Riviera Travel has launched new Cruise & Explore itineraries to cater to passengers looking for flexible river cruises and attract guests who might have been deterred from river cruising in the past.
Unlike traditional river cruises the new offerings will include a choice of travel arrangements to get to the ship – including self-drive – half-board accommodation and longer times in port for guests who want to explore independently and go to local restaurants and cafés.
Established in 1984, Riviera Travel has grown into the UK’s largest provider of European river cruises and, in common with the majority of lines, Riviera’s passengers booked a set package that included the cruise, trains or flights with transfers and pre-arranged visits and guided tours, as well as full-board meals.
The new itineraries, available from next year on the Danube, Rhine and Rhone rivers, will enable guests to arrange their own flights, rail travel or other form of transport and transfers, providing the opportunity for a pre- or post-cruise land-based stay. Additionally, they can book their own shore excursions through a third party company recommended by Riviera or through their own research. This means they can draw up their own independent tour programme rather than travelling on Riviera’s pre-arranged guides and visits.
A total of six seven-night Cruise & Explore sailings, starting from £799 per person, will be available next year; two on each river in March and November.
Additionally, passengers will cruise on a half-board basis including breakfast and, depending when the ship is in port, having lunch or dinner onboard and go out for a third meal. Riviera is arranging for ships to stay longer in port, including having overnight moorings at select destinations, to allow later dining on shore.
The move is in response to feedback that guests are increasingly looking for a more tailored approach to their river cruise and the next generation of cruisers, who have told Riviera they want more flexibility in how they travel including some who said they did not relish the organised all-inclusive nature of some river cruises.
Katja Hildebrandt, Riviera Travel’s Head of River & Ocean Cruise Product, said:
“We’re really excited to be offering Cruise & Explore cruises next year. It’s vital we continue to adapt to guest feedback, so these itineraries mark a real change in the river cruise experience, including ultimate flexibility for everyone who travels with us. Guests are now welcome to arrange more of their cruise to suit their personal preferences, safe in the knowledge we’re on hand to assist as required.
“We’re confident Cruise & Explore will prove a popular choice for people seeking a more flexible approach to their holiday, while wanting to travel in the luxury and comfort of a river cruise ship. This is the first time an option like this has ever been available for river cruise guests; we can’t wait to see what the response is before, during and after sailings.”
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photograph courtesy of Riviera Travel