Having done numerous Ocean Cruises we decided to try a River Cruise, we booked this through our travel agent who recommended Riviera Travel..
Our expectations were high therefore we were very disappointed with several things regarding this cruise so I will start with the Pros., please bear in mind this is our personal opinion and what suits one traveler doesn't suit another..
The organisation by Riviera was excellent, the transfer from airport to the dock in Cologne and the return journey was well organised and the fact that there was a representative from Riviera Travel on the coach and throughout the airport check-in was very good especially for some passengers who may be unsure of the airport procedures..
Check-in at the boat was quick and efficient and we were in our cabin very quickly, cases were delivered within 15 mins of being on board..
We had a cabin on Diamond Deck with a Juliette balcony, unfortunately we had a lot of rain so we didn't get a chance to use this..The cabin was excellent, well appointed and beautifully decorated, the bed and pillows were comfortable and there was mini bar/fridge, large TV (we never had this on so can't comment on it), hairdryer, nespresso coffee machine and a kettle, wardrobe and drawer space was adequate for 7 nights..The bathroom was also very nice with a great shower, plenty of hot water and toiletries from Crabtree & Evelyn..The cabins were cleaned in the morning and there was a turn down service in the evening..
Open seating for breakfast which was between 7:30 - 9 am, lunch 12:30 - 2 pm and dinner 6 pm - 8 pm, there were a few tables for 2 but in the main it was bigger tables, there was also a small bistro that took approx 20 covers and was open for lunch and dinner but you had to reserve a table for dinner so this was always very busy..
The restaurant was very nice, tables were always beautifully set with high quality cutlery and linen napkins..Thanks to Panji who served us in the restaurant, this was his first contract and he was always smiling and helpful..
The bar staff lead by George the bar manager, Valentin and Gabriel gave excellent service and were very friendly and efficient, the bar prices were also very reasonable..
The shore excursions which were included were in general good however somewhat rushed on some days, especially if there was one in the morning and another in the afternoon..We did see some lovely place, especially Colmar and Rudesheim and some of the scenery when we were sailing was beautiful..
We didn't realise this was the inaugural cruise and also the average age was 73 but not a young 73 so this had a very different slant on the cruise..The crew also seemed to be very disorganised..
Sarah and Tim were the hosts, Sarah was very irritating, Tim was a gentleman and completely domineered by the over powering Sarah..
Restricted meal times for breakfast, this finished by 9 am so no chance of a lie-in and no food until lunch..If you weren't getting off the boat to do a trip or something on your own as some elderly passengers didn't, there was no food other than coffee and biscuits..I feel the bistro should be open in the morning, just serving croissants and toast between 9 am and 10:30 so that passengers have a choice, there was room service available for continental breakfast however if you were still in your cabin after 9 am the cabin steward was knocking on the door asking you if you wanted your cabin serviced so we felt pressured into leaving the cabin..The food in restaurant was mediocre at best and service was slow, although there were 5 courses in the evening the choices were limited and on a couple of occasions my husband couldn't find anything he liked at lunch time, the soup was always tasty, however if you had a bigger appetite then the portions would not have been sufficient..
Entertainment was provided by a talented and very nice Gentleman named Peter who sang and played the piano/organ..Although he was very good and entertained us it was the same format every night as there was only the one lounge and no where else to go..I did expect some local entertainment on the nights when we had a late departure but this didn't happen..
I also had a romantic notion of river cruising and each day we would be docked in beautiful little towns and villages however this wasn't the case, being a river boat I was unaware of how low down they sat in the river, so it was very disappointing when some days our view was of a brick wall or docked in some industrial area, I didn't expect this at all..
Would we book another one, never say never but we can cross this of our bucket list..It was thanks to the company of two like minded couples also doing a river cruise for the first time and having a good laugh together that actually made the cruise and it would definitely have been a very different trip if we hadn't met them, they also said they wouldn't repeat a river cruise..
Again this is our experience and views but from now on we will stick to Ocean cruising as its a better fit for us..
As I mentioned above the cabin was excellent, beautifully decorated and well appointed..
Serviced twice a day however in the evening the towels weren't changed even though we left them in the shower after use in the evening, we did this 2 nights in a row then realised they weren't going to be refreshed..