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My wife and I with two friends have just returned from the Riviera Five Star River Douro Cruise from Porto, Portugal on the Riviera Douro Elegance boat. The Riviera Representative met us at the airport on arrival and after a little delay we boarded the coach and the transfer to Porto was about 45 minutes. The staff on board were very helpful and friendly as expected. The quality of the boat was beautiful having been brought into service in April of this year. We had a Balcony Suite, although the balconies have been amended to large sliding windows. The cabins are well appointed and the balcony/window modification worked well. The new boat in itself certainly deserved the 5 star rating. I must say that the scenery on the Douro is quite breathtaking and we would really recommend the Douro for it’s beauty and tranquillity. Sadly though, we have a number of observations and complaints which certainly marred our trip. We and a number of other passengers were extremely disappointed with the food served on board mainly during the evening restaurant service. Firstly the actual menus themselves were presented on flimsy paper which looked like they had been run off on photo copy paper. Zero for presentation. The soups tasted like packet soup and possibly were not freshly made. The menu on most evenings consisted of strange combinations of ingredients and on the whole fairly tasteless and lacking in seasoning and always tepid. We found many of the dishes or accompanying sauces contained bacon, pork, lamb or sea food leaving my wife and I very little or in some cases no choice of menu as we are non meat/chicken eaters although we do eat fish. With that in mind the fish dishes available were nearly always Sea Bream again lacking in seasoning. On one evening the menu consisted of Sea Bream with Tomato Rice. As an alternative, Mango Risotto with Salted Olives. It’s rice all round! Cheap and easy! Also a lack of accompanying fresh vegetables. There are a number of issues with the food including the food was always tepid when served and in some cases almost cold. We sent food back at times because of this. Other areas of concern. On a number of occasions at breakfast we had to clear used crockery and tableware from tables ourselves as the staff had not cleared and reset available tables. The breakfast buffet was a “bum fight” each morning particularly when an early excursion was planned. The so called hot food in the chafing dishes was always either cold or just tepid. Same at lunch time. There was always a lack of prepared fresh fruit choice. Strips of water melon, slices of orange was more or less the choice. There was however a bowl with some apples in it that did look a bit past their sell by date. There are two help yourself coffee machines available 24 hours a day. The coffee produced from these machines is again tepid and is only just recognisable as coffee. Being a coffee drinker it would seem that the beans are of poor quality. Just my opinion! The coffee served in the restaurant is the same. Couldn’t wait to get a decent cup of coffee on shore! There was no service at all on the sun deck. If you wanted a drink or whatever, you had to go below to the bar and bring it up to the sun deck yourself. Certainly not five star service. On our departure day, due to the flight time being later in the day and after vacating the cabins at 9.00am, absolutely no refreshments were made available to late departing guests despite my enquiring. I have to say that the member of staff with whom I spoke clearly indicated “cost cutting”! It was as if “we’ve got your money and you’re on your own now”. I do recall on previous river cruises a light lunch was made available for late departing guests. Not on this one! There were about 25 passengers on the late departure timed for 2.45 from the boat. Amazingly the boat had provided one toilet only for all of those passengers and was located in the lower lobby area. The Urinals for men had a ‘Not In Use’ notice leaving one WC only to be available for all of those people. When I enquired as to another toilet facility I was told this was the only one. People were queuing to use it. On previous cruises the boat has put aside a couple of cabins for toilet use. In addition to the passengers waiting to leave, early arriving guests whose cabins were not at the time ready, were also using the same toilet. This was an absolute disgrace. All in all I regret to say that we were very disappointed with Riviera and this was certainly not a five star cruise. The boat in itself was five star but the food and general service was no more than three star. We feel badly let down by Riviera and shall now give Riviera a miss for future cruising. Currently awaiting Riviera's response !

Riviera Douro Elegance Not Five Star!

Douro Elegance Cruise Review by raymond4868

31 people found this helpful
Trip Details
My wife and I with two friends have just returned from the Riviera Five Star River Douro Cruise from Porto, Portugal on the Riviera Douro Elegance boat.

