MV Emanuel

1 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


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Date of travel

October, 2018

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Reasons for trip

Regular holiday

This was our first small ship cruising experience, with only 30 passengers onboard. We have cruised on mainline cruise ships (from 600 to 4,000 passengers) with all the entertainment, swimming pools, 24hr eating and choice of venues etc so we did not know what to expect on such a small ship.

This was a very enjoyable trip and we will be looking at booking another one, however, there are somethings best known before booking, which will be covered later. It is a completely different experience from cruise ships, especially when you stay in port every night and sail for a couple of hours during the morning.

The Emanuel was built in 1955 and last refurbished in 2006. It is well looked after and the 7 crew appear to be very proud and the Chef was just brilliant, more about the food later.

Remember you must be able to climb stairs and between moored boats. There are NO LIFTS onboard and the stairs are quite steep, and the rungs are a bit narrow, however the handrails are very solid all over Emanuel.

We had a cabin on Main Deck and all the cabins are small with just over a foot gap around the double/kingsize bed, there was a wardrobe/cupboard (hangers, shelves, hairdryer and safe), aircon (had a mind of its own), TV (we could only find 2 English channels), 2 bedside cabinets, 3 power sockets (European 2 pin sockets) and ensuite facilities. The shower was a very good size, very hot water and bi-folding door (we’ve had smaller showers on most cruise ships).

The free wifi was very good and we had a good signal in our cabin.

Entertainment – 3 nights a local 2 piece band or a group of singers came on board and played for an hour or so. Another night there was a quiz. Everyone enjoyed the entertainment.

After breakfast we would cast off and sail to the next port, which would take 2 to 4 hours maximum (depending on the distance between ports). On one of the days the sea did get a little choppy, however, Emanuel handled it very well, so take seasickness tablets with you (just in case). Also, binoculars might be handy as you are often quite a distance away from the shoreline.

Ports of call Dubrovnik (start & end port), Korcula (twice), Makarska (approx. 3 hours), Pucisca, Split and Hvar. All ports, except Makarska, arrived afternoon and stayed overnight. Unfortunately, Siapan and Mljet were cancelled.

The walking tours are an hour to two hours maximum and at a very slow pace, whisper headsets were used during the walking tour in Split and Dubrovnik. The walk & boat trip tour in Mljet was cancelled, as we could not get to Mljet due to the wind and had a 2nd visit to Korcula instead.

On the final morning you must vacate your cabin by 8am and place your suitcase outside by this time. Hand luggage must be kept with you. Breakfast is served at 8am and the coach to the hotel/airport leaves after 9am. Between 8am and 9am four main deck cabins become available facilities for all passengers (these four cabins are cleaned immediately at 8am). A sign on the cabin door indicates which ones can be used. This also gives passengers a chance to look at the other cabins ;o)

Things to know before booking/going:

1) Time of year cancellations. Due to the time of year (daylight, water temperature & weather) 2 ports and the swimming off the back were cancelled.

As soon as we boarded Emanuel we were told the Captain was not stopping at any coves and if we wanted to go swimming we would have to from the ‘beach’ at the ports of call. All the beaches are stony and not very interesting. Some passengers did venture in at the different ports. The water temperature was about 19 degrees, crystal clear and you can see all the small fish.

Siapan was cancelled due to the late flight Saga had booked most of the passengers on. Though the 12:30 from Gatwick to Dubrovnik landed on time we stayed moored in Dubrovnik cruise terminal port overnight instead of going to Siapan.

On day 6 Mljet was cancelled due to the wind, so we went to Korcula again, which we visited on day 2 (this is common as we have seen other reviews stating the same). There are quite a few other ports from Hvar to Mljet, which we are certain could have taken such a small ship instead of going back to the small town of Korcula. A lot of the passengers spent most of the day reading books.

