MS Emerald Sky – Review

Emerald Sky Review

We sailed on the MS Emerald Sky from 21 June to 5 July 2014 from Amsterdam to Budapest. During those 15 days we got to know this new ship fairly well and liked everything there was to see.

Forget all those “artist impressions” photos on the Evergreen Tours and Emerald Waterways brochures, websites and Facebook pages – the real ship is a bit different, particularly in the furnishings, but not in a bad way.

Emerald Sky
Emerald Sky in Bamberg

Click the buttons below to see my reviews of the Amsterdam-Budapest cruise product and the day-by-day account of what we saw and did:


buttonShip Specifications

  • Built: De Hoop shipyards at Lobith, Netherlands.
  • Launched: 9 April 2014
  • Length: 135 m
  • Width: 11.45 m
  • Decks: 3
  • Passengers: 180
  • Cabins: 80
  • Grand Balcony Suites: 8
  • Owner’s Suites: 4
  • Hotel crew: 34
  • Nautical crew: 7

The Ship

We boarded the Emerald Sky in Amsterdam and had no cruising reference point, as this was our first cruise. It was evident that this is a new ship, as everything was clean and shiny. When we traversed other ships at ports to get into ours, we could see how old and tired some of them were.

Emerald Sky and Viking ships
The Emerald Sky in Amsterdam (it is to the right of this Viking ship)

First Impressions

After downing the welcome cocktail, we went to Reception to check in and collect our electronic door keys. You touch a depression in the door handle and the door unlocks.

Electronic door key


room no
Our room (self portrait)

Our cabin was like a little hotel room, but it was quite inviting. The bulk of the crew is indeed managed by a “Hotel Manager” –  Istvan. There was a pillow menu the first day, but we didn’t see it again. Sleep quality was perfect. Both of us use sleep apnoea machines, so it was nice to see a spare European power point next to the bed on each side. Such small features can be a big thing for passengers who don’t need to unplug a light or clock radio as is the case with many hotels.

Queen bed with two half-doonas (duvets)

Each night we received a programme of the next day’s activities and useful information.

Welcome programme on the first day
TV, chest of drawers and amenities

There is a camera in the front of the ship (the bow) and you could always see its vision on the TV.

bow camera
Watching a lock at night on the bow camera

We carry an Aussie power strip board that plugs into a 230VAC European two-pin socket (which are the main kind in the cabins) via our adapter. There was also a multi-pin socket next to the coffee machine and one Aussie/Chinese socket in the bathroom. We did not need to unplug anything to fit our board.

wall sockets
Wall sockets and receiver charging point
power points
Australian and international shaver points in bathroom

It is debatable whether the extra price of a full balcony is worth it (we got a free upgrade having booked 18 months earlier), but the folding glass door and curtain were able to trap the hot air when we were on the sunny side of the ship.

The air conditioner cuts out when the sliding window is lowered. Lesley liked using the balcony to do a puzzle on our iPad or check out Facebook.


The water pressure in the shower was just right. The taps have an indented stop position so that you can easily get a comfortable 38C temperature and good flow without guessing. You can go past those positions if you are a tough guy and want a hotter shower.

We used the integrated clothes line for hanging up some washing. Passengers were requested not to hang wet clothing on chairs in the balconies. Shampoo replenishment was not done in the final couple of days, so we had to squeeze the bottle to get the last of it.

Towels were replaced every day, even if you hung them up as per the “Save our rivers” placard. I suppose they would not have dried out by the next morning, so no complaints there.

This was a cabin on the Amaverde, NOT our ship. One must not do this.

Given that half the cupboard is taken up by the minibar and safe, you’ll be struggling to hang many clothes in there. There are six generous drawers in the vanity, which will take care of other clothes and belongings. At our grade of room (Grand Balcony Suite), the mini bar was not free.

mini bar
Cupboard and mini bar

Sun Deck

The top deck is laid out for easy dismantling and removal of seating and railings, as happens during three days (or more) in the Main-Danube Canal, which has many low gantries and bridges near the locks. The ship’s bridge also drops as low as possible, with barely a chink peering out (periscope anyone?). No passengers can go up on such days.

There is no “steering wheel” on this modern ship – just a couple of joysticks that look more like gaming devices.

ship bridge
The ship’s bridge
Captain Laszlo at the helm

When we reached one of the three tallest/deepest locks, the railings were temporarily raised so we could all go up and watch the lock in operation while sipping champagne.

deep lock
The lock at Leerstetten has a drop of 24.7 m (between Nuremberg and Regensburg)

We also had a barbecue (the cruise director kept calling it a “grilling”!) one sunny afternoon after we cast off from Melk and headed for Linz.

Barbecue on another sunny day

The perimeter of the Sun Deck was good for walking/jogging if one needed exercise, but we had plenty of that each day while seeing the sights. Not sure if anyone bothered to use the golf putting green either. The artificial turf can generate a bit of static electricity, even in summer, so watch out when going downstairs, if you are sensitive.

At many points, the cruise director was in the bridge room giving a commentary on the sights we passed. There are loudspeakers on the sides throughout the length of the ship, so you could always hear her.

