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61 Riviera Travel Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise on the river Danube as we wanted a relaxing break but especially wanted to see the Christmas Markets in Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna and we weren’t disappointed, (Vienna especially is a must). Everything went ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the river Danube as we wanted a relaxing break but especially wanted to see the Christmas Markets in Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna and we weren’t disappointed, (Vienna especially is a must). Everything went smoothly from the booking to landing back in Bristol airport. The Robert Burns is definitely a 5 star ship and was decorated beautifully throughout for the festive season and kept in pristine condition for the entire trip The food was top class and the crew were amazing! They were friendly, helpful and also very professional. We also loved that there was tea/coffee/hot chocolate/biscuits on tap in the reception area 24/7 We loved this trip so much that we will definitely be booking another one in the very near future. Thank you to Riviera Travel and all the staff who helped to make our pre Christmas break everything we’d hoped for and more xx Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Our first European/ Riviera cruise- an excellent experience, good value and leaving us with ideas for other cruises. Ship, cabin and all facilities were stunningly clean, well kept and top class. Our cabin was pristine- bathroom tiled ... Read More
Our first European/ Riviera cruise- an excellent experience, good value and leaving us with ideas for other cruises. Ship, cabin and all facilities were stunningly clean, well kept and top class. Our cabin was pristine- bathroom tiled and including hair dryer/ quality shampoo etc. All staff were friendly, attentive and professional- constantly seeking to make our/ and everyones trip memorable and better in any way they could= "anything else"? Hand washing and cleanliness was excellent. Cabin steward was a gem- went out for breakfast and the cabin was like new on our return. Breakfasts were very good [as was the Bistro] with everything and more. Lunches very good and the dinners mostly good. Excursions were informative and thought provoking- the information provided included maps/ timetables and talks. All exceptional and worth the money. + Would have appreciated more time on the Budapest tour to get off and see some items. + Internet could have been better- but we were relaxing so not a major issue Great way to see the three cities. We will be checking other cruises with Riviera probably longer ones Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was my first river cruise and a solos cruise with 64 singles, although some friends booked together. The boat was stunning and lower cabin was very comfortable and quiet. L'Ocitane toiletries, towelling robe and slippers, ... Read More
This was my first river cruise and a solos cruise with 64 singles, although some friends booked together. The boat was stunning and lower cabin was very comfortable and quiet. L'Ocitane toiletries, towelling robe and slippers, satellite tv and double bed to myself. Of course, no time spent in the cabin because fellow travellers and the rest of the ship is so inviting. Big windows, lovely lounge and well stocked bar made the communal areas easy to spend time in. It rained all week but didn't stop the fun. The cruise goes through many locks which are staggering and the river meanders through picturesque scenery. Sun deck has a small pool and about 3 of us managed a dip in November! There is also a small exercise room with treadmill, weights and a bike. Spa was virtually fully booked with amazing massages. Highlights were definitely the excursions, very different visits and the spectacular visit to Salamanca. Always enough time to see things with very well organised and friendly tour guides and free time to wander. Joined the cruise at Oporto which is a fascinating place to see. Of course, lots of Port wine and tastings. The food on board was delicious, varied and to a very high standard. Too many good dishes to mention and wine and drinks very reasonable. I'm glad I didn't book the drinks package because from what I understood, it was only available at meal times and not in the bar. Lighter lunch is served in the lounge and tea and coffee available from the hot drinks station all day. Water bottles provided and fountain to top up. I was so relaxed the minute I got on board. The crew were brilliant and the advice and information from the cruise director was just enough and not boring. This was one of the best holidays I've had and other passengers, some elderly were up and dancing most nights, no shortage of good company. It was my birthday on the trip and a bottle of Prosseco in my cabin with a card made it special. Can't fault this cruise and I am very fussy. I took a book to read and never opened it. If I had one minor suggestion, it would be that the gift shop on the ship is very limited to fairly expensive buys rather than useful things. Take comfortable walking shoes and in autumn, raincoat and don't forget the swimsuit! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise from Avignon because it ended up in Lyon where we have family we wanted to visit. The cruise overall was fair to good but could have been much better. From speaking with the staff, they have heard the concerns before ... Read More
We chose this cruise from Avignon because it ended up in Lyon where we have family we wanted to visit. The cruise overall was fair to good but could have been much better. From speaking with the staff, they have heard the concerns before but have not acted upon them. Embarkation was poorly planned. We were to meet at Hotel Kyriad in Avignon for a 4:30 p.m. pick up - which is way too late. The Hotel only had 2 seats in their "lobby". There was no room for the luggage or those of us waiting after a long day of travel. We were in Cabin 216. The cabin was clean, modern and fairly spacious. There is no refrigerator and the bar staff are hesitant to hand out ice buckets. Bar staff were the least pleasant but front desk staff were always kind and helpful. Breakfast and Lunch are buffets. We took sani wipes to use the buffet utensils. The wine package only offers 1 red, 1 white and 1 rose. There is also only 1 beer choice. The food was quite good on the whole. The were days when the cruise staff gave you a map and told you to go explore on your own. Vienne is a beautiful ancient Roman city and instead of leading the just 68 passengers on a proper informative walking tour, the Cruise Staff sent us off with a map on our own. It was very disappointing especially after we toured Vienne with our relatives and learned so much about the city. The lack of decent evening entertainment on a ship that calls itself 5 stars is extremely poor. One night there was no entertainment scheduled AT ALL other than Petr, the talented but no spark pianist, so I approached the tour director and offered to at least do a world trivia quiz.. The Cruise Director was leary but finally agreed but said he had nothing for prizes. I ran the quiz, which was quite well received, and brought my own prizes. The Cruise staff had 2 trivia quiz nights and the Captain's reception for entertainment -- that's it! Lastly, we forgot a bottle of wine in our cabin and a window thermometer. We called from our relatives in Lyon and said we would come and pick them up the next day. The bottle of Bordeaux "fell from the trolley" and broke. Hmmmmm. We got the thermometer back and they gave us a bottle of good champagne as a substitution. I wouldn't take this river cruise line again because of the poor tours and lack of evening entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Our tour started in Basel on the Rhine. There are 2 exits at the airport, We and a dozen others unfortunately chose the French, exit and it took 45 minutes to track down our Swiss rep which apparently is a constant problem for Riviera ... Read More
Our tour started in Basel on the Rhine. There are 2 exits at the airport, We and a dozen others unfortunately chose the French, exit and it took 45 minutes to track down our Swiss rep which apparently is a constant problem for Riviera guests at this airport and not emphasised enough in the guidance notes. Our river boat was superb. the cabins, facilities, food and staff faultless although depressingly moored on 3 occasions on industrial sites or recycling centres. This part of the Rhine is very industrial. Sadly the itinerary was very disappointing like the riverbank until we reached the Rhine gorge with its prettier towns and castles.. Firstly, the brochure highlighted Lucerne and this was the city that we looked forward to the most. It took 90 minutes by coach to get there and the guide gave us 60 minutes to whizz round. One hour to digest such a beautiful city was hopeless.This was compensated fortunately by our one and only walking guide in the superb and glorious city of Strasbourg. Our second let down was visiting towns where again we were unaccompanied and moored at inappropriate times eg Speyer on a Sunday when the town was closed and the church closed for a special lSunday services, so we wandered around a park. Ruddesheim famous for its beer cellars etc we arrived at 9.30 am when everything was shut as was Koblenz at 4.30. In Cologne we were accompanied in the coach and given 2 hours so we decided on the cathedral and chocolate factory but frustratingly after speedily touring the cathedral the recommended noddy train to the factory and its return timetable did not allow us time to tour the factory. So we just bought chocolate from its shop. Riviera have said since that all my regrets were subjective and they have been very dismissive. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Travelled previously with riviera and been impressed with their reliability and service. Ship was spotless loved our cabin on Diamond deck which had a fully retracting sliding window so you can watch the scenery glide past from the ... Read More
