Cruise review of PS Emmylou by Murray River Paddlesteamers – Cruise Traveller

Cruise review of PS Emmylou by Murray River Paddlesteamers

By Andrew Mevissen

  • Cruise Line: Murray River Paddlesteamers
  • Size: 7.5 tonnes
  • Name of Ship: PS Emmylou – named after American country singer Emmylou Harris. Built in 1980 in the style of a colonial paddlesteamer, powered by a restored 1906 steam engine and two paddles and totally refurbished with deluxe cabins and ensuites in 2018. Featured in the 1980s TV series ‘All the Rivers Run’ starring Sigrid Thornton and John Waters 
  • Guest Capacity: 16. Crew of 4
  • Cruises from: Round-trip cruises from Echuca, Victoria, 2.5 hours north of Melbourne by car – train service also avail.
  • Name of Participant and role: Andrew Mevissen, Communications for Cruise Traveller

What she promises:

Authentic, luxury cruising on the Murray River. From the website: “Enjoy the spectacular scenery of Australia’s longest river aboard the world’s only cruising wood-fired paddlesteamer and Australia’s most luxurious boutique river cruise. Choose from 2 to 6 night Murray River Cruises and let PS Emmylou step you back to the romantic days of Australia’s Paddlesteamers.” 

What she delivers:

The ultimate antidote to stress – a mesmerising, totally relaxing river cruise experience on home turf with wonderful cuisine and service and enchanting scenery.  Board as passengers and leave as friends!

The whistle blows, the engine hisses, the paddles splish and splosh and you ever-so-gently and imperceptibly become part of the river’s mellow rhythm

Andrew Mevissen

Overall experience:

I can’t remember when I was last this relaxed and chilled. Gently meandering at a gentle 12km/h, the enchanting little paddlesteamer, Emmylou, perfectly defines the growing appeal of slow travel. The whistle blows, the engine hisses, the paddles splish and splosh and you ever-so-gently and imperceptibly become part of the river’s mellow rhythm.

Our 4-night cruise covered 164km and 252 bends downstream of Echuca, with various stops along the way and moorings each night. Sit back, relax, bask in the serenity and take in the passing, entrancing scenery – majestic river red gums, singing birds, roos and emus, river reflections, dancing sunlight on the water, friendly waves from shoreside campers and fishermen and all accompanied by a constant parade of delicious – and included – cuisine from breakfast, morning tea and lunch to afternoon canapes and multi-course dinners.    

At journey’s end, I didn’t want to get off and return to the hustle and bustle of life. Emmylou is a little bubble of harmony and calm. It’s all so addictively relaxing.  I fell in love with her!

What impressed me the most:

The peace, tranquility and relaxation this unique cruise experience offers is just magical. A trance-like feeling of joy and reverie envelops you as Emmylou leisurely ambles down the river. Despite the vessel’s lack of size there are lots of little nooks where you can pull up a chair and take it all in. Doctors should prescribe a cruise on Emmylou to any patient suffering stress and anxiety.   

Accommodation impression:

Emmylou is a small vessel and as such, the eight cabins are compact but very cosy with double beds (two have bunks), impressive, modern ensuites and individually controlled heating/cooling. Space is naturally limited so pack light. Also, there are steep steps, narrow gangways, no lifts and some obstructions to walk over or around on a steamboat so Emmylou is suited to adventurous and more mobile/agile guests. 

Dining impression:

What the chef achieves on such a small vessel is outstanding. From barista coffee and hearty country breakfasts on the river to delicious mid-morning and afternoon snacks, hot lunches, riverside picnics and gourmet, 3 to 5-course dinners, you will never go hungry or wanting on the good ship Emmylou! Meals are included in fares (as are beer/wine with dinner from April 1, 2021) and take full advantage of the Murray region’s diverse bounty of fresh, local ingredients. On one memorable night, you’ll dine under the stars beside a campfire on the riverbank. Onboard, meals are enjoyed inside the saloon or alfresco on the rear deck so you can take in the scenery and chorus of birdlife while you dine.

Service impression:

Emmylou is a friendly, efficient little ship, with attentive, smiling service always on hand. The four, hard-working crew get to your names and likes very quickly and are always eager to please. You can even visit the Captain in the wheelhouse as he navigates the endless bends of the river.

What is included in the fare:

All meals, morning/afternoon teas, coffee & teas, bottled water, onboard wi-fi and guided shore tours.

Shore experiences:

Our 4-day cruise included enjoyable tours to Restdown Winery and wetlands, the historic farm and homestead, Perricoota Station, a small boat cruise through the Barmah Wetlands and a self-guided visit to Torrumbarry Weir. The vessel moors overnight at remote bushside landings allowing you to explore ashore and enjoy the sounds of nature around you.

Final word:

Murray River Paddlesteamers offer a wonderful, boutique, home-grown cruise experience on our longest and most famous river. If you need time out, Emmylou will help you slow down in no time!

Images by Andrew Mevissen