide to spending 24 hours in the Hungarian capital.

What to see

When Budapest was formed it brought together the separate cities Buda and Pest, which were split by the Danube. It is now divided into 23 numbered districts, which are still classed in one of the two, Buda covers the west area of the Danube while Pest covers the east. Such is the majesty of Budapest is that it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

It prides itself on having a unique atmosphere and a growing nightlife, not to mention its rich history of classical music. The architecture in the city is truly breathtaking and none more so than the Hungarian National Parliament building, making this the perfect place to start your tour of the city.

Hungarian National Parliament building


The largest building in Europe, this Neo-Gothic structure has stood in the heart of Budapest since the 1880s. With a startling 691 rooms, all more decadent than the last, it is hard not to be overawed by this magnificent structure. It stands in the Lajos Kossuth Square, named after a Hungarian lawyer, politician and Governor-President of the country in 1849, widely respected as a freedom fighter during his life.

Guided tours of the parliament building are available, where you will be able to see the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels. The latter were lost and stolen many times and it wasn't until the end of World War II that they were handed over to the US Army, and did not return to Hungary until 1978.

Another reminder of the scars of the war is much more sombre. On the banks of the Danube, between Kossuth ter and Szechenyi ter, is the Shoes on the Danube memorial. This collection of bronzed shoes has been placed here to honour the Jews who were shot by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen during the war.

There are plenty of free activities across the city and not many are better than a walk across Chain Bridge. The first bridge to connect the Buda and Pest sides of the capital, it was considered to be a wonder of the world when it was completed in 1849 and is often referred to as the 'Pearl of the Danube'.

Budapest Chain Bridge


It was damaged during the war, resulting in a complete rebuild in 1949. It has a connection to the UK, as chief engineer Adam Clark was a master builder hailing from Scotland.

If you are visiting Budapest for the first time then you need to experience just one of the city's many baths. The traditional Turkish baths draw off Budapest's rich thermal waters and some can trace their history back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Take a dip in Rudas, Kiraly or Veli Bej for the ultimate in relaxation.

Arts and culture

Budapest is hugely proud of its arts and culture scene, making a trip to the famous Opera House an absolute must while in the city. This beautiful Neo-Renaissance building has been in Budapest since opening its doors in 1884. It has featured the work of esteemed composers such as Ferenc Liszt and director Gustav Mahler. See a performance here and enjoy a truly immersive experience. It is not just music where Budapest reigns supreme in the cultural stakes. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Ludwig Museum are two absolute musts when it comes to art. The former is dedicated to paintings, drawings and sculptures of European origin and even features the horseman sculpture carved by Leonardo da Vinci.

Budapest Opera House


The Ludwig Museum is a homage to contemporary art of Hungarian and European origin. It displays artworks from the past 50 years, which have been collected by Peter and Irene Ludwig. The pair believe that the museum helps to bring the east and west closer together and features works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Jasper Johns, among others.

Food and drink

If you want to experience some delicious Hungarian cuisine then there is only one place to head to - the Central Market Hall. Officially called Kozponti Vasarcsarnok, it is the largest indoor market in the city and has been here since the 19th century. Selling a large selection of sausages, meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables it will provide a great insight into day-to-day Hungarian life.

You will be able to sample some traditional goulash, which is a meat soup with potatoes and paprika that is normally served as a main dish. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous then sample the toltott kaposzta, a stuffed cabbage filled with meat in a paprika sauce and served with sour cream.

If you have a sweet tooth then why not try a somloi galuska, a poem on biscuit dough, cream and chocolate sauce. A trip to the Central Market will be able to perfectly top off a day in Budapest.

The Danube river is a hugely popular route for top river cruise lines, with Budapest being a must-visit destination along the way. With lines such as AmaWaterways, Saga River Cruises, Avalon Waterways and more visiting this fantastic city, be sure to browse our Danube River cruise deals and be on your way to your Budapest adventure!