Travelled previously with riviera and been impressed with their reliability and service. Ship was spotless loved our cabin on Diamond deck which had a fully retracting sliding window so you can watch the scenery glide past from the comfort of your own cabin. Plenty of storage space, cases fitted under the bed, there was a kettle for making tea, a Nespresso machine and a small fridge and safe. The bathroom was modern and well fitted out. There is a lift for all floors other than the Sun Deck. This had a small splash pool and putting green and masses of seating. Staff were excellent and friendly, all seemed to do at leats two jobs. The food really good, there is a bistro open lunchtimes and bookable (but free) for evenings. Main dining room buffet breakfast & lunch served in the evening. The tours were informative and well managed.Used a "voice box" on all the tours which is really helpful. Entertainment was on a par with other river cruises, a couple of local folkloric groups, quizzes, a crew show and a pianist . Ports were interesting we sailed from Budapest down through the Danube Delta to the Black Sea & back. Lots of old Soviet bloc countries with really interesting histories. It was fascinating to hear our guides varying views on the same events in relatively recent history. The value for money with riviera is much better than on many of their competitors and food etc is on a par, and the cabin layout to our preference. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Detailed review and long……. JOINING With our past experiences of joining cruises in Europe the most important factor was flying direct from our local airport (BHX) with no connections at other hubs. Rushing between gates at ... Read More
Detailed review and long……. JOINING With our past experiences of joining cruises in Europe the most important factor was flying direct from our local airport (BHX) with no connections at other hubs. Rushing between gates at Frankfurt or Schiphol is not for us, and from many others we have met who have had horror stories of missed connections and lost luggage. Our flight to Lyon was slightly delayed but on arrival we, and 10 others, were met by a Riviera representative and after only a 75yds walk we were in our luxury minibuses and on our way to our ship, a short 30 min drive. As soon as we boarded at 3pm we, and our luggage, were escorted to our cabin - super, no waiting. Many other passengers did not join till much later either with flights to other airports or the TGV from London via Paris THE SHIP As the Riviera price for the same itinerary on Emerald was at least £1000 per couple cheaper, our expectations were not high but we were delighted with the MS William Shakespeare which we found much more comfortable and welcoming than the Emerald Star ship, which is all chandeliers, chrome and glass. The deck layout is very similar but we found the lounge, with its sofas and comfortable chairs, and the dining room layout and furniture, to be far more welcoming and relaxing. As is normal on European rivers, the staff are mainly from Eastern Europe, and we found them all to be engaging, with good English and striving to give the best of service In the lounge there is a 24-hour tea, coffee and water station, together with complimentary cookies and fresh fruit. The sun deck has really comfortable deck furniture and ample shade, unlike some other cruise ships we came across on the Rhone which were baking in the 30C++ heat. Only on a few occasions were the shades lowered for low bridges or locks. F&B Surprisingly, we found the choice and quality of the food better than Emerald with some dishes, in presentation and taste, up to top restaurant quality. The superb beef wellington and an excellent sole meunière stood out amongst many fine dishes. Breakfast was either Continental at the bar, or a Buffet with a good choice of hot food, including an egg station, in the Restaurant. The only minor gripe-their supplier had let them down with English breakfast sausage so only frankfurters were on offer-uhg Lunches are buffet style, with three hot choices, and a good choice of salads, a soup and always cold cuts and smoked salmon or gravlax. The pastry chef had some style and passion with a choice every day-and of course French cheeses. There were two Gala nights with a stylish menu but on all other evenings there was a table d'hôte menu but if you wanted something different there was always grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon. Service was first class in every way from the waiters, both for ordering, service and drinks. One was never left with an empty glass. We were exceptionally lucky in having George and Aussie Zoe look after us. They shone in every way, are a credit to Riviera and they could walk into a job in any top restaurant in the World We took the pre-booked drinks package at €109pp which worked out just about right. The wines on offer changed most nights but all were very acceptable especially the Merlot, the Beaujolais and a very quaffable Rosé. The draft Warsteiner was excellent. On Gala nights there was complimentary sparkling wine in the bar as a pre-dinner drink, on other nights there was a Happy Hour with special discounts on certain drinks-€3.25 for sparkling wine, €1.75 for beer and €4.50 for a G&T. Drinks prices, overall, were sensibly price and cheaper than pub prices back home. ENTERTAINMENT There was pianist for pre-dinner cocktails and after dinner drinks in the Lounge and on two nights a rather fun quiz. On the Gala dinner nights there was a reception to introduce the Captain and the Hotel Manager Bruno together with all the crew. On the last night we were treated to a farewell serenade by all the crew and staff-not at all cheesy but really good fun… EXCURSIONS All are included in the price and there is a morning or afternoon excursion most days with cruising in between. We loved the day cruising watching the countryside changing from Burgundy to deep Provence. A full briefing was given before each trip and we all had audio boxes and ear pieces which were so useful in crowded places. I must mention the quality of the guides-all had perfect English and were gifted and enthusiastic in every way. Four of the trips were by coach and the one through the Burgundy vineyards during the vendage was exceptional and culminated in a tutored tasting at La Cellier de la Cabiote-the highlight of our day. Free time in Beaune old town followed by shopping , it was market day, and then back to Chalon for lunch and an afternoon cruise through the Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais countryside. The trip around old Lyon was also very enjoyable and the view over old Lyon from basilica Notre-Dame of Fourvière is a must, as are the wall murals in the old town. The other coach trips were to visit the Ardeche Gorges but as we had driven through these on previous visits so gave this a miss and stayed on the top deck, in glorious warm sun, whilst the ship repositioned to Viviers where the passengers re-joined the ship. All seemed to enjoy the coach trip, for us 3 hours on windy roads would have been too much. At Vienne we had a free morning to explore this old Roman town on foot with the option of joining the “little train” Other highlights included market day in Arles and after our guided walk round the Roman ruins we had free time to shop and sightsee before returning to the ship for lunch. The market was a delight and our star buy were bunches of dried lavender @€4 to replenish the ones we bought so many years ago. We did not take the afternoon coach tour to the Pont du Gard (done that) so we took the opportunity to take another walk around town before relaxing on the sun deck, under the velum sheltering from the hot Provence sun (32C) We sailed early evening to Avignon where we moored adjacent to the city walls very near the famous bridge. On our last day our walking tour started at 9.30 in the morning with a visit the remains of the ancient bridge followed by an extensive, and very interesting tour of the Popes Palace-again given an hour afterwards to explore on our own before making our way back to the ship. FELLOW GUESTS Other than a couple from the US and another couple from down under it was all British and Irish. Ages went from 50’s to 80’s with the average in the high 60’s. But age does not matter, some of the oldest were the spriteliest and put the youngest to shame. Most very mobile with the occasional stick and one wheelchair. LEAVING As there was no direct flight from Marseille to Birmingham the only option was a 3-hour coach trip back North to Lyon airport, to which we were not looking forward. We departed at 9.30 and how wrong we were. A smooth and comfortable journey on the A7 with glimpses of the Rhone, the ever-changing countryside and views, which I, as the driver on many of our previous trips to the South of France had never had the chance of experiencing. Our guide obtained trollies for us and escorted all the way to the check in desks-superb service from start to finish WIFI Non existing. It is NOFI Riviera staff were full of apologies, even they and the Reception suffered. Apparently, it is an ongoing problem with this boat which is hoped will be rectified when it is laid up at Chalon during the winter. A new antenna and routers are to be fitted. The lack of WiFi was only disappointment with this cruise and with Riviera. Luckily, we had a strong 4G signal on our mobiles so we were not completely out of touch. RIVIERA STAFF Absolutely superb-could not have been bettered. Certainly, the pair are the best we have come across on any of our cruises. Mandy the Cruise Director, assisted by Sarah her Riviera Concierge, are at the top of their game and are a credit to Riviera. TIPPING Guides and Drivers are not expecting tips but for exceptional service the guide lines of €2 for guides and €1 for drivers Gratuities are not included in the price but guidelines from Riviera are a crew shared €10pp per day. We also looked after those who were exceptional, including Sarah and Mandy. SUMMING UP If you have got this far, well done and I hope there are some useful nuggets in here. We were well impressed with Riviera who gave tremendous value for money for a truly 5 Star cruise—we hope to sail with them again, perhaps on a boat with WiFi not NoFi SS and do please ignore the photos of stained tables. When new the furniture had not been sealed and after the first cruise the water stains could not be removed, They are cleaned and polished daily. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We had high hopes of this cruise with previous experience of the company and fairly good reviews. The flight to Lyon was fine but had to wait nearly 30 minutes for one of our party in a wheelchair who seemed to have very little assistance ... Read More
