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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Cruise Ship Review: Just Back from Riviera MS Geoffrey Chaucer

Riviera River Cruises offers luxurious journeys on all 10 main rivers in Europe on 14 award-winning ships. 36 immersive itineraries are offered in 2024 and 2025 that showcase the best of Europe’s charming cities and picturesque landscapes.

photo: MS Geoffrey Chaucer by Julie Prusak

I enjoyed the opportunity to sail on the MS Geoffrey Chaucer just before the regular “Tulip Time” season opened with other members of American Society of Travel Advisors. Rather than review the itinerary, since it is not publicly offered, I share my insights on the shipboard experience for those travelers who are “river curious” as well as experienced river cruisers new to the Riviera brand.

Onboard Entertainment and Amenities

Many cruisers participate in daily shore excursions, which are often guided walking tours. They tend to retire soon after dinner, while others linger well into the evening over conversation and cocktails. It’s a comfortable home base from which to explore Europe, with plenty of alternate options for evening activities onshore when docked.

Nightly evening performances are offered in the elegant lounge. Local entertainers vary based on the itinerary from lively folkloric dancing to classical music performances. The resident pianist plays popular selections before and after dinner too.

Amenities onboard include a small fitness center, a spa and salon where you can book a massage, haircut or manicure, a gift shop stocked with souvenirs, and a small, heated pool and putting green on the upper deck. There is also a steam room and sauna.

photos: Sun deck pool, fitness center, and boutique

Free Wi-Fi is included for unlimited devices. However, guests must take their devices to reception to have them logged into the system, which is a cumbersome and unusual process. I was frequently disconnected and found the service to be slow.

One thing I particularly appreciate about this ship is plenty of available seating in the lounge and on the outdoor deck. There’s no shortage of sun loungers, both shaded and exposed, or tables and chairs at which you can sip your morning coffee and watch the world flow by.

You may prefer to wake up or unwind in the privacy of your own suite, most with panoramic floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that bring riverside life practically inside, along with a spacious seating area boasting two small chairs and a table. Upper deck suites have small balconies with seating for two.

All Cabins are Suites onboard the Geoffrey Chaucer

Overall, the MS Geoffrey Chaucer is an exceptionally spacious and attractive ship, with gleaming marble floors, a lobby flooded with natural light, rich hardwood and wrought iron accents throughout public spaces, and muted colors everywhere.

photos: Lobby with Lift, lounge seating, piano bar

My favorite feature of the ship is the large suites. In fact, the standard French Balcony cabin is 183 square feet, 48 square feet larger than comparable cabins on other European river cruise ships.

photos: Superior Suite, Superior Suite Bathroom

Every suite comes with individually controlled air-conditioning, a hairdryer, safe, mini-fridge, telephone, water bottles to refill at a 24/7 self-serve coffee station, and tea and coffee-making facilities. The shower pressure is excellent and basic toiletries provided. If you need cotton swabs or a nail kit, pack them. Cotton bathrobes are available upon request. The flat-screen TVs are nice, but the programming is limited.

Housekeeping comes twice daily and turn-down service includes a nightly chocolate on each pillow.

Wining and Dining

With a focus on regional cuisine, the onboard dining experience is a culinary and cultural delight. Seafood, meat, vegetarian, and vegan selections are available at every meal. In the main restaurant at breakfast, a cold buffet of breads and pastries, fruits, juices, yogurts, cheeses, and cold cuts is offered along with scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon, and other hot dishes.  Coffee and tea is served at the table. Guests may also order omelets and a few other dishes from the waiters.

At lunch, you can serve yourself at the buffet of fresh salads, freshly baked breads, various appetizers, in addition to ordering à la carte dishes off the menu. Dinner is served in courses at the table. Mealtimes vary each day based on the itinerary.

photos: Restaurant, Bistro, High Tea

photos: favorite menu selections from the Bistro


High Tea is also served on some days, which a mid-afternoon sweet treat served on other days in the lounge. The tempting cookie jars at the self-serve coffee station are kept full.

The Bistro, a second smaller restaurant located at the stern of the ship on the Diamond Deck, serves lunch and dinner daily. This casual bistro is designed for smaller groups and couples and accommodates only 28 guests. Reservations are required and are usually limited to once per guest. One menu is served daily for lunch and another menu is served at dinner. The choices are limited, but the cuisine is elevated. There is no surcharge for the alternative restaurant.

Room service is not typically offered, but when I had a two-hour conference call scheduled during dinner, the reception staff kindly arranged a tray of hot food to be delivered to my suite. One of many examples of the highly personalized service we received onboard.

Wine pairings (red, white, and rosé) are included at lunch and dinner no matter where you choose to dine, and the pours are always generous. Unlimited house wine, draught beer and soft drinks are included during lunch and dinner and a free open bar is offered from 6:00 pm to midnight. No one goes thirsty and no one must pick up a bar bill.


Is Riviera River Cruise Right for Me?

Most of the Riviera’s guests hail from the United Kingdom (for now). In fact, Riviera is the most-awarded river cruise company in the United Kingdom, celebrating 40 years of travel excellence. North Americans will also appreciate the European service and cuisine. All cabin crew and tour guides speak English.

Riviera is price competitive with other premium lines, offering better cuisine and more included amenities with lower pricing. So, it appeals to a value motivated cruiser, mostly couples aged 55 and older. Riviera also appeals to solo travelers as on numerous sailings, single supplements are waived on all cabins.

Riviera is not suited for families with young children. Guests must by 12 or older to sail with Riviera. There are limited family entertainment options and only one shore excursion offered per day.

For independent travelers or those comfortable with planning their own excursions, Riviera provides an elegant, contemporary floating hotel with full board.

Who else offers a “Happiness Guarantee”? If a guest is not happy with their experience after two days onboard, they can report their dissatisfaction to reception and Riviera will pay for their flights home. Not only was I happy with our cruise experience, but I am already planning our next cruise on the European waterways with Riviera River Cruises!

Let's get started planning your European river cruise vacation! Reserve your complimentary consultation call with me to begin!

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