Life on the River

A river cruise in Europe provides the most captivating passage through the history of this diverse continent. As you cruise along some of Europe's most iconic waterways, not only will you witness Mother Nature at her finest, but also engineering at its most impressive.

What is a lock?

Europe's waterways are not just distinctive because of their history, their terrain can make navigation more challenging, which is why water locks – essentially an elevator with which ships can be raised or lowered to overcome variation in water level – were designed.

The Main-Danube canal itself boasts 16 locks, some as deep as 30 metres and reaching a height of over 406 metres.

Navigating a lock

Our Star-Ships have been engineered with locks in mind, designed to fit perfectly with inches to spare. Your captain is trained for such manoeuvres, but sometimes water levels don't cooperate and, on occasions, this can lead to lock closures or difficulties passing under bridges when water levels are too high or too low. We always have a plan in place to handle navigation issues in a timely and efficient manner, with minimal disruption to your journey.

Navigating a lock with Emerald Waterways
Navigating a lock with Emerald Waterways


Throughout your cruise, we will sail under many different styles of bridges. On such days, we may need to close the Sun Deck for guest safety. Our crew will lower the railings and the captain's wheelhouse will be mechanically dropped to allow the Star-Ship safe navigation. But, with plentiful public spaces available throughout our Star-Ships, you'll always have somewhere to enjoy river views.


River cruising takes you right into the heart of different destinations. In certain locations docking space may be limited and you may find that, overnight, your ship has docked next to another ship. This is all part of the river cruising experience and drawing your curtains at night is advised. You'll get a glimpse of your neighbouring ship as you walk through to embark or disembark.

River Cruise Cover

As with any other element of Mother Nature, rivers have personalities of their own. While we make every effort to plan our trips carefully, some days Mother Nature simply doesn’t co-operate and your cruise may have a deviation due to low or high water levels or lock closures. At no extra cost, we have created our river cruise cover to give you peace-of-mind should your cruise be impacted.
River Cruise Cover with Emerald Waterways