Rivera Journey is a UK-based escorted holidays operator, which has 11 river cruise ships in Europe with all however two named after British writers – from William Shakespeare and Jane Austin to Emily Bronte and, in fact, Lord Byron. The exceptions are MS Douro Class and Douro Splendour, constructed particularly for circumstances on Portugal’s River Douro. The others sail the rivers Danube, Moselle, Rhine, Rhone, Seine and the Dutch Waterways. Riviera additionally gives River Nile cruises in Egypt on MS Movenpick Darakum. Particular solo river cruises on sailings solely reserved for passengers travelling alone, can be found with no single complement on chosen cruises and dates.
Whereas all workers are absolutely vaccinated, Riviera Journey not asks for proof of vaccination from friends and PCR assessments are usually not required. Nonetheless, frequent hand-cleansing is inspired.
What’s it like onboard?
Riviera Journey is concentrated on the UK vacation market so there’s a really British environment on board its European river ships, regardless of the largely European crew.
That makes for a principally calm and relaxed cruise: there’s no pushing into queues or loud teams within the bar, everybody’s good-humoured and if obligatory stoic (when it rains) or affected person (typically obligatory with native guides).
The vital factor is that everyone mucks in, greet fellow passengers cheerily a number of instances a day and alter for dinner – though into sensible informal quite than showy flash.
The ship’s inside is a mixture of darkish wooden partitions, marble flooring and polished brass equipment, with wealthy blue and gold carpets and fabric and loads of gentle from floor-to-ceiling home windows.
The central reception space has a store and leads into the comfy lounge bar on the entrance of the ship, the place there’s a small out of doors seating space and stairs as much as the solar deck.
After a day trip exploring most individuals meet for a drink within the bar earlier than dinner, when it’s straightforward to get chatting with others and discover a couple of folks to hitch for the meal.
That is typically when the cruise director will clarify the following day’s actions, going out of their solution to be sure to know what’s taking place.
The WOW issue
The locations are the WOW issue and Riviera Journey’s wonderful included excursions. Typically these shall be easy strolling excursions – or you may borrow a ship’s bike and do your personal factor – however there are often a few good guided excursions to locations of particular curiosity a coach-ride away which are additionally 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.
However Lord Byron’s new 11-day Lyon, Provencal, Rhone & the Camargue river cruise has a go to 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 go to in Les Baux-de-Provence.
As with nearly 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 excessive home windows with nearly no view however the second deck – Ruby – has barely bigger cabins with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doorways and the third deck – Diamond – has the most important cabins, with comparable glass doorways.
All decks provide suites, the most important suites on Diamond deck, with further area within the dwelling space with armchairs and a glass desk.
Everyone will get Riviera Journey water bottles that may be refilled on the bar or restaurant and there’s a kettle with tea and low in your cabin – though complimentary tea and filter espresso can be found within the bar.
However there are packages to improve your cabin expertise, comparable to Riviera Plus. This will get you a Diamond deck cabin or Ruby deck suite with a bottle of glowing wine on arrival; one pre-dinner drink token a day per particular person, Crabtree & Evelyn Jojoba Oil physique wash, shampoo and conditioner, a chocolate every delivered with the following day’s programme and a mid-week bowl of fruit.
Breakfast is a buffet in the principle restaurant, from 7am-9am, with a vibrant unfold of fruit, chilly cuts, cheese, yogurts, porridge and in a single day oats.
Scorching selections embody bacon, scrambled eggs, mushrooms and grilled tomatoes however you may order eggs cooked any means you want – from fried or poached to omelettes with a alternative of fillings.
Lunch can also be a buffet in the principle restaurant and though that is modest in dimension in contrast with another ships, it’s all freshly made and there are all the time loads of salads to select from in addition to scorching meals, often with a roast carved by one of many cooks.
Dinner is waiter-served with selections of two starters, two soups, three predominant programs (plus salmon and rooster all the time out there) and three desserts.
Meat eaters are notably nicely served with dishes comparable to rack of lamb however vegetarians are additionally catered for and the selection of fish adjustments every single day.
There’s additionally a Lido Bar and Restaurant on Diamond deck, the place it’s best to be capable to get an early chicken continental breakfast, a lightweight lunch or – in the event you ebook a desk – dinner.
This solely take 20 folks however there’s additionally a tiny terrace on the again the place it’s good to eat lunch and sip a glass of wine.
Drinks are usually not often included with meals however packages can be found for the eating places, though you need to pay for drinks within the bar.
Life on a river ship principally includes getting off and exploring the city or metropolis you’re docked in as a result of many of the crusing occurs when you’re consuming dinner and sometimes over-night.
Typically the ship sails for a couple of hours throughout the day, although, or in early night after which most individuals head for the solar deck loungers, both to learn or watch the world go by.
There’s additionally a small heated pool on the solar deck, though it’s for sitting in quite than swimming, plus deck video games comparable to shuffleboard, big chess and mini-golf.
Typically there are barbecues and if the climate is sweet there’s a bar service up on deck too.
The very comfy lounge can also be fashionable. There’s all the time tea and low out there and the big home windows imply you gained’t miss a factor if the ship’s crusing.
Lord Byron additionally has a sauna and steam room on the decrease deck, that are free to make use of, and there’s a hairdresser and spa for massages and a few remedies.
Like most river ships, the leisure tends to deal with the lounge bar after dinner, when there’s all the time the home pianist and the cruise director’s quizzes – remarkably fashionable due to the prizes from the on board store.
Just a few instances throughout the cruise native bands or entertainers come on board for the night and there’s typically dancing.
MS Lord Byron gives eight-day Burgundy, the River Rhone and Provence cruises from Might to October, from £1,399pp, with 11-day Lyon, Provencal Rhone & The Camargue cruises out there as soon as a month, from £2,399pp, together with flights or rail transport, transfers, all meals and excursions (rivieratravel.co.uk).