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10 Riviera Travel William Shakespeare Cruise Reviews

Detailed review and long……. JOINING With our past experiences of joining cruises in Europe the most important factor was flying direct from our local airport (BHX) with no connections at other hubs. Rushing between gates at ... Read More
Detailed review and long……. JOINING With our past experiences of joining cruises in Europe the most important factor was flying direct from our local airport (BHX) with no connections at other hubs. Rushing between gates at Frankfurt or Schiphol is not for us, and from many others we have met who have had horror stories of missed connections and lost luggage. Our flight to Lyon was slightly delayed but on arrival we, and 10 others, were met by a Riviera representative and after only a 75yds walk we were in our luxury minibuses and on our way to our ship, a short 30 min drive. As soon as we boarded at 3pm we, and our luggage, were escorted to our cabin - super, no waiting. Many other passengers did not join till much later either with flights to other airports or the TGV from London via Paris THE SHIP As the Riviera price for the same itinerary on Emerald was at least £1000 per couple cheaper, our expectations were not high but we were delighted with the MS William Shakespeare which we found much more comfortable and welcoming than the Emerald Star ship, which is all chandeliers, chrome and glass. The deck layout is very similar but we found the lounge, with its sofas and comfortable chairs, and the dining room layout and furniture, to be far more welcoming and relaxing. As is normal on European rivers, the staff are mainly from Eastern Europe, and we found them all to be engaging, with good English and striving to give the best of service In the lounge there is a 24-hour tea, coffee and water station, together with complimentary cookies and fresh fruit. The sun deck has really comfortable deck furniture and ample shade, unlike some other cruise ships we came across on the Rhone which were baking in the 30C++ heat. Only on a few occasions were the shades lowered for low bridges or locks. F&B Surprisingly, we found the choice and quality of the food better than Emerald with some dishes, in presentation and taste, up to top restaurant quality. The superb beef wellington and an excellent sole meunière stood out amongst many fine dishes. Breakfast was either Continental at the bar, or a Buffet with a good choice of hot food, including an egg station, in the Restaurant. The only minor gripe-their supplier had let them down with English breakfast sausage so only frankfurters were on offer-uhg Lunches are buffet style, with three hot choices, and a good choice of salads, a soup and always cold cuts and smoked salmon or gravlax. The pastry chef had some style and passion with a choice every day-and of course French cheeses. There were two Gala nights with a stylish menu but on all other evenings there was a table d'hôte menu but if you wanted something different there was always grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon. Service was first class in every way from the waiters, both for ordering, service and drinks. One was never left with an empty glass. We were exceptionally lucky in having George and Aussie Zoe look after us. They shone in every way, are a credit to Riviera and they could walk into a job in any top restaurant in the World We took the pre-booked drinks package at €109pp which worked out just about right. The wines on offer changed most nights but all were very acceptable especially the Merlot, the Beaujolais and a very quaffable Rosé. The draft Warsteiner was excellent. On Gala nights there was complimentary sparkling wine in the bar as a pre-dinner drink, on other nights there was a Happy Hour with special discounts on certain drinks-€3.25 for sparkling wine, €1.75 for beer and €4.50 for a G&T. Drinks prices, overall, were sensibly price and cheaper than pub prices back home. ENTERTAINMENT There was pianist for pre-dinner cocktails and after dinner drinks in the Lounge and on two nights a rather fun quiz. On the Gala dinner nights there was a reception to introduce the Captain and the Hotel Manager Bruno together with all the crew. On the last night we were treated to a farewell serenade by all the crew and staff-not at all cheesy but really good fun… EXCURSIONS All are included in the price and there is a morning or afternoon excursion most days with cruising in between. We loved the day cruising watching the countryside changing from Burgundy to deep Provence. A full briefing was given before each trip and we all had audio boxes and ear pieces which were so useful in crowded places. I must mention the quality of the guides-all had perfect English and were gifted and enthusiastic in every way. Four of the trips were by coach and the one through the Burgundy vineyards during the vendage was exceptional and culminated in a tutored tasting at La Cellier de la Cabiote-the highlight of our day. Free time in Beaune old town followed by shopping , it was market day, and then back to Chalon for lunch and an afternoon