River cruising may not be everyone's cup of tea and different peoples for different things on a cruise but we had a fabulous time on the Emerald Sun cruising down the Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest. It was a special occasion to celebrate my husband's 60th birthday and did not disappoint. Lots of birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated board with candle, singing waiters and a special and delicious cake. There were one or two glitches but, given the enormity of organising travellers from multiple destinations , not to mention the adverse weather due to flooding in Europe, these were minimal. We were sent rucksacks with all information, tickets, itinerary etc about 10 day beforehand, although more time would have been useful, in order to study everything carefully. A follow-up call was received to ensure that we'd received everything and we were able to mention that there were no return air tickets. These arrived a few days later. One other couple lost their luggage and had to wait 2 days for it to catch the boat up, but even that didn't dampen their enthusiasm. Yet another couple found that they had no luggage allowance and had to pay for their luggage at the airport. So a good idea to check everything carefully and not assume that all will be organised for you. Upon arrival at Munich airport, it was pretty chaotic as local agents attempted to round up all the passengers from various different flights. Due to the high river levels, we had to commence the cruise from Vilshofen instead of Nuremberg but it was a pretty little town. The boat was lovely - very clean, bright and spacious. Lots of mirrors, glass and steel made it seem both airy and luxurious. The cabin was compact but well-designed with adequate storage and a full size shower. Beds were comfortable and cabin well appointed. The restaurant was airy and spacious with open seating. Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style and diner served. The food was very good, given the tiny galley and service was good, except at busy times. Wine( regional) and beer was included with meals and tea and coffee were available from a machine in the Horizon Lounge. There was entertainment most evenings and despite the 163 passengers, it never felt overcrowded. We had a Bavarian band, Hungarian singers, a quiz and a talent show form the crew. There was a pleasant small pool with deck at the rear which converted to a cinema at night. "Misconduct" and 'Spectre' were shown but we didn't watch them. The towns and cities were all lovely with good guided tours lasting an hour to an hour and a half with moderate walking. A clever device allowed you to listen to the tour guide. There was always a gentle walking group but perhaps more details of distances/difficulty could have been given for the less mobile. Overall passengers were in the 65-75 age range but some were younger and a mixture of British, American, Canadian and Australian. Dinner was served at 7 but seating was open, first come, first served and dress smart casual. We loved Vienna, Bratislava was a revelation and Budapest was fabulous at night, when the boat did an spectacular post-dinner cruise up and down the Danube in the dark to see the floodlit city by night. We were both sad to disembark and felt that it had been a truly special occasion and represented good value for money. You could have passed the entire holiday without spending anything extra if you chose! The staff were pleasant and friendly and very efficient. Most of the passengers shared our enthusiasm.
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