Emerald Waterways – Christmas Market Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest
The Three Wise Men went East to find … the Christmas Markets? They could have swapped the ‘ships of the desert’ (camels) for the delights of the Emerald Sky Cruise ship that took us to the ‘wondrous’ sights of the East. The ‘Wise men’ have made this ultimate luxury cruise ship, smooth and sleek with a very modern twist unlike other ships that sail the rivers and canals of Europe. The Emerald Sky is the ‘limit’ that caters for everything you need to enjoy this wonderful experience.
The Emerald Waterways ship Emerald Sky is one of the new fleet that is part of the Scenic Cruise ‘family’. The ship was launched on the 9th April 2014 in Amsterdam and the ‘Star’ Ships are a deluxe river cruise experience. It is designed to impress with its stylish features and is based on a designer hotel. It was voted by Cruise Critic as the Best New River Cruise ship of 2014.
Excellent furnishings, mirrored walls and beautiful ball shaped chandeliers greet you at the main reception area where you stand in a three tiered atrium that is spacious and the centre of the ship. The Horizon lounge with panoramic views and excellent bar facilities entice you out of your cabin and if that doesn’t tempt you out then the heated swimming pool which is ‘small but beautifully formed’ will help you unwind and relax. This area has a retractable roof for fine weather cruising and in the evening it is transformed into a cinema. The pool is covered and as the lights go low, you are shown to your seat and given ear-phones for your own personal listening experience complete with a tub of popcorn! There is also a small gym a treatment area for massage and a hairdresser for all your pampering needs.
The Reflections restaurant is excellent, buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and waiter service for dinner. If you prefer more alfresco dining, then the ship has The Terrace area for guests to sit and watch the river go by whilst having breakfast or lunch. Seating is available outside but if the weather is cool, heaters are switched on for your convenience and comfort. The food is varied and consistently good with speciality dishes from the areas that you are going through and the wine is included at lunch and dinner. Regional wines are produced to complement the areas. Tea and coffee is also complimentary through out the cruise. Breakfast and lunch is served between certain hours but dinner is served at 7pm which suited everyone we spoke to. It is an informal arrangement and this way you meet lots of like minded people. You can sit on a table for two or four or six and thoroughly enjoy the experience. It is the ‘friendliest ship’ I have ever been on!
One thing I found was that although the ship was mainly couple orientated, people and who had come on their own were made welcome. There is a captain’s welcome dinner and a captain’s disembarking dinner, which most people did dress up for; the ladies wear cocktail dresses and most of the men wear suits. The age range varied and the ‘world’ appeared smaller as we met people from Australia, America, Canada and also Puerto Rico. Yes the guests travel far and wide to enjoy the pleasures of Emerald Waterways cruising.
If you are ‘Cruised Out’, with large ships and miles to walk to your cabin, queuing to get off in dark airless rooms, with a ticket waiting to be called, then river cruising is for you. The Emerald Waterways stylish fleet are ‘smaller’ averaging 180 guests, and from the reception area you can quickly walk to your cabin or the lounge and restaurant, and disembarkation is trouble free. An announcement is made and coaches and guides (which are included in the price of the holiday) are all waiting for you on the quay side. A receiver device is provided for every passenger and this allows you to go with the guides, but not stand in front of the person to hear the commentary. It is an excellent service that allows you to look around and enjoy the commentary and history of the area. For disabled passengers there is a lift to all floors and the ramps are a little difficult to negotiate but it can be done, and the staff are attentive and helpful.
The cabins are streamlined and very functional, with comfortable beds. There are ‘no frills’ but if what you need isn’t there in your cabin, just ask the wonderful staff who always have a smile on their faces and very willing to help make your experience the very best. A selection of pillows are available for your comfort. Laundry can be done for a small price, free Wi-fi and bottle water is provided daily in each cabin a mini bar and safe. There are three deck levels and the lower cabins have a smaller window, but they have the same facilities in all the rooms. The higher in the ship you go, the prices also go up but it is worth the little extra to have a larger window or balcony. There are also the Grand Balcony cabins or Owner’s Suite with the added extras.
Also if you eat and drink too much – which you will – there is the open top deck with a walking track on it to work off the extra pounds! A large game of noughts and crosses and lots of seats and shade for you to sit and just enjoy the scenery, or relax and watch the world go by. Water does have that effect, it is a calm, tranquil way to travel, as you glide through beautiful areas at a leisurely pace, letting someone take the helm and take care of you.
Our journey started in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest 1,250 miles by inland waterways all across the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Hungary. It was effortless and enjoyable, unlike the three wise men we didn’t go over field and fountain, moor and mountain but our pot of gold was Emerald another precious metal that is the Emerald Sky a ‘Space Ship’ to take you to another space and time.
Glynis Sullivan travelled with Emerald Waterways. Read more information
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 2: Cologne
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 3: Salzburg
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 4: Vienna
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 5: Budapest
• Read Emerald Sky – Part 6: The perfect Christmas River Cruise