We had high hopes of this cruise with previous experience of the company and fairly good reviews. The flight to Lyon was fine but had to wait nearly 30 minutes for one of our party in a wheelchair who seemed to have very little assistance which I was promised also but didn’t get. To get to the coach with was parked some 10 minutes walk away across roads up and down pavements hauling all your luggage was a mission for me with breathing difficulties. I was promised assistance but got none. Arrived at ship 1.5 hrs later. The M S Lord Byron is a nice ship with reasonable sized cabins and nice bathrooms. We had booked the top deck. Food was cold on Ist night and they didn’t have half of the wines available from their wine list. Said they had sold out on last trip. Didn’t bother to restock. Food improved during the week but still poor at times. Service was average due to inexperienced staff most of whom were training. Some bar staff didn’t know all the drinks and one didn’t know what soda water was. The egg station at breakfast was a joke as the chef there hadn’t a clue how to cook eggs and omelettes and when asked for a Spanish omelette the customer had to tell him how to make it. Lots of coach travel for excursions but overall they were very good. The two hosts on board for the week did very little other than enjoy themselves. Return journey to Marseille Airport was another 1.5 hrs and another hike to the Terminal with no assistance. Flight home uneventful except for a 15 minutes disembark problem at Heathrow. To sum up there were a lot of issues with service and food and drink and generally very unprofessional for is a very expensive weeks cruise. Won’t use this company again as they weren’t forthcoming with the assistance and information about travelling to and from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Unfortunately our cruise on the River Douro got off to a bad start as a radar fault at Porto airport meant that our TAP Portugal plane was prevented from leaving Gatwick for 24 hours. On our delayed arrival in Porto we were taken by coach ... Read More
Unfortunately our cruise on the River Douro got off to a bad start as a radar fault at Porto airport meant that our TAP Portugal plane was prevented from leaving Gatwick for 24 hours. On our delayed arrival in Porto we were taken by coach to a quay further up river to join Douro Elegance. The ship has defined booking times at the five locks on this river so she had to move. On boarding ship the excursion staff led by Cruise Director Carmem Maria Do Carmo was at considerable pains to point out at every turn that our issues were not their fault. Whilst we knew this, their implacable stance did not go down too well with the fifty plus guests affected. In fairness that aside, every effort was made to make up for what we had lost, including arranging for us to have a tour of Porto on the last afternoon. The ship is modern and very smart though the cabins are a little tight for space, slightly smaller furniture would make all the difference. The bathrooms are well equipped with a good shower. Our one issue in Cabin 216 was the wind whistling through the window when it was closed.The only way to stop the extremely irritating sound was to open the window which was not always practical or acceptable. The ship’s crew were pleasant and helpful and the food pretty good though limited in choice. We paid for the drinks package which for us was wine at lunch and dinner. Some waiters were a little reluctant to refill glasses though this did seem to become less of a problem as the cruise progressed. The excursions were well organised on modern smart coaches which accompany the ship along the river. The long haul to Salamanca was worth it (no comfort stops en route), the city has many interesting buildings and the included lunch at the hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban was extremely good. There were also flamenco dancers and a splendid singer as entertainment. The dinner, one evening at the Quinta Da Pacheda was by contrast disappointing. The main course was veal which is not something we would eat and there was a two piece string ensemble which played, too loudly, the most depressing music. The venue was billed as overlooking the River Douro which it did not. So, for us, a mixed trip, enjoyed at the correct pace I am sure that it would have been more relaxing, but these things happen when you travel. Fortunately the weather was good throughout. Despite giving no indication regarding compensation during the cruise, Riviera Travel promptly refunded an amount to cover the lost portion of our holiday, by the time we arrived home ~ very impressive. We have already booked another river cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Just returned from a 7 night cruise to Provence on the river Rhône from Lyons to Avignon. The ship is classed as 5 star, but I would take issue with that. What we found disappointing, was the way the cruise was structured. We ... Read More
Just returned from a 7 night cruise to Provence on the river Rhône from Lyons to Avignon. The ship is classed as 5 star, but I would take issue with that. What we found disappointing, was the way the cruise was structured. We started the cruise at Lyons, then sailed upriver to Chalon sur Soane for Beaune, we had a pleasant excursion to Beaune, after which we sailed slowly back down the river past Lyons again. We then made our way down river to Vienne and then stopped overnight at Tournon. I’ve no idea why we stopped there, I suppose they had to stop somewhere, but we arrived in Tournon at 5pm(ish) on a Sunday night with nothing open and dinner was being served at 7 and we left in the morning at 8am, so although we went for a walk after dinner , it was all pretty pointless. Next morning we continued on to Arles, then sailed back upriver to Avignon. Now the point I’m trying to make is that there are a great many locks on the river, but these would have been significantly less if the cruise had been structured to start in Beaune and end in Arles. I presume they want to start and end the cruise in places of more interest, but passing up and down through more locks than was truly necessary was pretty wearing and frustrating. The staff were friendly and hard working. The hotel manager Veronica was everywhere keeping an eye on things. The food was usually excellent, although there was a problem with timing during the welcome aboard dinner. It took 3 hours to serve. We had both ordered beef for mains which when eventually served was very rare. I like my beef at the very least medium, but we’d waited so long for it to be served we ate it anyway. I will say the rest of the dinners were much better. Breakfast was good, although slightly eccentric. Sausages should be beef or pork, never chicken! There was a chef making omelettes and fried eggs. Boiled eggs could be ordered which my companion did one day and it was excellent. We always ate lunch in the Lido bar at the back of the ship, which served a light lunch and this was always nice. The coffee machine was also situated here, however that broke several times, but was fairly promptly repaired. The panoramic lounge is pretty bog standard, club chairs with some longer couch type seating, the seating was disappointingly not overly comfortable. On this cruise we had quite a lot of time to watch the world go by as we sailed slowly down the river, but the chairs weren’t really comfortable enough to allow you to lounge for any length of time. I expected squashy sofa type seating for comfort, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. The reception area is very attractive and the reception staff were helpful. All in all I enjoyed the holiday, but it wasn’t the 5 star experience I was expecting. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
The boat is first class, in first class condition, which is a credit to the crew who are courteous, diligent, conscientious and helpful. The excursions were good, as they should be, and kept to schedule apart traffic congestion around ... Read More
The boat is first class, in first class condition, which is a credit to the crew who are courteous, diligent, conscientious and helpful. The excursions were good, as they should be, and kept to schedule apart traffic congestion around Amsterdam. The clientele are white elderly British, which was not what we were expecting. While superficially the atmosphere was polite, there was an undercurrent of grumpiness. e.g excursions left too early, too many stairs, too far to walk and other such complaints. I've never been on a cruise more like a floating care home. We did not like the free for all seating arrangements for meals. Apparently certain tables were claimed by people and that was their table. The was a great queue when the self service restaurant opened and then bags and scarves were placed on chairs "reserving" the table. Om arriving a few minutes later after the initial surge, it was awkward wandering around trying to find two empty seats. Once the seats had been, other at the table would be leaving soon after we arrived as they had finished. This was not conducive to conversation. I feel a member of staff should be guiding people to a table so that people eat together. The meals with full table service were much better in that respect. The food was a good as any other cruise we've been on and the price of the drinks was very reasonable. At the end of the cruise, cash tipping was expected, via an envelope. The door key, which also doubled for tracking on/off the ship, was not linked to on board purchases. there were several instances of purchases being linked to the wrong cabin, possibly accidentally of course, but it made passengers frequently check their purchases and retain all receipts. There was no on-board e-account for passengers. The internet link was very slow, but free. It was fine for text based messages, but not good enough for images. The local 4G (still surcharge free until Brexit day) was very good. The Excursions to Enkhuizen, Keukenhof Gardens and the windmills at Kinderdijk were really good, though crowded. I would love to have given this cruise five stars, but the disorganised dining prevents from doing so. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Cruise number 52 Riviera Cruises - MS Thomas Hardy 6th December - 11th December 2018 Cabin number : 218.- midship , Deck 2 - Balcony Cabin Total pax : 169 , Crew : 44: Decks :5 Cruise for 5 nights - Christmas Market cruise ... Read More
