A keen ocean cruiser, I had been hoping to try a river cruise for some time and this month I was fortunate to be invited on board Emerald River Cruises, Emerald Sky for a 3-night cruise on the Danube, boarding in Budapest and sailing on to Bratislava and then Vienna.

I am now a true river cruise convert and cannot wait for my next trip!

Although a very different experience from ocean cruises on board larger ships, there are some similarities, in particular the level of service and quality of the food on board.

But outside of this, river cruising is a unique experience and something I would urge anyone to try! This is a cruise holiday built around the itineraries and destinations. Being able to visit 3 beautiful capital cities in 3 days was a real treat and a river cruise can take you straight into the heart of the city.

Budapest river cruise night

From the moment we boarded the ship I knew we were going to experience something special.  Our first night on board was an evening cruise through Budapest. From the grandeur of the Hungarian Parliament building to the beauty of Buda Castle, the views from the terrace of our ship were stunning as we sailed under The Chain Bridge. The buildings on the banks of the Danube are lit up at night and I can’t think of a better way to enjoy this.

Budapest is a beautiful city and after a day of exploring, I definitely can see why many people decide to extend their holiday with a pre-cruise stay.

Bratislava is one of the smallest capitals in Europe, but it makes up for its size with plenty of character. Picturesque squares and pavement cafés tempted us to stop for morning coffee and cake, and with the ship not sailing until later in the evening, a chance to try the Bratislava nightlife.

Our 3-day cruise ended in Vienna, with a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum – a beauty in its own right even before you take your time to enjoy the fine art and paintings by the masters!

We then had to say goodbye to Emerald Sky and head home, but I would urge anyone to give River Cruising a try. It’s one of the most relaxing and luxurious ways to visit some of Europe’s finest cities!

In all three cities, there were excursions for all levels of fitness, hikes and bike tours for those wanting an active experience and city guides, coach and walking tours for all abilities. What I learnt from this trip is that a river cruise can offer something for all ages. For those that want to relax and enjoy the scenery from the comfort of the ship to those that want to get out and explore, the itinerary and excursion programme caters for all.

The only decision I now have is which river to choose for my next trip, the Rhine, Douro or the Garonne River to enjoy wine tasting in Bordeaux.

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About Sally White