European River Cruise FAQ’s

Have questions about life on board a Riviera Travel river cruise? We’ve answered some common questions people have when booking and travelling with us.

Air conditioning

Our ships are fully air-conditioned throughout. Each cabin has individual air-conditioning and heating controls.


Due to the nature of our cruises, we do not maintain specific facilities or services for children aboard cruise vessels. On all cruises children (being those under the age of 18) must be accompanied by and share a cabin with a parent, legal guardian or other responsible adult over the age of 21. We regret that we are unable to accommodate children under the age of 12 on river cruises and reserve the right to limit the number of children on board any particular vessel. 

Cruise director

On board, our Cruise Director will look after you and advise on food and drink, local customs and events and any other information concerning your holiday.

Daily Programme

A daily programme is produced on board and delivered to your cabin each evening, detailing the following day’s activities.


In the morning a full buffet breakfast is served. Lunch also usually consists of a buffet, with an extensive selection of hot and cold food.

Dinner is generally served at a single sitting. Times may vary according to the itinerary and daily excursions, but will be indicated on the daily programme, which is delivered to your cabin each evening.

There is no requirement to bring formal dress; smart/casual is acceptable for both day and evening as there is no dress code enforced. Men may wish to wear a jacket and tie for dinner. The Captain’s Dinner offers the opportunity, should you wish, for more special attire.


Virtually all of Europe is served with 220 volts, which is almost the same as the UK at 240 volts. This means that English appliances will work perfectly well albeit slightly slower. However, the sockets are different and you will need an appropriate adaptor, which can be purchased from stores such as Boots and Duty Free shops at airports.

The electrical sockets on board are all 220 volts except for the shaver sockets (if available) in the bathroom, which are both 120 and 230 volts (this socket should be used exclusively for electrical razors).


On the excursions we will visit many old towns, some of which are built on uneven ground. All sightseeing tours involve some walking.

Gift Shop

There is a gift shop on board.

Going Ashore

You are free to go ashore at your leisure when the ship is moored.


It is customary aboard all cruise ships worldwide to give a gratuity at the end of a cruise, providing, of course, you have received good service. We would emphasise that the amount you give is entirely discretionary, and is then divided equally among the crew on board. We are often asked for guidance on the amount, and suggest between €5 and €10 per person per day.

Again at your discretion we recommend tipping your local guides and drivers at the end of each tour, for which you can use the following guidelines:

Local guides €2 per person, per day
Drivers €1 per person, per day

Should you also wish to give a gratuity to your Riviera Cruise Director and Tour Manager, this is also at your discretion.

Hairdressing Services

The Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare are all able to offer a hairdressing service.

Health Concerns

If you have any concerns about your health whilst on tour please see your Cruise Director or Tour Manager. They will be able to advise you about chemists and availability of doctors, etc. In an emergency you could always phone our emergency number as issued on your itinerary.

Whilst there is no on-board medical personnel, the ship can stop at any time to transfer any passenger requiring emergency medical attention to local medical facilities.


Some of our itineraries we operate in a reverse order, and the sailing schedule is designed to offer you the same tours and visits as on the brochured itinerary.

Water levels on rivers can fluctuate on a daily basis; and in serious cases it is possible that the itinerary can be affected with little or no warning. Should the ship be unable to follow the planned itinerary, we will do all we can to ensure all places are visited by alternative means, usually by coach.


A limited laundry service is available on board, except for the day of disembarkation.

A dry cleaning service is not available.


Please bear in mind that there will be occasions when you will need to carry your own luggage. (Please also see section on Porterage). Unfortunately we are unable to include porterage for routes through Paris or Lille so you will need to be able to lift your own case on to and off trains, and on to and off luggage racks within trains. You may also need to carry it some distance between platforms/stations. Please also note that there is limited storage space on Eurostar and Thalys/TGV trains. If travelling by air, a luggage weight allowance will apply depending on which airline you are flying with; you will need to be able to handle your own luggage at check-in and retrieve it from baggage reclaim after the flight and make sure that it is loaded on to the coach where required.

With all this in mind, we recommend that you take one small suitcase and one piece of hand luggage per person. Please note that your Tour Manager cannot provide individual assistance with boarding trains or coaches, or carrying your luggage.

There are companies which can arrange transport of your luggage from your home to your destination. A leaflet with details of one of these independent companies will be included in your travel documents. This company is not affiliated to Riviera Travel.


There is a small library on board with a selection of books, games and puzzles.