Cruise number 52 Riviera Cruises - MS Thomas Hardy 6th December - 11th December 2018 Cabin number : 218.- midship , Deck 2 - Balcony Cabin Total pax : 169 , Crew : 44: Decks :5 Cruise for 5 nights - Christmas Market cruise Budapest / overnight Budapest / Bratislava / Vienna / Vienna overnight / at sea / Budapest overnight Checking in was fast and expiditied perfectly , From arrival on river side/ check in then to cabin was 30 minutes. On board, housekeeping , room service ,main dining room service and food all of a very good standard. The Bistro restuarant which is booking only can not be compared to any of the chefs table rstaurants on similar star rating ships this is due to it not being any differant from the main restuarant except for menu. No differant silver service ( in fact our table felt we had better service in the main restaurant), no variety of wines per course as expected and local foods as would be the norm. The included excursions all of a good standard , with the guide in Budapest on day one Uri being so non PC its great to hear and excellent at his guiding. The oriantation tour around Bratislava with Alta was first class again so non PC its refreshing . Tour around Vienna was basic and pedestrian . We did our market route and spent many wonderful hours using our own apps. The Ars Mundi string quartet was a nice touch as entertainment in Vienna on board after dinner. No form of sail away , however found the departures times to early as you miss the impact of the christmas lighting after dark. Postpone by 2 hours and all would be fie on this point However the total lack of any entertainment besides our loan pianist who tried his best does drop the overall rating somewhat along with the very pedestrian cruise director , the tour manager tried his hardest to bridge the gap but to no avail. This meant long dinners and more bar time . Overall a good product with a few tweeks and upliftments , the Housekeeping, Bar and main dining room along with the ship crew carry the product for sure 2018 star grading - 4 Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Riviera Cruises ( a UK cruise line) just began to market in the United States and their ships and itineraries looked very nice. A few days before our cruise we heard the water level on the Danube was low and river boats were unable to ... Read More
Riviera Cruises ( a UK cruise line) just began to market in the United States and their ships and itineraries looked very nice. A few days before our cruise we heard the water level on the Danube was low and river boats were unable to sail. ( Some cruise lines cancelled their cruises.) We called Riviera and were told there was no problem. When changing planes in Philadelphia, we heard from other passengers that all the cruises out of Budapest were disrupted. We attempted to reach Riviera on their "24 hour hotline" but could only leave a recorded message. Upon landing in Budapest 9 hours later, there was still no response from Riviera. We finally heard from them around 3 pm Budapest time - approximately 24 hours before our ship was to sail. We were told we needed to take a bus to another city ( their bus) for embarkation and that this would be the only inconvenience. Much more could be said concerning the non-existent cruise ( majority of the "cruise" was on a bus) but there are more issues to share. Upon arrival to the ship, we found it to be very modern and seemed quite new. The décor was lovely. The dining area was spacious and the dinner menus were varied. The foods were fresh and service was good. Entertainment was space - a quartet one night and a few talks other nights about the places we were to visit. The ports we visited were what you would find on a Blue Danube cruise - Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest, etc. Tours were fine - compromised though, due to the water level and subsequent bus transportation. Each cruise guest was told on the last night that there would be compensation for the "cruise" and that it would be equal. Upon arriving home, we were told that the American cruise passengers ( or at least us) needed to sign a non-disclosure agreement ( UNLIKE the UK passengers). Our new UK friends shared their reimbursement amount which was much greater than we were offered. We refused to sign the non-disclosure agreement which would have prohibited our ability to share this review on Cruise Critic. As a result, Riviera has refused to reimburse us. So, be forewarned. Choose your cruise line carefully. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The Robert Burns is a new ship, not too big, beautifully appointed and spotlessly clean. Cabins are obviously not large, but comfortable and have everything you need. The bathroom was quite elegant and the shower a pleasant surprise - ... Read More
The Robert Burns is a new ship, not too big, beautifully appointed and spotlessly clean. Cabins are obviously not large, but comfortable and have everything you need. The bathroom was quite elegant and the shower a pleasant surprise - better than the ones we have found in many hotels. The food was excellent and there was the option of dining in the bistro rather than the main dining room if you wanted to. The crew were all charming and couldn't do enough to help. Entertainment was sparse - one quiz night, one visit by a string quartet who were excellent, and one evening of Hungarian folk dances, which was fun. Each day there was an included shore excursion - mostly close to the Danube - with a local guide. Bratislava in Slovakia was a particular surprise - it's a delightful place. We also visited other towns and villages, including Salzburg (which did require a two hour coach journey, but we could have chosen to stay and take a guided tour of Linz instead), Vienna and Budapest, which was a fascinating mix of new and old and probably my favourite. My only criticism was that the cost could have included wine or beer with meals. The drinks package available was quite expensive, especially given that drinks costs from the bar were reasonable. This was our first European river cruise, and admittedly we were lucky with the weather - blue skies and sunshine all week. All in all a very enjoyable holiday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We commenced a 14 day cruise starting from Cologne and due to finish in Budapest. We were oblivious to the low water problems before we left. It was obvious from day 3 that there were serious river level issues. Perfect Recipe for holiday ... Read More
We commenced a 14 day cruise starting from Cologne and due to finish in Budapest. We were oblivious to the low water problems before we left. It was obvious from day 3 that there were serious river level issues. Perfect Recipe for holiday stress. We received conflicting updates , missed 2 itinerary stops , had the Nuremberg visit seriously shortened and then didn’t cruise any further from day 7 being moored near Straubing. We were taken on some time filling bus trips until finally the axe fell and we were told by the cruise manager that the trip was being curtailed and we would be flown home from Munich. We were duly despatched from the ship at 4 30am We never got to see Vienna or Budapest. This trip should never have been allowed to commence with such uncertainty and by running it and ruining it we won’t get the opportunity again to visit those special cities. This was the most expensive holiday we have ever booked and was a total and absolute calamity. We were the victims of indecision and procrastination for had the trip been cancelled at least we would have had the opportunity to re book . Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our first river cruise and proved to be most enjoyable overall. The scenery was wonderful, the weather glorious, the staff were friendly and helpful and we had a superb cabin - number 325. The general organisation on board was ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and proved to be most enjoyable overall. The scenery was wonderful, the weather glorious, the staff were friendly and helpful and we had a superb cabin - number 325. The general organisation on board was mostly good, the excursions we did were excellent and we enjoyed the flexibility to join a group when sightseeing or explore on your own. The coach was also most comfortable. The evening dinner at Quinta da Pacheca was most enjoyable. There were, however, some disappointments and surprises:- 1. The breakfasts and lunches were far more enjoyable than the dinners! A "superb 4 course dinner" as advertised was certainly not served. The vegetarian food showed little imagination, although hey did try to accommodate my requests. The waiting staff, although very friendly and helpful, did appear rushed and more often than not we had to serve ourselves with our wine which was held in a communal cooler serving other tables too. There appeared to be a distinct lack of vegetables to accompany the meat and fish dishes. The choice of dessert was very poor - often fruit/cheese and only one other. 2. We were astounded on our first morning to be woken by the extreme engine noise - not merely loud, but quite deafening. We were unsure how other areas of the ship fared in comparison. 3. Daily briefings were somewhat tedious, although our tour director, Carmem was a lovely lady. One felt obliged to attend in case important information was missed, but it was most inconvenient to disturb our relaxation on the sun deck. We felt it would have been better to impart the information in written form. 4. The sun deck was most relaxing, but surprisingly there was no bar service. 5. We were also surprised when the sun deck had to be completely evacuated at one point and for quite a long time owing to lack of clearance at a lock and a bridge. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was our first venture into river cruising, and we were not disappointed. We enjoy wine and looked forward to learning more about Port and seeing some amazing scenery. The itinerary looked fairly daunting and full on, it was! ... Read More
