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Emerald Waterways cruise review:

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The Residenz, Wurzburg

ABOVE: In Würzburg, all passengers were treated to a guided tour through the Residenz, an 18th Century palace that houses the world's largest ceiling fresco. (Click here and maximize your browser window for a larger panoramic image.)

Shore excursions

Koblenz tour guideRiver cruises are as much about touring as they are about cruising. Increasingly, middle-class and upscale travelers are turning to river cruises as alternative to bus tours, thanks to the "unpack and repack once" convenience of staying on a ship instead of checking into a different hotel every night.

Bamberg brewpubMost river-cruising lines include shore excursions in the fare, and Emerald Waterways is no exception. In each port of call, passengers are offered at least one tour: typically a walking tour of the city or town center, sometimes with a bonus activity (such as a visit to a Bamberg brewpub to sample Rauchbier) at no extra cost.

During our cruise, passengers were also offered a free escorted hike to a hillop castle in addition to the morning's scheduled walking tour.

Extra-cost activities for our cruise included:

  • Moselle bicycle tourA 22-km or 13.7-mile bicycle tour along the Moselle River from Traben-Trarbach to Bernkastel. (The ship pulled into Traben-Trarbach at 10 a.m. so the bikers could disembark, and the group later arrived in Bernkastel at about the same time as Emerald Star.)

  • Staatlicher Hofkeller, WuerzburgA wine-tasting at the historic Staatliche Hofkeller in Würzburg (among the world's oldest wine cellars), featuring white wines from Franconian vineyards.

Tour guide in BernkastelOn most tours, we used small radio receivers with earpieces to hear our guides. Such "tour radios" have become commonplace, and they have two advantages: The guide's narration is easier to hear in noisy or crowded places, and you can wander off to take a photo or escape the pack without missing anything.

  • Note: Emerald Waterways takes care of gratuities, so you don't need to tip guides or bus drivers on shore excursions.

Next page: Officers and crew

Emerald Waterways cruise review: Nuremberg to Trier
Emerald Star: the ship
Cruise itinerary
Cabins and suites
Dining and lounges
Other amenities
Shore excursions
Officers and crew
Is Emerald Waterways right for you?
Web links

Ship and shore photos:
Emerald Star day-by-day photo diary