Shore excursions are included in the fare and are mainly confined to fairly standard walking tours and motor coach trips to places of interest. Carried out by knowledgeable local guides, these tours will typically involve an overview of landmarks such as churches and monuments. They are slow-paced and at the previous evening's port talk, the cruise director will advise on how much walking is involved. Each cabin is equipped with battery-powered listening devices and earpieces so participants can hear what the guide is saying. For passengers who want to explore by themselves, a map of each port, including local highlights, are freely available from the travel desk in the lobby and staff can also provide advice on places to visit.
Riviera offers a small number of for-fee "Personalize Your Vacation" experiences, although these are fairly limited and usually restricted to one per seven-day cruise. They include a behind-the-scenes tour at Vienna's Spanish Riding School, wine tasting in the Moselle Valley and visits to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum in Rudesheim.
Every time passengers leave the ship, they log in and out with their key cards at the reception desk.
Complimentary bottled water is not provided for excursions and it can be purchased for 2.25 euros for a 25cl bottle and 3.75 euros for a 75cl bottle.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Like most river cruises, onboard entertainment is minimal and geared to a mature crowd. There's a resident pianist who plays nightly in the Panorama Lounge and there are occasional games such as trivia quizzes. Books and board games can be borrowed from the library and additional games are available from the lounge. For those with any energy left after the shore excursions, there is a small dance floor in the lounge.
Visiting local entertainers, such as classical musicians in Vienna, also come aboard in the evening at various points during the cruise.
Each evening in the Panorama Lounge, the cruise director gives a port talk and overview of the following day's activities.
Panorama Lounge (Deck 3): The combined lounge bar is situated forward on the upper Diamond Deck. It is a very attractive and comfortable room decorated in blue and with a variety of seating options ranging from easy chairs and couches to 10 stools surrounding the horseshoe-shaped bar that is located at the front of the room. The bar menu is very reasonably priced and the service charge is included. Wines by the glass start at 2.75 euros, with draft beer from 2.50 euros. Mixed drinks, such as gin and tonic are 6.50 euros, and cocktails, such as pina coladas, mojitos, and margaritas cost 8 euros. There are also nonalcoholic "mocktails" priced at 5 euros and sodas are priced at 2.50 euros. The British love their tea, so a Twinings tea collection is also featured on the menu with varieties such as Earl Grey, green tea and mint tea available for 2.50 euros. Coffees range from 2.50 euros for an espresso to 6.50 euros for specialty coffees such as Irish coffee.
The lounge is large enough to accommodate all passengers and is the heart of the ship, with large windows on three sides to view the passing scenery and the gathering spot for pre- and post-dinner drinks and nightly entertainment.
Bow Terrace (Deck 3): Situated directly in front of the Panorama Lounge, and accessed by an automatic door, there is a small alfresco area with four tables, each with four rattan chairs. Surrounded by glass screens, it is a peaceful, sheltered spot to watch the passing scenery on sunny days over a coffee or cocktail.
Aft Terrace (Deck 3): There is another small outdoor terrace, with five round tables and two chairs at each, behind the Bistro. It is another quiet area where passengers can sit and enjoy a beverage during the day or have a drink after a meal in the Bistro.
Sun Deck: Passengers are welcome to take drinks and snacks up to the Sun Deck, which has a mix of high and low tables, chairs and banquette seating.
The Sun Deck runs the full length of the ship and is covered with a material that replicated wooden decking, giving the area a traditional feel. There are plenty of different places for passengers to relax, take in views or soak up the sun on summer days, including a lovely curved banquette seating area at the front of the ship, tables and chairs and loungers -- some covered by a shady canopy.
At the aft of the alfresco deck is a small splash pool and an adjacent four-hole putting green. Although there is no defined walking track, there is plenty of space to walk around the deck while the ship is sailing or in port.
The main doors on the upper Diamond Deck lead into the ornate marble-floored lobby topped by a gleaming chandelier. Opposite the reception desk is the travel desk where passengers can get information about included excursions, ports being visited and book optional for-fee shore tours. Next to the travel desk is a boutique selling an attractive range of quality accessories, including scarves, jewelry and purses.
Stairs from the lobby lead to the upper deck cabins and at the entrance to the corridor there is a small library containing a selection of books -- mainly novels and travel guides -- and board games that can be borrowed for the duration of the cruise.
Wi-Fi is free of charge and available throughout the ship, subject to connectivity, which is not always guaranteed on river cruises. In order to log on, passengers have to take their smartphone, tablet or laptop to the reception desk to get connected to the vessel's internet service. After that, they are automatically logged in. There is no limit to how many devices can be used. The service is suitable for anyone who wants to send and receive emails and access social media. However, for streaming data, passengers can purchase a faster premium internet connection that costs 20 euros per cruise.
A reasonably priced laundry service is available with charges ranging from 1.25 euros for -- rather quaintly -- a handkerchief, 2 euros for underwear and 5 euros for items such as T-shirts to 10 euros for a jacket.
The ship has an elevator that serves all three passenger decks, and the Sun Deck is accessed by stairs. Another handy feature on this ship is that there are stairs leading to upper and lower levels in the center of the three passenger decks, saving passengers from having to walk the full length of the corridor to get to a flight of stairs.
Smoking is allowed on the Sun Deck.
The ship has excellent spa and fitness facilities of the type usually associated with more expensive lines. Similarly, the attractive spaces are far more than the "afterthought" massage bed located in a gloomy cabin-sized room, which is often the norm.
The gym, massage room and hair/nail salon are all located on the Emerald Deck, close to the foot of the stairs and elevator.
The fitness room, with a high fixed window and wall-mounted TV, is open 24/7. It is equipped with two treadmills, an upright bike and recumbent bike. Towels are provided. Next door is the massage room, which, unusually for a riverboat, also includes a private changing room so passengers don't have to walk down wearing robes and slippers. The spa menu ranges from 25-minute back, foot, and head, neck and shoulder massages priced at 33 euros to a 75-minute hot-stone massage that costs 88 euros. Other treatments include a Swedish-style aromatherapy massage and a deep tissue massage.
Situated opposite the gym and massage room is the combined hair and nail salon, which accommodates one passenger at a time. Prices range from 17 for a women's dry cut to 32.50 euros for a wash, cut and blow dry (blow out). For men, prices range from 11 euros for a trim with clippers to 18 euros for a wet cut. The nail studio offers services starting from single nail repair for 5 euros per nail to 25 euros for a manicure and 35 euros for a pedicure. Appointments can be booked at the reception desk and cancellations at less than 24 hours' notice incur an 80 percent cancellation fee.
MS Robert Burns carries a fleet of eight bicycles that are available for passengers to use on a complimentary first-come, first-served basis.
Riviera can accommodate children aged 12 and over at the time of departure and they must share a cabin with an adult aged 21 or over. If the adult is not the minor's parent, a "parental consent guardianship form" must be signed by a parent or legal guardian prior to the sailing. In common with the majority of river cruises, the folks onboard tend to be a fairly quiet mature crowd and itineraries are not suitable for young children. MS Robert Burns does not have any facilities or activities for younger travelers.