This was our first venture into river cruising, and we were not disappointed. We enjoy wine and looked forward to learning more about Port and seeing some amazing scenery. The itinerary looked fairly daunting and full on, it was! Embarkation/Disembarkation We were met at Oporto airport by one of the tour escorts, and after a short wait taken to a coach. Then a 20 minute transfer to Villa Nova de Gaia, where MS Douro Elegance was birthed. To get to our ship we had to cross another ship, this appears to be quite normal for river cruising. Once on board we were taken to the bar/lounge for tea and cakes, and our cruise director Carmen and hotel manager Roseline. We then received our cabin keys/cruise card, our cabin was not difficult to find and our cases were already inside. Disembarkation is equally efficient. Luggage tags were provided the day before disembarkation, cases needed to be outside the cabin by 09:00. We were not due to leave for the airport until 14:00; this left us with a full morning to explore Gaia and Porto. We had lunch off the ship although a light lunch was provided in the bar. If you needed to freshen up two cabins were available on request. When you did board the coach for the airport you did need to see that your luggage had been loaded. Dining The restaurant is open seating with a fixed meal time in the evening. A light breakfast was available at the coffee station or a full buffet in the restaurant. Alight lunch was available in the bar or a full buffet in the restaurant. Some of the choices at dinner were a little ‘unusual’ particularly the starters. In general the food was to a good standard, although choice was limited. Vegetarians did struggle, and risotto appeared regularly. The wine in the restaurant was very good and locally produced, most evenings the recommend wines were €16 to €18 which was very reasonable and drinkable. The coffee station was a bit of a disappointment, whatever you selected from the machine it was too sweet for our taste, we are not great coffee drinkers and there was a good selection of teas. Bar The bar/lounge was spacious and comfortable. Pedro the bar manager was not only highly skilled but also very amusing. There was a good selection of drinks at reasonable prices. White port and tonic became our favourite pre-dinner tipple. The drinks package changed after we had booked and it only provided drinks with meals which seemed a bit restrictive (though people found ways round this!) They need to make this a simple package that covers all drinks and limit the price per drink. Cabin Our cabin was starboard middle on deck 2 (209), the cabin is a reasonable size, with a large opening windows, though half the evenings we were against another ship or a wall, the half we had very pleasant views. There was a large LED TV, two USB charging sockets, a proper hair drier, a small fridge, two small bottles of water that were replaced daily and a kettle for tea and coffee making. There is plenty of space under the bed to hide your luggage. The safe on the top shelf of the wardrobe is awkward to say the least, and I’m average height. The bathroom is very good and there was always plenty of hot water, it just lacked storage space. Most mornings we were woken when the ships engines were started at 06:30, but it wasn’t particularly load and there was no vibration. The information pack in the room was excellent, a detailed map of the Douro was provided along with maps of all the places we were to visit. There were also two wireless headsets for use on the trips. Entertainment This took place in the bar on three nights, a quiz, the port ceremony where Pedro opened a bottle of vintage port using port tongs and a Portuguese folk music evening. If you wanted to avoid these, you could take a drink up to the sun deck which was very peaceful. Photography There wasn’t any! How nice not to have photographers trying to snap you. Gym This was a token gesture comprising a treadmill and an exercise bike. Excursions The organisation of the trips was very good, at the beginning of the cruise you picked your bus number (1,2 or 3), and that was your bus with the same escort for the whole cruise. The pre-cruise itinerary covers all the trips in some depth, here are my thoughts on some of them: Sandeman: This seemed a bit light weight; you are taken round a visitor centre with a quick tasting afterwards, and a retail opportunity. The view of the Douro from the terrace is spectacular. But it takes nearly as long for the coach to get up to the quinta as the actual visit; those of a nervous disposition should not look out of the coach windows! Salamanca: A long day with a good if chaotic lunch and some large flamenco dancers. The city is quite compact, and we were easily able to do the cathedral ourselves, and then take the organised tour in the afternoon. Quinta da Pacheca: This was a dinner at a quinta that included a brief tour of the winery. The food was very good with plenty of local wine, and live music. Mateus Place: Famous for featuring on all those bottles of rosé! Beautiful gardens, and well worth taking the time to walk round. The visit does not include going inside the palace. Calem: Just a short walk down the picturesque Gaia quayside and a tour of this port lodge with a tasting and another retail opportunity. Well worth seeing if just to get an idea of the scale of port production. Anything Else? The five locks that we pass through are very impressive and worth seeing. There are also some very low bridges that the ship can only just squeeze under, the sun deck has to be cleared for these. The sun deck is a great place to sit and watch the scenery go by, but it could use a bar service up there and some way of listening to a commentary. Also, beware of the static electric sock you might get when going down the stairs! There was a very good atmosphere on the ship, the crew all got on very well together and nothing was too much trouble for them. With only 120 passengers it was more like a large house party, and by the end of the cruise you had probably spoken to everyone else. And finally, Carmen our cruise director did a fantastic job of making sure everything happened when it was supposed to. Carmen is very hands on, she give the talks in the morning about what we are doing that day, goes on the trips and is dancing in the bar at night! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Traveled before with Riviera. Wanted to try a river cruise as the advertising and hype suggested it would be a wonderful 5* holiday and worth the expense. Can't fault the ship. Clean and well maintained. Cabin and bathroom ... Read More
Traveled before with Riviera. Wanted to try a river cruise as the advertising and hype suggested it would be a wonderful 5* holiday and worth the expense. Can't fault the ship. Clean and well maintained. Cabin and bathroom decent size. A fridge is needed though. Ice was NOT always available as advertised. Food extremely good but no choice of wine other than red, white or rose on the drinks package. The staff were friendly and efficient but short on the ground in the dining room and it was a free for all when it came to finding a dining table. Painist very competent but the lack of evening entertainment really needs addressed. Captain's night was decent. Great food but the entertainment was provided by way of a crew show. Seemed like cheap entertainment to us. Some moorings were anything but scenic. Ship often docked at lunchtime losing part of some days to go ashore. Tours itinerary good but some trips far too rushed. We enjoyed the cruise. It promised a lot, but overall was somewhat disappointing. Riviera need to address certain aspects of their river cruises if they really want to provide the 5* they promised. We will return to sea cruising. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We booked the cruise to celebrate 30 years together, it’s hard to believe how much things have changed for same sex couples over those years! Once we were through security, we booked into the Number 1 lounge at Birmingham Airport, ... Read More
We booked the cruise to celebrate 30 years together, it’s hard to believe how much things have changed for same sex couples over those years! Once we were through security, we booked into the Number 1 lounge at Birmingham Airport, and after the family with the horrible toddler who for some reason had been given a whistle had left, we relaxed until our flight which was a nice start to the holiday. We seemed to attract families with noisy children as opposite us, there were two more noisy children, but to be fair, their parents tried their best to settle them down. Well, the mother did, and told the father off just as much as the kids! Bonus number one of a river cruise. No kids! We arrived in Dusseldorf at around 5.30pm, had collected our luggage and were on the coach by 6pm. However, getting to the ship in Bonn, (our revised departure port), was delayed due to roadworks and an accident. We got to the ship just before 8pm. On the way, our tour guide, Barbara, introduced herself and briefly went through what would happen. She kept mentioning the “beautiful” Jane Austen – surely it’s for us to work that out for ourselves? (Turns out she was right, it is a very beautiful ship!) To be fair, that was really the only annoying “American” thing we noticed, there were certainly no endless art auctions, photographers, over enthusiastic staff, etc, and with a kettle in our cabin, it was easy to feel at home straightaway! On arrival, before we could give our names, we were given our keys and shown to our cabin! It was lovely to be called Mr & Mr – we’ve been on holidays (even our honeymoon) to find our booking is under Mr & Mrs! The cabin is compact, but certainly well laid out, and I was delighted to find that my request for non-feather bedding had been sorted. Two bottles of water are offered each day, but the tap water is perfectly drinkable. As it was getting late, we went straight to dinner and sat with two other couples, who became firm friends, along with lots of other passengers! The food was excellent – served to the table rather than buffet style – and took advantage of our pre-booked wine package – I’m not sure we got our money’s worth, to be honest, but it’s nice not to have any nasty surprises at the end of the holiday. The food was delicious throughout the cruise – I can honestly say that there was nothing we didn’t like for the whole duration. Portions were adequate, and you could chop and change items, and have double portions without any problems. Dietary requirements were well catered for. At the end of the meal, we had an unexpected surprise from our cruise.co.uk travel agent – a cake with a huge sparkler to wish us happy anniversary, which was a lovely and unexpected touch. After dinner, we quickly unpacked – there was more than enough space for everything, and plenty of good quality wooden hangers (the normal