This review endorses that of BJ149 regarding his July 2019 cruise on this ship and should be read in tandem. (We only wish we had read it before booking!).
We have enjoyed nearly sixty ocean cruises and three river cruises (this being our first with Riviera) and never before have we experienced such inefficiency, poor administration, lack of courtesy, mediocre food, poor service and overall non-professionalism.
It started when we arrived at Marseille airport as three unfortunate passengers, also bound for Lord Byron, became stuck in the aircraft lift and no-one had any idea when they could or would be released. The courier who met us was adamant that we remaining thirty-seven passengers would have to wait for their release before we could be coached to the ship, one hour forty-five minutes away. After waiting in the airport for well over an hour, we suggested to the courier that we all be taken to the ship and the three others be taxied later, but he said he had no authority to do this, nor was there any way he could obtain it. After some persuasion, he permitted us to board the coach so that we could at least sit down while we waited.
All of us now were becoming quite irate as some passengers had already been travelling for nearly ten hours, so with the agreement of all, one of us rang Riviera in England, explained the situation and asked for someone to authorise the courier to let us be taken to the ship and have the three missing passengers taxied when they were released as who knew when that would be? It was Sophie who took the call and promised to ring back - but that never happened at all.
This set the scene for the rest of the cruise:
When we eventually got to the ship, in view of the late hour we were unceremoniously herded into the dining room for a buffet dinner but, just like BJ149, instead of being greeted with cheerful smiles and sympathy for our delay, we were rushed into placing drinks orders with surly waiters, many of whom were lacking in courtesy or professionalism, and indeed did not appear to have been trained properly. Despite being told there would be a few tables for two at the time of our booking, there were none. We booked one of the four top suites on the ship which seemed to offer no privileges at all except the extra space, and one could reasonably expect that we be given a table for two as advised at the time of our booking.
Our food that first evening - and thereafter - was of mediocre quality, with very, very little choice. All breakfasts, lunches and part of some dinners were buffets and as the size of the dining room does not accommodate the space needed, invariably there was a scrum, particularly at breakfast time. Alarmingly, there was no policing or management of the serving tongs which people would regularly leave on top of the food, thus spreading germs to all as was self-evident by an increasing number of passengers contracting a cold during the course of the cruise, including many of the staff.
Our cabin was clean but on trying out our bed for comfort, we discovered the mattresses were just slabs of foam - not even memory foam! Our cabin stewardess brought duvets to put on top of the mattresses which made them slightly softer, and confirmed that they had already had many complaints about the hardness of the beds.
The so-called complimentary WiFi on board was almost non-existent as confirmed by the Hotel Manager who agreed that it was a very basic receiving system. We passengers were actively encouraged to use our own data allowance rather than rely on the ship's WiFi. We know that a ship's satellite connection is always slower than on land, but this was appalling, even with full signal! It took ninety minutes to only part-download a newspaper which would take just ten minutes on any other ship!
We were obliged to buy our own soft toilet paper from a local supermarket as on board it was thick, hard, rough and most unpleasant. Its texture and thickness were extremely surprising considering the ship's vacuum system.
We were advised that the water from the bathroom taps was of drinking quality but it tasted earthy so, again, we were obliged to purchase our own.
There was a distinct lack of entertainment on board other than the resident pianist/singer each evening. A "treat" promised to us after dinner one evening turned out to be just a quiz which was repeated a couple of evenings later. Some members of the crew put on their own show which was amateurish and embarrassing.
Television was very limited, with only one channel showing films in English, just two per day at 3 pm and 9.30 pm, which had to be started manually by someone in Reception and was often forgotten altogether. The DVD/film system is very basic, much like the WiFi. Blank looks met our request that the films be played continuously throughout the day .
The excursions were very much as commented upon by BJ149 in his review, so nothing has changed there then!
We have to agree with BJ149's concluding paragraph - and we will not be choosing Riviera ever again.