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The Charms of Holland and Belgium

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Our Cruise Specialist, Emmy, recently enjoyed a river cruise through Holland and Belgium on board Emerald Waterways' 182-passenger ship, Emerald Star. Read her exclusive review:

I was lucky enough to be invited by Emerald Waterways for three nights on board Emerald Star for part of their The Charms of Holland and Belgium itinerary from Amsterdam to the beautiful Antwerp.

As we arrived into the New Port of Amsterdam the Emerald Star immediately stood out with its modern and sleek exterior. This theme extended to the inside of the ship and as soon as we stepped on board it really had a feel of understated elegance. The atrium stole the limelight with a crystal chandelier adorning all the decks, and marble exteriors brought a sense of class.

The tasteful interior flowed throughout the ship. The lounge area was comfortable and bright due to its floor-to-ceiling glass windows allowing light to pour in. We often relaxed in here with a cup of tea or coffee which was complimentary throughout the cruise and we also enjoyed EmeraldPlus activities like clog painting... when in Holland! We sampled the various cocktails from the menu here before dinner whilst enjoying the port talk where the cruise director would talk us through the following day's itinerary which was really useful. This is also where we enjoyed the evening's entertainment; from musical quizzes to live performances there was really something for everybody to get involved with on board.

Antwerp Pool on board Emerald Star Restaurant Antwerp Enjoy delicious cuisine on board Haarlem Dordrecht Emerald Star's atrium Kinderdijk windmills

If you have never cruised before you may be worried about outside space however you shouldn't as the Emerald Star has an abundance of it. From the deck at the front of the lounge to the sundeck at the top of the ship, you always have plenty of places to chill out on a sunbed and enjoy the views of the riverbank passing by.

Emerald river cruises are known for their innovation and you really see this in the on-board pool area. By day it is a serene area to take a dip in the heated pool or even read a book but by night it is covered over and turned into a cinema where you will be served popcorn whilst enjoying the likes of Jersey Boys. It also has a spa and salon if you want to feel completely pampered and a gym if you feel like burning off some off those extra calories consumed in the restaurant!

Breakfast and lunch were buffet-style and the evening meal was served by fantastic staff who pandered to your every need. With a wide range of food to choose from paired with free-flowing wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner, it really is an experience in itself dining on board.

We were very lucky to stay on the Horizon Deck in a Category A Panorama Balcony Suite mid-ship. The cabin was beautifully decorated with plenty of space and storage. We had a floor-to-ceiling glass window and with a touch of a button it would drop down to create a balcony with panoramic views across the river and towns we were moored in and allowing a fresh breeze into the cabin really letting the outdoors in!

The great thing about river cruising is it allows you to not only cruise into famous historic cities but quaint towns and villages that are hidden gems and give you a real feel of the country you are visiting. Highlights of Holland and Belgium itinerary did exactly that. We had lots of free time in the very cosmopolitan city of Amsterdam taking in its cafe culture and beautiful architecture, but we also got to visit off the beaten track towns like Haarlem and Dordrecht which were steeped in history and allowed us an insight of everyday life of the Dutch on our included walking tours. For the more active and adventurous you could also enjoy these towns on a guided biking tour where you will also head into the countryside too. We got the opportunity to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was Kinderdijk, the home of the windmills. I learnt a lot here of the history of this country and it made for a great photo stop as well... it really is picture perfect! My highlight of the included excursions was the trip to Antwerp, Belgium's second largest city; winding and weaving through the city's cobbled streets with fantastic commentary from the local guides. There was even free time to sample Belgium's famous beers and the chance to visit the famous chocolate shops and bring home a souvenir. This really was a great way to say goodbye to a great cruise.

I would not hesitate to recommend Emerald Waterways river cruises to my family, friends and customers. The service is world class and you will be left wanting for nothing. You really will not want to return home!

Blue Water Holidays Blog