cruise through the Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais countryside. The trip around old Lyon was also very enjoyable and the view over old Lyon from basilica Notre-Dame of Fourvière is a must, as are the wall murals in the old town. The other coach trips were to visit the Ardeche Gorges but as we had driven through these on previous visits so gave this a miss and stayed on the top deck, in glorious warm sun, whilst the ship repositioned to Viviers where the passengers re-joined the ship. All seemed to enjoy the coach trip, for us 3 hours on windy roads would have been too much. At Vienne we had a free morning to explore this old Roman town on foot with the option of joining the “little train” Other highlights included market day in Arles and after our guided walk round the Roman ruins we had free time to shop and sightsee before returning to the ship for lunch. The market was a delight and our star buy were bunches of dried lavender @€4 to replenish the ones we bought so many years ago. We did not take the afternoon coach tour to the Pont du Gard (done that) so we took the opportunity to take another walk around town before relaxing on the sun deck, under the velum sheltering from the hot Provence sun (32C) We sailed early evening to Avignon where we moored adjacent to the city walls very near the famous bridge. On our last day our walking tour started at 9.30 in the morning with a visit the remains of the ancient bridge followed by an extensive, and very interesting tour of the Popes Palace-again given an hour afterwards to explore on our own before making our way back to the ship. FELLOW GUESTS Other than a couple from the US and another couple from down under it was all British and Irish. Ages went from 50’s to 80’s with the average in the high 60’s. But age does not matter, some of the oldest were the spriteliest and put the youngest to shame. Most very mobile with the occasional stick and one wheelchair. LEAVING As there was no direct flight from Marseille to Birmingham the only option was a 3-hour coach trip back North to Lyon airport, to which we were not looking forward. We departed at 9.30 and how wrong we were. A smooth and comfortable journey on the A7 with glimpses of the Rhone, the ever-changing countryside and views, which I, as the driver on many of our previous trips to the South of France had never had the chance of experiencing. Our guide obtained trollies for us and escorted all the way to the check in desks-superb service from start to finish WIFI Non existing. It is NOFI Riviera staff were full of apologies, even they and the Reception suffered. Apparently, it is an ongoing problem with this boat which is hoped will be rectified when it is laid up at Chalon during the winter. A new antenna and routers are to be fitted. The lack of WiFi was only disappointment with this cruise and with Riviera. Luckily, we had a strong 4G signal on our mobiles so we were not completely out of touch. RIVIERA STAFF Absolutely superb-could not have been bettered. Certainly, the pair are the best we have come across on any of our cruises. Mandy the Cruise Director, assisted by Sarah her Riviera Concierge, are at the top of their game and are a credit to Riviera. TIPPING Guides and Drivers are not expecting tips but for exceptional service the guide lines of €2 for guides and €1 for drivers Gratuities are not included in the price but guidelines from Riviera are a crew shared €10pp per day. We also looked after those who were exceptional, including Sarah and Mandy. SUMMING UP If you have got this far, well done and I hope there are some useful nuggets in here. We were well impressed with Riviera who gave tremendous value for money for a truly 5 Star cruise—we hope to sail with them again, perhaps on a boat with WiFi not NoFi SS Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Traveled before with Riviera. Wanted to try a river cruise as the advertising and hype suggested it would be a wonderful 5* holiday and worth the expense. Can't fault the ship. Clean and well maintained. Cabin and bathroom ... Read More
Traveled before with Riviera. Wanted to try a river cruise as the advertising and hype suggested it would be a wonderful 5* holiday and worth the expense. Can't fault the ship. Clean and well maintained. Cabin and bathroom decent size. A fridge is needed though. Ice was NOT always available as advertised. Food extremely good but no choice of wine other than red, white or rose on the drinks package. The staff were friendly and efficient but short on the ground in the dining room and it was a free for all when it came to finding a dining table. Painist very competent but the lack of evening entertainment really needs addressed. Captain's night was decent. Great food but the entertainment was provided by way of a crew show. Seemed like cheap entertainment to us. Some moorings were anything but scenic. Ship often docked at lunchtime losing part of some days to go ashore. Tours itinerary good but some trips far too rushed. We enjoyed the cruise. It promised a lot, but overall was somewhat disappointing. Riviera need to address certain aspects of their river cruises if they really want to provide the 5* they promised. We will return to sea cruising. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We booked a cruise with Riviera Cruise on the 25th August 2017 and flew out on the 21st June 2018 for 7 days. After some research and watching your virtual tour of the ship; we chose this holiday with you company. I think it’s only ... Read More
