Classic Rhine River Cruise with Emerald Waterways

Best Rhine River Cruise

It was six o’clock in the morning and I tiptoed down the hall to the heated infinite pool on the back of the ship.  I slipped into the warm water, swam to the edge to peer out.  The river mirrored reflections of the old churches, castles & half-timbered houses. None of the guests were awake, so it felt like I had the ship to myself.

Best Rhine River cruise   

Our Emerald Waterways Cruise Ship (named the Emerald Sky) sliced through the still waters as Captain Stamen navigated our way down the Moselle towards Cochem, a charming town nestled in the steep vine sloped valley crowned with Reichsburg Castle at the top.

Best Rhine River cruise

The early morning air was crisp, church bells were ringing, birds chirping and in a blink of the eye, I fell into a 8-day fairytale on this Classic Rhine Cruise from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Mainz, Germany.

Best Rhine River cruise   

I’ve been on river cruises before and this was my first experience with Emerald Waterways, an intimate cruising experience with only 182 guests on board.  My contemporary balcony room had a minimalist design with stylish yet functional features.  I was impressed with thoughtful details provided in every room — luxury linens, amenities, black-out curtains, even hiking/walking poles in the closet.  The crew delivered impeccable service with attention to detail and catered to each customer’s needs.


photos courtesy of Emerald Waterways

There were a range of healthy dining choices with 5 meal options per day.  Locally inspired cuisine is artfully presented and paired with local wines making each meal a delight.  The homemade soups (Dutch Gouda, Forest Mushroom Cappuccino, Pumpkin or Cream of Beetroot), the unique caesar salad, as well as the homemade ice creams (Pistachio or Walnut with pear compote & Rosemary Honey) were delicious!

For cruisers who like to stay active, there are plenty of activities — cycling, hiking, swimming and even a outdoor putting green on the top deck.  We joined complimentary walking tours of old towns, cycled along the Moselle River and on the outskirts of Netherlands, tasted Moselle Valley wines. Some days we choose independent activities and even hiked to remote Burg Eltz, the medieval castle.

Best Rhine River cruise   

On Board the Best Rhine River Cruise

On board, it’s a feast for the senses as the ship meandered through the twists and turns of the Moselle River with incredible views of the villages and riverside.  There are many places to relax on the ship, read a book, take in the views from the top deck or from your private balcony.  There’s even a cooking demonstration on-board teaching cruisers how to make Apple Strudel.

Best Rhine River cruise

In the evenings, there’s live music, trivia games, or watch movies in the pool area that magically transforms into a cinema at night.  And there’s always the sunset to watch from the Riverview Club and the top deck.

Best Rhine River cruise

Rhine River Cruise Itinerary

Sharing our itinerary and highlights from our cruise.

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The excursions are complimentary, and guests could choose from a visit to Netherland’s most famous museum, the Rijksmuseum and learn more about the Dutch Golden Age, or cycle to the outskirts of Amsterdam and pass old villages and windmills in the countryside for a more active outing.  There was also time in the afternoon to explore the 700 year old city on our own, stroll its picturesque canals, and return to the ship for the Welcome Gala Dinner.

   Best Rhine River cruise


Located near our port in Duisburg, we visited Germany’s biggest archaeological open-air museum in Xanten where some of the ancient Roman Ruins have been reconstructed – including a coliseum.   The former city Colonia Ulpia Traiana was an important city in the Germanic province of Rome in 2nd century A.D.


We visited one of the World’s highest cold-water geysers shooting up to almost 200 feet in the sky, and also walked the Old Town to see the churches, shops, castle ruins.  In the afternoon, we joined another Emerald ACTIVE Bike Tour to Maria Laach Abbey, approx. 30 km., a great way to see the countryside and get a good workout.


One of the most beautiful towns on the Moselle River.  There were a few options for guests including a walking tour of Cochem, or a optional excursion to nearby Koblenz and its fortress.

Koblenz & the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: 

This outing is part of the optional Emerald DiscoverMORE excursions offered to see more of the region.  Koblenz is an ancient city in central Germany and the gateway to the Rhine Gorge and castle ruins.  The statue of William the Great greets cruise passengers at the confluence of the two rivers, where the Rhine River breaks away to the Moselle River.  Koblenz is a fascinating 2,000 yr old city to visit with quaint squares, narrow alleyways and promenades along the river.  Visitors take the cable car to the hilltop to visit the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress and look out at the panoramic views.

Best Rhine River cruise

Since I had previously visited Koblenz on previous trip, I opted to spend the day by myself and took the train from Cochem to Moselkern (about a 20 mins ride), and then hiked the 10 km to Burg Eltz, one of Germany’s most magical medieval castles.  In the afternoon, I returned to Cochem to get lost in its alleyways with cobble stoned streets.


After a morning tour of this wine growing town and discovering its central marketplace, gabled timber-framed houses, castle ruins, and town gate, we were invited to the ship’s complimentary local wine tasting.  In the afternoon, we set off on an excursion to Trier.

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Lastly on our cruise of the Rhine River– In the southwest Germany, near the Luxemburg border, I joined the DiscoverMORE excursion to visit the oldest town in Germany, the “Rome of the North” – Trier.  The guided tour took us to see the old city baths, the Porta Nigra, the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps, and free time to visit the Old Town.


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About Emerald Waterways:

Emerald Waterways is the first new European river cruise company to set sail in more than six years and aims to make a big splash in the fast-growing market. With the industry’s newest ships, custom-built to exceed guest’s expectations and offering such amenities as a heated swimming pool and a movie theater, Emerald Waterways is aiming at both experienced travelers and the younger demographic looking for strong value and great pricing.

Emerald Waterways, which launched in 2014, was recently awarded the Cruise Critic Editors Pick Award for “Best River Line for Value” for the second year in a row. In 2016 Emerald expanded its reach by adding several new itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers in Europe, and a 10-day sailing on the exotic Irrawaddy river in Myanmar. 2017 will see Emerald growing again, adding three new ships and two new itineraries: the Emerald Radiance will sail the picturesque Douro River in Portugal, while the Emerald Liberté will sail France’s Rhône and Saône. All Emerald ships feature the signature Emerald Waterways cabin design that replaces the French balcony, common to most ships, with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system. Emerald Waterways is part of Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours.

What’s Included (more details at Emerald Waterways):

  • Airport Transfers to and from the ship
  • Spacious accommodation onboard Europe’s most innovative cruise ships
  • Spectacular innovations like an indoor pool which transforms into a cinema at night.
  • All onboard meals including a collection of highlight dinners at Reflections Restaurant with the option to enjoy breakfast and a light lunch at The Terrace.
  • Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks to accompany lunch and dinner
  • From luscious lattes to creamy cappuccinos, state-of-the-art coffee machines are available to enjoy throughout the cruise.
  • Bottled water restocked daily in each cabin
  • Enjoy an included shore excursion almost every day of the cruise
  • Isits to UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites
  • Extra-special excursions and experiences – EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE programs
  • Personal lightweight headsets for included excursions
  • First-class service from English-speaking crew
  • Knowledgeable local guides at every destination
  • Complimentary onboard Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary onboard bicycles
  • Earn EmeraldEXPLORER points for every Emerald Waterways river cruise with exclusive benefits
  • All airport taxes and port charges
  • All gratuities are taken care of


Global Adventuress thanks Emerald Waterways for hosting this trip.

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