European River Cruise FAQs


European River Cruise FAQs



Need answers? We've answered some common questions people have when booking and travelling with us. 

View our general FAQs


European River Cruise FAQs   

Is there a dress code?

There is no formal dress code on board any of our ships - we want you to feel comfortable and relaxed throughout your cruise. Smart/casual attire is acceptable for all meal times and no dinner jackets and ties are required. The Captain’s Dinner offers the opportunity, should you wish, for more special attire.

Are there tea and coffee making facilities on board?

All ships have tea & coffee-making facilities in the cabins. There is also a machine in the public areas where hot drinks are available.

Are gratuities included and how much do I give?

Tips are not charged at a set percentage and are not included in the cruise cost, as we understand that giving a gratuity should be entirely at your discretion. As a guideline we would recommend giving €5-10 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 during disembarkation.

Are drinks included?

For all river cruises, a drinks package is available to purchase and the price is dependant on the length of the cruise, so please check each cruise page for more details. This includes the following with lunch and dinner: draught beer; non-alcoholic beer; sodas; juices; red, white and rose house wines; and wine recommendations from the menu. 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?

Absolutely not - we operate 'open dining' during mealtimes so you are welcome to sit wherever, and with whomever you choose to. Tables are set for four to six guests and you may ask the Maître D’ for help choosing a table.

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 vacation with us.

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. Is there a seating plan? 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. Is there a dress code for dining? 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.

Do I need to take a plug adaptor?

All of our river cruise ships have European plug sockets (Type C electrical plug is a two-wire plug that has two round pins) So you will need to bring the relevant plug adaptor for any electrical appliances you intend to bring. The MS Emily Bronte, MS Thomas Hardy and MS Robert Burns have both European and UK plug sockets.

What do the excursions involve?

On our river cruise vacations we love to take you right into the heart of each town or city you visit a long the way, and either your Cruise Director, Cruise Concierge or a local guide will offer a variety of guided walking visits, 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 Cruise Concierge will inform the group when the ship is due to leave each mooring point.

Are gratuities included?

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, 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, this is also at your discretion.

Are there any hairdressing services?

Many of our ships do offer an onboard hairdressing service. Please ask our expert team regarding the facilities on your chosen ship.

Is there a Doctor on board?

If you have any concerns about your health whilst on your cruise, please see your Cruise Director. 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 are no on-board medical personnel, 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 visits as on 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 for the day of disembarkation. A dry cleaning service is not available.

How is my luggage managed?

There will be occasions when you will need to carry your own luggage as we are unable to provide porterage. When 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 at your arrival airport. With all this in mind, we recommend that you take one small suitcase and one piece of carry on luggage per person. Please note that your Cruise Director cannot provide individual assistance with your luggage. 

Is there a library?

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

Do all ships have an elevator?

There is an elevator between all three internal decks on the Emily Brontë, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, Robert Burns, William Wordsworth, Geoffrey Chaucer, George Eliot, Douro Elegance and Douro Splendour. All other ships have elevators, but these do not operate to the lower deck. The sun deck is not accessible by elevator on any of our ships.

Is there a mini-bar?

Cabins on board the majority of our ships 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 restricted mobility; can I still cruise?

Whilst most of our ships have an elevator 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 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. Additionally, 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 but cannot be used on board the ships due to safety reasons and must not be left in corridors, lounge or restaurant or any other public areas. 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.

What currency and method of payment is accepted?

Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted on all ships. EC Card is also accepted on the MS Lord Byron and MS Jane Austen. 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.

Are there any optional tours?

A feature of our cruises is that with a couple of exceptions, visits to places of interest are organised in all ports of call. Entrance fees to museums, etc., are usually not included in the price of your cruise, 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.

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 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.

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 department for further information and advice. We cannot guarantee that your requests will be met.

Are there tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin?

All ships 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.

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 department 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.