We booked a cruise with Riviera Cruise on the 25th August 2017 and flew out on the 21st June 2018 for 7 days. After some research and watching your virtual tour of the ship; we chose this holiday with you company. I think it’s only fair to give the positive feedback first: We found the front of house staff excellent and very helpful We found the cabin staff that looked after housekeeping very good and friendly The young girl who did my hair was wonderful (it's a pity that the people who have such skills as hair dressing would not be considered to work in front of house on reception rather that cleaning toilets and bedrooms!!) Fresh fruit served at breakfast So to continue with the rest of the feedback: Our cabin: On arrival to our cabin we had 1 case between us, we were rather shocked at the size of the cabin; my husband had to climb over the bed to get to the other side, we had to unpack our case at 02.030 in order to make room for us to go to bed. I refer to your description of the ship as 5 star, - there was nothing 5 star about the pillows (I have attached a picture, they are stuffed with some sort of foam, and left me with pain in my neck) we had to endure this for the 6 nights we stayed, nor was the bed linen 5 stars!! I also attach a picture of the table in our room, which had stains and looked very shabby. The smell of cooking was so bad in our cabin, it was making us nauseous, this smell was in our cabin for the 6 nights, I spoke to the manager in relation to this and she assured me it was not coming from the kitchen! The lounge area for lounging in: The colour of brown and orange is so outdated in the lounge it was not at all pleasant to lounge in. The entertainment at night was so awful that people were in bed by 10.00; you should really consider rethinking the on -board entertainment! You advertise the following top liners: “State-of-the-art, five-star MS William Shakespeare” the “luxurious cabins and excellent facilities are undoubtedly the very best on cruise ships today”. This is not true. ‘Fine Culinary Experiences’: ‘Quality dining is an integral part of your river cruise experience – our ships take this to the highest five-star levels with superb cuisine prepared by a dedicated brigade of chefs.’ We had no fresh vegetables at all during our trip, At lunch one day they had frozen breaded schnitzel , The salad counter had the same processed meat and cabbage salad for the 6 days; - a deli counter in a petrol station would have a better selection. We were also served frozen wedge potatoes and frozen hash browns The soup that was served at lunch and dinner was so bad; it was warm water with a vegetable stock and pickled with salt, ( I did offer to give the chef a recipe for soup, but the waiter just ignored me), and in case you are wondering why I say there was no fresh vegetables on board the ship; on our last day minestrone soup was on the menu and it was very clear it had frozen vegetables ‘Start the morning with a delicious breakfast’. Take a stroll on the Sun Deck and enjoy early risers’ tea or coffee with your freshly baked pastries.- This was not on offer on board ‘Don’t forget to leave some room for afternoon tea and the chef’s special patisserie’ – it’s just too tempting to even attempt to ignore. This was not on offer, there was a coffee and tea machine in the lounge with shop cookies on offer, and each day there was chaos around the coffee machine with people in a queue. Overall the MS William Sheakspear ship needs a complete make over and Riviera Travel needs to give the customer what you are advertising; you are not delivering a 5 star experience To say the least we are not happy with our holiday; we spent €4,636.00 plus €365.00 on board the ship. We purchased our holiday based on the advertisement , marketing and the virtual tours we took on line. We did not have a 5 star experience because there was no 5 star and Riviera are falsely advertising and on this bases we asked for a refund. Our travel agency compensated us with 300 euro which is not even what we spent on board during this ordeal. Overall I would not recommend travelling with Riviera Travel. