getting the most out of a river cruise

Insider tips for your next Emerald Waterways river cruise


If you’re counting the days until an upcoming European river cruise, join us as we share insider tips and advice on what to expect during your time with Emerald Waterways.

While our itineraries and destination guides contain lots of useful information on how to get the most from your trip, they don’t cover all the exciting details which make our river cruises truly special. For this, you need someone who’s experienced the joy of an Emerald Waterways river cruise first-hand – and we can think of no one better than talented cruise blogger, Emma Le Teace.

Emma is the founder of popular cruise blog Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People, which focuses on promoting cruise holidays to all ages. Recently, Emma travelled with us through the South of France on-board the Emerald Liberté, keeping a comprehensive diary of her journey and sharing her experience of life on-board an Emerald Waterways Star-Ship.

Emma Le Tease insider cruise river tips

Here, we’re highlighting a few of our favourite moments from Emma’s wonderful daily cruise diary, giving those who may be new to river cruising an insider look at what to expect from an Emerald Waterways river cruise.

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Embarkation and first impressions

Stepping on-board an Emerald Waterways Star-Ship for the very first time is always a thrilling moment. But the excitement of your trip starts long before embarkation, as Emma discovered: “The document holders and booklets are sent to all Emerald Waterways guests a few weeks before the cruise. You’ll also get an Emerald Waterways backpack. I met a lady onboard who said she had 6!”

You can expect embarkation day to be busy, but our attentive service and welcoming crew mean no stress and no fuss. Here, Emma shares her experience of arriving on-board Emerald Liberté:

“We were met by a transfer which took us to Arles where we boarded the ship. The Emerald Waterways cruise fare includes things like the tips for people who ‘porter’ your bags, so you don’t have to worry about anything like that which is awesome. The bags were taken from the coach to the ship for us and arrived in our cabin – ta-da!”

Discover more about what to expect from embarkation day on an Emerald Waterways river cruise in Emma’s insightful video diary:

Food, drink and dining on-board

Delicious dining is unquestionably one of the major highlights of cruising Europe’s rivers with Emerald Waterways. We’re proud of our incredible culinary offering, which is inspired by the regions and cultures we travel through. But one thing that many guests don’t know about dining on-board our Star-Ships is just how flexible and rewarding mealtimes can be – something Emma enthuses about in her river cruise diary:

“There is a lot more flexibility with breakfast than I thought there would be. I thought that because the ship was so small, there would only be one option but that isn’t the case at all. There is an ‘early riser’ breakfast from 6.30-7.30, the main breakfast from 7.30-9.00 and the ‘late riser’ breakfast from 9.00-10.00.

service on board an Emerald Waterways star-ship

“There are two options for lunch, one in the main dining room and another ‘lighter’ lunch in the lounge. In the main dining room, the starters/desserts are buffet style and you order your main from the waiter, so it can be freshly cooked. My partner, Jono and I both decided to have a steak and fries! The waiters here are really lovely, they genuinely seem like they’d do anything for you.

“What I loved about dinner is that there is no set seating, you show up and sit wherever you’d like. Easy peasy! The food looks like it should be in a really, really high-end restaurant. It’s all yummy and the presentation is incredible. The speed of service is really impressive too, they’ve clearly perfected this art!”

Drinks are also something we take great pride in, and we source the very best beers, wines and spirits to accompany your fully-inclusive meals. Other drinks can be purchased from our extensive bar throughout the day, and we’d highly recommend Emma’s blog which breaks down all the different drink options available on-board – including our generous premium drinks package.

Onshore encounters

Daily excursions are what makes a river cruise so memorable. Unlike an ocean cruise, where you might spend only a couple of days on dry land during your holiday, Emerald Waterways river cruises feature daily excursions and events, so you can see all the wonderful sights that the continent’s rivers have to offer.

Emma really appreciated this aspect of river cruising, writing in her daily journal: “I am loving these tours. They’re included in the cruise fare and having a local guide means you get a unique insight into the place you’re visiting.

“Today started with a walking tour of Viviers. We had a brilliant local guide called Pierre who was so funny and informative. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place with so much history. We were treated to an organ concert in the cathedral, which was really cool. The concert was put on just for us, so thank you Emerald Waterways. One thing I love about this cruise is that Emerald Waterways have already pre-tipped the guides/anybody who we might usually tip. This makes things SO much easier.”

From vineyard tours to guided city walks, all our daily excursions are included, and it’s incredible just how many cultural events you can enjoy on a single itinerary. Be sure to read Emma’s daily river cruise journal to find out about all the different excursions she enjoyed in the South of France, and don’t forget to check out her destinations video below.

Insights into life on-board

While visiting a huge range of cultural destinations is one of the main draws of a European river cruise, life on-board an Emerald Waterways Star-Ship has its own perks too. Our ships are designed to serve as your floating hotel, providing a base for relaxation, wellbeing and entertainment as you drift along the continent’s waterways.

Emma’s account of her trip through the South of France does a great job of highlighting the on-board experience you can expect from our Star-Ships. Here are a few of our favourite moments from her time on-board:

“We spent the afternoon on the Sun Deck enjoying the sunshine; the drinks just kept appearing! We chatted to other guests and watched the golf tournament which seemed to be very popular. I think this is my favourite part of the ship so far, the sound of the river and birds is so, so relaxing.

“After dinner, I decided to have a little swim in the pool at the rear of the ship. I was the only one there the entire time I was swimming. The pool is the most amazing place to sit or swim; they have towels there for you, as well as tea, coffee and cookies.

“We’ve spent the evening listening to live music by a band called Krystal. They were fantastic and the dancefloor was completely full the entire time. Before coming on this cruise, I thought river cruise entertainment couldn’t live up to the entertainment on an ocean ship, but it absolutely does (on Emerald Waterways anyway!). The ships might not be able to accommodate things like Broadway theatre shows but there is still a LOT going on. Everybody is genuinely so happy and friendly too which makes a massive difference. Most of the crew were up and dancing which was brilliant.”

For a glimpse into what awaits in an Emerald Waterways Star-Ship suite, check out Emma’s insightful cabin tour video:

Final thoughts

Emma’s comprehensive account of her time on-board Emerald Liberté ends with these parting words about her experience: “I have had the most amazing cruise on-board Emerald Liberté. I certainly could get used to this! The service and food on-board are second to none. The ship itself is gorgeous and the places that we visited were all so interesting. I cannot recommend Emerald Waterways enough.”

Emma travelled on our Sensations of Lyon and Provence itinerary, travelling between Arles and Lyon on-board Emerald Liberté.

If you want to join Emma in experiencing the wonders of Europe, click here to visit our homepage and start planning your Emerald Waterways river cruise. For further help and information, don’t hesitate to call our team on 0808 149 3166.