Travel Advice and Information for Existing Bookings

Frequently Asked Questions - European River Cruise

Frequently Asked Questions

European River Cruise

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Is there a dress code?

There is no requirement to bring formal dress; smart/casual is acceptable for both day and evening as there is no dress code enforced. However men are requested not to wear shorts for dinner or vest tops at any time in the dining room. 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.

Are there tea and coffee making facilities on board?

Yes, all cabins and suites are equipped with facilities for making tea and coffee, which are re-stocked daily. There is also a tea and coffee machine, located in the public areas of the ship, that can be accessed and used at no extra charge. 

Are gratuities included and how much do I give?

Tips are not charged at a set percentage and are not included in the holiday cost, as we understand that giving a gratuity should be entirely at your discretion. As a guideline we would recommend giving €8-12 per person per day should you feel that is appropriate. Usually, an envelope is left in your cabin on the final evening, for you to drop off at reception, if you choose to, the following morning. The tips are divided equally between the crew. Should you also wish to give a gratuity directly to your Riviera Travel Cruise Director and Concierge, this is also at your discretion.

Are drinks included?

We offer a selection of drinks packages available to purchase and the price is dependent on the length of the cruise, so please check each tour page for more details. This includes the following with lunch and dinner: draught beer; non-alcoholic beer; soft drinks; juices; red, white and rose house wines; and wine recommendations from the menu. The drinks package must be added to your booking for all passengers in a cabin prior to departure and you can do this by calling the reservations team.If you choose not to purchase a drinks package, there is a vast selection of drinks on board each ship available for individual purchase. To see an example wine list please see our information regarding life on board.

Is there a seating policy during dinner?

Dinner is generally served a la carte. The welcome dinner and Captain’s Dinner are 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.

Is there air conditioning on board?

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

Are children permitted to travel on a river cruise?

The minimum age limit is 12 years old at the date of departure. We reserve the right to limit the number of children on any particular cruise. Any minor must be accompanied by and share a cabin with an adult aged 21 or over. If the adult is not the minor’s parent, a ‘Parental Consent Guardianship Form’ must be signed by a parent or legal guardian prior to sailing.

Who is the 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.

Is there a daily programme of activities?

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

What kind of food is provided at meal times?

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. We cater for most dietary requirements; please ensure you contact the reservations team when making your booking.

Do I need to take a plug adaptor?

Our ships have standard 2-pin round European plug sockets, so you will need to bring an appropriate adaptor, which can easily be purchased from high-street stores and Duty Free shops at airports. The cabins on the MS Emily Brontë, MS Thomas Hardy, MS Oscar Wilde, MS Robert Burns, MS William Wordsworth and MS George Eliot have some UK plug sockets.

What do the excursions involve?

On our river cruises we love to take you right into the heart of each town or city you visit along the way, and during your cruise local guides will offer a variety of guided walking tours, panoramic coach tours and/or visits to museums and local cultural favourites such as a wine tasting in Burgundy and a train journey through the Swiss mountains. You will have a good mix of touring and free time to learn about the history and the little quirks of each place, with plenty of time to explore at your own leisure. Please check the itinerary of the cruise for more specific details.

Is there a gift shop?

There is a gift shop on board.

Can I go ashore whenever I like?

You are free to go ashore at your leisure when the ship is moored. The Cruise Director or Concierge will inform the group when the ship is due to leave each mooring point.

Are there any hairdressing services?

Most ships, with the exception of the MS Douro Elegance, MS Douro Splendour and MS Swiss Ruby, offer a hairdressing service.

Is there a Doctor on board?

If you have any concerns about your health whilst on tour, please see your Cruise Director or Concierge. 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. There are no on-board medical personnel, although specific crew members will have basic first aid training. However, the ship can stop at any time to transfer any passenger requiring emergency medical attention to local medical facilities.

Do all departure dates operate the same itinerary?

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

Is there a laundry service?

A limited laundry service is available on board, except on the day of disembarkation. A dry cleaning service is not available.

How is my luggage managed?

Porterage is included on direct Eurostar routes to Brussels and Paris, and at the ship. This is for one piece of checked in luggage per person only. Please bear this in mind when packing. There will be occasions when you will need to carry your own luggage.