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We chose this cruise because it was less expensive than others and the itinerary was perfect for us. From the moment we boarded everything was perfect. A very comfortable top deck cabin, with a huge glass sliding door to open and admire ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was less expensive than others and the itinerary was perfect for us. From the moment we boarded everything was perfect. A very comfortable top deck cabin, with a huge glass sliding door to open and admire the amazing view. Embarkation was smooth, in fact we arrived early and were able to take our luggage on board and go for a walk in Cologne. The ship isn’t only 4 years old and very comfortable. While there is not entertainment as on big cruise ships, Peter played Piano every afternoon and again played and sang at night. In Vienna we were entertained by a string quartet, 4 ladies who were amazing. Also the ships hotel manager sang and played guitar on two occasions and the crew put on a comedy show one night, all very good. I felt that there’s so much to look at day and night on the river, that was entertaining enough. We didn’t have one bad meal, breakfast buffet and lunch but with extra menu offerings and dinner was always a choice of three entrees, two soups and three main courses. Also there was also a chicken dish and salmon dish every night apart from the main course offerings. Dessert was either something delicious or a cheese platter. Coffee and tea were always available and afternoon tea always offered a great selection of cakes. We didn’t take up the drinks package as it didn’t include drinks other than lunch and dinner. We believe the prices were comparable to what we pay in Australia and not big drinkers so were happy with having a glass of the very good house wine with dinner for around 4-5 euro. The two cruise directors, Veronica and Peter were excellent, knowledgeable and very patient with the mostly over 65 year old passengers. Peter gave a talk every night about our next port, which was very informative. The included tours were mostly great and varying difficulty to accommodate slower passengers, the crew, mostly Eastern European, were outstanding and very friendly. Yes, there was about six days when we couldn’t use the top viewing deck because of low bridges but there were plenty of other vantage points and we were able to use it going through the Rhine gorge which is probabaly the most spectacular part of the river. My only negative is the suggested tipping, which as an Australian, we found a little excessive and preferred to single out those crew that we felt went that extra bit, we did also leave general tip for the crew. I would definitely use Riviera again, I fact, we started planning another trip while on board. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Totally impressed with the service and "natural" friendliness of all the crew - well done to the hotel manager for creating the team. We have stayed at some of the best hotels in UK and this place as regards food beats them ... Read More
Totally impressed with the service and "natural" friendliness of all the crew - well done to the hotel manager for creating the team. We have stayed at some of the best hotels in UK and this place as regards food beats them all - and all from a tiny galley. Cannot compliment enough . Happily surprised with the cruise and everything with it as initially not expecting alot. The whole boat was very well kept and the crew genuinely wanted to be there, which was refreshing Excursions were very good with some amusing (Katriana) and well informed guides and not too long so had time to enjoy the boat etc. Would certainly recommend to others of any age - we are a young 60 and enjoyed every aspect .We were a 4 but to go as a couple would not be a problem as most passengers were there just to have fun and mix "if necessary" - if you don't want to mix then it's not a problem - nobody is pressurising you !! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
The ship is actually very nice: modern, bright, clean and with lovely full height/width fully opening windows in the cabins. The staff are generally extremely pleasant and helpful. The itinerary was interesting and it was pleasing to have ... Read More
The ship is actually very nice: modern, bright, clean and with lovely full height/width fully opening windows in the cabins. The staff are generally extremely pleasant and helpful. The itinerary was interesting and it was pleasing to have a decent amount of daytime cruising to enjoy the scenery. However, our flight arrangements were unsatisfactory, with our three seats being totally separated . Help from BA staff sorted it out but it was stressful and Riviera are just not interested. The food was the biggest disappointment. It was ordinary at best with watery, over salted soups, uninteresting salads, overlooked and dry fish and generally dreadful deserts. The " fine dining " was nothing of the sort. To be fair, breakfasts were fine. We suspect our principal tour manager divided opinion. He worked hard but his manner was over the top and he didn't know when to stop talking. There was far too much stress on tipping generously at the end of the cruise. Overall we were underwhelmed by the experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We have been on several sea cruises but wanted to try something different and we weren't disappointed. Our flight over was on EasyJet and one of our cases got delayed which although it was upsetting and frustrating, didn't ... Read More
