Emerald European River Cruises: The Best Choice for Active Travelers

Have you always wanted to do a river cruise in Europe but were concerned that it wouldn’t be active enough for you? We used to feel the same way. However, after trying out several river cruises over the years we are excited to share that we have found our fit with Emerald Cruises.

Despite being a little under the average age of most Europe river cruise guests, we found that on Emerald Cruises there was a good percentage of people with a similar mindset to us. That mindset is one of seeking a balanced lifestyle that includes healthy eating and physical activity along with an ample dose of fun.

Emerald Cruises recognizes that although many of their guests are over a certain age, it doesn’t mean that they have stopped staying fit and active. This is why their river cruises offer what they call EmeraldACTIVE. A program that offers a variety of options for those who want to move a little faster and incorporate exercise into their vacation. 

Let us introduce you to EmeraldACTIVE and the many ways you can stay healthy both onboard and onshore during your cruise. 

Note: Each Star-Ship and itinerary is unique. The following EmeraldACTIVE options are based on our personal experience and may vary slightly.

Sun Deck view
Sun Deck with walking track. Image by Nathan Sado

Wellness Team

All the Emerald Star-Ships that cruise the beautiful rivers of Europe have an Activity Manager on board. As the title suggests, the Activity Manager’s role is to plan and coordinate all the awesome activities that are offered on an Emerald River Cruise. This includes working with other members of the team in providing excursions, entertainment and classes that combine fun and wellness.

Emerald Cruise Pool
Endless Pool. Image courtesy of Emerald Cruises

Onboard Self-Guided Exercise 

Our Emerald Star-Ship offered a couple of things that we rarely found on other river cruises: a gym and a pool. Keep in mind that river cruise vessels are much smaller than their ocean-going cousins so don’t expect these spaces to be huge. However, we found them to be more than adequate in size for the number of guests on a river cruise.

The gym on our ship was compact but perfectly functional with weights and a stationary bike allowing for a decent workout any time of day. Our pool was nothing short of fabulous! It was a great place to cool off with a dip or relax on a lounger. Plus, although it was indoors there was a retractable roof so on warm, sunny days we were even able to soak up the sun. 

However, the big appeal for active guests like ourselves was that it was an “endless pool”. If you haven’t heard that term before it refers to a pool that has a propulsive current that allows you to swim in place. How cool is that?

Onboard Guided Exercise

If you prefer to join a class and be led in exercise Emerald has that option as well. On our river cruise, we were given the opportunity to participate in exercise classes that alternated between yoga, Pilates, strength training and aqua aerobics. There was also a “walk a mile” event that took place on the sun deck.

We joined several of these morning sessions and found them to be both a fun and healthy way to begin our day. The water aerobics was especially memorable with lively, upbeat music that woke us up and got the blood pumping.

View from hike
View from a hike to Niederwalddenkmal. Image by Nathan Sado

Onshore ACTIVE Excursions

Every Emerald River Cruise offers at least one active onshore excursion. These can include guided hikes to hilltop castles, cycling tours to a nearby town or village and even canoeing excursions. Our cruise offered three ACTIVE excursions.

We didn’t have any canoeing excursions on our cruise but we did enjoy a 3-hour cycling tour that took us along the Moselle River to the charming village of Beilstein. There was also another bike tour in Cochem and a hike up through terraced vineyards to a stunning viewpoint at Niederwalddenkmal. 

Cycling in Cochem
Cycling in Cochem. Image by Nathan Sado

Onshore Anytime Cycling 

Another awesome thing about EmeraldACTIVE is that every European Star-Ship has a fleet of bicycles onboard available for use at most onshore stops. The bikes come with helmets and locks so you can safely venture into town and stop at a cafe or cycle along the various scenic riverside pathways and charming streets that Europe is so famous for.  

Every suite and stateroom also comes equipped with a set of walking sticks to make the most out of your chosen treks.


Our Star-Ship also had a small spa which was another thing we had not experienced on our previous river cruises in Europe. Once again, river ships are smaller than ocean cruisers so the spa was cozy and compact and only offered a small range of services. Our spa offered a variety of facials and massages. We each had a hot stone massage which was amazing and I had a facial that left my skin glowing.

Enjoying a well deserved refreshments after a cycling tour to gorgoeus Beilstein
Enjoying well-deserved refreshments after a cycling tour to gorgeous Beilstein. Image by Nathan Sado

Our Final Thoughts

We love European river cruises. It’s a great way to get a taste of some of Europe’s top sights without the stress and hassle of booking additional transportation and moving accommodations every few nights. You can just relax and know that all of your needs are taken care of leaving you free to enjoy the beauty of Europe in comfort.

Yet another bonus with Emerald Cruises, which isn’t the same with all river cruise lines, is that it’s all-inclusive. The price you pay for an Emerald River Cruise includes transfers, onboard accommodation, three meals per day, beer and wine with meals, daily excursions, entertainment, exercise classes, use of bicycles and even gratuities. Unless you want spa treatments, cocktails or beer and wine outside of mealtimes you won’t have to pay another penny. 

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