Emerald River Cruise

Emerald River Cruise

Embarking on my first river cruise with Emerald Cruises was a thrilling adventure, finally getting to experience something I‘d often sold to others but never tried myself. Flying from Birmingham airport to join the ship in Amsterdam, I was brimming with anticipation and preconceived notions about what the journey would entail.

On arrival at Amsterdam, I headed for the meeting point where the rep from Emerald Cruises was waiting, as clients arrive on different flights from various airports, so transfers can be by taxi or coach dependant on numbers. A 20-30 minute drive took us to the ship, Emerald Dawn, docked in the center of the city just 5 minutes from central station and 10 minutes from Dam Square.

Our bags were taken to the ship, and we checked straight into our cabin. Stepping into our cabin, a Grand Balcony Suite on the Horizon deck, I was immediately impressed by its modernity and thoughtful amenities. From a coffee machine to a minibar and eco-conscious touches like complimentary refillable water bottles, the cabin felt like a luxurious retreat. The option for twin or double beds, ample storage space, and provided comforts such as dressing gowns, slippers, and even walking poles, ensured a cosy and convenient stay. In the cabin were our ear pieces to use on excursions ( another first !) The great bonus of this grade of cabin was 2 pieces of laundry each day , ideal with the mixed weather we had. We also had canapes every afternoon and evening brought to our cabin. Our Balcony had a window that was electrically operated to come down to open to feel like a balcony area. This area could be closed off with a kind of bifold screen, or left open, which I did as it felt more spacious. There was a table and chairs in this area, and the window could be lowered so you felt as though you were on an actual balcony. The lower deck cabins have just a small window which cannot be opened ( you are above the water level though ! ) but when docking this would block out the light against the other ships or dockside.

We had the day to ourselves as we weren't sailing that night, so we headed into the city to explore and took a river boat excursion for an hour - for 14 euros. Amsterdam has a population of around 920000, with 820000 bikes ! hardly anyone drives in to the city as parking can be 10 euro per hour ! A light buffet lunch was served on the ship as we all arrived at different times. The city has space for 52 river boats in the harbour. Houses are built tall and narrow as they pay less tax ! We were on the all inclusive package - well worth it - sometimes there are offers including it. First night - we had the safety briefing and the lifeboat drill, and the hotel director told us all about the ship. Each evening at around 1845 we had the port briefing for the following day followed by chefs recommendation and dinner at around 1900 each evening. Free seating so tables for 2 or larger if you want to get together with new friends.

Day 2 Breakfast 0730 as the excursions depart 0900. there was a Ebike tour or a visit to Zaanse Schans - the home of windmills, cheese and clogs !! Public toilets are chargeable in Netherlands at 1 euro a visit and you pay by card !!! It was a lovely drive through the Netherlands, Amsterdam is 2 meters below sea level so the roads and fields are built up and separated by dykes and canals to avoid flooding. The name is from the River Amstel, and everyone had to walk in clogs to stop their feet getting wet. That evening after the port talk and dinner we had a sting quartet for our entertainment. This finishes by around 10pm but the bar remains open until the last person heads to bed !

Day 3 Off on an Ebike tour of Rotterdam for me - around 9 miles - the other option was by coach. We toured the old harbour, the Grand Hall food market. We saw some very unusual architecture as most of the city was bombed in the war so was rebuilt. Afternoon was free so we had lunch and a swim in the indoor pool. But you could go and explore off the ship or even take the bikes out if you prefer.

Day4 The Hague was our destination and Mauritshuis Art Gallery and we were privileged to have a private viewing for an hour with a guide to explain the art works of Rubens and van der Weyden and others including the Girl with the Pearl Earring ( which is not actually and earring - its a just a drop of paint and looks like it is!) The Hague is the 3rd largest city, the Government offices are here and the UN court. Also the International Court of Justice and the Peace Court . And it has a huge beach with 50 beach clubs on it. We were back on board at lunchtime and had our first day time sail down river. It was good to be on the move but the weather meant we could not go on the sun deck so we played some board games in the lounge watching the countryside go by. We stopped in the pretty town of Wilstadt built on an old fort still cannons on the top. We just had a short work around. Tonights entertainment was a quiz night in teams, and that evening we experience our first locks. They are huge and you have to book the times 3 years in advance and if you miss your slot you can be waiting a long time !

Day 5 We had arrived in Antwerp, for our walking city tour and tasting some chocolate ! The ship was staying her so a couple of us took the bikes out as it was dry, lots of excellent bike tracks and very safe and flat ! A quiet evening to night and a cinema night for in the pool area with popcorn too !

Day 6 A later start to I gave the morning exercise class a visit ! This is in the pool area they raise the pool floor to make a yoga/exercise area. This class is usually at 7 am each morning for half an hour, then off to breakfast before disembarking. Today was Arnhem and a visit to the war cemetery and Airbourne museum or a cycle in the countryside. I opted for the bike ride - and we encountered wind, rain, hail and sun and a beautiful rainbow on the way ! Tonight was the Captains Farewell Dinner - with a disco to follow.

Day 7 Our last day and we were back in Amsterdam to visit the Keukenhof Gardens, stunning and in full bloom. But Tulips do not originate from Holland they are from Turkey . There are 1000 varieties of Tulip, but no black ones, the gardens are only open for7 weeks of the year and attract 1.4 million visitors, and 100 tulip farmers show their creations. Its a perfect climate here for growing no too hot and wet conditions are perfect. Day 8 Time to leave - transfers are times to go with flights home, some coach some taxi dependant on numbers.

This was a great opportunity for me to experience a River Cruise having only sailed on ocean cruises with thousands of people to only have a maximum of 180 this time was a very way to see cities close at hand from the river. If you would like to give it a try let me know, I have pictures I can send as well.

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