ones which also let you hang them over the shower, rather the fiddly ones some places use). There were electricity sockets by both beds, making charging easy, however, they are two pin rather than three pin, so an adaptor is necessary. The cabin included an umbrella along with tea/coffee/milk for the kettle. Other sorts of teas and infusions were available for free in the Lido on the top deck, which doubles as a separate restaurant. For this cruise, it turned out that the menu was Indian – coming from Birmingham, we thought we’d rather eat in the main restaurant as we found the variety and company of other guests excellent. Had the menu been an Indonesian “Rijsttafel” (commonly found in the Netherlands), we would have been very tempted – after all, the head Chef was Indonesian and the captain was Dutch… Once we’d unpacked, we decided to have a short stroll around Bonn – that’s the beauty of many river cruises, you’re normally docked near enough to walk to somewhere interesting – having been to Cologne in the past, Bonn was an unexpected bonus. With the exception of Strasbourg where we had a coach transfer, all moorings were within 5-10 minutes of the centre, making it easy to have an evening stroll. Day 2 - Koblenz After a night’s sleep (with very fierce but essential air conditioning), we woke up for breakfast. There was plenty of choice, although the hot food/egg station was quite cramped and perhaps the sauces could have been put elsewhere on the main buffet. The safety briefing was done in a professional manner, then there was an orientation talk about Koblenz. One excellent feature was a map of the route along with maps and information on all of the places we were going to visit which had been provided in a folder in the cabin. I do wish sea cruises would follow this example, rather than giving rather limited information late in the night before (if at all, with some cruise lines). For the rest of the morning, we found a shady spot at the front of the ship and very much enjoyed watching the magical castles and towns sail by, chatting to other passengers. All too soon it was lunchtime, which was served buffet style, with the exception of soup. A lighter lunch is also served on the Lido – and on a couple of occasions, I went up to get the hot option which I brought back to the restaurant to join the others. The beef stir fry was particularly nice, but it didn’t stop me having a few things from the restaurant buffet too! After lunch, we were given a short orientation tour of Koblenz, including the Deutches Eck and town centre, then had time for a stroll around and a cuppa before going back to the ship in time to change for the Captain’s welcome reception which was taking place at 6.30pm. Along with the Farewell Gala Dinner, this was the only evening where there was one sitting. I took the Maitre d’s advice and had a double portion of the pork wrapped in bacon, which was delicious. There was always a meat, fish and veggie option on the menu, and although most nights there wasn’t any choice of starter/desserts, well thought out substitutes were made depending on dietary requirements. Later in the evening, we had a stroll back to the Deutsches Eck which took less than five minutes, then around town, stopping for a drink on the way back. Bars seemed to close their outside areas at 11, but we found a lovely place with a good view. Day 3 – Rhine Gorge/Rüdesheim Breakfast was served until 9.30, so there was no rush to get up. The morning was spent cruising down the Rhine Gorge, which really should be called the “Rhine Gorgeous”! Again, the scenery was stunning, and the morning passed very quickly. There was a commentary on deck (perhaps the voxboxes could have been used), then there was an explanatory talk about Rüdesheim. There was an optional extra of the landtrain/mechanical museum visit for €15. The landtrain didn’t take long to get to the Mechanical Museum. It’s an absolute must do – housed in a very old building, the lady taking us round really brought the machines to life in the most magical way. After an icecream sundae we walked around town and ended up back on the ship before we knew it – the mooring was so near the town, we didn’t use the train coming back, although it was useful for people who couldn’t walk very far. After dinner, we somehow missed the organised walk into town, but found a lovely bar on Drosselgasse where there was live music, then a singer – it’s a lovely little street with plenty of evening atmosphere. Day 4 – Speyer Another leisurely morning of breakfast, orientation talk, cruising and lunch seemed to vanish quickly. We had a choice of going to the technical museum or into town. As the weather was exceptionally hot, and the museum was mainly in the open air, we decided to go into town. After a short orientation tour, we went to the Jewish Museum and saw the ancient Mikva (ritual bath) which being below ground, was nice and cool. Speyer has a nice enough high street and we found somewhere for a soft drink to people watch. We’d also been recommended to visit the beer garden of one of the Domhof, which was a really great suggestion. We sat and had another drink, then walked through the park to get back to the ship. That night, there was a staff show which was very entertaining, and included a short pantomime – I’ve no idea what the crew must have thought, but the British crowd understood all of the jokes! Afterwards, people were dancing, but we decided to go to the top deck as there was a little breeze. Day 5 – Strasbourg Perhaps as we were going through some locks, the orientation talk was at 9.30, so we got up a little earlier on this day, even though we weren’t going to get to Strasbourg until after lunch. The scenery was more industrial, but the time seemed to pass quickly yet again. On arrival, we got into coaches and had a tour of Strasbourg which is very pretty. It’s a shame we didn’t have time to go to see the Parliament, and it wasn’t mentioned by the guide. Being exceptionally pro-EU, I bought a lovely EU-flag umbrella and a wind up musical toy that plays the EU anthem (Ode to Joy). Other views were undoubtedly available on the cruise! The previous day, we’d very kindly been sent an invitation to a pre-dinner celebratory drinks reception in the Lido. It wasn’t really surprising that so many people were there as this was a lovely way to celebrate an occasion, and the air conditioning struggled to cope, so most of us went back to the lounge with our celebratory drink. We sat for dinner with our usual friends, most unfortunately one of the waiters was rather rude to one of our party. She simply mentioned that she didn’t have a side plate for her bread, somehow he managed to drop her bread on the floor, then told her that he had other tables to serve! The incident resulted in a bottle of wine being offered. It really was the only unfortunate incident as generally the service was impeccable, especially from Merhan, who helped me learn some Bulgarian as that’s the location for our next trip!! After dinner, there was a fun music quiz in the lounge which made the evening pass quickly. It’s fair to say that there wasn’t much entertainment on the ship, but with the exception of Strasbourg, where we sailed away at 8pm, we were generally docked very close to somewhere if you wanted a stroll, making it a very different holiday to a sea cruise. Day 6 – Titisee / Breisach It was a bit of a shock to have to get to breakfast for 7.30 so we could get to Titisee. Our guide on the coach turned out to be British, making jokes like the roads were designed by “Herr Pinn”. He was quite informative and joked he’d “Brexited” many years ago! The drive, which took about 1h30, was very picturesque. We had a couple of hours in Titisee, which included a short talk about cuckoo clocks, then after a “Black Forest Cake” (or some sausages in my case), we had a look around. We’d left it too late to do a cruise on the lake, but in the full sun it was probably just as well. Most shops sold cuckoo clocks along with the usual tourist stuff. The drive back was less scenic and took about an hour and lunch was waiting for us when we got back at about 13.30. After lunch, I wandered into Breisach, but my husband decided to have a sleep as it was so hot (about 37C). There was a castle up a hill, but at that temperature, I simply had a short walk around town, which was fairly workaday with not too much to see apart from the castle which was perched on a hill, and I didn’t fancy walking that far in the scorching heat. As the next day was going to be very busy, the disembarkation presentation took place this evening. It was followed by a talk about the next day’s tour (including a warning that not everything would be in English when we got to Switzerland – apparently some people had moaned about things being in German in Germany!)! The evening continued with the Captain introducing all the staff and crew before the Farewell Drink and Dinner. Once again, the food was excellent and I had a mixture of both corn-fed chicken and a rösti which was the vegetarian option. Day 7 – Bernese Oberland/Lucerne The last full day was very long and undoubtedly the highlight. Even though Switzerland isn’t in the EU, it is in the Schengen area and a member of the EEA, so there were no passport formalities, which could have made the day even longer. After breakfast we picked up our packed lunch, a sandwich (or gluten free alternative!) along with salad, chocolate biscuits, fruit and juices. Our coach was supposed to leave at 8, but during breakfast it was announced that it would leave at 8.15, only to finally leave at 8.20. So much for Swiss timing! Groups 1 and 2 left 30 minutes earlier than Group 3, as there wasn’t enough room on the train for all of us. Our guide actually lived in Richmond (North Yorkshire) and came over for the summer season. To be honest, we’ve had better guides and he seemed a little confused at times. We arrived at Wilderwil at about 10.30, just enough time to use the facilities (there are none on the train) and caught the old cog railway up the mountain. We sat near the driver, so didn’t have the best view, it’s probably best to be nearer the centre of the train rather than at the front or back. There wasn’t much information about what to do on top, a sign did say Alpine Garden, but I didn’t hear anyone saying they’d been. There is a self-service café at the top where everyone ate their packed lunch (even though the tables advised “no picnics”) –the guide did say they