On each side of the ship are the controls for the side thrusters, used by the crew to gently park the ship against the dock.

Docking the ship
Plenty of seating at the top.

Horizon Deck

This is the third level (where our cabin was) and it features the Horizon Lounge. This is used for the light breakfasts/lunches at one end of the bar, daily briefings, entertainment and for what one does in a lounge – lounging around. There is an excellent automatic coffee maker that was used constantly but it did not break down. Below the coffee machine was the ship’s library with books on the ports we visited and related themes. It also had some board games.

coffee machine
Coffee machine and library

Each corner of the Horizon Lounge has a monitor that was used for the daily briefings and the occasional Football World Cup screenings. The rest of the time it was showing the bow camera vision.

TV monitor for briefings

There was live keyboard music and singing by Peter (the crew don’t have surnames). He belted out a lot of popular tunes each night.

Briefings and entertainment each night

The Terrace is a small deck in the front of the ship where a few people can lie on sun chairs or eat a light lunch or breakfast. It was a good place to watch the locks in operation. The radar and antennas can be raised and lowered to avoid hitting low-flying bridges. There was always a crew member up front during lock transit, communicating with the bridge.

Each day, going through a lock might involve a thud and scrape, so a crew member could be seen painting over the scrapes the next time we docked.

Watching a lock from the Terrace

At the aft of the ship is the swimming pool, which can be covered over and the room turned into a cinema for just 19 people. Bookings are required. Lesley went one night and enjoyed “Captain Phillips”. The bar attendant provided everyone with refreshments and popcorn.

Swimming pool
pool cover
Pool is covered up for the movie
The swimming pool bar has a great coffee machine too

Vista Deck

This is Level 2 and features the Reflections Restaurant, gym and massage/beauty centre.

The restaurant has a variety of table configurations, so you can sit as a couple or as a larger party.

Panoramic view of the restaurant (some distortion)

The restaurant crew were attentive, prompt and professional. We had unlimited wine/beer/juice/soft drinks during meals.

Restaurant in operation. Bulgarian “Ross” (shorter of two waiters on the left) was the best.

The food was excellent and plentiful – five-star hotel quality. The chef said that they knew exactly how many choices to prepare and everyone got their choice – certainly this was the experience at our table.

Gala dinner menu – appetisers and an entree might confuse Aussies?

The product isn’t just for Australians, so there were many clues in the crew’s language/spelling/pronunciation to suggest that North Americans were the main market.

Spring roll
An entree – what Americans call an appetiser
Cold meat tray
Hungarian buffet in Budapest – I’ll take a beef rendang any day over goulash
A dessert
A musical dessert
Side dishes

The gym is small but it was used by some people.


This floor also leads to the main engine room, where some of us got detailed tours by the Chief Engineer. He patiently took 4-5 groups through his domain, which also includes a smaller and quieter engine at the front of the vessel. We also saw the sewage disposal plant, which can generate pure water at the end of its operation.

Engine room (still from a video)

Riviera Deck

This is Level 1, the lowest level, which houses some cabins, the crew quarters and the laundry. The engine room also extends down to this level.

The kitchen is at this level and is accessed from the middle of the bar on the Vista Deck, so passengers can’t get in the way of the serving staff. Chef Mihai showed us around his domain, which has only eight staff. The menus are pre-determined by headquarters and provisions are pre-ordered, so the only flexibility he has is to change the date of some menus within the four-day provisioning period.

Getting a tour of the galley (a clip from a video)


The ship is loaded with enough diesel fuel in Amsterdam to last the entire return voyage. The waste products are also processed on board and discharged in Amsterdam.

Pasteurised eggs and other supplies being delivered at Nuremberg

Fresh water is taken on board at most ports and local electricity is also used.

electric cable
Fresh water and local electricity


The MS Emerald Sky is a great ship (like her sister Emerald Star) and perfect for this cruise. We had a great time on board and had no complaints.


Where Is the Emerald Sky Right Now?


Here is a short post-launch video from Evergreen Tours that covers most of the ship:

360-degree Views

Here is a URL that shows 360-degree views of the ship:


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7 thoughts on “MS Emerald Sky – Review

  1. Thanks very informative. I am heading off today for the reverse cruise with a friend from work. Really enjoyed your blog. Will let you know how we go.

  2. You’ll have a great time. IIRC, there was a laundry sheet given to you every day where the first two items were free. We managed with this allowance. We had one large suitcase each, so there was enough room for that much.

  3. Great to read and view.Thanks for the great insight.
    Hope such a comprehensive review was not due to the fact you were bored!
    I assume the cabins were able to hold all luggage,under bed?
    What are the clothes washing arrangements like?
    We are on the reverse trip BUD to AMST.on Aug.10,2017.,same Ship.

  4. Not an address, but if you use Google Maps to look for the office of Greenpeace, it was near the ship.

  5. do you know the adress where the boat docks in amsterdam (your first picture)
    big regards Gilbert

  6. “I”, being a past passenger, don’t have anything, but most ships have a lift and wheelchair-friendly rooms. When you like a particular cruise, look up their website for this info.

  7. do you have handicapped rooms & lifts on the Budapest to Amsterdam cruise. What ships do this sailing?

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