Elbe Princesse Ship Review
Elbe Princesse Overview
Launched in April of 2016, the 311-foot long Elbe Princesse was designed specifically to sail the shallow Elbe and Havel rivers between Berlin and Prague. It is CroisiEurope’s second paddlewheel-driven ship, following on the heels of 2015’s Loire Princesse that makes her home in the Loire Valley of France.
Capable of carrying just 80 guests, Elbe Princesse features a sleek and innovative design that’s unlike anything else currently afloat. Her two stern-mounted paddlewheels push the ship through the river with surprising speed (and a little bounce in her decks), and even feature multi-color lights inside the wheel housings that illuminate her unique propulsion systems during the evening hours when she is underway.
With just two passenger decks, Elbe Princesse is a small river cruise ship that’s big on space. The ship’s lounge is only pleasantly crowded when full, and the ship’s dining room can seat all guests in a single sitting.
CroisiEurope is still proudly family-owned and operated, but Elbe Princesse really ups the line’s interior design work, with bright colors that reflect both French and Scandinavian tastes. It creates plenty of what the Germans, particularly those along the Elbe river, would call “Gemütlichkeit,” or a “feeling of coziness.”
Thanks to her shallow draft (less than three feet of the hull is below the waterline) Elbe Princesse is one of the only ships on the Elbe River that can sail from the heart of Berlin straight into the heart of Prague.
Elbe Princesse Staterooms
A total of 40 staterooms are available aboard Elbe Princesse, most of which are dramatically similar to one another.
Deck 2, the ship’s uppermost interior deck, features 24 staterooms with French balconies. Measuring 161 square feet, they include a useful desk and vanity area that also features built-in air conditioning; beds that can be positioned as either twin or queen; two full-size closets and one set of half-sized shelves; reading, accent and overhead lights, and a bathroom that features an unusually-large standalone shower, along with a sink and a toilet that, surprisingly, is not of the vacuum variety.
Beds are comfortable, as are the European-style duvets. A flat-panel television set is inset into the ceiling, and comes out electronically. Most channels are in French and German, but a few English-language channels like CNN, France24 and BBC World are featured on the higher-level channels.
Deck 1 features 16 riverview staterooms that also measure 161 square feet and include the same layout and basic features as their Deck 2 counterparts. Windows here are decidedly larger than average, owing to their raised position in the superstructure, and let in plenty of light.
Deck 2 is also home to the ship’s wheelchair-accessible stateroom, 200, which is directly adjacent to the Reception Area.
It is worth noting that there are no suites aboard Elbe Princesse, and that staterooms lack the common mini-fridge that North American guests might be used to. Electrical outlets are two-pronged European 220V outlets, so North American guests will need either an adapter or converter for their electronics.
Elbe Princesse Public Areas
CroisiEurope designed Elbe Princesse’s public spaces to be warm and inviting, and they exude a sort of French-Scandinavian style that is appealing by both day and night. All public rooms are situated at the stern, near the ship’s dual paddlewheels.
The Lounge is located on Deck 2, and features floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the port and starboard sides of the ship. A large dance floor borders the Bar and DJ Booth at the aft end of the lounge, which itself gives way to a gorgeous outdoor seating area right next to the two paddlewheels. This is a particularly cool place to enjoy one of the ship’s excellent cappuccinos while underway.
Furniture is attractive and also practical; in fact, the chairs and couches were some of the most comfortable river cruise furniture we’ve sat on.
CroisiEurope also features a unique menu system aboard Elbe Princesse, where a variety of cocktails, beers, wines and spirits are provided free of charge, while select premium beverages can be purchased at a modest cost. During our four days onboard, we never felt compelled to purchase anything from the extra-charge menu; the beverages on the complimentary sides were more than good enough.
The Dining Room is located down on Deck 1, and is surrounded by picture windows that are lit with coloured neon lighting during the evening hours. It sounds garish, but it actually adds a warmth and ambiance to the room that is wholly unique to CroisiEurope.
Breakfast is served buffet-style, while lunch and dinner are plated affairs. You don’t get a menu, but the crew does an excellent job of adapting to dietary requirements and allergies (it’s best to let CroisiEurope know, in advance, if you have any.) Cuisine tends to be very European, if uncomplicated – and that’s not a bad thing. Complimentary wines are nearly all French, and are all excellent. Each evening, a white, red, and rose selection are on offer, gratis.
While most guests will be European, English-speaking guests will find that most Europeans speak excellent English. Failing that, the Elbe Princesse staff do a great job of seating English-speaking guests at the same table in order to facilitate better conversation.
On the ship’s uppermost deck is the Sun Deck, which is open and unobstructed thanks to the placement of the Navigation Bridge on Deck 2. While it’s sometimes necessary to close the Sun Deck due to low-bridges (pretty much the entire departure out of Berlin, for instance), the Sun Deck is an excellent place to sit in one of the fabric “suspended” deck chairs with a good book and a glass of wine as the beautiful Elbe River slides on by.
River Cruisers Should Know!
- Electrical outlets onboard use standard two-prong, European 220V connections. North American travelers will require an adapter and/or converter to use their electronics.
- There is no passenger elevator aboard the Elbe Princesse, but there is a single wheelchair-accessible stateroom located on Deck 2 just off the Reception Lobby.
- Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity are available onboard on a complimentary basis.