wouldn’t mind. Prices in Switzerland are generally extortionate, and this was certainly no exception! Sitting with a view of snow-capped mountains when the temperatures had been approaching 40C all week was rather magical, to say the least! It was quite a bit cooler, but still in the mid-20s, which was very unusual. At 13.01 (well, 13.02 to be precise), our train departed back down the mountain and then we had an hour-long journey to Lucerne. The guide didn’t seem to want to use the voxbox, so we followed him to the very picturesque wooden bridge then had a wander around ourselves. We only had about an hour, so there wasn’t really enough time to stop for a drink, although we did have an ice cream while walking round. The drive back to the ship took about an hour, and we arrived at about 18.00. It’s a shame we didn’t have more time in Lucerne, but getting back gave us enough time to shower and do the majority of our packing. It had been a long day, so after dinner, we went to the top deck and sat chatting with other passengers – we had been going to have a stroll into Basel, but thought we’d leave it until the next morning, when we had spare time after breakfast. Day 8 – Basel and goodbye We had use of the cabin until 9.00, so after breakfast we sorted everything out and left our hand luggage in the shop, heading off for a walk around Basel. In the very immediate vicinity of the ship, it’s very workaday and rather grim, not at all what we expected for Switzerland. However, a short walk over the bridge leads you into the Old Town, which is very nice. We then came back over another bridge and found the Minster, the Old University and the Rathaus, which is exceptionally pretty (and has a free toilet). Rather than spend a fortune on a drink, we went back to the ship, where tea/coffee was being served in the lounge, unfortunately in paper cups, rather spoiling the decadence of the ship. A light lunch was served from 13.00, comprising goulash soup (surprisingly no veggie option was available), open top sandwiches and fruit. Our coach was to leave at 13.30, and we were called at 13.20. We got onto the coach and started on our way. The road access to the river is very limited, and then we heard a bump, the driver had hit something. The police seemed to arrive in seconds, then Barbara came onto the coach and said that the person who should have accompanied us to the airport had been delayed, so hopefully we could sort ourselves out at the airport. With an average age of well above 18, we decided we knew how to use an airport and off we went at about 14.00. The driver was quite chatty, saying he was German, but works a lot in Switzerland as wages are about double those of Germany. On the way, we were very surprised when his phone rang and he answered it, holding the phone while he drove! However, we did get to the airport safely and to the correct terminal. We had a lovely, if extortionately priced tea/coffee in Sprüngli which cost nearly £10. My husband managed to leave his jacket there and because the UK isn’t part of the Schengen agreement couldn’t retrieve it as we’d passed through another passport control, making it an even more expensive cuppa! Our flight back was with Helvetic Air (seemingly part of SwissAir), which was very enjoyable, with a drink (alcoholic or non), chicken or cheese sandwich and a chocolate before landing. It was one of the nicest flights we’d had in a while and a lovely way to end our holiday! All in all, we were delighted by the holiday and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them and would definitely go on another Riviera holiday in future. It’s certainly not a bargain break, but there again, you do get value for money and it’s a wonderful way to celebrate something special. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
After being bombarded by a plethora of river cruise advertisements, a leisurely cruise down the River Rhone stopping at mediaeval villages visiting vineyards sounded a good option. This cruise on Riviera Travel’s Lord Byron from Lyon ... Read More
After being bombarded by a plethora of river cruise advertisements, a leisurely cruise down the River Rhone stopping at mediaeval villages visiting vineyards sounded a good option. This cruise on Riviera Travel’s Lord Byron from Lyon to Avignon (or in our case the reverse) proved to be a huge disappointment. After a four hour exhausting motorway drive in the rush hour from Lyon Airport we arrived at the Lord Byron berthed in Avignon at about 8.30pm, some fourteen hours after we set off, only just in time for a late dinner. It was interesting that some of the passengers were flown to Marseilles, a lot closer to Avignon but then had to be coached back at the end. We did think it would have made more sense to fly us all out to Marseilles and fly home from Lyon, but I suppose that would be too complicated. Our first impression of the cabins were that they were quite small with only enough room to get round the bed, no sofa of course, and no long hanging space in the tiny wardrobes. Saying this, they were kept incredibly clean. Our first confrontation with the waiting staff did not make a good impression. A menu was thrust into our hands and “Order drinks!!” barked out before I could get my feet under the table. Unsure about what epicurean delights we were about to consume I begged humbly for a few minutes to get our bearings, without success. With a lot of demanding and eye rolling on his part he stomped off to re-appear a few seconds later like Manuel in Fawlty Towers bellowing “Drinks!!” again and again, only satisfied when we gave him a random order to shut him up. Unfortunately this set the tone for the remainder of the cruise. The idea of good customer service seemed to sit uncomfortably on the shoulders of the mainly Bulgarian waiting staff. On one occasion I received a cocktail with no spirit in it and the bar manager refused to believe me, and another time when waiting to be served coffee at breakfast I was told off in no uncertain terms when I told the waiter we had been there for twenty minutes. I have been on 25+ ocean cruises from rock bottom standard to 6 stars and have never encountered service as bad as this, and, coupled with mediocre food we found it hard to believe that this was advertised as 5 star luxury. It was interesting to note that both the food and the surly expressions on the waiters faces transformed on the last night. This couldn’t have anything to do with gratuities being due could it? Heaven forbid. The actual itinery of the cruise was not what I expected. The only wine tasting that was organised was in a cellar in the middle of the town of Beaune which seemed odd as we could have stopped at the numerous wonderful vineyards that we passed through later on and only viewed from the coach. Avignon and Arles were interesting places to visit but, in general, coach trips were the order of the day and on two occasions in the week the boat moved on while you were on the coach and you rejoined the boat at a different place. Erm…forgive me, I thought this was a cruising holiday not a coach tour. Opting to miss one of the trips so we could experience the actual river cruising, the realisation of the geography of the Rhone was brought home to us. There are massive locks about every 20 minutes which meant that we had to stop and wait, once for over an hour, then enter these huge concrete tombs and sit for another half hour. As the French rely on these for part of their electricity supply the locks are huge blots on the landscape surrounded by ugly concrete buildings and electricity pylons. There was no shade on deck as the sunshades were taken down for low bridges.(Although I did see one river boat with better designed sun shades that they could leave up all the time)The Saone was totally different but unfortunately we only cruised a short time on this lovely river. We arrived at Viennes and Beaune in the heat of the afternoon when only “mad dogs”etc were around and on two occasions we were told that the museums, shops etc were closed on that particular day. Our impression was that the passengers had to fit around the itinery that was easier for the company rather than the other way round. There was no entertainment on the ship apart from a pianist who played quietly (thank goodness) each night to a bizarre selection of odd, poor quality backing tracks including “A Child is born” by Johnny Mathis virtually every night. In July?.... Weird. A staff show was performed on one evening which was amateurish and embarrassing. If you like coach trips, mediocre food, hard seating, rude, or at best, indifferent service, this might just be the holiday for you or…..you might like a respite week at the local care home. Take your pick. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was our second cruise with Riviera and we weren’t disappointed. The journey was breathtaking at times, Emily Bronte is luxurious, the staff seemed to go out of their way to make the experience enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate to ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Riviera and we weren’t disappointed. The journey was breathtaking at times, Emily Bronte is luxurious, the staff seemed to go out of their way to make the experience enjoyable and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I was glad we’d started the cruise in Cologne because as we sailed down the Rhine the scenery became more beautiful. Both Cologne and Koblenz were pretty enough but nothing compared to the treats that were to come. I loved sailing through the picturesque Rhine Valley, Rudesheim was a delight, made even better by the coffee, Titisee was also a delight and we enjoyed our slice of Black Forest gateaux sitting by the lake. All of those trips seemed relaxed and well organised. Most, but not all, were in the afternoon so that meant that after breakfast we could listen to Barbara’s information about the next place we were going to visit. However, nothing prepared us for the amazing visit to Schynige Platte. You need to see it to believe it. We ate our packed lunches in certainly the most beautiful place I have ever eaten lunch and arguably the most beautiful place on Earth. It was truly wonderful. I do have a gripe about this trip though. We could have done without the long journey afterwards to Lucerne before heading back on another long journey to the ship. We arrived there late on Sunday afternoon so shops were closed and the few which were still open were packed with other tourists. We were only there for about an hour, and when we arrived it was pouring with rain. All we managed to do was grab a cup of tea in a cafe which was closing and visit the loo. We saw very little of Lucerne except on the walk back to the coach. One of the coaches should have gone to Lucerne for the whole day - it’s certainly worth seeing, but instead we were all a bit grumpy about it. I hope they get that sorted because it spoiled our last day a little bit when we could have gone back to the ship and enjoyed our last afternoon and night on board. Instead we had a late dinner, and then had to pack so it was all a bit of a rush. We were given envelopes and a suggestion that we should tip in the region of €8-11 per person per day. I wish they would just charge us extra for the holiday and pay the staff a decent wage without the need for tips. Any cruise line which does this will get our business in future as I consider asking for money distasteful and demeaning to the staff. It was also hinted that the cruise director Jane and Barbara weren’t included. I wouldn’t go on that cruise again as I’ve seen it, but I’d highly recommend it. I’d certainly go on another river cruise especially one which charges more and doesn’t expect tips. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Our first river cruise after over 20+ sea cruises. What a HUGE disappointment. Not much to shout about here, small cabins (no fridge even), average food (except last night gala dinner), non existent entertainment, very few tours ... Read More
