Passau and Danube Scenic Cruising aboard Emerald Star

Emerald Waterways' Emerald Star docked in the German city of Passau. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Star docked in the German city of Passau. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today, guests aboard Emerald WaterwaysEmerald Star had three distinct and fantastic ways to spend their day: an optional, full day excursion to Salzburg, Austria; an optional, full-day journey to the storybook village of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic; or the option to stay onboard to enjoy a morning of scenic cruising along the Danube, followed by a visit and guided walking tour in Passau, Germany.

This morning, Emerald Star docked briefly in the small Austrian town of Aschach to disembark guests traveling on to Salzburg and Cesky Krumlov. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

This morning, Emerald Star docked briefly in the small Austrian town of Aschach to disembark guests traveling on to Salzburg and Cesky Krumlov. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Guests from Emerald Star boarding their coach to Cesky Krumlov. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Guests from Emerald Star boarding their coach to Cesky Krumlov. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Now, that’s a heck of a tough choice. I’ve been to Cesky Krumlov before, and absolutely fell in love with the town that has remained largely untouched for hundreds of years. Conversely, I’ve never been to Salzburg, and have always wanted to go there. However, both of those options are full-day excursions that would eliminate the option of touring Passau – and I love Passau. The chance to spend a relaxing morning onboard Emerald Star as she makes her way up the Danube followed by an afternoon in Passau was an opportunity that was too good to pass up.

Enjoying a light breakfast in the Horizon Lounge. Fruits, yogurts and breads are available each morning here. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Enjoying a light breakfast in the Horizon Lounge. Fruits, yogurts and breads are available each morning here. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Horizon Lounge: the place to be for scenic morning cruising. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Horizon Lounge: the place to be for scenic morning cruising. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today’s Daily Program of activities:

  • 07:30 – 08:15: Ship stops shortly in Aschach to disembark guests going to Cesky Krumlov and Salzburg, then sails further.
  • 06:30 – 10:00: Light Breakfast, Horizon Lounge
  • 07:00 – 09:00: Breakfast, Reflections Restaurant.
  • 08:00: Departure to Salzburg – Bus 1. Bus returns at 18:00 in Passau.
  • 08:45: Departure to Cesky Krumlov – Bus 2. Bus returns at 17:30 in Passau.
  • 12:00 – 13:30: Lunch for guests staying onboard. Reflections Restaurant.
  • 14:30: Ship arrives in Passau, Germany.
  • 14:30 – 15:30: Guided walking tour of Passau for guests staying onboard, with four local guides. Guide Four is for Gentle Walkers.
  • 16:00 – 16:30: Tea Time. Horizon Lounge.
  • 18:00: All Aboard! Ship sails to Regensburg, Germany.
  • 18:45 – 19:00: Port Talk with Daniela. Horizon Lounge.
  • 19:00: Captain’s Farewell Cocktail. Horizon Lounge.
  • 19:15: Captain’s Farewell Dinner. Reflections Restaurant.
  • 21:15: Movie Night, “The Counsellor.” Please sign up at Reception. Pool Area.
  • 21:15: Disco Night (put on your dancing shoes…). Horizon Lounge.
  • 22:30 – 23:00: Late Night Snack
  • *Due to safety reasons (low bridges), the Sun Deck will be closed starting tonight at 22:00. Thank you for your understanding.
Setting sail along the Danube for a morning of scenic cruising! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Setting sail along the Danube for a morning of scenic cruising! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Of course, a morning of scenic cruising allows us to answer some reader questions that have been emailed in the last few days – and both of them concern Scenic Tours, Emerald Waterways’ big sister. Both Emerald and Scenic were founded by Australian entrepreneur Glen Moroney, and two readers – who have never sailed either line – wanted to know what the basic differences between the two were.

Taking the time to explore the Emerald Star: the small but functional Fitness Center on Deck 2 aft. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Taking the time to explore the Emerald Star: the small but functional Fitness Center on Deck 2 aft. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Scenic offers guests a few more ‘bells-and-whistles’ aboard their ships, which are known as “Space Ships.” They include some luxe features like butler service, all beverages complimentary at any time of the day, and all tours included gratis. Their touring options ashore are also more extensive – and possibly extravagant. On a given day, you may have two or even three options, whereas on Emerald you may only have one or two options. Scenic even offers a unique feature known as Scenic Tailormade; a GPS-enabled commentary device that works both onboard ship and ashore in cities like Vienna. If you like the idea of a ‘do-it-yourself’ tour, Tailormade is as good as gold.

A small gift/jewelry shop is located on Deck 1 outside the Salon. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

A small gift/jewelry shop is located on Deck 1 outside the Salon. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Scenic, however, comes at a higher price point. Emerald Waterways has been designed to offer a similar level of personal service, but with a few more extra-cost options and a bit less choice. However, in exchange, the initial cost of sailing with Emerald is lower, and more on-par with offerings from lines like Viking River Cruises.

Where Emerald really excels, in my opinion, is in offering river cruisers more than they can get for the price on other lines. Gratuities are included on Emerald, but additional on many competing lines. Transfers between the ship and the airport are also included on Emerald, but not necessarily with other lines in the same price category. Are those costs deal-breakers? Of course not. But it is relaxing to know that you don’t have to worry about purchasing add-on transfer services, or paying gratuities at the end of your voyage.

The gorgeous swimming pool aboard Emerald Star. Note the opened, retractable roof. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The gorgeous swimming pool aboard Emerald Star. Note the opened, retractable roof. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I also think it’s worth mentioning that from time to time, I have to remind myself that Emerald Waterways has only been operational for two months, and the Emerald Star for a little over a month. That the product is this polished right out of the gate speaks highly to the skill of the crew onboard, many of whom have come over from Scenic.

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Our Live Voyage Report onboard Emerald Waterways Emerald Star continues tomorrow as we sail through Germany on the last full day of our ‘Danube Delights’ river cruise. Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

 

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