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The Emerald Cruises team share their top river cruise tips

There’s nothing quite like a luxury river cruise, and once you’ve sampled this refined form of travel you’ll never settle for anything less. Holidaying on the world’s rivers brings boundless discovery no matter what type of traveller you are, and a huge variety of inclusive excursions means you’re always in control of the tempo of your trip.

At Emerald Cruises, everyone from our cruise experts to our marketing team is passionate about river cruising, and we hope this tells in our award-winning itineraries and excellent customer service. Many of our team have travelled Europe’s rivers to sample life on-board an Emerald Cruises Star-Ship – returning with wonderful memories from their journey.

River cruise on a sunny day

Given this knowledge and expertise, we thought it would be valuable for our team to share their experience of an Emerald Cruises river cruise with you. Perfect for first-time river cruisers, these tips and insights can help you get the most from your time on the river – for an inspiring journey like no other.

‘Make the most of on-board bicycles’

One of the best things about a river cruise is the opportunity to explore a handful of revered destinations in a single journey. Take our Danube Delights itinerary. Over eight days, you’ll visit a string of inspiring cities, including Vienna and Budapest. Cities like these are ripe for cultural exploration, and one of the best ways to see more of them is by bike.

Helena Gale-Hasleham, Senior Trade Marketing Executive, is a big fan of discovering Europe on two wheels, and offers this advice: “Make the most of the bicycles on-board. The EmeraldACTIVE guided bike tours are a fun way to find out more about the area, especially around the beautiful streets of Vienna. If you would prefer a bit of time to yourselves, you can always ask the Cruise Director and borrow the bikes to explore nearby.”

Most Emerald Cruises Star-Ships feature complimentary bicycles for you to use during the river cruise, and these are often incorporated into our EmeraldACTIVE highlights*. If you’re interested in using a bike for independent discovery, let the crew know the evening before so they can be arranged for you.

*Bicycles not available on Emerald Radiance sailing the river Douro

‘Consider a money-saving drinks package’

Holidays are made for unwinding, and what better way to set a leisurely pace than relaxing with an aperitif as the wonders of Europe drift by? Many of us enjoy a drink on our travels, and with a drinks selection as good as ours, you’ll certainly be raising a few toasts throughout your journey – so it could pay to invest in a money-saving drinks package.

Martini drinks at a bar


Darren Birch offers this tip for those who enjoy staying active on holiday: “If you enjoy keeping fit and the great outdoors, look out for the included EmeraldACTIVE activities on your itinerary. These include cycle rides, hikes, walks, yoga sessions, and even a guided canoeing experience for those sailing the Douro River in Portugal. Of course, these excursions are entirely optional, so if you’d prefer to lounge around with a glass of something delicious, feel free.”

The majority of our European river cruises feature at least one EmeraldACTIVE excursion, and these are fully included in the total price of your holiday. To find out which EmeraldACTIVE events are available as part of your itinerary, download our latest brochure and look for the bicycle icon beneath the day-to-day rundown.

‘Discover on your own or with the group – the choice is yours’

The freedom of discovery is what we hope to invoke in each of our award-winning holidays, and our itineraries are meticulously planned to maximise the amount of time you enjoy in each destination. Whether you choose to explore as part of an organised group or independently, we want you to feel in complete control of your experience – for an exclusive experience that’s all you.

David Winterton, Head of Marketing UK & Global Brand Curator at Emerald Cruises, advocates both group exploration and solo discovery, saying: “As part of our Exceptional EmeraldVALUE, guests can look forward to at least one included excursion every cruise day.  But if guests would like to explore a destination on their own, they can stop by reception and pick up a handy map of the town or city and gain some insider tips on the best places to visit from the reception team.”

‘Prepare for a vast array of new experiences every day’

Unlike a standard holiday when you spend 80% of your time lounging by the pool, river cruises throw up new experiences and places to visit every day – so you’ll certainly never find yourself twiddling your thumbs and wondering what to do next. This is about cultural discovery and getting to the heart of local life, no matter what that means to you.

Ashley Stephens, Training & Development Executive at Emerald Cruises, perhaps said it best when offering this summary of the joys of river cruising: “River cruising is a little like Tapas, it allows you the opportunity to experience many different destinations on the same trip, with the added benefit of only having to unpack once! This is particularly useful in Europe as it is such a vast area. Emerald Cruises combines this experience with modern, luxury on-board surroundings where you can relax and reflect on the amazing places you’ve been immersed in during the day.”

Given the sheer volume of daily experiences available to you during a river cruise, it’s important to dress for the occasion. Bring comfortable walking shoes to make the most of immersive shore excursions, as well as more relaxed attire to help you settle in and unwind on an evening. For more advice on what to wear, read our guide on what to pack for a river cruise.

So, there you have it, insider tips and insights direct from the Emerald Cruises team. If you have any personal experiences or advice you’d like to share on river cruising, we’d love to hear from you, so head to our Facebook page to get in touch today.

If this has inspired you to start planning your own river cruise journey, click here to browse our collection of upcoming holidays on the rivers of Europe or call us now on 855 444 0161.