Recapping our week aboard Emerald Waterways Emerald Star on the Danube

Emerald Waterways' Emerald Star docked in Budapest on July 12, 2014. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Star docked in Budapest on July 12, 2014. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Over the course of seven days, Emerald WaterwaysEmerald Star whisked me along the Danube from Budapest, Hungary to Nuremberg, Germany where I disembarked – reluctantly, I might add. I certainly wouldn’t have minded staying onboard for the return journey to Budapest!

Emerald Star in Durnstein, Austria. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Emerald Star in Durnstein, Austria. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The full day-by-day Live Voyage Report:

Time To Say Goodbye: our coach arrives in Nuremberg to take us to Nuremberg Airport. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Time To Say Goodbye: our coach arrives in Nuremberg to take us to Nuremberg Airport. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Owing to lock congestion, we were a little late getting in to Nuremberg, but nothing so drastic as to affect our flights. The first set of guests to disembark – which I was part of – weren’t set to leave the vessel until 8:30a.m., and we ended up leaving only 20 minutes past that time.

Disembarkation was efficient and easily handled. Breakfast was served in the main dining room and in the lounge, and guests were asked to vacate their staterooms and suites by 8:00a.m. Luggage does not have to be placed out in the evening prior to disembarkation, but in the morning, so as to keep the interior stateroom corridors free of obstructions.

My Panorma Balcony Suite at night. Staterooms aboard Emerald Star are sleek, modern, and European in styling. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

My Panorma Balcony Suite at night. Staterooms aboard Emerald Star are sleek, modern, and European in styling. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

By ten to nine, the luggage for my ‘Pink’ disembarkation group was loaded onto the coach, and we were on our way to the Nuremberg Airport, just a quick 20-minute drive away, where I was able to meet a good friend of mine for coffee.

As it always does, the 15-hour journey back to Canada gave me plenty of time to think about the fantastic week we’ve had on the Danube – and to consider what makes Emerald Waterways, the newest river cruise line in Europe, tick.

Excursions - in particular, the culturally-immersive EmeraldPlus - were one of Emerald's strong suits. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Excursions – in particular, the culturally-immersive EmeraldPlus – were one of Emerald’s strong suits. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

One of my favorite Emerald Waterways features was EmeraldPlus, a selection of specially-designed shore excursions that were created to give guests an intimate, firsthand look at Europe that goes beyond the standard tourist sites. On my journey, this meant spending time with a local Slovakian family in Bratislava. Guests were split into groups of 10 and invited into local households in a countryside village; it really is the luck of the draw that determines what you’ll experience from that point on. Some guests were invited to wine tastings, while we made traditional Hungarian desserts normally enjoyed at Christmas, complimented by tea, coffee and delicious homemade cake made with berries straight from our host Ella’s garden.

It was a decidedly unique experience that would normally only be offered on luxury river cruise lines charging twice the price. You definitely don’t want to miss out on these excursions.

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Our Live Voyage Report onboard Emerald Waterways Emerald Star has sadly come to a close. Be sure to follow along with future Live Voyage Reports on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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