River Empress captures the spirit of traditional boutique luxury with her dreamy cabin interiors, lavishly-appointed public areas and outstanding, authentic local cuisine. From the elegant lounge, swept with duck-egg blue and gilded accents, to the refined splendour of the all-weather sky lounge, meticulous attention to detail and thoughtful personal touches are unveiled throughout the entirety of her spacious decks for a truly unforgettable cruise experience.
Extensively renovated to a resplendent grandeur in 2013, the River Empress proves a timeless setting from which to cruise the Danube’s majestic waterways. Her stylish décor and innovative design effortlessly blend sophistication and functionality; with each cabin enjoying state-of-the-art amenities as well as sumptuous sleeping quarters, no modern convenience must be foregone as you nestle into the comfort of your lodgings, while her two lounges, restaurant, spa, fitness centre and sun deck provide ample places to explore as you voyage along the scenic heartland of Europe.
The River Empress comprises 65 cabins, each one awash with dusky blues, clean whites and charming print walls for an ambiance that is at once elegant and inviting. Lush window coverings, indulgently soft Savoir of England beds, Egyptian cotton sheets and a menu of pillow choices make for a supremely restful night’s sleep as you cruise softly through the inky night, while the marble-lined bathrooms exude lavishness with their L’Occitane en Provence toilette products, fresh towels and plush bathrobes. Innovative, state-of-the-art amenities include a flat-screen TV with “infotainment centre”, allowing you to catch up with the news, check the weather forecast or curl up in front of a well-loved film from the intimacy and comfort of your own private quarters.
Higher-category staterooms and suites are beautifully appointed with floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass windows to create an enchanting French balcony, bathing the rooms in light and commanding panoramic views of the stunning scenery as you pass some of the finest sights Europe has to offer. Should you be looking to truly immerse yourself in the pinnacle of luxury river cruising, spoil yourself with a deluxe suite booking; each uniquely decorated in signature style, they include such enhanced services as an in-suite butler service, in-room breakfast, fruit and cookie plate, iPod dock, Nespresso coffee machine and shoeshine. Suite passengers even enjoy a bottle of wine upon arrival, to get the journey off to a truly glamorous start.
The ship’s main port of call for dining is the luxurious onboard restaurant, a sumptuous space simply oozing chic with its rich reds, brilliant whites and ornate bejewelled chandelier. Flickering candles and mirrored walls give the setting a softly atmospheric vibe as the night falls, reminiscent almost of a New York supper club with its intimate sophistication: a distinctive, enchanting setting from which to peruse the ship’s dinner menu.
Cuisine aboard the River Empress draws inspiration from the European heartland she cruises through, serving culinary delights steeped in the gastronomic traditions of Alsace, Bavaria and other areas visited by the mighty Danube River. Impeccably prepared and artfully presented, be prepared to sample such delectable dishes as Marseille Boullebaisse, German split pea soup and Black Forest gateau, along with international favourites such as New York strip steak and chicken breast for a wide-ranging menu to entice and satisfy any palate. Made all the richer for its fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, distinguished setting and superb wines, dinner aboard the River Empress is an exquisite affair.
Passengers tend to pass their afternoons on board in a state of peaceful calm; daytime entertainment is subtle and understated, so as not to detract from the tranquil atmosphere reigning over the ship. You may catch a lecture given by a local expert focusing on an element of the local area, be it art, history or even wine, to deepen your understanding of the region and allow you to cast a better-informed eye when you disembark. Or perhaps you would prefer to sip a coffee in the Captain’s Lounge, playing cards and sharing anecdotes with friends old and new – or to indulge in some quality “me time” savouring the sunshine and spectacular 360-degree views afforded to you on the sun deck.
As the evening draws in and dinner service comes to a quiet close, the resident musician is on hand to play popular tunes in the lounge while passengers sample an excellent Riesling, admire the passing city lights and perhaps share a dance or two. You may even catch a performance from a local guest band, playing popular hits until deep into the night as the ship comes alive and shows its party colours.
Greet the day feeling refreshed and re-energised with a yoga class under the blue morning skies on the Sun Deck – or, in more inclement weather, the class is held in the sumptuous lounge before breakfast. Those looking for a more varied workout can head down to the fully-equipped fitness room, fitted with a treadmill, rowing machine, free weights and an elliptical walker to put you through your paces– followed, perhaps, by an indulgent massage or soothing spa treatment at the Serenity River Spa, a calming sanctuary in which to relax and unwind in the throes of true luxury.
Explore the intricacies and treasures of the fascinating local areas with River Empress’s diverse itinerary of shore excursions. Led by an expert guide hand-picked for their knowledge, engaging manner and superb English, passengers are invited on a series of tours aimed at unearthing the cultural wonders of the surrounding regions. Smoothly executed to go off without a hitch, the individual needs of each and every passenger is taken into account for the tours: gentle walking tours are offered for those who prefer to explore at a more leisurely pace, while complimentary bike hire and Nordic walking sticks cater to those wanting a more active excursion. QuietVox technology means that the guide can communicate with their audience through a lightweight headset, reducing the need to crowd uncomfortably and ensuring that even those standing at the back can hear everything.