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  5. Charles Dickens Cruise Reviews
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We had previously cruised with Viking, Riviera comes nowhere near. The ship is clean, modern and everything works but sadly both the ship's owners and Riviera just don't seem to know the difference between fair and excellent. ... Read More
We had previously cruised with Viking, Riviera comes nowhere near. The ship is clean, modern and everything works but sadly both the ship's owners and Riviera just don't seem to know the difference between fair and excellent. Let's start with the dining room - we were a party of 4, unless we arrived promptly, and I mean when the barrier was removed, we didn't couldn't have sat together. There is an open seating policy which is great for those who wish to meet people, but what happens is couples come in and each bags a window table (which are for 4 or 6) ignoring the tables for 2 which aren't by the Windows, thus splitting up later arriving groups. Common sense says groups of 4 or more should be able to reserve tables but this is forbidden. Then the Wine, we each paid £100 for the wine with meals package, we didn't expect fine wines but certainly expected better than we were given. We also expected to be shown a list of wines in our package that we could choose from, not so, the choice was red, white or rose. Also the wine service was poor as the only wine waiter seemed to concentrate on selling wine to those not on the package rather than giving it to those who had already paid for it. Compare this with Viking where the wines are free for everyone, chosen to match the menus, change on a daily basis and are of a far better standard. Now the food, not bad but certainly never even nearly gourmet, the waiters all work hard but there is a total lack of organisation. Each waiter takes orders for all the tables in their section before handing them all in at once, then the food is plated up and all of one choice delivered, then the next choice, consequently even though we were generally sat together we were rarely ever served together. Oh and you have to order your desert at the outset along with your starter and main. Apart from the ship's pianist there was a total lack of evening entertainment, not even a quiz. We'd expected local musicians and performers to come onboard, other ships had them but not us. The programme gave us 3 days with no organised excursions but we were surprised to find there were no optional ones on these days either apart from a ride on a petit-train to avoid the long walk in to one town we stopped at. For the organised excursions we were split into 3 groups, now it's not rocket science to realise that some river cruise guests will have mobility issues, therefore have one group following a lighter schedule - again Viking do this. Riviera take no prisoners here and each group had half a dozen poor souls huffing and puffing at the back desperately trying to keep up. Most river cruise ships seem to cruise through the night and arrive around breakfast time, we tended to set sail around 4am and arrive after lunch, thus cutting short our time in the towns we visited, also we always seemed to have the worst moorings. In Basel we spent 2 nights on an industrial estate next to a container terminal, I took a taxi in to the centre and there were 16 Swiss franks on the meter as we drove past lots of other cruise ships parked within walking distance of the town. Why? Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I wanted to visit this part of Germany. The description of the various places was quite attractive. However we spent most of the time on board (Swiss Tiara, this name is not mentioned on the list) and had little time to visit the ... Read More
I wanted to visit this part of Germany. The description of the various places was quite attractive. However we spent most of the time on board (Swiss Tiara, this name is not mentioned on the list) and had little time to visit the sights. As it was a river cruise, I did not expect to stay on the ship that long and was disappointed. The first 3 days, we only had the morning to visit Regensburg, Nuremberg and Bamberg. 3 hours in each city! We had a little more time at the end of the week but again we needed to hurry all the time. I saved my euros as there was little time to buy souvenirs! The ship Swiss Tiara was comfortable, the food was good and the service too. If you are not very mobile, want to socialise and are not bothered about the sights, this is the right holiday for you. But I am afraid, I need more stimulation. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Friends had already booked and we had always wanted to try a river cruise (have done many ocean cruises) but wanted to be part of a group of friends so joined up as itinerary sounded an interesting one which it was. Budapest - Estergom - ... Read More
