Nicole Warren, Trainee Retail Travel Consultant at our Westbourne travel agents, had her first taste of river cruising when she stepped on board Emerald Sun. Here are her thoughts and the ship and the Danube itinerary she enjoyed.
Destination: Danube River Cruise
Operator/Host: Emerald Waterways
(Hotel names/Ship name): Emerald Sun
Duration: 3 Nights
The flight was okay,the snack on board was a Danish pastry. The staff were pleasant but the flights were delayed, which meant we were delayed getting to the ship.
Emerald Sun is a stunning ship to look at and, in terms of the accommodation, the room was spacious. We had a twin bed and it did feel slightly smaller than those with doubles, but not by much. The beds and pillows were very comfy, as were the balcony chairs. The amenities in the room (slippers, water, bathroom supplies and towels) were all very welcomed and were a nice touch.
The ship was kept clean and tidy at all times and the reception area was warm and welcoming. The bar and dining areas were comfortable and charming (you could have fell asleep in the bar; the lounge chairs were really comfortable and relaxing). Nothing was ever too much trouble for the staff and, if we required anything, they were more than willing to sort it out.
There was always avast menu on offer in the restaurant and, if you fancied a smaller, light lunch,there was an option for this in the lounge area. In the evenings, we had a nice turn down service which included a chocolate on the pillow and the itinerary and menu for the next day.
The swimming pool was set at a reasonable temperature and the pool area was relaxing. The pool roof opened to let in the sun and, on occasions in the evening, this part of the ship turned into an onboard cinema.
The drinks packages were great value for money and for the wine, beer and soft drink package it was 10.90 euros per night per person. The premium package was 22.90 euros per person per night and hosted a wide range of drinks (this didn't include Prosecco or Champagne, though, as they had a separate package for this).
The wine with lunch and dinner was a nice touch and included some great local wines.
What Was Included?
The trip included a tour of Budapest, with a tour of Buda Hill. It was thoroughly enjoyable,however, a little on the hot side when we were trying to climb the hill in 33-degree heat. Our guide, Vicki, took us to all different shops on the coach tour.
In Bratislava, we started off the morning with a walking tour accompanied by our guide, Dascia. It was a lovely stroll around the capital city of Slovakia, during which we saw such sights as St. Martin's Cathedral, where the Hungarian kings and queens were crowned. We saw the Hans Christian Anderson statue and the Holocaust memorial they had in the town.
In the afternoon, we had an EmeraldMore tour booked, which involved afternoon tea and cake with a local family. We visited a gentleman who hosted us and provided us with water,tea, cherry cake using the cherries from his garden and home-brewed wine. He showed us the cellar where he stores the wine and took us around his fruit and vegetable allotment. He had a few animals, including goats, which he uses to make cheese.
In Vienna, we had a walking tour of the city in the morning, before an hour of free time before walking to catch the shuttle bus back to the ship. We saw the Spanish Riding School,the palace and the national library, whilst walking through.
My favourite part was visiting countries that I’d never been to before and experiencing a river cruise. It was great to meet different people from a range of backgrounds, all of whom had a love of travelling.
I would highly recommend this trip. The staff were so friendly and welcoming, and the itinerary included something not many ships offer – the opportunity to dock in Bratislava itself. The location of the ship in Budapest is right opposite the Parliament Building and makes for incredible pictures. The range of excursions that are offered is also wonderful and, even though some are included, you don't have to take part in them.
Must see? Buda Hill
Must do? Visit a local Slovakian family
Must try? The range of local food on board
If you would like to talk about the river cruises we have available, call into your nearest branch. We have travel agents in Colchester, Bury St. Edmunds, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Norwich and along the south coast.