Rivera Travel is a UK-based escorted holidays operator, which has 11 river cruise ships in Europe with all but two named after British writers – from William Shakespeare and Jane Austin to Emily Bronte and, in fact, Lord Byron. The exceptions are MS Douro Elegance and Douro Splendour, built especially for conditions on Portugal’s River Douro. The others sail the rivers Danube, Moselle, Rhine, Rhone, Seine and the Dutch Waterways. Riviera also offers River Nile cruises in Egypt on MS Movenpick Darakum. Special solo river cruises on sailings exclusively reserved for passengers travelling alone, can be found with no single complement on chosen cruises and dates.
While all staff are fully vaccinated, Riviera Travel now not asks for proof of vaccination from guests and PCR tests are usually not required. Nonetheless, frequent hand-cleansing is inspired.
What’s it like onboard?
Riviera Travel is concentrated on the UK holiday market so there’s a really British atmosphere on board its European river ships, despite the largely European crew.
That makes for a mostly calm and relaxed cruise: there’s no pushing into queues or loud groups within the bar, everyone’s good-humoured and if needed stoic (when it rains) or patient (sometimes needed with local guides).
The vital thing is that everyone mucks in, greet fellow passengers cheerily several times a day and alter for dinner – although into smart casual moderately than showy flash.
The ship’s interior is a combination of dark wood partitions, marble floors and polished brass accessories, with wealthy blue and gold carpets and fabric and many light from floor-to-ceiling windows.
The central reception area has a store and leads into the comfortable lounge bar on the front of the ship, where there’s a small outdoor seating area and stairs as much as the sun deck.
After a day trip exploring most individuals meet for a drink within the bar before dinner, when it’s easy to get chatting with others and find a number of people to hitch for the meal.
This is commonly when the cruise director will explain the following day’s activities, going out of their solution to ensure you understand what’s happening.
The WOW factor
The destinations are the WOW factor and Riviera Travel’s excellent included excursions. Sometimes these shall be easy walking tours – or you possibly can borrow a ship’s bike and do your individual thing – but there are frequently a pair of excellent guided tours to places of special interest a coach-ride away which can be also complimentary.
On the eight-day River Rhone cruises, these longer excursions are to Beaune for wine tasting, the spectacular Ardeche Gorges, a tour of the huge Popes’ Palace in Avignon and to the Roman-built Pont du Gard aqueduct – all Unesco-listed.
But Lord Byron’s recent 11-day Lyon, Provencal, Rhone & the Camargue river cruise has a visit to Camargue and the Ornithological Pork of Pont de Gau, in addition to the Pont du Garde and Ardeche Gorges, wine tasting in Macon and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and an olive farm visit in Les Baux-de-Provence.
As with virtually all river cruise ships in Europe, there are three decks of staterooms, with the smallest cabins on the primary deck – Emerald deck.
These have tiny high windows with virtually no view however the second deck – Ruby – has barely larger cabins with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and the third deck – Diamond – has the most important cabins, with similar glass doors.
All decks offer suites, the most important suites on Diamond deck, with extra space within the living area with armchairs and a glass table.
Everybody gets Riviera Travel water bottles that may be refilled on the bar or restaurant and there’s a kettle with tea and low in your cabin – although complimentary tea and filter coffee can be found within the bar.
But there are packages to upgrade your cabin experience, comparable to Riviera Plus. This gets you a Diamond deck cabin or Ruby deck suite with a bottle of sparkling wine on arrival; one pre-dinner drink token a day per person, Crabtree & Evelyn Jojoba Oil body wash, shampoo and conditioner, a chocolate each delivered with the following day’s programme and a mid-week bowl of fruit.
Breakfast is a buffet within the major restaurant, from 7am-9am, with a vibrant spread of fruit, cold cuts, cheese, yogurts, porridge and overnight oats.
Hot decisions include bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes but you possibly can order eggs cooked any way you want – from fried or poached to omelettes with a alternative of fillings.
Lunch can also be a buffet within the major restaurant and although that is modest in size compared with another ships, it’s all freshly made and there are all the time loads of salads to select from in addition to hot meals, normally with a roast carved by considered one of the chefs.
Dinner is waiter-served with decisions of two starters, two soups, three major courses (plus salmon and chicken all the time available) and three desserts.
Meat eaters are particularly well served with dishes comparable to rack of lamb but vegetarians are also catered for and the alternative of fish changes day-after-day.
There’s also a Lido Bar and Restaurant on Diamond deck, where you need to give you the chance to get an early bird continental breakfast, a lightweight lunch or – should you book a table – dinner.
This only take 20 people but there’s also a tiny terrace on the back where it’s nice to eat lunch and sip a glass of wine.
Drinks are usually not normally included with meals but packages can be found for the restaurants, although you’ve gotten to pay for drinks within the bar.
Life on a river ship mostly involves getting off and exploring the town or city you’re docked in because many of the sailing happens when you’re eating dinner and sometimes over-night.
Sometimes the ship sails for a number of hours throughout the day, though, or in early evening after which most individuals head for the sun deck loungers, either to read or watch the world go by.
There’s also a small heated pool on the sun deck, even though it’s for sitting in moderately than swimming, plus deck games comparable to shuffleboard, giant chess and mini-golf.
Sometimes there are barbecues and if the weather is nice there’s a bar service up on deck too.
The very comfortable lounge can also be popular. There’s all the time tea and low available and the big windows mean you won’t miss a thing if the ship’s sailing.
Lord Byron also has a sauna and steam room on the lower deck, that are free to make use of, and there’s a hairdresser and spa for massages and a few treatments.
Like most river ships, the entertainment tends to concentrate on the lounge bar after dinner, when there’s all the time the home pianist and the cruise director’s quizzes – remarkably popular due to the prizes from the on board shop.
A number of times throughout the cruise local bands or entertainers come on board for the evening and there’s often dancing.
MS Lord Byron offers eight-day Burgundy, the River Rhone and Provence cruises from May to October, from £1,399pp, with 11-day Lyon, Provencal Rhone & The Camargue cruises available once a month, from £2,399pp, including flights or rail transport, transfers, all meals and excursions (rivieratravel.co.uk).