Life on the river

A river cruise in Europe provides the most captivating passage through the history of this diverse continent. As you cruise along some of Europe’s most iconic waterways, not only will you witness Mother Nature at her finest, but also engineering at its most impressive.

What is a lock?

Europe’s waterways are not just distinctive because of their history, their terrain can make navigation more challenging, which is why water locks – essentially an elevator with which ships can be raised or lowered to overcome the variations in water level – were designed. 

The Main-Danube Canal itself boasts 16 locks, some as deep as 30 metres and reaching a height of over 406 metres.

Navigating a lock

Our Star-Ships have been engineered with locks in mind, designed to fit perfectly with inches to spare. Your captain is trained for such manoeuvres, but sometimes water levels don’t cooperate and, on occasions, this can lead to lock closures or difficulties passing under bridges when water levels are too high or too low. We always have a plan in place to handle navigation issues in a timely and efficient manner, with minimal disruption to your journey.


Throughout the cruise, we will sail under many different styles of bridges. On such days, we may need to close the Sun Deck for guest safety. Our crew will lower the railings and the captain’s wheelhouse will be mechanically dropped to allow the Star-Ship safe navigation. But, with plentiful public spaces available throughout our Star-Ships, you’ll always have somewhere to enjoy river views.


River cruising takes you right into the heart of different destinations. In certain locations docking space may be limited and you may find that, overnight, your ship has docked next to another ship. This is all part of the river cruising experience and drawing your curtains at night is advised. You’ll also get a glimpse of your neighbouring ship as you walk through to embark or disembark.

The River Cruise Cover

If Your Emerald Cruises Cruise is delayed or cancelled after You have commenced Your Emerald Cruises Cruise and before you have disembarked and completed Your Emerald Cruises Cruise due to:

  1. mechanical breakdown;
  2. riots;
  3. strikes;
  4. civil commotion;
  5. river or canal lock damage or closure;
  6. adverse weather conditions; or
  7. natural disasters;

You will automatically be covered by our River Cruise Cover.

What does an itinerary deviation look like? How could it impact my trip and how might I be compensated? 

A deviation can be a quick, minor inconvenience, a prolonged change or an extended disruption depending on the circumstances. 

A minor disruption may include:  

In the event that a ship can’t pass through a section of the river (due to water levels, a closed lock or river obstruction, for example), we use coaches to transfer you from your original Emerald Star-Ship to a new Star-Ship on the other side of the obstruction. These “ship swaps” are performed with the least impact possible with your Cruise Director accompanying you onto the new ship with your belongings to ensure the remainder of the cruise is as enjoyable as possible. You will be accommodated in a suite of the same type and value; should this not be possible you will be compensated the difference in the value of the suites.  

A prolonged disruption may include: 

Using coach transfers to the included sightseeing locations, while continuing to be accommodated on your Emerald Star-Ship. A prolonged disruption may also require us to continuously cruise without stopping for touring. Under Evergreen and Emerald's River Cruise Cover you will be compensated between $100-$250 per person per day of the disruption should we not be able to fulfill the sightseeing listed in the itinerary.   

An extended disruption or major impact to your itinerary:
In the event of an extended disruption, accommodation off ship will be in local hotels with all meals provided. To the best of our ability we will ensure the hotels are of similar standard to your Emerald Star-Ship. Meals will be included, however, alcoholic drinks and amenities such as butler service, may or may not be included. Touring will be undertaken by coach. As we understand this experience will not be same as being on board the Emerald Star-Ship, under Evergreen and Emerald's River Cruise Cover you will be compensated based on the suite category booked, between $250-$700 per person per day for up to seven days. Alternatively, a full refund for the remainder of the cruise should you choose to disembark and end/finish your journey.


We will not pay for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  1. Consequential loss of any kind including loss of enjoyment or any financial loss not specifically covered in the Policy;
  2. Pandemic, war, invasion, act of foreign enemy, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), Civil War, rebellion, revolution, insurrection or military or usurped power;
  3. any loss or expense with respect to Cuba or a specially designated person, entity, group or company on the Specially Designated List or which if reimbursed or paid by Us would result in Us being in breach of trade or economic sanctions or other such similar laws or regulations;
  4. any nuclear reaction or contamination, ionising rays or radioactivity;
  5. any Goods and Services Tax (GST) liability or any fine, charge or penalty You are liable for because of a failure to fully disclose to Us Your input tax credit entitlement for the premium;

Examples of what is classed as a normal disruption and is therefore not covered:

  • If high water levels prohibit the sailing of the ship for an afternoon but we are able to make it under the bridge that evening and deliver you to your scheduled disembarkation place the following day.
  • If we swap ships due to high/low water and the ship swap takes less than 6 hours to complete
  • If we embark/disembark the ship less than 100 kilometres from your scheduled point of embarkation
  • If we have to make alternate arrangement for any itinerary activities. For example, if due to prevailing conditions we are not able to attend Melk Abbey and we select a replacement of similar quality, this will not constitute an event of delay.

Please note that Emerald Cruises are not liable for COVID-19 and other pandemic related issues such as quarantines, delays, lockdowns, repatriation expenses, loss of touring, loss of inclusions, border closings or location entry requirements or restrictions, etc. We strongly recommend guests obtain travel insurance to cover such costs and risks as well as any others resulting from Force Majeure Events.