The christening of group-friendly Riviera Travel%E2%80%99s new all-suite ship MS Robert Burns

There's an even greater choice of European river cruise ships to choose from following the christening of Riviera Travel’s new all-suite ship MS Robert Burns. Jeannine Williamson reports back from the ceremony in Vienna.

The official naming ceremony for the 167- passenger vessel was held in Vienna today and the ship will sail on five itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube, Europe’s most popular rivers

According to the CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Cruise Review 2016, published this March, river cruising has grown year-on-year since 2013, with 2016 showing an 11% increase in passenger numbers. The Rhine remains the number one river, with numbers up by 50% since 2012, and is now very closely followed by the Danube which has nearly trebled numbers over the same period.

Riviera Travel, founded more than 30 years ago and UK’s largest river cruise operator, now has a fleet of 13 vessels sailing on 14 European itineraries following the addition of MS Robert Burns, the first of two new ships being launched this year. It will be followed in 2018 by the 121-passenger Douro Splendour in Portugal, and next year will see the debut of the 167-passenger William Wordsworth and boutique-style MS George Eliot, which will cater for 132 guests.

MS Robert Burns has three passenger decks with 88 staterooms ranging from 172 square feet to 269 square feet, with cabins on the middle and upper decks featuring floor-to-ceiling sliding panoramic windows.

Staff on board the new MS Robert Burns ship launched by Riviera Travel

Staff on board the new MS Robert Burns ship launched by Riviera Travel

The five-star vessel decorated in elegant, muted tones, the interior decor features sustainable hardwoods, gleaming brass and polished copper, sparkling glass and intricate wrought iron. The ship has two restaurants – the main dining room and a smaller bistro offering light lunches and a speciality dinner where the chef presents signature dishes, with menus changing according to the season. This dining experience can be reserved on board at no extra charge and, when weather allows, the windows can be opened onto the terrace for al fresco dining.

The main restaurant can accommodate all passengers in one sitting. All meals are included in the fare, plus tea, coffee and juices with breakfast, water with lunch and dinner, plus a complimentary 24-hour tea and coffee station. This year Riviera introduced a new drinks package, which is priced at £99 per person, per seven-night cruise.

Katja Hildebrandt, head of river cruises at Riviera Travel, said: “We are delighted to introduce the brand new MS Robert Burns to the Riviera Travel fleet of five-star ships. The MS Robert Burns will sail five fantastic cruise itineraries from April 2018 on Europe’s most incredible rivers and routes from the majestic Rhine to the Blue Danube to the Black Sea. With six new ships introduced since 2017, the MS Robert Burns is part of a wider development strategy for Riviera Travel to continue launching new ships and introducing new routes, all whilst delivering a first class service as the only British premium river cruise operator.”

Each cruise includes return flights or rail connections, transfers and inclusive tours and excursions with expert guides and tour managers.

For more information on Riviera Travel visit, call the dedicated groups team on 01283 742322 or email

Main image: The new ship at the ceremony in Vienna.