My wife and I have been on a couple of ocean cruises and I was not really thrilled with them. Last year we thought that we would give River cruising a try, and chose a trip from Budapest to Passeau on the Danube. All the reviews of Emerald were great so we booked our trip with them. Our experience was excellent on that cruise and we booked this cruise up the Rhine almost as soon as we got back home.
What makes Emerald so exceptional to me is the staff. From the time you get on board until the time you leave, they are there trying to make your stay as pleasant as they can. Our cabin assistant Paul would greet us with a hello and how are you, or how was your meal, every time we saw him. The bar staff quickly became aware of what our favorite drinks and we hardly had to say what we wanted before it was there for us. The serving staff at meals were always questioning how we had enjoyed what we had just been served, and were ready to address any issues we may have had. One evening, a dining partner found the meat of his dinner to be especially good and asked if it was possible to receive more, within minutes he received a new plate with an additional double portion of the meat.
What I also find exceptional with Emerald is the way that they treat the staff. On both cruises, all of the staff on board were presented to the passengers giving us an opportunity to show our appreciation. On a tour of the kitchen I found out that the ship provides meals to the staff similar to the passengers but also based on their dietary and religious needs.
On this cruise I have to single out the Cruise Director Nina, for the work that she did in juggling the tours that we went on. Due to events beyond her control she had to make last minute scheduling changes that could not have been easy.
The Activities Director kept the evenings highly entertaining with a variety of shows, musicals, and games that engaged everyone on board.
The one final person that I would like to mention is the Hospitality Director Albert Andrei. We were fortunate enough to meet him on our previous cruise and were surprised to see him on this ship. While it was a surprise, it also indicated that we would be well taken care of. A happy, efficient staff is not magic, it is built and encouraged by management and I credit this to Albert on the Emerald Dawn.
So how was the ship and everything else about the cruise? It was everything that I had experienced the previous year. The room was great, the food was great, the excursions were informative and of the right duration, the scenery while cruising was beautiful.
Did we have any issues on this trip? Sure. You can’t take a trip like this without having minor inconveniences. However, we enjoyed every minute of it. Our challenge now is to decide which Emerald cruise to take next year. It is down to Portugal, or Southeast Asia.
We were upgraded during our previous trip from the Grand Balcony to the Owners Suite and I became hooked. For this trip I had to book the Owners suite again.
The Grand Balcony suites look very nice, however, the Owner Suites give you much more space.
A word to those who might consider the Owner Suite too expensive. Book the Grand Balcony early, you might be upgraded as we were the previous trip. On this cruise there were two couples that were upgraded.