Meet our Corporate Cruise Director and Discover Europe

An important part of any river cruise is the service provided. All of our on board staff deliver an expert level of service, paying a close attention to detail when it comes to your individual needs, letting your river cruise be one of unrivalled comfort.

Whichever European river cruise you embark on, you’ll be joined on our Star-Ships by one of our dedicated Cruise Directors. Our Cruise Directors work tirelessly to deliver a personalised experience tailored to you, ensuring your cruise runs seamlessly from beginning to end. As experts in the regions they traverse, your holiday will be complemented by their deep knowledge of and enthusiasm for your destination. 

To inspire your wanderlust for travel, we spoke to our Corporate Cruise Director, Ray Bauer, about his experiences travelling with us. Find out about his favourite destinations in Europe, learn about the excursions he would recommend to everyone, and read about the very special experiences he has shared with our loyal Emerald Cruises guests over the years.
Corporate Cruise Director, Ray Bauer

What does a day in the life of a Corporate Cruise Director look like?

It’s hard to describe a typical day in the life of a Corporate Cruise Director because every day is so different. Normally I would be on board the ship all day long, managing operations and doing training with our on board team. Or I would be working from home looking after recruitment and putting training sessions in place. The best thing about my job is that I get to go on all of the cruises for free! Of course, I get to work with the wonderful crew and be close to our guests, while seeing all of the destinations that Emerald Cruises offers.

What is your all-time favourite destination in Europe?

Amsterdam, Netherlands
My favourite destination would have to be Amsterdam. There is no other city in the world that is as diverse. There are more nationalities as registered residents here than anywhere else in Europe, despite the city itself having less than a million inhabitants. 
There is beautiful architecture dating back to the Dutch Golden Age and beyond, and at the same time high-tech outlets. You can vividly imagine what it must have been like 400 years ago when the merchants returned home from long journeys, showing off their newly-found purchases – goods that were never seen before by Westerners. As part of an Emerald Cruises river cruise, you can see the city in the best possible way by journeying by canal boat through the heart of the Old Town. It’s an experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the world!

Which European city would you recommend for history enthusiasts?

Budapest! Once made up of two towns called Buda and Pest, the city was created when the two towns merged into one to form the capital of Hungary. Unlike any other city, Budapest has an incredibly varied past due to the ever changing occupation of the country. Founded by the Romans, settled by the Huns, and occupied by the Mongols in the 13th Century, followed by the Ottomans, the Austrians, Nazi Germany and then Russia. Every occupation has left its trace and now makes up for one of the most varied cities with regards to architecture, language and cuisine.

If you are cruising through Budapest with us, we don’t just take you on a full city tour to show you all the highlights of the city. Instead, you could opt to do an EmeraldACTIVE hiking tour that takes you to the oldest part of the town also known as the ‘Castle District’. Hike to Gellert Hill and learn about the story of St. Gellert – the priest who tried to convert the Pagan Hungarians to Christianity and found an unusual and painful death by the very people who he tried to convert.

Chain Bridge over a body of water with a city in the background

What destination is often a guest favourite?

Pont Saint-Bénézet over blue waters - Avignon, France
From the moment you arrive on your Star-Ship, Avignon is simply breathtaking. From the dock you can see the beautiful medieval city walls that surround the town, and the world-famous Pont d’Avignon bridge. 
A short walk and you pass through the old gates, which feels as though you have stepped back in time. There are narrow alleys that wind through the town, as well as bustling shopping streets. However, the most beautiful sight by far is the Palais des Papes. Your guide will take you to the palace and tell you the intriguing story of how a number of popes came to reside in Avignon instead of the Vatican. It’s a must see!

Which destination would you consider a hidden gem?

Würzburg, located along the Main River, is incomparable. The entire old town is dominated by the spires of its large number of churches and the cathedral. The most beautiful aspect is that most of the churches were built in different eras, so you get to see Baroque, Gothic, Neo Classic, and more architectural styles only a short walk from each other. 
The absolute highlight is the Residence of Würzburg, also known as the ‘new’ Prince Bishops’ Palace. You’ll go on a full guided tour of the Residence and, on some cruises, you can even visit the wine cellars for a very special wine tasting. They are among the oldest and largest in the world.
Residenz, Wurzburg, Germany

What’s your fondest memory to date with our guests?

One of my favourite memories was when I had a guest from the USA on board who had to flee Germany as a child at the end of World War II. She was an elderly lady who travelled with her whole family to show them for the first time where she came from before she emigrated to the USA. She had only a few memories left as she was still quite young when she left, however, one of these memories was running to the bomb shelters whenever the air raid alarm went off. She remembered being relocated into some kind of church or monastery.

Her family approached me and said that it would mean the world to her if she could visit the church or monastery where she ran for safety during World War II. I made a few phone calls with our contacts in Würzburg and quickly worked out where the shelters were. They were indeed located in a monastery that doesn’t usually allow visitors. I called the monastery and explained the story and they were very keen and happy to have her visit them. I organised transportation when we arrived in Würzburg and the entire family got to go to the bomb shelters to see where she hid during the bombings of Würzburg. When she returned she still had tears in her eyes and said that this was the most special moment of her life.

What is one of your excursion highlights from an Emerald Cruises river cruise?

EmeraldPLUS: A home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family
The most authentic way of travelling is to be among the locals. In Bratislava, we will take you on a short drive to a village outside the city where you get the unique chance to visit the locals for coffee, tea and cake. You can spend time with them to ask any questions you might have about living in Slovakia. Some of the families even have their very own vineyards and are happy to share some of their produce for you to try.

A number of the families you visit can’t actually speak English, so we send a translator with you on the tour. Every time our guests return from these visits they agree that this was the highlight of their entire river cruise. 

Which cultural experience would you recommend to all guests?

When we think of Lederhosen, large steins of beer, sausages and pretzels we think of Germany, correct? Well, we actually think of one of Germany's states, Bavaria. Guests visiting Regensburg can enjoy a special treat of a Bavarian oompah band performing on board their Star-Ship to round off and complete the Bavarian experience. You’ll feel as though you’re at a traditional Bavarian beerfest! 

Earlier in the day, you’ll have the chance to visit a typical Bavarian town on a guided tour, enjoying a unique Bavarian lunch with pork knuckles, pretzels and sweet Bavarian mustard.

What is your EmeraldACTIVE highlight?

For more active guests, join a 35 km (20 mile) EmeraldACTIVE bike ride through the breathtaking Wachau Valley in Austria. If you enjoy cycling this might just be the most beautiful bike ride you will ever take. Ride through small medieval villages dotted with churches and vineyards at a pace that allows you to take it all in. If you imagine rural Austria this is exactly what you will experience along the most scenic stretch of the Danube. Another bonus is that when you return to your Star-Ship you will have definitely earned a delicious lunch!

Exploring Europe with Emerald Cruises

When you embark on an Emerald Cruises river cruise through Europe, you can rest assured that our expert crew will be on hand to ensure your health, safety and comfort throughout. Relax and enjoy the wonderful sights unfold from your Star-Ship, delighting in the dedicated service from all of the members of the Emerald Cruises team. We’ll take care of every detail of your river cruise, letting you cruise with confidence and discover the wonders of Europe at your own leisure. 
Thinking about planning your next river cruise? View our collection of European river cruises.