After a few ocean cruises it was time to try something different. Riviera was a local company so wishing to support a local business, a cruise Rhine Danube cruise on 'Emily Bronte' was chosen.
The original booking was made in 2015, but due to health problems was not able to travel in 2016. Unfortunately lost fare, but rebooked and repaid to travel this year. So you probably can guess how much the anticipation for this holiday.
Flight to Frankfurt and drive to Cologne went smoothly, as did boarding, then things started to go wrong.
While exploring on deck tripped on the top step on one of the staircases. A short while later the same thing happened on a different staircase. In all this happened four times. On investigated it was noticed that staircase descending from the deck had 'astroturf' going right to the edge of the steps, hiding the top step, all other steps had a very clear metal edges.
Later while sitting on the forward part of the deck, to watch the departure from Cologne, we were choaked by exhaust fumes coming from a black hole on the top of the mast at the front of the boat, just level with the seating area. It transpired that there was an engine below which powered the bow propeller. I seems that the same funnel also extracted fumes from the kitchen below.
I shared my concerns with the young lady 'hotel manager' who said she would pass my comments on to the captain..
The problem with the exhaust continued throughout the cruise, so the same report was made to the male Riviera rep who advised to write to head office. I did take some photographs of the sooty, oily deposits that came from that exhaust. I must have been seen with my camera because over the next two days some crew were scrubbing away.
Another thing about the deck. Either the boat was too high, or the bridges were too low, because all chairs, tables, screens, even the funnels were removed from the deck, which was out of bounds while sailing. But, it was a novelty to watch the ships bridge while going under a road bridge. The bridge was lowered on hydraulic and disappeared, leaving just the drivers head showing.
The other major, I think, issue was that the ship did not belong to Riviera but to Schilla, a Swiss company I was told. All the crew were employed by Schilla, many from Indonesia. In fact there were no native English speakers on board, except the passengers, which made communicating with staff a bit difficult on occasions.
A few words about food. Not what I was expecting (for the price), one day cows cheek, another raw meat balls, Soup portions barely cover the bottom of the bowls. Dessert spoons were really teaspoons, but matched the portions size of some of the desserts. No beef wellington, but we did get baked Alaska.
Entertainment: A resident pianist, crew show and a string quartet in Vienna.
Tours: Appeared to consist of driving through heavy traffic round town and walking tours which seemed to get jumbled up with groups from the several other boat moored nearby.
Disembarkation: please read review on Wizz Air
To be fair I did enjoy the sailing part, the 66 locks we passed through, the scenery, and the majority of the other passengers.
Would I do another river cruise? Well having done the Amazon and the Nile, probably not. Comparing costs would be the decider, and with sea cruises considerably cheaper, and offering a lot more are a much more attractive alternative
Cabin was lovely.
A couple of niggles: no xxl bathrobes available, awful selection of TV programmes and sometime mooring alongside other boats where windows were opposite each other.