The small ship experience with Emerald Waterways

The Benefit of Small Ship Cruises

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as exploring Europe by river. When travelling with us, you’ll benefit from the small ship experience, enjoying the intimacy of small guest numbers paired with the spacious surrounds of our innovative Star-Ships.

Every part of our European river cruises has been designed with you in mind. Our fleet of Star-Ships cater from just 84 to a maximum of 186 guests, making it easier to meet and mingle with like-minded travellers, while allowing you to have plenty of room for yourself too.

As with all of our river cruises, you can take advantage of our exceptional EmeraldVALUE promise. So much is included in the price of your holiday, meaning you can have complete peace-of-mind while you travel. Our attentive on board crew, expert Cruise Directions and knowledgeable on shore guides will help to make your holiday truly memorable.

Here we uncover what to expect when you travel on a European river cruise with us and the many benefits you can enjoy as part of the small ship experience.

Your choice of suites and staterooms

Our award-winning Star-Ships are your home away from home. A boutique floating hotel, our Star-Ships’ range of contemporary suites and staterooms feature as standard:

An en-suite bathroom
A queen-sized or twin hotel-style bed
An HDTV flatscreen TV with infotainment system
Complimentary Wi-Fi
Complimentary bottled water restocked daily

All our suites also feature our innovative balcony system, which allows you to raise or lower the floor-to-ceiling window to transform the space and make the most of your view.

We believe in providing you with choice, which is why you have the option to choose from multiple grades of suites and staterooms, no matter which Star-Ship you sail on:

Spacious public areas

From the Reflections Restaurants and Horizon Bar & Lounge to the Sun Deck and indoor pool*, our Star-Ships feature numerous spacious public areas to unwind in. Relax in unrivalled comfort, whether you’d like to enjoy a drink with newfound friends or find a secluded corner to yourself.

The Sun Deck runs the full length and width of each of our Star-Ships, giving you plenty of room to soak up the beautiful views ⁠–⁠ recline in one of the sun loungers with a book, take a stroll around the walking track, or talk about your travel experiences over a drink with friends.

The floor-to-ceiling windows of the Reflections Restaurant help bring the picturesque views indoors, letting you witness the serene course of your journey along Europe’s river as you dine. With a choice of tables throughout the restaurant and a diverse menu of dishes, you can dine your way and in ultimate comfort.

The Horizon Bar & Lounge offers similarly peaceful views. Sit back in one of the cosy armchairs watching the world pass by, enjoying complimentary tea and coffee all day long. The atmosphere in the evenings is more lively, making this the place to be for a night cap, a quiz led by our Activity Managers or authentic entertainment.

Room to relax alone

One of the joys of river cruising is meeting like-minded travellers. There may be times when you’d prefer to relax alone though, enjoying a peaceful haven for some ‘me time’. Our Star-Ships are designed to allow for both a social and a solitary river cruising experience.

Each of our suites and staterooms provide optimum room, letting you retreat to this private area whenever you wish. If you book one of our suites, you’ll benefit from your own innovative balcony too – a delightful corner to soak up the views and a fresh breeze without needing to visit one of the public areas.

If you are looking for a way to feel truly rejuvenated, book an appointment at our on board Wellness Centre. There’s no better way to enjoy time alone than with a complete pampering session. Our salon beauticians and spa specialists are on hand to provide an indulgent spa treatment, restorative massage or even a new hair-do and manicure. 

Activities to enhance your wellbeing

We understand that health and wellbeing don’t stop when you go on holiday. That’s why our European river cruises feature a number of elements that help to promote and enhance wellbeing. 
Our EmeraldACTIVE programme is designed for those seeking more active experiences. Why not join a guided walking tour of a local vineyard or hike through the Black Forest. If you’d prefer to get about on two wheels instead, you can embark on a small group cycling tour with our free on board bikes†. A fun and alternative way to see your destination, you’ll get the chance to explore beyond city limits including picturesque routes along the riverside.
As well as onshore activities and excursions, you can participate in an on board fitness class with our trained Activity Managers. Wake up to a morning yoga class on the Sun Deck and feel invigorated by the outdoor setting. Or put your swimsuit on for an aqua aerobics class in the indoor pool*.

If you’d prefer to exercise without guidance, visit the on board gym, which is well equipped with machines and apparatus. Allowing just a few guests at one time, you can maintain your gym routine safely. The indoor pool is also open throughout the day if you want to do a few leisurely strokes while you watch the scenery unfold through the window. On sunny days, the retractable roof allows free-flowing air while you swim.

Dining tailored to you

The small ship experience with Emerald Cruises

You can rest assured that your next river cruise with Emerald Cruises will be one of exceptional EmeraldVALUE, sailing on our intimate yet spacious Star-Ships. The low capacity of guests paired with our elegant public spaces and sumptuous suites allows for an unforgettable small ship experience.


†Bicycles are subject to availability, allocated on a first come, first served basis and are not available on Emerald Radiance sailing the Douro River. *Emerald Radiance on the Douro River does not have an indoor pool/cinema, instead there is a spa-style Serenity Pool on the Sun Deck.
One of the highlights of your small ship experience will be the cuisine. Daily dining in the Reflections Restaurant is casual with no formal dress code, so you can be at complete ease as you dine on authentic regional cuisine and classic dishes. Whether you want to try authentic delicacies or home comforts, and whether you have any special dietary requirements, our expert chefs can tailor courses to suit your preferences.

Whichever way you wish to dine, our friendly crew are happy to accommodate you too. The spacious surrounds and elegant interiors of the Reflections Restaurant allow you to savour a romantic evening dinner for two or join a table with other guests to converse about your day of exploring. 

At breakfast, delight in a selection of healthy options and continental favourites, while at lunch times you can choose from a light bite to eat or a heartier meal. The Terrace at the front of each Star-Ship acts as an alternative dining venue during the daytime. If you’re seeking a quieter way to dine, enjoy a light snack and refreshing drink al fresco, watching the world go by.