Review of 10 Things We Loved about our Emerald Waterways River Cruise

An Emerald Waterways river cruise vacation is one of the most gratifying vacations. We had a phenomenal time cruising Europe in April on our time aboard the Emerald Sky. Ten things, in particular, stood out to us the we absolutely adored being on the ship with this great cruise company.

We're sharing details about precisely what stuck with us even after leaving the ship, from the staff, to itinerary, to our fabulous stateroom, and additional amenities.

1. Meeting New People

The size of the small ship is conducive to meeting people. And we loved that aspect of it, no matter what age the person we met was, from the youngest person on our ship (who was around 18 years old and there with her family) to the oldest. (Of course we didn't ask the older people's ages!)

One of the common conceptions about river cruises, whether an Emerald Waterways River Cruise or another company, is that it skews older. 

While older audiences may have more time and money on their hands than “younger” people or couples (which is why statistically they take river cruises more often), we found a nice mix of ages on our Emerald Waterways river cruise. 

It was nice to connect with other couples who shared such a passion for travel, like us. Many of them were repeat Emerald Waterways river cruise loyalists and they were able to share information about the ports we were going to, which we found helpful and provided for nice conversation.

People are very interesting and it was great to make some new friends aboard the cruise even if it was simply by sharing the same table for a meal or encountering them on tours.

 2. Our Stateroom Balcony 

Emerald Waterways river cruise ships have a really cool balcony feature in some of their staterooms. We had an Emerald Panorama Balcony Suite and loved it.

Instead of a traditional balcony, where you step outside a door and sit on a landing outside the room, your room becomes the balcony. It's considered a French balcony in cruise ship terms because it's inside your cabin.

The stateroom window slides down halfway and voila – a balcony! Even our swan towel animal liked it.

3. The Staff and Crew

The staff and crew aboard our Emerald Waterways river cruise ship were all so sweet, warm and welcoming. 

We know this is perhaps the general rule with cruising – we’ve never encountered cruise staff who was anything but welcoming and accommodating. But hey, there’s always potential to have some bad apples.

Every member of the Emerald Waterways river cruise team on our sailing was wonderful, from the Captain, to Cruise Director, to Chef, and Housekeeping. 

A favorite memory was when all the servers in the dining room sang happy birthday to me!

4. Our Emerald Waterways River Cruise Itinerary

It’s expected that most people choose a cruise in large part due to its itinerary. 

Our Emerald Waterways river cruise was so incredibly special because it went too The Netherlands and Belgium. And it was during peak tulip season and we were able to go to the famous Keukenhof Gardens

We stopped at amazing ports, like Veere, Arhem, Bruges, Rotterdam and Delft.

5. Beer and Wine with Meals

We loved being able to relax during lunch with an ice cold draught beer and wine with dinner, all included in the cost of the cruise. 

Is there anything quite like a fresh, ice cold draught beer and a comfy place to sit and have a meal after walking around on a warm day? Nope, there isn't.

6. The Emerald Sky Pool 

Not only does it continuously astonish us that boats can float but they have some pretty incredible amenities on them. Like POOLS! 

Our Emerald Sky river cruise ship had a lovely pool onboard. The roof retracted to open itself up to the outdoors and blue skies if the weather was nice enough. 

We went it in a few times during our week on the ship and each time we practically had it all to ourselves (which was surprising).  

The pool also has a sliding floor the covers it up so the area can become a cinema at night. We didn't experience that during our trip but we know it's a fun perk on some sailings.

Emerald Waterways river cruise ship indoor pool with retractable roof.
Emerald Waterways river cruise ship indoor pool with retractable roof.

7. Great Coffee, Whenever We Wanted It on our Emerald Waterways River Cruise

Maybe Europe does something to us because we suddenly want coffee multiple times a day when we land on the continent. 

We appreciate hot, strong coffee at any time when we travel abroad. Emerald Waterways river cruise ships have great coffee available to guests 24/7. 

We took advantage of this whether we were in the lounge area, or at the pool, or top deck enjoying the scenery. Coffee all day! 

8. How Accessible the Port of Embarkation and Debarkation Was 

It was so, so easy to fly to Amsterdam’s Schipol airport. It was both the point of embarkation and debarkation for us. (Where we left from and docked back to, at the end of the cruise.)

It’s a major international airport with plenty of flights in and out of it. Furthermore, Emerald Waterways helped us book the flights and also arranged transportation to and from the airport to port. It was seamless. 

Sometimes Emerald Waterways runs promotions including flights or flight discounts so be sure to sign up for notifications.

9. Emerald Sky's Top Deck

The top deck was something Dan noted was one of his favorite aspects of the Emerald Sky, our Emerald Waterways sailing vessel. It was lovely and sunny up there and always provided grand views of whatever landscape we were passing or the port we were approaching.

I loved that there was grass up there (fake but it existed and was ever-green), a Tic-Tac-Toe board and chairs. We loved having coffee, hanging out and talking on the top deck. There was also a little put-put golf course and a track around it in case you wanted to get exercise and walk or run laps.

10. Emerald Waterways River Cruise Sailings Accommodate Various Activity Levels

We loved that Emerald Waterways was accommodating to any activity level.

If you wanted to ride around town on some of the bikes provided at the port, you could. (You simply signed up for this ahead of time and then the crew put the bikes just outside the ship in port to use with a guide.)

Or if you needed a slower group because of a disability or it was harder for you to walk, there was a group for that on all the tours.

If you wanted to join the included tour and walk with the group and get information from the tour leader, you could.

And if you didn’t want to and wanted to do your own thing you could. 

We Can't Wait to Cruise with Emerald Waterways Again!

Disclosure: There may be affiliate links in this post, which means we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase. We only recommend products or services we personally use and recommend.

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