A Day in Budapest

13th July 2015

Updated February 2017

 

 

Budapest is without a doubt one of the most fascinating cities on the Danube. What with its stunning buildings, diverse history and relaxing hot springs, it’s no wonder it features as a must-see stop on almost all of our river cruises. With our Danube River cruises, you will have the chance to explore Budapest for the best part of the day, giving you a real chance to get under the city’s romantic skin.

Here are a few of the best bits you don’t want to miss out on.

Shoes on the Danube

A powerful tribute to the many Jewish Hungarians that were killed in WWII, the Shoes on the Danube Bank mark a dark period in the city’s modern history. The Arrow Cross militiamen who carried out the slaughter are said to have ordered the victims to remove their shoes at the edge of the river. They were then executed so that their bodies fell into the water to be washed away. You will find the display on the west bank of the river on the Pest side of the Danube Promenade. It’s just a short walk away from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The view from Fisherman’s Bastion

From this picturesque spot, you can see all along the length of the Danube from a panoramic platform. Not only are the vistas sensational, but the neo-Gothic design of the Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya) also makes it worth the trip. You’ll find it on Castle Hill, close to another one of the city’s most stunning buildings; the Matthias Church. This ornate Roman Catholic place of worship towers grandly above the area and contains one of the most impressive religious interiors in Budapest.

Have a beer in a “ruin” pub

Kerts or “ruin” pubs, as they are known in English, are a unique drinking venue to the city of Budapest. Formed in derelict, abandoned buildings, trendy bars have sprung up all over the city, kitted out with old furniture and donated wares. They serve a double purpose: firstly, they are some of the coolest places to drink in the city and, secondly, they provide a place for communities to gather. Ruin pubs are dotted all over the city, in and among some of Budapest’s best attractions, making it easy to visit one or two during your sightseeing travels. Ruinpubs.com gives you an excellent breakdown of the Kerts in the area, complete with map and directions. For an authentic experience in Budapest, don’t miss out on these rough-and-ready gems.

Buda Castle at night

Before you head back to the ship, you must take a moment to see Buda Castle lit up at night. This huge, historic complex comprises of both the Royal Castle and the Royal Gardens, and has long been the official residence of the kings of Hungary. A World Heritage Site, this glorious castle also has within it the Budapest History Museum, which tells the story of the city from its founding years up until the modern period.

The Spas

One of the most unique quirks about Budapest is the amount of spas that you’ll find located around the city. The Gellert Baths is one of the best known and most visually alluring of the spas, but as a result of this it can become overcrowded, especially in the peak season. For the most novel experience, try the Szechenyi Baths’ outdoor pools, which are regularly used by tourists and locals alike. Veli Bej, the oldest Turkish bath in the city, is a much more intimate and quieter affair and can be found at Fejedelem Way - just don’t forget your swimming gear.

View our Danube River Cruises.


What's River Cruising All About?

8th May 2015

Updated February 2017

 


Iglu's Managing Director, Simone Clark, a seasoned ocean cruiser, experienced her first river cruise. Here's what she has to say about her experience with APT...

We now have over 7000 river cruises on our Iglu Cruise website – offering an even wider choice of destinations and cruise holidays worldwide. As with anything that we offer, I was keen to experience and gain an understanding of what river cruising is all about. I was fortunate enough to spend two nights onboard AmaReina with APT, travelling from Budapest to Vienna and wanted to share my thoughts. I’ve previously been on quite a few ocean cruise holidays ranging from small six star ships to some of the biggest ships in the world.

 

River cruise with APT

 

The Cabin

I had a lovely cabin with a French balcony and a small balcony too. Very comfortable and compact with lots of storage and an Imac TV, that could be used as a computer too so you could take advantage of the free wifi!