We have been on several sea cruises but wanted to try something different and we weren't disappointed. Our flight over was on EasyJet and one of our cases got delayed which although it was upsetting and frustrating, didn't stop us from having a thoroughly good time. Dress seems to be quite casual. The folk on board seemed to be mainly in their 60s or 70s. It is not a suitable cruise for children. The ship was very similar to the many others we saw cruising up and down the Danube (which although I love my husband dearly is definitely not blue but a murky brown). Inside was very nice and tastefully decorated but also very comfortable. The lounge bar was nice, the bar is in the middle of the room and there is a small dance floor just in front of it, which isn't visible if you sit at the front end of the bar, but that didn't bother us. For the most part the boat was very quiet and incredibly smooth but sometimes we could hear the engine and it could be a bit bumpy, but we soon got used to it and hardly noticed after the first couple of days. I tried out the fitness suite, but the sauna and hairdresser didn't seem to be used at all. Everywhere was very clean. The cabins are smaller than cabins on cruise ships but perfectly adequate with enough storage, comfy beds and very nice en-suites. There are kettles in each room. We had a quick peek at the suites in the middle of the ship and they looked quite compact, but very nice. We were on Hamlet deck and had patio doors which we realised needed to have the sheer curtain pulled across as sometimes we found ourselves berthed next to another ship and looking into one of their rooms! Other times, if we were going through a lock - there were 16 on our cruise, our view would be of a concrete wall but mostly the views are of the riverbanks! Tours were interesting and extremely well organised. You have to remember to charge your Vox Box after every walking tour. I would have liked more time in Budapest and less time in Vienna but others might disagree. We saw some beautiful towns - Esztergom, Durnstein and Melk and larger cities like Saltzburg and Bratislava. It was all very interesting and the guides very professional. All the tours were optional but I'm glad we didn't miss any. Talks are given before every visit, but we didn't see the need for these as the tour guides explained everything anyway. We thought the food was lovely with a good choice. We took advantage of fine dining one evening and it was superb. I had Egg Benedict for breakfast every morning and it was always beautifully cooked. They make a good cup of tea on board, but I didn't enjoy the coffee. We enjoyed the entertainment, a quiz organised by the tour reps, a string quartet in Vienna and a Hungarian music and dance troupe, but a pianist played lovely music in the lounge bar during the afternoon and evenings. Service was excellent and the reception staff and Irena, the tour director did their best to locate our luggage which eventually turned up in Vienna on our last but one day. They offered to do our washing too as we had so few clothes which was much appreciated. There is television and wifi on board but signals aren't strong and our mobiles often couldn't get a signal. We found that frustrating at times. We had a really good time and wouldn't hesitate to go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
On 5th May 2016, we flew from Birmingham airport to Dusseldorf, Germany. We were met at the airport by a representative of Riviera Travel. We were then escorted from the airport to a waiting area at the front of the building where we ... Read More
On 5th May 2016, we flew from Birmingham airport to Dusseldorf, Germany. We were met at the airport by a representative of Riviera Travel. We were then escorted from the airport to a waiting area at the front of the building where we boarded a first class coach. Already on the coach were a number of travellers who had flown into Dusseldorf from Manchester Airport. We then travelled in the coach to Cologne where we met by another Riviera representative who in company with the coach driver removed our cases from the vehicle and together with staff from MS William Shakespeare conveyed our cases onto the ship and delivered them to our cabins. We had reserved cabin 305 on Hamlet deck. The cabin was spacious and well decorated. The bathroom contained a shower cubicle and the water was pumped under pressure via the shower head, the temperatures were adequate. The bathroom contained a lighting system under the cupboards which was excellent when using the toilet in the night. The beds were two single beds joined together and were comfortable. The room contained a settee and a chair together with a functional large screen television. MS William Shakespeare was built in 2014 and still looks very new. She can carry 152 passengers and 40 crew. The crew were very attentive and smartly dressed. One quote I heard from fellow passengers about the crew was, "nothing is too much trouble for them". I agree with this statement and feel it is a true reflection of the whole crew. The dining is free seating and the food can only be described as exceptional!! We also enjoyed a fine dining experience at the rear of the ship at no extra cost. A nice gesture by Riviera travel. There was no entertainment