Riviera Travel MS Emily Brontë Review

Step on-board Riviera Travel’s very own MS Emily Brontë for a short visit while she sailed through Cologne, Germany. Join Scott Perry, our very own Packaging Support Executive, as he explores the ship’s facilities, food and fun for himself.

Read on to see what he thought of the ship and Cologne’s surroundings.

Initial impressions

As I only visited the ship for an afternoon, I didn’t experience a full cruise. However, getting on-board the ship was straightforward and smooth. I arrived via coach transfer from the airport, which dropped me about 50 yards from the ship, then I simply walked on-board with no need for passports of any documentation. Upon arrival, I was greeted with canapés and a free drink of my choice from the bar.

Table setting on-board MS Emily Bronte - Riviera Travel

My first impressions of the ship is that she is in pristine condition, especially as she is only a year old. The decor is very British, as Riviera Travel mainly tailors their ships to British guests, and she had the feel of a 5* boutique hotel.

Throughout the ship the decor was traditional, with silver and gold accents and paintings hung on the walls.

Life on-board


During my stay I saw all three grades of accommodation: Suites, Superior Suites and Deluxe Balcony Suites.

The rooms are incredibly spacious, especially the Deluxe Balcony Suites. The smallest suites were 189 square foot, with more than enough room even if the beds were converted from Queen to Double. All cabins include sitting space with a table and two chairs.

Accommodation on-board MS Emily Bronte - Riviera Travel

Of the cabins I saw, the rooms were clean and the bathrooms were big with more than enough facilities for guests. Some nice touches included little headsets in the cabins for guests to use during cruise line excursions which allows them to listen to tours in their language of choice.

Other facilities include tea and coffee making facilities; mini bar; and complimentary bath robes and slippers. The drinks within the mini bar are not included.

The windows throughout the cabins are all a great size, offering guests a great view. Suites on the two top decks also have French balconies with panoramic floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors. These balconies include a table and two chairs which sit on a large, laminated floor space.

Bathroom on-board MS Emily Bronte - Riviera Travel

My favourite feature was the marble bathroom in the Ruby Deck Suites, which were very impressive and give that extra feel of luxury.


The Panorama Lounge is the only entertainment venue on-board, which is of a low-key, traditional style. The entertainment on-board is mainly catered to older guests, with a musician performing every night.

I didn’t get to experience the entertainment for myself, due to the length of my stay, however the Riviera Travel staff advised that they’re generally the same guests on-board including pianists or those offering enrichment talks on each port.

Dining and drinks

There are two dining options on-board MS Emily Bronte: The Bistro and The Restaurant. The Bistro serves a speciality lunch each day and an excellent five-course-dinner in the evenings, though these are by reservation only. The Restaurant is the main dining room, which serves buffet breakfast and a four- or five-course-dinner in the evening.

Dining room on-board MS Emily Bronte - Riviera Travel

I ate in the The Bistro during my time on-board, which was quite informal and relaxed. The standard of the food was excellent! I enjoyed an initial starter of mariage de la terre et de la mer (‘marriage of land and sea’), which included buffalo mozzarella, baby shrimps, tomatoes and greens. This was followed with a cream of plum tomato soup which was impressive and rich.

For my main, I enjoyed lamb medallions on galette potatoes which was cooked to perfection! My dessert was the New York cheesecake with blueberry sauce, accompanied with a selection of cheese.

Tomato soup - Dinner on-board MS Emily Bronte - Riviera Travel

Throughout my meal the waiting staff were faultless, they always topped up my water; were happy to give advice and recommendations on the wine and asked questions to ensure the selection would suit my tastes. The food arrived quickly and the chefs presented themselves before I’d even sat down which was a nice touch.

The Bistro offers more choice than The Restaurant, however there is a supplement for dining in this venue. My only issue was the layout of the tables, as it felt that you were a little too close to your neighbouring diners.


Overall, my impression of the ship is that she is up to a 5* standard and offers a colourful, attractive and contemporary atmosphere. Personally I wouldn’t pay to go on MS Emily Brontë, but this is due to the ship’s demographic. However, I can see why people pay to enjoy a river cruise with Riviera Travel as it carries all the characteristics of a premium cruise line, and only charge a small amount for drinks.

Emily Bronte - Riviera Travel - River cruise ship

I’d say the ship is perfect for retired couples who wish to experience a new and unique way of cruising and visiting destinations which your standard cruise cannot take you to.

From the minute I stepped on-board, the staff were amazing. They instantly came over with canapés and the standard of service remained impeccable from then onwards. The Hotel Manager gave a tour of the ship and was very welcoming – happy to answer any questions. It was also a nice touch for the Captain to introduce himself and offer others a tour of the vessel.

What’s included?

Riviera Travel did previously offers a drinks package at a fee, however this has now ceased. Prices for drinks are quite cheap and water, tea and coffee are all complimentary. Examples of drink costs include:

  • Glass of wine – €2.75
  • Bottle of beer – €2
  • Cocktail – €8

Gratuities are not charged at a set percentage or included in the fare, though Riviera Travel do recommend €10 to €15 per person, per day.

Final verdict

I enjoyed my visit on the ship, with the atmosphere and staff very welcoming and relaxing. I personally would not spend longer than two nights on-board as I would feel bored, though the ship is not tailored to my demographic.

Cologne, Germany - Rhine River cruise

I was surprised at how low-key, calm and relaxed the ambience on-board was, with a pleasant feel of space in most areas of the ship. Though I didn’t use many of the facilities, the spa, pools and fitness centre all looked clean and of high quality. The top deck also has a small golf putting green and the pool is around the size of a Jacuzzi.

The quality of the dining in The Bistro is what I will remember the most from my visit, it was one of the best on any cruise ship I have been on!

If you’re keen to enjoy a river cruise on-board Riviera Travel, see our best sailings and look out for cruises on-board MS Emily Brontë.

Call our Cruise Concierge team on 0800 197 0854 for expert advice and award-winning customer service with your booking and any questions you may have.

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over two years. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2021! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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