Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those good news, bad news situations; this is all good news!
Riviera river cruises have been designed with a British clientele firmly in mind.
They’ve been running for over thirty years now and have a wide range of ships and itineraries which includes places as disparate as the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia to all the major waterways of Europe such as the Rhine and Danube.
They pride themselves on offering a quintessentially British experience which is reflected in the décor of their ships, the atmosphere on-board and the attentive service of their staff. (You’ll also be glad to know there’s tea and coffee making facilities in your cabin!)
But what does quintessentially British mean? Exactly what are their ships like? What should you expect at dinner and most importantly how big a hole will all this leave in your wallet?
Well read on to find out…
(Pssst – Don’t worry about too much about your wallet though! Riviera are one of the best river cruise lines out there when it comes to value for money! – See; we told you it was all good news!)
Meet The Fleet
There are currently nine ships in the Riviera fleet to choose from with two of them being rated as a 4 star experience whilst the other seven are of a 5 star quality.
The difference between their four and five star ships is in the facilities available to guests, as all of the latter will have a gym, sauna and hair salon on-board. You’ll also find that other facilities common across both grades will simply be larger on the five star versions.
Between them the fleet will offer you a choice of sailing seven different rivers: The Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Seine, Douro, Mekong and Moselle.
Is There A Typical Riviera Passenger?
You mean apart from someone looking for a great deal?
Due to their British feel and focus it’s only natural that Riviera would attract a lot of Brits to themselves. Typically they’ll be the type of person wanting to get to the ‘heart’ of a destination whilst being able to relax on-board a luxurious ship. Although the majority of guests will be British you’ll occasionally find some American passengers as well as others from even further afield.
People who’ll appreciate Riviera the most are the kind of people that really appreciate the little touches in life. For example, we’ve already mentioned that Riviera are the only river cruise line who provide tea and coffee making facilities in your room. It sounds like a little thing – but being able to enjoy PG tips in your cabin without having to go to a coffee station in the lounge or bar is a fantastic treat first thing in the morning!
Riviera also attract a lot of solo passengers due the fact that they don’t charge sole occupancy supplements on selected lower deck cabins. In fact you’ll find that selected sailings on the Rhone won’t have sole occupancy supplements on any cabins! Meaning that for the solo cruiser that does the homework… Riviera could be a very attractive option.
Did you know? Riviera ships are a lot more intimate than other vessels of their size as they only carry between 120 and 140 passengers. This means you can get to know your fellow passengers better whilst still having a lot more space on-board!
If you’re not sure which of their ships best suit your budget then the good news is that all of them have lounges and a sun deck for you to relax in/on. Up on the sun deck you’ll find a splash pool to cool down in and some ships also even have a spa, steam room to while away a lazy afternoon! You’ll also find a giant chess board to play on if it takes your fancy as well as plenty of places to sit and sunbathe or just watch the scenery drift past.
Downstairs in the lounge there’s plenty of comfortable places to sit and chat to new friends or have a drink. You can also head here in the evening and enjoy music from the resident pianist and have a twirl on the dance floor. If you fancy something different then at the end of every cruise the crew will come together to put on a show for you.
As already mentioned, no matter what your chosen ship, it will come equipped with a gym with exercise machines such as a treadmill, exercise bike and free weights.
Our cruise consultant Collete told us one of the things she most enjoyed about her cruise with Riviera: “One of the great things about a river cruise is the fact that when the ships are moored overnight you can just wander off and have a night out or a wander around in the morning at your leisure. You rarely get this on an ocean cruise, so it gives you a great opportunity to do your own thing.” You can read more about her trip here!
You can also read more about the river cruising experience and how it differ to ocean cruising here.
Did you know? Riviera also support the Hope & Homes for Children charity who help orphans in Africa.
The food on Riviera ships is always served in the dining room and prepared by superb professional chefs. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style (although that doesn’t come close to describing how great… or generous… the food is) and the evening meal will be a four course fine dining treat. (That’s right; four courses every night… you may want to skip back a paragraph and read up on the gym again!)
There’s open plan seating so you can sit where you like which means no fixed dinner table mates every evening leaving you to mingle with other guests at your leisure. The table’s all seat four or six guests so the experience remains relaxed and you can get to know everyone although the crew can push tables together for bigger parties.
The nice thing is that the menus in the evening will reflect the region you’re sailing through, for example you can expect to enjoy Hungarian beef stew on the Danube or Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise on the Seine whilst still offering plenty of traditional British dishes for the less adventurous diner.
Our cruise consultant Collete told us about her experience of the food on Riviera ships: “Nothing was too much trouble for the staff. I am not the greatest fan of desserts, so they were happy to substitute my pud with a cheese plate whenever I requested it and whilst I’m on the subject of cheese the variety and quality was superb! I ate some of the nicest cheeses I have ever had.” You can read more about her adventure down the Danube here.
Newer ships such as the MS William Shakespeare will also have a Chef’s Restaurant which is an intimate dining experience for twenty four passengers. You can eat amongst a small group and eat signature dishes from your chef in a room with panoramic windows. The best bit however is that, unlike their ocean going cousins, these speciality restaurants won’t cost you a many extra!
A past passenger told us what they thought of the food: “The restaurant was very good, the five course fare being beautifully presented and actually tasting good as well… there was something for everyone, including local specialities such as snails and frogs legs.” You can read more of Beagle’s review here.
Did you know? A packed lunch will be provided if you’re taking a shore excursion over lunchtime so that you don’t need to fork out for food in port! Riviera are one of the only cruise lines… River or Ocean, to offer this!
Continuing on the theme of keeping your money in your pocket… Shore excursions are included in the upfront price of your cruise as well and whilst on one you’ll be provided with a Bluetooth headset that your tour guide will use to narrate the tour.
You’ll also be glad to know that the spoken language used on-board and over all ship announcements is always English.
Amenities can vary from ship to ship and differ slightly with star rating but the average standard cabin will have a safe, telephone, hairdryer, tea and coffee, air con, flat screen TV, minibar and a free to use umbrella (although hopefully you wouldn’t need that!)
A past passenger of Riviera told us about their room: “The bathroom was actually bigger than some we have had on ocean cruise lines. A proper shower cubicle – no shower curtain!” You can learn more about Baxter’s time on-board here.
Another all-inclusive perk is the complimentary Wi-Fi available everywhere on-board as well as a 24 hour UK based telephone line available for you to ring for your peace of mind.
Did you know? Riviera are one of the few river lines with accessible cabins.
Gratuities, Staff and Dress Codes
Unlike most modern cruise lines gratuities with Riviera are organised in a very British fashion which means they’re entirely at your discretion and aren’t automatically added onto your bill. You’ll receive an envelope in your cabin so that you can tip as much as you want. The recommended is that you give between €5 and €10 and that you tip local guides and drivers between €1 and €2 a day but the choice is yours and no one will know if you tip more, less or not at all.
Finally, Riviera dress codes are very relaxed with smart casual wear being acceptable for both day and evening. Men may wish to wear a jacket and tie for dinner but it’s not a dress code that’s enforced, more just letting you know what everybody else tends to wear so you don’t feel out of place. If guests would like to dress up then they can do so particularly at the Captain’s dinner where many passengers take the opportunity to wear their best.
So would you want to travel with Riviera River Cruises? Have you sailed with them before?
Let us know in the comments below!