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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Cruise number 52 Riviera Cruises - MS Thomas Hardy 6th December - 11th December 2018 Cabin number : 218.- midship , Deck 2 - Balcony Cabin Total pax : 169 , Crew : 44: Decks :5 Cruise for 5 nights - Christmas Market cruise ... Read More
Cruise number 52 Riviera Cruises - MS Thomas Hardy 6th December - 11th December 2018 Cabin number : 218.- midship , Deck 2 - Balcony Cabin Total pax : 169 , Crew : 44: Decks :5 Cruise for 5 nights - Christmas Market cruise Budapest / overnight Budapest / Bratislava / Vienna / Vienna overnight / at sea / Budapest overnight Checking in was fast and expiditied perfectly , From arrival on river side/ check in then to cabin was 30 minutes. On board, housekeeping , room service ,main dining room service and food all of a very good standard. The Bistro restuarant which is booking only can not be compared to any of the chefs table rstaurants on similar star rating ships this is due to it not being any differant from the main restuarant except for menu. No differant silver service ( in fact our table felt we had better service in the main restaurant), no variety of wines per course as expected and local foods as would be the norm. The included excursions all of a good standard , with the guide in Budapest on day one Uri being so non PC its great to hear and excellent at his guiding. The oriantation tour around Bratislava with Alta was first class again so non PC its refreshing . Tour around Vienna was basic and pedestrian . We did our market route and spent many wonderful hours using our own apps. The Ars Mundi string quartet was a nice touch as entertainment in Vienna on board after dinner. No form of sail away , however found the departures times to early as you miss the impact of the christmas lighting after dark. Postpone by 2 hours and all would be fie on this point However the total lack of any entertainment besides our loan pianist who tried his best does drop the overall rating somewhat along with the very pedestrian cruise director , the tour manager tried his hardest to bridge the gap but to no avail. This meant long dinners and more bar time . Overall a good product with a few tweeks and upliftments , the Housekeeping, Bar and main dining room along with the ship crew carry the product for sure 2018 star grading - 4 Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We did the reverse Heart of Europe cruise, from Budapest to Cologne. This seems to be the preferred direction, giving longer in the ports enroute. We saw lots of other ships on our cruise, and, frankly, didn't see anything to ... Read More
We did the reverse Heart of Europe cruise, from Budapest to Cologne. This seems to be the preferred direction, giving longer in the ports enroute. We saw lots of other ships on our cruise, and, frankly, didn't see anything to compare with the Thomas Hardy (incidentally, we were also moored alongside the William Shakespeare one day and it is looking very old fashioned and outdated, despite only being 3 or 4 years old. The Thomas Hardy is in a different class). The ship is excellent, and the cabins ("suites"), whilst small, are brilliantly designed. The French balcony design works particularly well, transforming your cabin into a large balcony when the triple sliding doors are fully slid back. The room aircon is excellent. Only gripes, the TV is rubbish - a few news channels, a couple of local stations and bizarrely, 2 "God" channels, and the wifi is pretty poor; patchy and barely usable when we did have internet connection. The cabin was kept spotlessly clean by the staff, who did a great job. The sun deck is really nice when it is open, which unfortunately, due to low bridges, is for a very short part of the cruise, the first 3 days or so and the last 1 or 2. However, the forward deck is kept open throughout, which is a decent sitting area at least. The staff are excellent; helpful, friendly and efficient. Meals were generally good, particularly breakfast and lunch, but dinners were very hit and miss: strange food combinations (Chicken, chips and Brussels Sprouts anyone - in June?!?!) and small portions meant we ended up treating lunch as our main meal of the day. Afternoon tea was disappointing: the same cakes (they are actually frozen gateaux style cakes, not "proper" ones) every day for 2 weeks. Bar service is generally good, and prices are reasonable, helped by a limited choice bar list during Happy Hour. The choice of wines is reasonable, with prices typically between about €20 - 25 per bottle. The best sections of cruising are between Budapest and Bratislava; the Main river and the Rhine Gorge. Not keen on the Main-Danube canal section, which is a bit boring. Excursions and walking