On the Emily Brontë, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy and Douro Elegance there is a lift between all three main decks but not the Sun Deck.  All other ships, with the exception of the Swiss Ruby, have lifts, but these do not operate to all decks. In general lifts don’t serve the sun deck and the lower cabin deck.  


Cabins on board all ships, with the exception of the William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, the Douro Spirit and Douro Elegance, are equipped with a mini-bar. Whilst fridges are not always available in the cabins, the crew will be happy to supply ice on request.


Whilst most of our ships have a lift on board, it will not operate to all decks. At some mooring places, or where our ship is moored alongside another vessel, access to the ship may be via the sun deck and require the navigation of steps. Additionally, our ships are not adapted for wheelchair access; if you are intending to take a wheelchair with you please contact us.

River cruises operate with a smaller crew than ocean cruises and do not have the crew available to personally attend to passengers with reduced mobility; therefore a travelling companion would need to be able to help with any physical needs. The itineraries we have created for our river cruises involve shore excursions to places with cobbled streets which may be on an incline and difficult for some clients with reduced mobility.

River cruising on European rivers offers the opportunity to take in the scenery from the comfort of the ship. If you are unable to do some of the shore excursions, your river cruise can still be enjoyable and worthwhile, so please contact us with any concerns you may have.

Please also read more on our Health page.


Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted on all ships. EC Card is also accepted on the MS Lord Byron, MS Jane Austen, MS Swiss Tiara, MS Swiss Sapphire and the MS Swiss Corona. American Express and Diners Club are also accepted on the MS William Shakespeare. Please note debit cards may not be accepted.

The currency on the ship is the Euro. There are no exchange facilities on the ship, however you will be able to change money on shore during your free time. Personal cheques are not accepted on board.

At the start of your cruise, an account will be opened for your cabin number, and all extras such as bar bills, drinks with dinner, laundry costs, etc. will be added to this.

Your account can be settled at the end of the cruise. Should you wish to check your account at any time, please feel free to do so with the staff at the front desk.

Optional Tours

A feature of our holidays is that, with a couple of exceptions, visits to places of interest are organised for most days of your holiday, but, entrance fees to museums, etc, are usually not included in the price of your holiday. However, it should be noted that it is not compulsory that you go on all the tours that have been arranged. 


Porterage is included on Eurostar routes to and from Brussels, and at the ship. This is for one piece of checked in luggage per person only. Please bear this in mind when packing your luggage.

Unfortunately we are unable to include porterage for routes through Paris or Lille. There are companies that can arrange a collection and delivery service within Europe for a fee. A leaflet for one of these independent companies will be included in your documents.

River Locks

During the course of the cruise, your ship has to negotiate a number of locks. Heavy traffic on the rivers sometimes causes unavoidable delays, which may affect your itinerary. Your captain will take every step to avoid this wherever possible.

Safety on board

A safety briefing will take place at the beginning of your cruise. All guests must attend this compulsory and important demonstration.


Each cabin is equipped with a safety deposit box that is free of charge to use. These are operated with personal PIN codes. We strongly recommend that you use the facilities available and take advice from your Tour Manager. It is also a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Ship Berthing

On river cruises it is quite usual for two or more ships to moor alongside each other at a berth, particularly in busy ports where mooring spaces are at a premium. We cannot tell in advance when this will occur, and this situation is outside our control.

On occasions, your cruise ship may be moored alongside others for several hours at a time, and you will need to walk through other vessels when embarking or disembarking. The view from your cabin window may also be blocked when there is another ship alongside.


Smoking is not permitted on board except for the outside decks.

More and more countries in Europe are adopting a stricter legislation on smoking in public places. Smoking is not allowed on any transport and there may be other restrictions on hotels, bars and restaurants.

Special requests

If you have made a special request, we will do our utmost to see that your wishes are carried out. However, we cannot guarantee that your requests will be met.

Tea and Coffee Making Facilities

All ships, with the exception of the Swiss Sapphire, Douro Elegance & the Douro Spirit, have tea & coffee-making facilities in the cabins. On all ships, there is also a machine in the public areas where hot drinks are available 24 hours a day.


All cabins have a telephone for calling cabin to cabin or off the ship. Please note that telephone reception is by satellite and will therefore be more expensive than using a landline.

There is limited internet access on board the ships and additional charges may apply.


Usually, when a ship is moored, you are welcome to receive visitors. However, for security reasons, you must request permission from your Cruise Director in advance.

You are kindly asked to ensure that visitors leave the ship at least 30 minutes before departure or when the bar closes.


The water from the taps in your cabin is safe to drink.

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