Although we have been on a Riviera Travel escorted tour before, to see Switzerland, the Matterhorn and the Glacier Express, we haven’t cruised with them before. We have been on other river cruises though, and I have visited the MS Emily Bronte before. One of the many benefits Riviera Travel offer is regional airport departures, with direct flights, depending on the itinerary. We were going with friends on this holiday, and while we were able to fly from East Midlands to Amsterdam, our friends flew from Gatwick to Amsterdam. You can also see my photos of the MS Jane Austen on Facebook.
This 4-night cruise is a great way to see ‘Amsterdam, Kinderdijk & the Dutch Bulbfields’, but it only operates in April. Flights were available from several UK regional airports, as well as the Eurostar from London St Pancras. Usually the itinerary order is Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk, Keukenhof Gardens, and back to Amsterdam. Due to a berthing issue in Rotterdam, we had been advised in advance that we would be doing the trip in a different order but would still see everything. We went to Amsterdam, Keukenhof Gardens, Enkhuizen, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk and back to Amsterdam. The included excursions are a glass-topped canal boat ride in Amsterdam, a trip to the Keukenhof Gardens to see all the tulips and other flowers, and a trip to the Windmill museum at Kinderdijk.
Life onboard a Riviera Travel river cruise ship is enjoyable, with all but one of their ships being 5-star. The cabins are of a good size, and include tea & coffee making facilities, good-sized safe, air-conditioning and TV. The television in our cabin picked up a great selection of channels, including BBC1, BBC2, ITV2 and Channel 4, as well as the usual 24-hour news channels. The bathroom had a large shower with glass doors, as opposed to a shower curtain.
We found the food to be of a very good standard, with plenty of choice. The restaurant operates open seating, so you choose where to sit, and what table size you prefer. As well as the main restaurant, the Lido also served a light lunch each day. You could also make a reservation to dine in the Lido in the evening, but we preferred to stay with the main restaurant. The Lido also has a very good machine serving various coffees, hot chocolate and tea, which is available 24 hours a day. Next to the machine there was always a good supply of perhaps the best cookies I have ever had. The large attractive Panorama lounge and bar never seemed crowded, and during the evenings there was an organist or music tracks playing. There was also a quiz there on one occasion.
The upper deck has plenty of tables and chairs, and sunbeds, for relaxing as you cruise the rivers. There is also a 4-hole putting green, and a small plunge pool with very warm water. On the lowest deck there was a Wellness area, with a steam room, a sauna and also a hairdresser. Some of the ships also have a small fitness area. Wi-Fi is available free throughout the ship, but the signal can be slow due to it being a satellite connection.
The 5* MS Jane Austen carries 140 passengers, looked after by 36 crew. I have to say that the crew were all very friendly, and extremely hard working. Everyone seems to have more than one role, and all seem to help with getting the luggage on and off the ship, including the Captain. In addition to the ship’s crew, there are also a Cruise Director and a Cruise Concierge onboard from Riviera Travel. On this cruise it was Mike and Hanna, and they were both very efficient and always there to help passengers with any queries they might have. Riviera Travel also have a Solo Travellers brochure, with an ever increasing range of tours and cruises included. Please don’t hesitate to let me know, if you would like me to arrange a copy for you.
The video below was produced by me when I got home, it starts off by showing you around the ship, and ends with some of the places we visited. You will notice that when I was filming on deck, it almost looks as though we were at sea, but at the time we were in the Zuiderzee, a large inland man-made lake.
Riviera Travel offers river cruising in Europe on the Douro, the Dutch Waterways, the Rhone & Saone, the Moselle, the Rhine, the Main, the Main-Danube Canal, and the Danube Rivers. The ships in their European fleet are as follows: –
This list shows the main European itineraries you can choose from.
Other holidays available from Riviera Travel include: –