We started our holiday in St Pancras Station on 15 June and before starting our journey we left our Cases at the drop off point for luggage which we were having transported to the Cruise ship as part of the Cruise, the next time we would see these was outside our Cabin ,This went so very smoothly without any causes for concern.
We then went to the Eurostar check in followed by our Eurostar journey to Brussels again this went so extremely smoothly without any complications, We were met by our cruise manager Christine who gave full details of the procedure at Brussels and our onward journey by Coach to Cologne
The Journey to Cologne by coach was fine and took about 3 ½ hours which included a toilet and refreshment break before finally arriving in Cologne and ready to board our Ship the Jane Austin
Riviera cruises are all booked by passengers from the UK which made integrating with other passengers so easy,
On boarding the cruise ship the expectations we had were surpassed ,the Captain and crew were there to welcome us aboard and on seeing the reception area for the first time was stunning, a crew member showed us to our cabin and once again we were blown away with the size and luxury feel to it, the sliding patio doors were the full width of the cabin and the shower room was cosy but complete, cases can be stored under the bed , bottles of water are replenished free every day , the cabin is serviced every morning including towel replacement and the beds are turned down each evening and chocolates are placed on each pillow.
We then went to explore the whole ship, firstly having a look at the lounge ( WOW ) we were amazed at the size and spaciousness and luxury seating ( Amazing ), following this we looked at the Dining room and once again we were blown away with the size and quality of the table settings just like a 5 star hotel, we the explored some more and found the Lido bar at the rear of the ship which had an outside seating area.
From here we went to the top deck where there was loads of table and chairs set out or for those who wanted to laze away the days there were about 40 sunbeds with canopy’s above to shade the hot sun, to the front the seating again was tables and chairs and surrounded by a glass screen to shelter from any breeze there may be, A luxurious seating was at the very front of the ship with loads of outdoor wicker settees ( wonderful )
We went for dinner at 7pm which was amazing with 5 courses you couldn’t expect more, The food was of superior quality and cooked to perfection, this was to be the standard of food for the entire cruise ( excellent )The cost of drinks is very reasonable Beer 2.50 euro for beer, 2.50 euros for Coke etc and 5 euros for glass wine, full bottle wine is 18.50 euros. Tea, Coffee, jugs of Cold Water and cookies are available free of charge all day.
Breakfast is buffet style and has an amazing choice, this is followed by a buffet lunch which is then followed by afternoon tea and cakes before finally having the 5 course evening meal ( 7 courses on the night of the captains dinner ) no formal dress is required for dinner just smart casual is fine, jackets not required unless you wish to do so.
We set sail at about 10pm and watched Cologne slip away into the distance, The speed being about 10 miles per hour and our first part of the cruise was about 11 hours arriving at Koblenz about 10 am the following morning, as the ship cruises there is absolutely no feeling of any movement,
The cruise followed the complete itinerary as detailed in the brochure and over the next couple of days the scenery was superb, the Rhine Gorge being the highlight ( Stunning )
We were amazed by the number of business ships on the Rhine ie tankers, container ships etc carrying all types of goods along this amazing river, at some points the river must be about a mile wide.
We called at Rudesheim where the ship moored at the centre of this amazing town definitely a tourist town but full of character and shops and bars and restaurants.
Other ports of call were Speyer, Strasbourg, Breisach, and Basel.
At some of the moorings we were slightly away from the towns and coaches were provide to transport passengers to the town centres, also at a couple of moorings we were moored along side another cruise ship, this did not cause any problems at all other than our cabin looking directly into theirs, this was generally only for a few hours before ships moved on. Leaving the cruise ship through other ships was also not a problem. And the gangways to land were very easy to negotiate even for passengers with a small degree of walking difficulty.
At certain stops we decided not to take the coaches or walking tours and instead stay on board which was absolutely no problem, being the only couple to stay on board the entire ship was ours for the day ( peaceful !!! ) and the crew laid on Lunch for just the 2 of us which again was outstanding.
On the final day we were transferred by coach to Basel train station for our TGV journey back to Paris , and then crossed Paris by coach to catch the Eurostar back to London, all transfers are included and full guidance was given all the way by Sarah the tour Manager who accompanied us all the way back to London.
The entire crew including the tour manager Sarah and Christine are to be congratulated for their kindness, friendliness, professionalism and attention to the passengers,
The whole cruise was above excellent , however it leaves you wanting to do more River Cruises and especially with Riviera Travel, we may also book a tour holiday with them as there is a wide choice for holidays by rail if you don’t want to fly.