After several ocean cruises, we decided to take a river cruise and chose the Oscar Wilde from Riviera Travel including the Rhine gorge, finishing in Basel. We took the Eurostar from St. Pancras, London, to Cologne to board. This proved to be a marathon journey starting with very tight security in St Pancras station which does not seem to have the space for all who are waiting to board the train. Upon arrival in Brussels we were transferred to a coach which then took three & a half hours to reach the boat. An experience not to be repeated.
The cabin was 212 on Ruby deck with a French balcony. We had requested twin beds prior to our arrival but found instead two beds pushed together with a soft topper. We asked for separate beds which were dealt with promptly but why was our original request not complied with? It added to the frustration of the day. We had also requested particular pillows but they weren’t available. The bathroom was well appointed with a rain shower head but also a smaller shower head which is useful. The bathroom is extremely small though. The shaving mirror is very cheap and does not reflect well. Apart from that we managed in what are very small cabins. Two small bottles of water are left in the mini fridge every day which was welcome.
The dining room was an area of contention as there are only 4 tables for two, so sharing is necessary. We found the food to be mediocre and the complementary wine undrinkable. There is better wine available to buy. There are tables for two available in the other smaller restaurant but the menu doesn’t alter much. The staff in both restaurants are very good and cheerful.
There is one large lounge/bar but no other public rooms. Once again, the staff are good
There is very little entertainment but we found the resident pianist to be very talented.
There was one evening with what was billed as a Music Quiz which turned out to be hilarious and was the best evening we had.
Excursions are included but honestly, we weren’t impressed. One day we were coached around the Black Forest for a couple of hours ending up at Lake Titisee for about 45 mins.
We passed on the Bernese Oberland tour as sitting on another coach for 7 hours didn’t appeal.
Our journey home started OK with the TGV to Paris which is fast and comfortable. We were then told it would take around 40 mins to transfer from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar back but unfortunately the coach driver had no idea where he was going. We drove round and round in circles along crowded streets for close on 2 hours, at one point the driver couldn’t negotiate a corner so he reversed into the car behind but then carried on! By this time we were all getting concerned about catching the train in time so the Riviera representative stopped the coach, we all got off and walked to rest of the way to the Gare du Nord.
It seems that Riviera are trying to cut corners in lots of areas. Quality of food being the main one, and also the excursions. We have been on several luxury cruises, e.g., Silver Seas, Seabourn, Regent, Cunard, but this cruise was not in the same class.
Cabins are small with extremely small bathrooms. Not a huge amount of wardrobe space but enough for us. The so-called air conditioning is not actually air conditioned. It is only a heating/cooling system which is actually too powerful for the small cabins and is placed on the wrong wall. We could not find a happy medium between too hot and too cold.
I had requested blankets instead of a duvet but they do not have blankets large enough to cover the single bed so I ended up with 4 small blankets turned sideways!!