tours were well organised, BUT, the quality of local tour guides was variable. Expect to be doing lots of walking if you're going on the tours. For people with limited mobility this could be a challenge. However, there is always the option to either stay on the ship, or to do limited parts of the tours. There's not a lot to do on board, given it is a river ship, so take books. Great bird watching between Budapest and Bratislava, so also take binoculars.The gym was disappointing, only had 2 treadmills and 2 bikes. No weights, no rowing machines. As the sun deck is mainly closed, can't even do laps of the deck, so if you're keen on exercise to keep the weight down, you'll need to do lots of walking on the excursions/ tours. Evening entertainment is pretty amateurish (the crew try their best to put something on), but at least the on board pianist was very good. Things to be aware of: 1. We had to miss Passau because of low river levels on the Straubing section, and were lucky to get through. The ship has a draft of 1.56m, and the river was below 1.5m, so they had to drain the pool (it is actually hot tub size, only big enough for 2 or 3 people to sit in it), offload grey water etc. to lighten the ship. So if you are cruising the Danube, be aware that it is prone to low river levels. Other ships were off-loading passengers at Nuremberg, so at least we made it. 2. The sun deck and pool are closed for most of the cruise because of low bridges. 3. Don't expect lots of sleep. I didn't get a single decent night's sleep in 2 weeks, mainly because of the ship bouncing around in locks during the night passages. All in all, great ship, and despite a few disappointments, would go again. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We were well taken care of from start to finish. The ship was only 10 months old, spotlessly clean and comfortable. Food was beautifully presented with plenty of choice. Service was good. However, my friend was vegetarian. The company was ... Read More
We were well taken care of from start to finish. The ship was only 10 months old, spotlessly clean and comfortable. Food was beautifully presented with plenty of choice. Service was good. However, my friend was vegetarian. The company was informed of this at the time of booking. There was no choice on offer and only one vegetarian main dish on the menu at dinner. If you didn't like it you were stuffed. The head chef was very apologetic and offered to cook anything she fancied, and he did. He told us the company decided the menus. The highlight of the entertainment was the string quartet that came on-board one evening. All excursions are included in the price and were excellent. The guides, crew and Riviera hosts could not be faulted. They even checked us in the day before for our flight home. I would have given Riviera 5 stars if it hadn't been for the hassle in the dining room my friend had.. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our first experience of a river cruise, having previously undertaken 2 ocean cruises (Western Med + Baltic & St Petersburg). We travelled on the Danube and visited some beautiful cities on the cruise, including Vienna, ... Read More
This was our first experience of a river cruise, having previously undertaken 2 ocean cruises (Western Med + Baltic & St Petersburg). We travelled on the Danube and visited some beautiful cities on the cruise, including Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. Chose Riviera as we have had positive experience of their city breaks. However, we were surprised (sorry if this causes offence) to find the average age of our fellow travellers to be around mid-70's, and some of the older travellers in their 80's limited to some extent with mobility problems. If you are around retirement age or under, it may be worth considering the companies with a higher ratio of US travellers as we noticed on neighbouring boats their average age appeared 50-60. Having dealt with that bit of ageism, I have to say there were many positives about this trip. Here are some of my thoughts about the differences on a river cruise to an ocean cruise; + More closely connected to passing scenery + Berths more likely to be right in the heart of a city for easy walking access + Much smaller vessel, so very easy to orient oneself to - Limited range of onboard activities - Smaller cabin size, although comfortable and well designed - Limited lounge facilities The dining standard was very good, but then our experience of ocean cruises dining was also excellent, and with more variety in terms of options. Hope that's of some use to anyone considering a river cruise, and apologies if it appears overly discriminatory to our more mature fellow passengers :-( Read Less
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