Last week I had the absolute pleasure of sailing the Rhone river with my grandmother, GG. We sailed from Arles to Lyon as guests of Emerald Cruises’ on Emerald Liberte. While I often talk about why river cruising is the perfect mode of travel for families, especially those consisting of multiple generations, I had yet to experience that type of travel with my own family.
This was a special trip, the first one GG has taken in over a decade, and Emerald made it memorable. There were so many reasons why this trip was perfect, but I’ve summed up my top three.
One thing that was important to me when inviting GG to cruise was that she wouldn’t need to shell out a lot of cash over the course of the trip. She was my guest. I didn’t want her to have to pay for wine (she likes it a lot), cab rides, or tips. Emerald has some of the most inclusive pricing on the river so I knew we would be well taken care of.
Emerald gives guests the option to book a complimentary transfer to and from the airport. This is a great choice for some, but many other guests chose to stay in hotels and book their own transportation. Guests also had gratuities included in the fare. We tipped some of our favorite crew members and guides who went above and beyond at the end of the trip but, again, we appreciated that we had the choice to do so.
Beer and GG’s beloved wine were also included at lunch and dinner. For those who wish to have a drink after dinner or during the day, there are drinks packages. An extended drink package includes beer, wine and soft drinks all day for US$21/day, and a premium package, which includes the entire beverage menu, is available for US$40/day.
There were choices of included excursions in every port. I usually opted for active excursions, like hiking, biking, and even canoeing, while GG went for walking tours. There are also DiscoverMORE excursions for those who wish to immerse themselves deeper into the cities they are visiting. GG paid for one excursion, to visit the Pont du Gard. The tours on our itinerary were reasonably priced, ranging from 30 to 100 Euros per person depending on the activity.
I was impressed by the design of the ship initially. It was modern and comfortable. GG also liked the design, both because it was sleek and stylish, but also easy to get around. See, this is the perfect example of our generational gap. GG commented on the hand rails. How she felt comfortable going up and down the stairs, which she avoids at her own home. I loved the couches in the lounge. They were comfortable and easy to get in and out of, both for me and for my GG. The dining room is situated on the second floor of the ship, which made it easy for us to get to from our third floor room.
The room was comfortable for two, though with a twin bed configuration it can be a bit tight. We were in a Panorama Balcony Suite, which measures 170 square feet. The ship also has single staterooms, a bit smaller at 105 square feet. The biggest suites on the ship are two Owner’s Suites measuring 315 square feet.
I know this seems like a random one, but I enjoyed the pool so much more than I thought I would. Not only was it nice to have a pool large enough to swim in, but the pool was also such a lovely place to hang out. Large glass windows provided stunning views of the river, and the retractable roof allowed us to soak up the sun in lounge chairs. We spent a lot of time there with our Kindles.
The pool was also the venue for aqua aerobics, led by our activity host Drazen. The first time I participated I got roped into the exercise class, but it was so much fun that I went the next day and recruited many observers to join me. In fact, we broke a ship record with 13 participants.
By night, the pool room turned into a movie theatre. The pool floor raises and turns into solid floor. The room is reconfigured and becomes a quiet place to relax. The movies chosen were also available to watch in our cabin, but it was more fun to watch them on the big screen. Plus, they had popcorn.
GG and I had so much fun this past week and we are so grateful to Emerald for giving us a trip that we will never forget. Emerald Liberte was the best home for the week and I can’t wait to see her again some day.