Friends had already booked and we had always wanted to try a river cruise (have done many ocean cruises) but wanted to be part of a group of friends so joined up as itinerary sounded an interesting one which it was. Budapest - Estergom - Bratislava - Durnstein-Melk- Linz (for Salzburg) - Vienna- Budapest. All interesting. NB its an hour and a half coach trip each way to get to Salzburg from Linz. Thought much of the daytime river scenery apart from the Wachau Valley element was a bit boring - mainly loads of trees on both banks! Other parts were done at night so its more about the stops rather than the cruising. Embarking was hopeless as Riviera UK had given us the wrong pier address and as we were on a cruise only package we then had to phone the UK to find out where it actually was moored and they said the wrong place again. When we phoned the emergency ship number we were told it was about 5k away in the other direction so incurred extra taxi costs. The ship is only chartered by Riviera Travel and is operated by Select voyages so crew are not Riviera staff just the cruise Director and Tour Manger. The navigation crew generally looked a bit scruffy with jeans and Tshirts most of the time, though they were all friendly. Only saw the captain in uniform t the safety briefing and welcome dinners. The ship is only two years old so in good condition and with an excellent housekeeping team always seemed spotlessly clean. Hotel Manager was very friendly. Staff ensured all pax always used hand sanitisers so felt health safety was being well controlled. Rooms were actually bigger than I had imagined so they exceeded our expectations. Enough hanging space for a week. Plenty of shelving (with a safe on one) plus a few drawers. Empty Suitcases fit under beds. Flat screen TV. Compact bathroom with shower only but big enough again for a week for sure. The two Riviera Staff on board the cruise Director and Tour manager were friendly and engaging but on the whole always looked a bit scruffy. Shirt hanging out etc...? Food and beverage was a bit hit and miss though. The bar staff always seemed a bit stretched and apart from one waitress who was very pleasant were a bit surly and miserable. They were expected to help in the restaurant during meal services so couldn't understand why the restaurant staff couldn't help the they were busy pre meals?? Breakfast buffet was excellent with plenty of choice plus an excellent egg station. Lunch was again buffet style and generally OK. Dinner varied from fairly good on the welcome dinner and final captains dinners to fairly average the other other nights. The "Fine Dining" experience in the rear "Marley's Bar" was not bad but the room itself had big aircon problems that evening and was just incredibly hot which rather spoilt it and generally everyone only gets one chance per cruise to try this as the room is pretty small. To be fair the hotel manager comped a couple of the service staff came across as a bit surly though once you got to know them they were much better. The menus on normal nights seemed to be somewhat basic and restricted based on a fairly tight budget allowance I would think. Marley Bar never operated as a Bar and is just really a tea coffee / water station all day with some fruit and cookies (though once these ran out that was it they were not replenished). The Welcome drink at the two special evenings was a half glass of sparkling wine. A top up would have been nice! Same app;lied to late night snacks if you didnt get in quickly they soon disappeared. Bar prices generally seemed pretty fair and the house wine at euro 19 per litre was fair value. Our drinks bill for the week came to c euro 250 per cabin sticking with the house wine. Most other wines were around euro 28 per 75cl bottle. Having done a number of upmarket ocean cruises with Silversea maybe I was expecting too much. The cost worked out at about £300 per day per person so similar to a repositioning silversea voyage. Afraid no contest! Riviera Travel staff guest ratio is nowhere near an ocean cruise. they also do a lot of coach party touring and it felt a bit like that on this river cruise. Afraid we all felt we wouldn't bother doing another with Riviera Travel again. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
Starting with the positives - the ship was lovely and the itinerary was great. We really enjoyed the ports of call. The cruise director was excellent and the on-board pianist/musician & bar staff did a really good job. ... Read More
Starting with the positives - the ship was lovely and the itinerary was great. We really enjoyed the ports of call. The cruise director was excellent and the on-board pianist/musician & bar staff did a really good job. Unfortunately, the dining experience was not very good (with 3 exceptions) and was more 'school dinners' rather than the 5-star fine dining we were looking forward to. The exceptions were: the fine dining experience in Marley's Bar (could only really book this once on the trip), the Captain's dinner and the Chef's dinner. The breakfasts were acceptable although there was a lack of non-sugary unadulterated cereals. There perhaps could also have been a bit more imagination and variation in the buffet offerings. The lunches were very variable in quality. The evening meals were mostly poor - sometimes rehashed lunch items done a 'different way'. We felt sorry for the waiting staff who obviously had not been properly trained in how to take orders, clear the tables between courses and the general etiquette in serving. There was no obvious leadership from the maitre 'd. We have always loved Riviera holidays and have also had a really good river cruise experience with another company. So, based on this latest cruise we won't be recommending Riviera river cruises to our friends and family until we have evidence that the company they have sub-contracted the on-board services to have radically improved. To be fair to Rivienra they have responded positively to the email I sent them and so I hope they act on my feedback. Read Less
Charles Dickens Ratings
Category Editor Member

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