The 169-passenger Thomas Hardy entered service with Riviera Travel in April 2017, joining sister ships Emily Bronte and Oscar Wilde as part of the line's expanding river fleet.
Riviera Travel's three brand-new ships feature a first for the line: balcony cabins. Containing 86 all-suite cabins, Thomas Hardy features three cabin types, including Suites, Superior Suites and Deluxe Balcony Suites.
Suites measure 183 square feet, Superior Suites are 210 square feet while the Deluxe Balcony Suites are 274 square feet. Aside from size, the difference between cabin types comes down to the varying levels of natural light and window space, with Suites offering a small window or large floor-to-ceiling French balcony; Superior Suites contain French balconies and all Deluxe Balcony Suites contain a balcony with a table and two chairs.
All cabins are equipped with large flat-screen TVs, a table and two chairs, safe, mini-bar, ample storage space, hair dryer, twin beds pushed together to make a double bed, telephone, and tea and coffee making facilities.
Bathrooms have a luxurious feel, with marble finishes, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries and rain showers. Deluxe Balcony Suites also feature bathrobes and slippers, which are available to passengers booked into other cabin types when requested at reception.
Thomas Hardy has two dining options: The Bistro and the Restaurant. The Bistro offers light lunches and a reservation-only specialty dinner service. The Restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and lunch and a set menu at dinner. While all meals are included, plus tea, coffee and juices with breakfast, other beverages are not included. 24-hour complimentary tea and coffee is available, however, in The Bistro.
The Panorama Bar is the ship's only lounge bar, which opens from morning until late at night, serving hot and cold soft drinks and alcoholic beverages throughout the day.
The ship also features a small fitness studio, a hair salon and nail bar, a boutique shop and guest service desk in the lobby, a small splash pool, a mini-putting green, sun loungers and plenty of space to sit out on deck.
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The ship's entertainment program includes a nightly pianist in the lounge bar, while enrichment is kept to a daily talk on the destination ahead.
As with all Riviera Travel river cruises, return train fare from London St Pancras railway station or other regional stations, coach transfers, all meals onboard, walking tour shore excursions and Wi-Fi onboard is included. Flights are available as an alternative to trains, however a supplement should be expected. Drinks and gratuities are not included.
Walking tours are offered in ports where the cruise line deems the port big enough to offer an excursion. All tours are carried out in English by a local guide and to make listening easier, Quietvox headsets are provided (stored in cabins) for passengers to tune into during the tours.
For passengers looking for a more active option in port, Thomas Hardy provides eight bikes with helmets for passengers to use free of charge.