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A Customer Review of the Rhine with Emerald Waterways

clock 16th July 2018 | comment0 Comments

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.



Enjoy the heart of the Rhine with a day in Cologne

clock 16th October 2015 | comment0 Comments

Sat on the banks of the mighty Rhine is the fourth largest city in Germany - Cologne.

A major calling point in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, the city is home to stunning architecture, friendly locals and delicious cuisine. The inhabitants have an enormous sense of pride in their city and their region, making it a hugely welcoming stop-off point during your cruise along the Rhine.

Approaching the docking point, you will be met by the unmistakable sight of both the Hohenzollern bridge, connecting the east and west side, and the Kolner Dom, a huge cathedral which acts as a symbol for the city. Beyond this beautiful skyline there is so much just waiting to be explored. With Cologne a port of call for many Iglu river cruises, here is our guide to a day in Cologne.

Cologne rhine river

Kolner Dom

Starting with the focal point of the city, the Dom is a truly magnificent feat of architecture standing tall over all of Cologne. One of the largest cathedrals in Europe, work began on building this monument to the city in 1248, eventually being finished in 1880. It is a true masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. It has seen a lot during the hundreds of years it has sat in the heart of city and even survived 14 aerial strikes during the Allies' bombing of Cologne during World War II. Repaired and renovated it is now one of the most popular attractions in Cologne with around 20,000 people visiting each day.

Take a stroll inside to discover the Reliquary of the Three Kings, the famous relief of the Adoration of the Kings in 1440 and the Treasure Chamber with a host of relics and artifacts. You can even climb the over 500 steps to the top of the tower to get an amazing panoramic view of the city.

Entrance to the Dom is free but access to some sections carry a charge.

cologne-cathedral

Museum Ludwig

In the shadow of the Dom is the Museum Ludwig, an absolute must for any art lovers among your party. Open since 1976, it is home to a huge collection of modern art ranging from Pop Art and Abstract to Surrealism, not to mention the largest range of works by Picasso across all of Europe.

Situated next to the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which focuses on fine art from the medieval era, the gallery was bestowed with 350 modern artworks by chocolate magnate Peter Ludwig. The pieces, valued at around $45 million (£28.8 million), allowed the museum to get off the ground and blossom.

Among the artworks currently housed at Museum Ludwig include Kazimir Malevich's 1909 Landscape (of Winter), August Macke's 1913 Lady in a Green Jacket and Gottfried Helnwein's 1987 Last Supper. These sit alongside various works by Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. Admission is €11 (£8) for adults.

Kolner Rathaus

Take a stroll into Cologne's Old Town and you will find the Kolner Rathaus, the Town Hall. The oldest public building in Germany, it can trace its history back over 900 years and was a focal point of the city during medieval times.

Over the years its architecture has been influenced significantly with main buildings suiting a 14th-century style, while the tower resembles more 15th-century styling with some Renaissance influence thrown in for good measure. The atrium even shows signs of a more modern twist. You are able to stroll around inside and see the likes of the Hansasaal and the Gothic figures of eight prophets, the nine "good heroes" and hear the sonorous carillon which plays three times a day.

Hohenzollern Bridge

Another iconic figure of Cologne is the Hohenzollern Bridge. Carrying railway tracks from the east into Koln Hbf, it has remained a hugely important gateway to the city providing a crossing point over the Rhine.

Built between 1907 and 1911, it was originally known as the Cathedral Bridge with the view of the Dom as you cross it. With three beautiful arches it is a great example of classic German engineering but was destroyed during World War II. As Allied troops began their assault on Cologne, the bridge was blown up by the Germans to prevent further access.

Rebuilt in 1959, the bridge is used for both trains and pedestrians. Take a stroll along the bridge and lay your own mark by attaching a 'love lock' along with the thousands of others that dot the walkway.

love-locks-Hohenzollern-Bridge

Enjoy a Kolsch or two in the Old Town

With a full day of sightseeing behind you, why not unwind in Cologne's Old Town? Like their neighbours in Dusseldorf, the people of Cologne are immensely proud of their roots and have their unique customs.

As the sun goes down head to the Fruh am Dom bar, just a short walk from the Dom itself. Here you will get a real flavour of life in the city with waiters filling glasses with a delicious Kolsch. You won't find many more beers on the menu here, but why would you need anything else as this light, flavoursome beverage hits all the right notes?

Another quirk of Cologne, is the serving of Kolsch. Traditionally poured out in 0.2 litre glasses, waiters will keep the beer flowing until you say stop, so maybe best to enjoy a pretzel or two to soak up the booze.

If you are feeling hungry after touring the city then head to Haxenhaus, on Frankenwerft 19. Here you will find an array of traditional German fare ranging from Knuckle 'Cologne Style' (pork knuckle with red sausage, onions, cheese with red cabbage and mash), Jagerpfanne (pork in a mushroom sauce) and Rhine Style beef with dumplings and red cabbage.

Cologne is such an amazing city to explore and will no doubt be a highlight of your Rhine river cruise.

Read our blog on Cologne's Alternative Attractions and explore more with your next Rhine River Cruise



Exotic vs European cruises - Which is for you?

clock 10th August 2015 | comment0 Comments

River cruising is one of the best ways to see the world and gives you an insight into places you may have never thought of visiting before.

With so many cruises available it can be hard to know just which one to choose. However, one of the simpler questions you need to ask yourself is whether you want an exotic or European cruise? We have holidays running throughout the year on many of the major rivers across the globe.