Our first river cruise after over 20+ sea cruises. What a HUGE disappointment. Not much to shout about here, small cabins (no fridge even), average food (except last night gala dinner), non existent entertainment, very few tours included, indifferent cruise director. We were hoping to be "wowed" when we got on, but no, not so much as a welcome drink. It seems Riviera just cut every corner they can making for a very poor experience and DEFINITELY not worth the money they charged. We wish we had stuck to a sea cruise. At least we had gone with some good friends so we could all laugh about it all. Basel mooring was in an industrial area - how nice!! Drink prices were not too bad although we had paid the £99 drinks with meals package and made sure we got our moneys worth. If you are considering this cruise, don't wast your money, spend a bit more and go with another more upmarket company or stick to the sea. They also expected a 7-12€/person/day tip - plus tips for the Cruise Director - in your dreams!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We booked a cruise with Riviera Cruise on the 25th August 2017 and flew out on the 21st June 2018 for 7 days. After some research and watching your virtual tour of the ship; we chose this holiday with you company. I think it’s only ... Read More
We booked a cruise with Riviera Cruise on the 25th August 2017 and flew out on the 21st June 2018 for 7 days. After some research and watching your virtual tour of the ship; we chose this holiday with you company. I think it’s only fair to give the positive feedback first: We found the front of house staff excellent and very helpful We found the cabin staff that looked after housekeeping very good and friendly The young girl who did my hair was wonderful (it's a pity that the people who have such skills as hair dressing would not be considered to work in front of house on reception rather that cleaning toilets and bedrooms!!) Fresh fruit served at breakfast So to continue with the rest of the feedback: Our cabin: On arrival to our cabin we had 1 case between us, we were rather shocked at the size of the cabin; my husband had to climb over the bed to get to the other side, we had to unpack our case at 02.030 in order to make room for us to go to bed. I refer to your description of the ship as 5 star, - there was nothing 5 star about the pillows (I have attached a picture, they are stuffed with some sort of foam, and left me with pain in my neck) we had to endure this for the 6 nights we stayed, nor was the bed linen 5 stars!! I also attach a picture of the table in our room, which had stains and looked very shabby. The smell of cooking was so bad in our cabin, it was making us nauseous, this smell was in our cabin for the 6 nights, I spoke to the manager in relation to this and she assured me it was not coming from the kitchen! The lounge area for lounging in: The colour of brown and orange is so outdated in the lounge it was not at all pleasant to lounge in. The entertainment at night was so awful that people were in bed by 10.00; you should really consider rethinking the on -board entertainment! You advertise the following top liners: “State-of-the-art, five-star MS William Shakespeare” the “luxurious cabins and excellent facilities are undoubtedly the very best on cruise ships today”. This is not true. ‘Fine Culinary Experiences’: ‘Quality dining is an integral part of your river cruise experience – our ships take this to the highest five-star levels with superb cuisine prepared by a dedicated brigade of chefs.’ We had no fresh vegetables at all during our trip, At lunch one day they had frozen breaded schnitzel , The salad counter had the same processed meat and cabbage salad for the 6 days; - a deli counter in a petrol station would have a better selection. We were also served frozen wedge potatoes and frozen hash browns The soup that was served at lunch and dinner was so bad; it was warm water with a vegetable stock and pickled with salt, ( I did offer to give the chef a recipe for soup, but the waiter just ignored me), and in case you are wondering why I say there was no fresh vegetables on board the ship; on our last day minestrone soup was on the menu and it was very clear it had frozen vegetables ‘Start the morning with a delicious breakfast’. Take a stroll on the Sun Deck and enjoy early risers’ tea or coffee with your freshly baked pastries.- This was not on offer on board ‘Don’t forget to leave some room for afternoon tea and the chef’s special patisserie’ – it’s just too tempting to even attempt to ignore. This was not on offer, there was a coffee and tea machine in the lounge with shop cookies on offer, and each day there was chaos around the coffee machine with people in a queue. Overall the MS William Sheakspear ship needs a complete make over and Riviera Travel needs to give the customer what you are advertising; you are not delivering a 5 star experience To say the least we are not happy with our holiday; we spent €4,636.00 plus €365.00 on board the ship. We purchased our holiday based on the advertisement , marketing and the virtual tours we took on line. We did not have a 5 star experience because there was no 5 star and Riviera are falsely advertising and on this bases we asked for a refund. Our travel agency compensated us with 300 euro which is not even what we spent on board during this ordeal. Overall I would not recommend travelling with Riviera Travel. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We had previously cruised with Viking, Riviera comes nowhere near. The ship is clean, modern and everything works but sadly both the ship's owners and Riviera just don't seem to know the difference between fair and excellent. ... Read More
We had previously cruised with Viking, Riviera comes nowhere near. The ship is clean, modern and everything works but sadly both the ship's owners and Riviera just don't seem to know the difference between fair and excellent. Let's start with the dining room - we were a party of 4, unless we arrived promptly, and I mean when the barrier was removed, we didn't couldn't have sat together. There is an open seating policy which is great for those who wish to meet people, but what happens is couples come in and each bags a window table (which are for 4 or 6) ignoring the tables for 2 which aren't by the Windows, thus splitting up later arriving groups. Common sense says groups of 4 or more should be able to reserve tables but this is forbidden. Then the Wine, we each paid £100 for the wine with meals package, we didn't expect fine wines but certainly expected better than we were given. We also expected to be shown a list of wines in our package that we could choose from, not so, the choice was red, white or rose. Also the wine service was poor as the only wine waiter seemed to concentrate on selling wine to those not on the package rather than giving it to those who had already paid for it. Compare this with Viking where the wines are free for everyone, chosen to match the menus, change on a daily basis and are of a far better standard. Now the food, not bad but certainly never even nearly gourmet, the waiters all work hard but there is a total lack of organisation. Each waiter takes orders for all the tables in their section before handing them all in at once, then the food is plated up and all of one choice delivered, then the next choice, consequently even though we were generally sat together we were rarely ever served together. Oh and you have to order your desert at the outset along with your starter and main. Apart from the ship's pianist there was a total lack of evening entertainment, not even a quiz. We'd expected local musicians and performers to come onboard, other ships had them but not us. The programme gave us 3 days with no organised excursions but we were surprised to find there were no optional ones on these days either apart from a ride on a petit-train to avoid the long walk in to one town we stopped at. For the organised excursions we were split into 3 groups, now it's not rocket science to realise that some river cruise guests will have mobility issues, therefore have one group following a lighter schedule - again Viking do this. Riviera take no prisoners here and each group had half a dozen poor souls huffing and puffing at the back desperately trying to keep up. Most river cruise ships seem to cruise through the night and arrive around breakfast time, we tended to set sail around 4am and arrive after lunch, thus cutting short our time in the towns we visited, also we always seemed to have the worst moorings. In Basel we spent 2 nights on an industrial estate next to a container terminal, I took a taxi in to the centre and there were 16 Swiss franks on the meter as we drove past lots of other cruise ships parked within walking distance of the town. Why? Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
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