 

The Ship

The AmaReina is a 5 star river cruise ship and carries under 200 guests with a crew of approximately 50 people. Facilities onboard were fairly typical for a river ship . The lower deck was home to the restaurant, a small fitness room, massage room and a speciality dining restaurant offering a delicious tasting menu. The upper deck featured a large lounge with bar, where you could eat light snacks throughout the day and that offered some musical entertainment in the evenings, and also featured a small shop and the reception area. Upstairs was a large, very luxurious sun terrace with sofas, deck chairs, covered areas and a bar. This ship was extra special as it even had a small plunge pool, with swim up bar! The crew were fantastic with very personal service.

 

River Cruise with APT

River Cruise with APT

 

The Cruise

I was on at the very start of a 14 night cruise, which ended up in Amsterdam. Ports were a mixture of larger cities (where we docked overnight) and smaller scenic ports. APT include all excursions in the price, which were a mix of city tours or something further afield. For the city tour, virtually the whole ship attended whereas there was a choice of 3-4 more specialist excursions the following day in smaller groups.

My itinerary for the 2 days were as follows:

Day 1: Arrive in Budapest and embark on the ship with a light lunch (soup, sandwiches and cakes) in the lounge. Free time in Budapest, where we visited the market. Pre dinner welcome at 6, then dinner at 7.30. We enjoyed a delicious tasting menu in the speciality dining venue. At 9pm there was an evening cruise through the Danube. We enjoyed this from the sun deck with a nice glass of wine! Then to the lounge for a drink and to listen to the pianist.

Day 2: Breakfast and then off the ship for a city tour of Budapest, that included a tour of the opera house and was a mixture of coach and walking. Then back onboard for a much needed lunch and washed down with local wine. The afternoon was spent sailing down the Danube and relaxing in the sunshine. Many enjoyed the views from their cabin or balcony and took the opportunity to have a nap or watch the latest movies (free in the cabin) or find out more about the different excursion choices on offer for the next few days. That evening there was a lovely welcome cocktail party from the Captain and the whole crew followed by dinner.

Day 3: A lazy morning sailing including through our first 2 locks of the trip. We arrived in Vienna after lunch and then everyone went on a city tour. The evening was going to be spent having an early dinner and then an (optional) private trip to the opera house for a recital. I sadly had to fly home to missed this.

Day 4: The morning was planned to be a choice of optional excursions in Vienna and the surrounding areas (choices included Bratislava or a chocolate tour). Then sailing on to the next port.

 

The Atmosphere

There was a very relaxed atmosphere onboard the ship - people got changed for dinner, but it was very casual. As there were less than 200 people on the ship, everyone dined at the same time and tended to all sit together on tables of 2-6 people.

The people onboard were from all over the world, well travelled and enjoyed exploring the destinations as well as enjoying relaxing between ports and enjoying the view from the ship as we sailed down the Danube. As the ships are small, it’s quite social and friendly and certainly not formal.

 

What’s Included?

With APT, all excursions, tips, wifi speciality dining and most drinks were included – there was a regional wine each day with dinner too.

 

The Verdict

The ships are much smaller than ocean cruise ships, this one had approx. 190 passengers onboard. They have the feeling of a small, boutique, floating hotel with a restaurant, lounge bar and sun terrace. The pace was a good mix of exploration and tours followed by relaxing cruising down the river and the views were sensational in the cities and beautiful in between. There isn’t a huge amount to do onboard as the emphasis is on relaxation and enjoying the view as you dine and enjoy music/drinks and learn about your destination. The age group onboard tended to be 55 plus and a mix of singles, couples and groups of friends (these ships don’t really cater for families). If you’ve cruised on a smaller cruise ship on the fjords and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and want to explore further afield, then this is a perfect choice for you as it does have a similar feel onboard. Many of the people onboard my cruise and had combined the cruise with a tour and a med cruise onboard cruise lines such as Seabourn, Cunard and Azamara cruises. In my short time onboard I enjoyed fine wine and food, explored 2 cities and a gentle cruise along the river and came back feeling very relaxed.

 

See also:

A day in Budapest

River cruise deals

Browse our river cruise blog




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