If you are looking to stay closer to home, the Rhine, Danube and French Riviera are potential destinations while further afield Southeast Asia boasts the captivating Mekong River with much to be discovered. So which will you choose? Our guide will help inspire your decision.

European cruise

Europe has a huge wealth of waterways ensuring you a memorable break. Cruising along the likes of the Rhine, Elbe or Danube provide opportunities to visit some of the most picturesque cities the continent has to offer.


Take the Rhine, for example. This huge river is the lifeblood of Germany - flanking great industrial powers such as Dusseldorf and Cologne. However, it starts its journey in northern Holland before making its way into Germany and eventually to Austria and Switzerland. Cruises in this region highlight the majesty of these cities and the European countryside.

Most cruises of the Rhine begin in Amsterdam, famed for its canals, before setting sail to explore all the Rhine has to offer. There are stop-offs to visit Cologne and its incredible architecture, namely the Dom and the Hohenzollern Bridge, the latter forms the main entrance to the city. Most trips also take in the Rhine Gorge before ending in the hugely historical city of Nuremburg.

The benefit of a European cruise is that you are able to avoid long-haul flights. As most journeys begin in central Europe, flight times should be around three hours maximum, depending on your destination. This also rules out any form of jetlag, so you feel raring to go as soon as you step on the boat. There are also more options for shorter breaks with four and seven day cruises around Europe.

Above all, a river cruise around Europe is an excellent way to experience multiple destinations, admiring historic cities and enjoying the picturesque river views.

 

Exotic cruise

An exotic cruise has an added sense of adventure. Travelling to regions such as Southeast Asia, India and Africa offers a step into the unknown, but can also turn out to be the best decision you have ever made.

Choose a river cruise along an iconic waterway such as the Mekong or Nile. These river cruising experiences vary greatly from European cruises and provide unique chances to experience a completely different culture. Many people consider an exotic river cruise to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Sail down the Mekong River and see the famous sights of Phnom Penh in Cambodia or stay in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) prior to your cruise. These cruises offer you experiences you simply do not get when on a European cruise.

Heading to the likes of Southeast Asia and Africa can be a lot of travelling but the memories will last a lifetime. You could even incorporate the cruise as part of a much larger holiday and do a bit of exploring yourself. The stories will no doubt impress your friends back home for years to come.

Browse our European River cruise deals - Rhine, Danube,

Browse our Exotic River cruise deals - Egypt, Mekong, Yangtze, Burma



Cologne's Alternative Attractions

clock 22nd July 2015 | comment0 Comments

Aesthetically pleasing, Cologne is a city with both style and substance. A collection of cultures, from Roman to Germanic, have led to one of the most impressive skylines in Germany, but there’s much more to this city than pretty buildings and chocolate.

Take some time out to explore properly; with our river cruises you have the majority of the day at your disposal, so plan your itinerary well. Here are a few alternative ideas for your day in Cologne.

 

 

Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel)



While the Old Town is well worth a visit for its picturesque architecture, winding alleyways and location to the main tourist attractions, for a glimpse at the alternative side to Cologne head over to the Belgian Quarter (Belgisches Viertel). Hip, trendy, alternative; whatever adjective you want to use to describe this neighbourhood, it’s a great place for shopping, drinking and dining. You’ll find everything here from artisan coffee shops and bars to boutique fashion stores and art shops. The quiet streets are covered in murals and the area is generally much more laid-back and quiet than the more central parts of Cologne.

 

NS Dokumentationszentrum – Gestapo Prison



Because who doesn’t want to explore the grim depths of a former Gestapo prison? In all seriousness though, this museum relays important information about the Nazi secret police’s role in World War II and also acts as a memorial for the Holocaust. Perhaps its best feature is the critically acclaimed “Cologne in the times of National Socialism” exhibition, which tells the story of the city under Hitler’s rule and it a permanent collection. The building itself is fully intact from the war era, which is quite remarkable considering the amount of bombs the allies dropped on Cologne. A must-visit for history buffs who love to learn about the darker side of European history.

 

Ehrenfeld



Similar to the Belgian Quarter, but with a little bit more art, Ehrenfeld is another lively, yet trendy part of the city. Here, you will find an abundance of original art studios, quaint cafes and one-of-a-kind shops as well as plenty of stunning street art in mural form. Very much the creative heart of the city, the "Coloneum" movie production house and media centre resides here as well as the area’s landmark the Helios-lighthouse; the former home of the famous German electrical engineering company. A largely residential area, this part of the city is slightly further away from the centre but not too far that you can’t get there easily on Cologne’s impressive public transport network. A number of light rail stations connect you to the area through the Cologne Stadtbahn line. Take either 3, 4, 5 or 13 to get there.

 

 

Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum


A museum that takes you on a journey of the world, the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum is three floors of interactive fun where touching the exhibits is all part of the experience. The first thing that strikes you about this place is the Sulawesi rice boat that hangs in the lobby. From here, you are welcomed to explore the lives of others from cultures all over the planet. Part history lesson, part insight into human diversity, the entire museum is a truly remarkable look at different people, and perhaps how we aren’t all that different.

 

Cologne Cathedral

Although not alternative, no trip to Cologne is complete without a trip to its magnificent Cathedral. This massive church is located right in the centre of the city and, due to its huge size, it’s quite hard to miss. Its status as northern Europe’s largest Gothic church has made it one of Germany’s most popular landmarks so, like we said, it’s hardly off the beaten track

 

 

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