Next we will talk about Emerald Waterways. A relative newcomer to European river cruising, Emerald won the coveted “Best Value in river cruising” award in 2015 from Cruise Critic. They too are rapidly expanding the fleet, with 5 new ships in 3 years. They added the Duoro river in Portugal on board the Emerald Radiance. They cruise in Europe, and southeast Asia, being one of the newest additions to the fleet servicing the Vietnam and Cambodia area. Emerald calls it’s ships “Star Ships”. Emerald lists it’s “Open Air System” in staterooms, Al Fresco Dining, 1 or more included excursions in every port, bicycles on board and Emerald Plus excursions, and all gratuities included, as added values. Some of the ships also have a heated swimming pool with a retractable roof. Let’s take a cruise.
Although the 16 day cruise options in Vietnam are tempting, we opt for a “Secrets of The Douro” 7 night cruise. Our included gratuities has saved us an estimated $350 on this cruise.
On arrival to the airport in Porto, we were so pleased to be greeted at the airport by our ship staff. We were welcomed on board by the ship Captain, and this service set the tone for an exceptional experience on board. Dinner tonight was a buffet experience with wine and beer included at all dinners and lunches on board. Day 2 takes us thru the wonderful Douro Valley with magnificent scenery and full of small villages all along the river. We stop to visit a wine cellar in Pinhao for some great Port Wine. Day 3 takes us to Lamego and a visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. Then it is on to Estevao with all the stairs to the heavens. Day 4 is the World Heritage site of Salamanca. Home to one of the oldest universities in the world and possibly the seat of the Spanish language, Salamanca is wonderful. Day 5 takes us to Pocinho and the Prehistoric Museum here. An early return to our ship takes us to Regua where we are hosted at a local Wine Estate. Overnight here in Regua allows us to wander and visit the museum to learn the history of wine making. We opt to take the excursion to Mateus Palace and we are pleased we have done so. Day 7 returns us to Porto for a last tour and our return home. We have learned Emerald is a hidden Gem in todays River Cruising world.
Check back next week for our final cruise in this series.