Unfortunately, we are unable to include porterage for routes passing through Paris as a change of stations is required, or on any TGV services from Paris or Brussels, 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 Cruise Director and Concierge 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.

Is there a library?

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

Do all ships have a lift?

On the MS Emily Brontë, MS Oscar Wilde, MS Thomas Hardy, MS Robert Burns, MS William Wordsworth, MS George Eliot, MS Douro Elegance and MS Douro Splendour there is a lift between all three internal decks but not the sun deck. All other ships have lifts, but these do not operate to the lower deck or the sun deck; with the exception of the MS Swiss Ruby which has no lift.

Is there a mini-bar?

Cabins on board all ships, with the exception of the MS Charles Dickens, MS William Shakespeare, MS Douro Elegance and MS Douro Splendour 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.

I have reduced mobility; can I still cruise?

We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us or call us on 01283 742 317 to discuss these concerns. View our opening hours.


Due to the popularity of river cruising 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 so passengers must be able to walk on and off the ship themselves, without the use of crutches or other aids, as gangplanks can be positioned at a steep angle.

On board

Our ships are not adapted for wheelchair access; if you are intending to take a wheelchair or mobility scooter with you, it is essential that you please contact us to let us know. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be used on excursions however cannot be used on board the ships due to safety reasons and must not be left in corridors, the lounge or restaurant or any other public areas, but must be stored at reception.

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.

Whilst most of our ships have a lift on board, it does not operate to all decks.

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 or questions you may have.

Shore Excursions

For our river cruises which include an extension and feature a hotel stay, the hotels we use have been chosen due to their location and standard, the facilities offered can differ, it is therefore important that we make the appropriate enquiries with our suppliers on your behalf to ensure any special needs or requests can be catered for.


For our river cruises which include an extension and feature a hotel stay, the hotels we use have been chosen due to their location and standard, the facilities offered can differ, it is therefore important that we make the appropriate enquiries with our suppliers on your behalf to ensure any special needs or requests can be catered for.

Overseas Transport Arrangements

All of our tours involve coach travel. The coaches we use have not been adapted for wheelchair access.

Air Travel

We are able to arrange airport assistance, from the check-in desk to the plane, for anyone with reduced mobility. This is a free service which must be arranged with the airline prior to travel. If you would like us to arrange this assistance for you it needs to be pre-booked more than 48 hours before your flight departs.


If you have reduced mobility and are travelling by Eurostar to your cruise, please contact us. Should you need to travel in your own wheelchair, Eurostar does have specially adapted wheelchair spaces which need to be pre-booked. If you would like assistance at St. Pancras, we can provide you with information and contact details for Eurostar Assist, although we cannot reserve this service for you directly.

What currency and method of payment is accepted?

Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted on all ships. Maestro is also accepted on the MS Charles Dickens, MS William Shakespeare, MS Douro Elegance and MS Douro Splendour. American Express is accepted on the MS Douro Elegance and MS Douro Splendour.

Please note whilst Visa debit cards and Mastercard debit cards can be used on the MS Charles Dickens, MS William Shakespeare, MS Douro Elegance and MS Douro Splendour, other ships generally do not accept debit cards. The currency on the ship is the Euro. Personal cheques are not accepted on board.

There are no exchange facilities on the ship, however you will be able to change money on shore during your free time. 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.

Are there any 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.

Will river traffic and locks pose a problem to the schedule?

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. Take a look at our River Cruise Assurance to read more.

What safety procedures are in place?

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

How safe are my belongings?

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 Cruise Director. It is also a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.

Will the ship be moored next to another ship?

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.

Can I smoke on board/in my cabin?

Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not permitted anywhere on board except for designated areas on the sun deck.

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

I have a special request, what do I do?

If you have made a special request, we will do our utmost to see that your wishes are carried out. Please contact the reservations team for further information and advice. We cannot guarantee that your requests will be met.

Is there a telephone?

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. We offer complimentary WiFi on board all our ships. This is provided via a satellite connection so reception can be interrupted.

I am meeting a friend who is not part of the cruise, can they join me on board?

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. If you are planning to invite someone on board please contact the reservations team to see if this would be possible. You are kindly asked to ensure that visitors leave the ship at least 30 minutes before departure or when the bar closes.

Is the water safe to drink?

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