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5 Riviera Travel Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
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
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