The luxurious MS William Shakespeare joined the Riviera Travel fleet in 2014. Step aboard this elegant vessel where you'll discover warm-coloured wood and marble, polished copper and brass work, intricate wrought ironwork, and high-quality furniture and carpets. Make yourself at home in your river-view suite or cabin where opulent furnishings are complemented by modern touches such as a flat-screen satellite television, individually-controlled air-conditioning, and tea/coffee-making facilities. Many cabins also come with a unique French balcony with floor-to-ceiling windows that slide completely away against the ship's side, to provide an unimpeded view of the ever-changing scenery. Excellent service levels are the norm thanks to an impressive 1:4 staff to guest ratio. The expansive public rooms and deck space ensure that the ship never feels crowded even with a maximum of 140 passengers onboard.
The main restaurant offers serve-yourself buffets at breakfast and dinner. In the evening, take your seat for a four-course dinner from a menu of destination-inspired, Travelling Lite, and signature dishes. Midsummer Bar on Diamond Deck also transforms into the ‘Chef’s Restaurant’ for dinner, where the chef presents his personal favourite signature dishes to an intimate group of 24 diners. The Captain's Gala Dinner is your chance to dress up and mingle with your fellow guests before sitting down to a six-course feast.
Globe Lounge is the social hub of the ship both day and night; admire the unfolding views as you sip a glass of wine or join in a game of chess or bridge. The adjoining bar is the perfect spot for after-dinner cocktails as you listen to gentle piano music. Drinks are also served at Midsummer Bar or you can make a cup of tea or coffee whenever you like at the 24-hour drinks station. The ship's sommelier is on hand in each of the dining venues to help you choose from a selection of local wines, sparkling wines, and champagne to accompany your meal.
You'll always find something to entertain you on MS William Shakespeare. A refreshing dip in the splash pool on the Sun Deck is an invigorating start to your day. Aim for a hole in one at the putting green or challenge your partner to a game of giant chess. Head to the wellness centre to unwind in the sauna or to enjoy a vigorous keep-fit workout. Days in port give you the opportunity to join guided walking tours, scenic coach tours, or visits to museums and local cultural attractions. The low-key evening entertainment takes place in the Globe Lounge and comprises piano music and occasional visiting artistes.
Day 1: Fly UK – Lyon
Fly from your selected UK airport to Lyon and embark on board MS William Shakespeare.
Day 2: Lyon, France
Lyon is France's third largest city and sits at the conference of the Rhone and Saone rivers. Take a drive to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fouviere hilltop church for stunning town-wide views. Travel past the Roman amphitheatre and meander through the cobbled streets and secret alleyways of the gastronomic Old Town. Join an excursion to the medieval town of Perouges.
Day 3: Chalon & Beaune
Wake up this morning in the French town of Chalon; gateway to Burgundy and birthplace of the inventor of photography, Nicephore Niepce. Join the guided tour which takes in the nearby small villages and producers of fine wines such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault, Pommard, and Volnay. The tour also pays a visit to Burgundy's wine-producing capital, Beaune, where you can explore the Gothic architecture of the 15th-century Hospices de Beaune. Your final stop of the day is at the cellars of a leading winemaker for a tour and wine tasting before returning to the ship in time for lunch.
Day 4: Vienne & Tournon
This morning, the ship docks in Vienne. This quaint French town was formerly a Celtic settlement before becoming a Roman stronghold under Julius Caesar. Take a walk through the town's streets and discover the historic remains of the Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia. Step back on board in time for lunch as the ship continues along a picturesque stretch of the Rhone passing Condrieu, Saint-Rambert-d'Albon, and Saint-Vallier and several locks. Late-afternoon sees the ship’s arrival at the town of Tournon. Here you can explore the tree-lined avenues and impressive castle on one side of the river and admire Hermitage's steep wine-covered hillsides on the opposite side of the river - the perfect backdrop to your dinner back on board!
Day 5: Ardeche Gorges
This morning the cruise continues downstream; in the distance you'll catch sight of the majestic Alps, before the landscape turns less green and Mediterranean-like with terracotta roofs and the aromas of cypress and pine trees scenting the air. After a leisurely lunch, the Ardeche Gorges come into view - sheer limestone cliffs that plunge 1,000 feet into the water and meander through rock formations to the huge natural arch, the Pont d'Arc. Admire the emerging caves, grottoes, and natural sculptures around every turn as the scenery becomes gentler as the ship returns to the Rhone Valley and the medieval town of Viviers. The ship moors here for a short time so you can view the stunning 12th-century cathedral, before continuing through the deep Bollene lock as you relax over dinner this evening.
Day 6: Arles, France
Sail into the Carmargue wilderness region and Provence capital of Arles. Arles is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is best known as being the inspiration for many of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh's most famous artworks. Meander through the city, stopping by the 2000 year-old Roman Amphitheatre, Eglise St-Trophime, and Montmajour Abbey. Explore the rich and fascinating history of the Crytoportiques sub-terranean Roman ruins or marvel at the collection of Picasso drawings and La Croix fashion designs at Musee Reattu. Enjoy the hustle and bustle and shopping at Le Marche d'Arles or escape to the tranquillity of the Camargue Nature Park.
Day 7: Avignon
The fortified town of Avignon sits on the Rhone River and has a rich history. Tour the historical centre with its cobbled streets and shops, before admiring the hilltop Palais de Papes, Cathedral Notre Dames des Doms, and stunning views over the famous 'Pont de Avignon'. Gaze in awe at the paintings of Botticelli, Carpaccio and Giovanni de Paolo at Musee de Petit Palais. Relax with a coffee as you take in the views of the 19th-century City Hall and Opera in Place d'Horloge. Travel to the nearby town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard to admire the impressive Le Pont du Gard three-level stone aqueduct bridge.
Day 8: Avignon – UK
Disembark in Avignon and be transferred to Marseille airport for your flight back to the UK.