The Riviera Representative met us at the airport on arrival and after a little delay we boarded the coach and the transfer to Porto was about 45 minutes.

The staff on board were very helpful and friendly as expected.

The quality of the boat was beautiful having been brought into service in April of this year. We had a Balcony Suite, although the balconies have been amended to large sliding windows. The cabins are well appointed and the balcony/window modification worked well. The new boat in itself certainly deserved the 5 star rating.

I must say that the scenery on the Douro is quite breathtaking and we would really recommend the Douro for it’s beauty and tranquillity.

Sadly though, we have a number of observations and complaints which certainly marred our trip.

We and a number of other passengers were extremely disappointed with the food served on board mainly during the evening restaurant service.

Firstly the actual menus themselves were presented on flimsy paper which looked like they had been run off on photo copy paper. Zero for presentation.

The soups tasted like packet soup and possibly were not freshly made. The menu on most evenings consisted of strange combinations of ingredients and on the whole fairly tasteless and lacking in seasoning and always tepid. We found many of the dishes or accompanying sauces contained bacon, pork, lamb or sea food leaving my wife and I very little or in some cases no choice of menu as we are non meat/chicken eaters although we do eat fish.

With that in mind the fish dishes available were nearly always Sea Bream again lacking in seasoning.

On one evening the menu consisted of Sea Bream with Tomato Rice. As an alternative, Mango Risotto with Salted Olives. It’s rice all round! Cheap and easy! Also a lack of accompanying fresh vegetables. There are a number of issues with the food including the food was always tepid when served and in some cases almost cold. We sent food back at times because of this.

Other areas of concern. On a number of occasions at breakfast we had to clear used crockery and tableware from tables ourselves as the staff had not cleared and reset available tables.

The breakfast buffet was a “bum fight” each morning particularly when an early excursion was planned. The so called hot food in the chafing dishes was always either cold or just tepid. Same at lunch time.

There was always a lack of prepared fresh fruit choice. Strips of water melon, slices of orange was more or less the choice. There was however a bowl with some apples in it that did look a bit past their sell by date.

There are two help yourself coffee machines available 24 hours a day. The coffee produced from these machines is again tepid and is only just recognisable as coffee. Being a coffee drinker it would seem that the beans are of poor quality. Just my opinion! The coffee served in the restaurant is the same. Couldn’t wait to get a decent cup of coffee on shore!

There was no service at all on the sun deck. If you wanted a drink or whatever, you had to go below to the bar and bring it up to the sun deck yourself. Certainly not five star service.

On our departure day, due to the flight time being later in the day and after vacating the cabins at 9.00am, absolutely no refreshments were made available to late departing guests despite my enquiring. I have to say that the member of staff with whom I spoke clearly indicated “cost cutting”! It was as if “we’ve got your money and you’re on your own now”. I do recall on previous river cruises a light lunch was made available for late departing guests. Not on this one!

There were about 25 passengers on the late departure timed for 2.45 from the boat.

Amazingly the boat had provided one toilet only for all of those passengers and was located in the lower lobby area. The Urinals for men had a ‘Not In Use’ notice leaving one WC only to be available for all of those people. When I enquired as to another toilet facility I was told this was the only one. People were queuing to use it. On previous cruises the boat has put aside a couple of cabins for toilet use.

In addition to the passengers waiting to leave, early arriving guests whose cabins were not at the time ready, were also using the same toilet.

This was an absolute disgrace.

All in all I regret to say that we were very disappointed with Riviera and this was certainly not a five star cruise. The boat in itself was five star but the food and general service was no more than three star.

We feel badly let down by Riviera and shall now give Riviera a miss for future cruising.

Currently awaiting Riviera's response !
raymond4868’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 325
Well appointed and a reasonable circulation space. Tea and Coffee facilities and a very comfortable bed.
The balconies have been amended to large downward electrically sliding windows which provides good views. Bath robes are provided. The shower and toilet space is tight,