2) Dubrovnik mooring location. The Saga description states “mooring close to Dubrovnik, where you can see the impressive medieval walls”. Emanuel moors 2 miles away (cruise ship terminal). Buses 1A and 1B run to Dubrovnik and cost about 15 Kuna (under £2 each way) and cheaper if bought from a kiosk. We have walked to/from Dubrovnik in about 30 minutes, however, there is an uphill drag section.

3) Parallel boat parking & no security. This trip was at the end of the season, however, at most ports we were 2 or 3 boats tied together. You must be able to climb between boats, which can be a couple of feet, open gap, between 2 bobbing boats. There is NO assistance given by crewmembers, as none of the gangways/gaps are manned.

No security – All the gangways are open all night, to allow passengers to come and go at any time of day or night. This is very handy if you wish to go ashore after 10pm (see bar comment later), however, this does mean that the other boats’ passengers have FULL access to your ship too. Our cabin was next to one of the main doors, which was locked at 10 pm, and another boat’s passengers were trying to open it, so they could cut through to their boat, and they kept banging & shaking the door. They were told, as we were, to walk around the outside of the other boats to get to our ship.

Some of the cabin doors open out onto the deck and the passengers were trying these cabin doors too, so always keep your door locked. We also caught another passenger on the top deck looking around the restaurant/bar area.

4) Set Meal Times. Meal times are like being at school, being institutionalised, or staying in B&Bs back in the 70’s and are at a set time.

Early Riser Coffee at 7am, Breakfast is at 8am, lunch is at 1pm, dinner is at 7pm (these can change by 30 mins depending on walking tour/arrival times). When the food is ready a bell is rung and you are expected to arrive within a few minutes. We can so relate to Pavlov’s dog :o)

Breakfast self-service. Cereal, juice, bread, cheese, meat, fruit, yoghurt, egg (cooked differently each day), bacon or sausage.

Lunch self-service. salad, bread and hot option (different every day).

Dinner set 2/3 course meal. This is pre-platted and served.

The menu is available late the previous evening or early in the morning and if there is something you cannot eat let them know by 9am and the Chef will cook you something else.

At lunch and dinner the Chef would often come around 2 or 3 times to see if anyone would like another portion, rude to say no ;o)

Examples of main courses we had during the week: sea bass, beef goulash, turkey cream sauce, calamari, lasagne, lamb.

5) Free Bar 11am to 10pm. The beer is cold and on draft, tonic water, orange juice, sprite etc, local gin, brandy etc and the pear liquor was very nice to have after dinner. There are also chargeable drinks available, but we were more than happy with the included selection of drinks. Self service tea and coffee available from 7am to 10pm.

6) After 10pm. The bar closes dead on 10pm and the ‘lounge’ area closes just after 10:30 so if you wish to carry on talking or drinking after this time you must continue ashore. Being the end of the season, all the bars were already closed. The ship is always tied up overnight and does not leave port until after 7am so there is plenty of time to enjoy an evening ashore.

7) Wildlife. We were told we were very fortunate to see a pod of dolphins in this area as they are quite rare in the area, due to the lack of algae in the water. Other animals we regularly saw were seagulls, fish, a good assortment of birds, and even many butterflies!!

8) Hotel Location & Change of Hotel. Due to our late flight home our paperwork from Saga stated “you are welcome to relax at the hotel Astarea”. We drove straight passed this hotel and went to the hotel Epidaurus instead, which was a very nice clean hotel. We were told by the Saga rep. buffet lunch was €18, however, the hotel did not take Euros so make sure you have Kuna. We went to Cavtat so don’t know if the hotel would take credit cards.

Change of hotel was a bonus, due to the location of the hotels. Hotel Astarea is 8 miles from Dubrovnik and 5 miles from Cavtat. Hotel Epidaurus is 11 miles from Dubrovnik, however, just over a mile walk around the harbour. Cavtat is a popular tourist attraction and we encountered 5 cruise ship tours the short time we were there.


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