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8 Riviera Travel Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
We did the reverse Heart of Europe cruise, from Budapest to Cologne. This seems to be the preferred direction, giving longer in the ports enroute. We saw lots of other ships on our cruise, and, frankly, didn't see anything to ... Read More
We did the reverse Heart of Europe cruise, from Budapest to Cologne. This seems to be the preferred direction, giving longer in the ports enroute. We saw lots of other ships on our cruise, and, frankly, didn't see anything to compare with the Thomas Hardy (incidentally, we were also moored alongside the William Shakespeare one day and it is looking very old fashioned and outdated, despite only being 3 or 4 years old. The Thomas Hardy is in a different class). The ship is excellent, and the cabins ("suites"), whilst small, are brilliantly designed. The French balcony design works particularly well, transforming your cabin into a large balcony when the triple sliding doors are fully slid back. The room aircon is excellent. Only gripes, the TV is rubbish - a few news channels, a couple of local stations and bizarrely, 2 "God" channels, and the wifi is pretty poor; patchy and barely usable when we did have internet connection. The cabin was kept spotlessly clean by the staff, who did a great job. The sun deck is really nice when it is open, which unfortunately, due to low bridges, is for a very short part of the cruise, the first 3 days or so and the last 1 or 2. However, the forward deck is kept open throughout, which is a decent sitting area at least. The staff are excellent; helpful, friendly and efficient. Meals were generally good, particularly breakfast and lunch, but dinners were very hit and miss: strange food combinations (Chicken, chips and Brussels Sprouts anyone - in June?!?!) and small portions meant we ended up treating lunch as our main meal of the day. Afternoon tea was disappointing: the same cakes (they are actually frozen gateaux style cakes, not "proper" ones) every day for 2 weeks. Bar service is generally good, and prices are reasonable, helped by a limited choice bar list during Happy Hour. The choice of wines is reasonable, with prices typically between about €20 - 25 per bottle. The best sections of cruising are between Budapest and Bratislava; the Main river and the Rhine Gorge. Not keen on the Main-Danube canal section, which is a bit boring. Excursions and walking tours were well organised, BUT, the quality of local tour guides was variable. Expect to be doing lots of walking if you're going on the tours. For people with limited mobility this could be a challenge. However, there is always the option to either stay on the ship, or to do limited parts of the tours. There's not a lot to do on board, given it is a river ship, so take books. Great bird watching between Budapest and Bratislava, so also take binoculars.The gym was disappointing, only had 2 treadmills and 2 bikes. No weights, no rowing machines. As the sun deck is mainly closed, can't even do laps of the deck, so if you're keen on exercise to keep the weight down, you'll need to do lots of walking on the excursions/ tours. Evening entertainment is pretty amateurish (the crew try their best to put something on), but at least the on board pianist was very good. Things to be aware of: 1. We had to miss Passau because of low river levels on the Straubing section, and were lucky to get through. The ship has a draft of 1.56m, and the river was below 1.5m, so they had to drain the pool (it is actually hot tub size, only big enough for 2 or 3 people to sit in it), offload grey water etc. to lighten the ship. So if you are cruising the Danube, be aware that it is prone to low river levels. Other ships were off-loading passengers at Nuremberg, so at least we made it. 2. The sun deck and pool are closed for most of the cruise because of low bridges. 3. Don't expect lots of sleep. I didn't get a single decent night's sleep in 2 weeks, mainly because of the ship bouncing around in locks during the night passages. All in all, great ship, and despite a few disappointments, would go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We were well taken care of from start to finish. The ship was only 10 months old, spotlessly clean and comfortable. Food was beautifully presented with plenty of choice. Service was good. However, my friend was vegetarian. The company was ... Read More
We were well taken care of from start to finish. The ship was only 10 months old, spotlessly clean and comfortable. Food was beautifully presented with plenty of choice. Service was good. However, my friend was vegetarian. The company was informed of this at the time of booking. There was no choice on offer and only one vegetarian main dish on the menu at dinner. If you didn't like it you were stuffed. The head chef was very apologetic and offered to cook anything she fancied, and he did. He told us the company decided the menus. The highlight of the entertainment was the string quartet that came on-board one evening. All excursions are included in the price and were excellent. The guides, crew and Riviera hosts could not be faulted. They even checked us in the day before for our flight home. I would have given Riviera 5 stars if it hadn't been for the hassle in the dining room my friend had.. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The food was, even by cruise standards, outstanding. Do try the Fine dining at no extra cost. Service in dining room was efficient but not sincere. Cabins spotless and staff friendly The evening entertainment was disappointing except for ... Read More
The food was, even by cruise standards, outstanding. Do try the Fine dining at no extra cost. Service in dining room was efficient but not sincere. Cabins spotless and staff friendly The evening entertainment was disappointing except for an excellent string quartet. The Itinerary up/down Danube was good and with one exception the guides first class. The tour manager and resident guide were acceptable but not brilliant nor very friendly. The ship was only 1 year old so was in very good condition. A lot of travelling on the way back had to be at night. We have cruised the River Rhine previously and found it much more interesting. The first few days have a preponderance of trees lining the banks so a bit boring. excursions were well chosen and the walking tours to Bratislavia,Melk Abbey, Saltzburg, and Vienna particularly interesting. Unfortunately we feel should not be necessary like many cruise lines we were expected to tip the crew which we feel should not be necessary. Do choose a cabin midships as those near the stern suffer from vibration (all decks). Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was our first experience of a river cruise, having previously undertaken 2 ocean cruises (Western Med + Baltic & St Petersburg). We travelled on the Danube and visited some beautiful cities on the cruise, including Vienna, ... Read More
This was our first experience of a river cruise, having previously undertaken 2 ocean cruises (Western Med + Baltic & St Petersburg). We travelled on the Danube and visited some beautiful cities on the cruise, including Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. Chose Riviera as we have had positive experience of their city breaks. However, we were surprised (sorry if this causes offence) to find the average age of our fellow travellers to be around mid-70's, and some of the older travellers in their 80's limited to some extent with mobility problems. If you are around retirement age or under, it may be worth considering the companies with a higher ratio of US travellers as we noticed on neighbouring boats their average age appeared 50-60. Having dealt with that bit of ageism, I have to say there were many positives about this trip. Here are some of my thoughts about the differences on a river cruise to an ocean cruise; + More closely connected to passing scenery + Berths more likely to be right in the heart of a city for easy walking access + Much smaller vessel, so very easy to orient oneself to - Limited range of onboard activities - Smaller cabin size, although comfortable and well designed - Limited lounge facilities The dining standard was very good, but then our experience of ocean cruises dining was also excellent, and with more variety in terms of options. Hope that's of some use to anyone considering a river cruise, and apologies if it appears overly discriminatory to our more mature fellow passengers :-( Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
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