has such, although a young man played the piano in the lounge after dinner. On one evening the tour guides organised a general knowledge quiz which went down very well with the guests. In fairness I feel that Riviera have got the whole river cruise experience exactly right. We booked with Riviera after reading a review on river cruise ships in the 'WHICH' magazine. Riviera travel came out on top. We are regular ocean cruisers this was our first experience on a river cruise. The Rhine Gorge was the highlight of the cruise and the descriptions of the various locations by the tour guides was excellent. The Cruise terminated in Basle, and on the sixth day we had an excursion to Lucerne and the Alps, where a trip on a cog railway was also included. The cruise was excellent, but I do want to make special mention of tour guides Jane Mannering and Edward they really were the best!! To conclude we left MS William Shakespeare on 12th May and where conveyed by a first class coach to Zurich Airport, where we were met by Anna (Riviera Travel representative). She literally arranged everything from getting our flight tickets, checking us in and arranging the transfer of our luggage. Riviera Travel have got it exactly right. There were no children on the cruise and I would estimate the average age of the passengers at approximately 45 years. I will definitely cruise with Riviera again, the Danube is calling!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My mum and I travelled with Riviera for a river cruise from Basel to Cologne at the end of September. This was our first river cruise so did not know what to expect. We both had a great holiday mainly due to the terrific staff, who ... Read More
My mum and I travelled with Riviera for a river cruise from Basel to Cologne at the end of September. This was our first river cruise so did not know what to expect. We both had a great holiday mainly due to the terrific staff, who could not do enough for you and the wonderful people we met especially "the boys" and M & K. Everyone on the ship were so friendly and always had time to stop and chat. The cabins were kept spotlessly clean, as were all the other areas around the ship. Some passengers thought that the cabins were small, but compared to the other ships from different companies that were moored alongside us from time to time, they were all about the same size. The food was very good - always something tasty on the menu. We tried the "fine dining" experience which was an intimate dinner for a maximum of 24 guests at the rear of the ship with a wonderful ambiance and wonderful service. The Captain's dinner on our last night was another enjoyable evening. Drinks were reasonably priced. Entertainment on board during the evening was limited but there was music playing and they held a couple of quizzes during the week. I would recommend trying a river cruise as my mum and both really enjoyed it. My only gripe was the wi-fi connection - or lack of it to be precise! I was able to get a connection on the William Shakespeare but could not access the internet or e-mail along with every other passenger on board. I did hear that this is something the ship/company are trying to rectify. I hope they can get it sorted. Thank you Riviera, we had a fantastic time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Cruise the Heart of Europe This was our second river cruise with Rivera Travel, we thought the itinerary was fairly comprehensive and interesting, but 14 days on a river boat might seem too long for some people. The boat looked new, ... Read More
Cruise the Heart of Europe This was our second river cruise with Rivera Travel, we thought the itinerary was fairly comprehensive and interesting, but 14 days on a river boat might seem too long for some people. The boat looked new, only about a year or so old, we thought the decor was a little bland, plain white ceilings in the dining room, dull brown staircase handrails. It did not give an impression of a 4 or 5 star boat. Our other cruise with Riviera Travel was on the 'Swiss Coroner' we thought that boat had vastly superior interior decor. The food was inferior to that served on the Swiss Coroner, the so-called cream soups were more like consommé, overall the food was only 2 star. The wait staff were a very mixed bag, from very good to rather poor. Sometimes salt and pepper pots were missing or empty, you had to ask for the odd missing item of cutlery. Three good points about the William Shakespeare were the excellent tour managers, reception and bar staff. We had a suite, the layout could have been much better designed, the space between the bed and the exterior balcony doors was far too tight. We believe the William Shakespeare might have been chartered by Rivera Travel from a company named 'Select Voyagers' and the Swiss Coroner was charted from a different company. We would be very happy to go on another Riviera Travel river cruise but would probably avoid ‘Select Voyagers’ boats. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
William Shakespeare Ratings
Category Editor Member

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