Exploring Budapest and Emerald Waterways Emerald Star

I awoke just before seven this morning aboard Emerald WaterwaysEmerald Star, fully recovered from the lingering jetlag of last night. The verdict on the bed in my Panorama Balcony Suite: between the comfortable mattress, the soft pillows and the inviting European duvets, it’s one of the most comfortable I’ve slept in on a river cruise ship.

Emerald Waterways’ new Emerald Star docked in Budapest, as seen from the Hungarian Parliament. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Emerald Waterways offers two different types of breakfast service: a light breakfast in the Horizon Lounge, and a full breakfast in the Reflections Restaurant on Deck 2. I chose to have the full breakfast, and I wasn’t disappointed in the offerings, which include a variety of fruits, vegetables and hot dishes. To drink, you can enjoy juices, teas and coffee – all within view of the Danube outside the massive windows that line both port and starboard sides of the room.

Emerald Star’s Reflections Restaurant. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Today, Emerald Waterways was offering a bus tour of Budapest, interspersed with some opportunities to walk and enjoy some free time. I’ll be honest: I don’t like bus tours. When I am in a place, I want to get out and explore on-foot. But, that’s part of the reason river cruising is so fantastic; even our Cruise Director Daniela said that guests were under no obligation to participate in the tours.

You can also get coffee and tea in the Pool Area aft on Deck 3. The Swimming Pool opens daily at 0800. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Instead, I took the opportunity to finish yesterday’s blog this morning in the Horizon Lounge. I was even able to enjoy a freshly-made Cafe Late and read the daily news – delivered each morning to the Lounge – while I waited for the photographs to upload. It was so relaxing and enjoyable, I may make a habit of it!

Afterwards, I set out on my very own walking tour of Budapest.

First, I made my way from our berth at Batthyany 1 on the Buda side of Budapest to the emerald-green Liberty Bridge, or Szabadság híd in Hungarian. Built between 1894 and 1896, it was opened by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, who placed the last rivet on the bridge himself. The walk from the pier to the bridge took approximately 45 minutes.

My ultimate goal was Budapest’s Great Market Hall. Unfortunately, I forgot today was Sunday: the market was closed. So, I altered my course and enjoyed a pleasant three hour wander through the city, eventually crossing the Margaret Bridge over to the Buda side of Budapest where the Emerald Star sat in wait.

Walking across the Liberty Bridge in Budapest. A total of 14 bridges span the Danube in the city. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Looking into the heart of Budapest from the Elizabeth Bridge. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at

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