A Danube river cruise review for Emerald Cruises

I recently cruised with Emerald Cruises on Emerald Star for three nights on the River Danube, from Vienna to Budapest. It was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone. As a first time cruiser, I didn’t really know what to expect on a river cruise. I felt like Emerald Cruises were the best option to ease me into what river cruising is really like. From the balcony suites to the shore excursions, I had everything I needed on a 182-guest river cruise. Even with the impressive crew-to-guest ratio, it still felt like there was room for 200 more with how spacious the facilities were! 

Top service with Emerald Cruises

If there was anything to remember from my time onboard Emerald Cruises, it's the service from the staff. They would have our drink orders memorised and went out of their way to make us comfortable. They would even join in on the parties, with one of the servers guiding the conga line! With an excellent staff-to-guest ratio, I was able to enjoy the experience with everything I needed. Along with the service, came the astonishing food that I still think about over a month later!

Emerald Star stateroom review


One thing I would recommend when booking a river cruise is to upgrade to a balcony suite. Still, having an Emerald Cruises stateroom still felt like an upgrade with the 162-square-feet space, which is more than enough to accommodate a couple. What is so special about the Panorama Balcony Suites is the inside balcony that comes with them. My room had one wall and a complete window to see all the views. This was very useful in the morning as we sailed past the famous Hungarian Parliament building. The windows go down with just a touch of a button next to it. Emerald Cruises also provide chairs so you can sit and watch the views go by, maybe with a free coffee/tea from the complimentary station in the lounge. 

The pool on Emerald Star


I found it very unique for a river cruise line to have an indoor pool, whereas the majority prefer an outdoor one on the Sun Deck. Weather can be unpredictable so an indoor pool is a solution to the problem. Whilst it was raining as we were in Bratislava, we enjoyed the summer feeling in the pool. The room also being heated was a major bonus as it was always the right temperature. Although we didn’t get to see it, the roof opening in the pool room on the perfect summer day would top it off! And the fact it turns into a cinema at night… Wow!

Emerald Cruises shore excursions

One of my favourite things about river cruising is the shore excursions. You get a wide range of choice and get to experience all different things. As we arrived late in Vienna, we didn’t get to experience much of the city—but we did get to see a Viennese classical concert. We were taken to the Theatre Museum, where we marvelled at the beautiful ceilings which showcased the best kind of fresco paintings. They played renditions of Mozart and Beethoven whilst having impressive opera singers entertaining the crowd with their acting. 


In Bratislava, we were introduced to a Slovakian family with whom we were treated to coffee and a homemade apricot cake that the mother had baked herself. Jane, the host, introduced us to stories about her family whilst handing out photo albums and newspaper clippings about her life. Immersing yourself through the culture by having a local talk about it was really interesting and allowed me to learn more about Bratislava—a place I knew nothing about previously. We were also given the opportunity in Bratislava to go on a guided walk where our funny, enthusiastic guide gave a deeper understanding to what it was like to live there along with the history.

The highlight of the trip in Budapest was definitely the electric bikes Emerald Cruises has onboard. Although it took me a while to find my balance, it definitely became one of my most memorable moments. We got to go through the streets and see the majority of Budapest in just a day! It is something I highly recommend if you’re going on board, and they are completely free and accessible for people to use.

Freedom of choice

One reason river cruising is so unique is that you have a freedom of choice throughout the day. Don’t fancy doing a guided tour? Take the ebikes out and explore the city by yourself. Don’t fancy eating in the main restaurant? Have a nosey in the lounge at the food they provide. To elaborate on this, I decided to have burgers in the lounge and then pasta in the main restaurant for lunch, and Emerald Cruises provides this! It is definitely beneficial for picky eaters like me.


My time on Emerald Cruises was a time to remember and I can think of 100 more reasons to cruise with them!

If you want to experience this, contact Panache Cruises on the phone number in the top right corner of this page to find out more!

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