Cruise: European Holiday Markets
Ship: River Duchess
Being our first river cruise we were not sure what to expect, but having read enough about Uniworld, we had high hopes. This was to be a "White Christmas" occasion.
My mother taught me that "you have only one chance at a first impression". Uniworld understands this well. Our transfer at the airport was ready and on time. To keep the review short, I will deal succinctly with a few issues.
I like ocean cruising due to the distances that can be covered, but I liked the smaller, more intimate setting of ...
the Duchess. Everything they did had a stamp of quality about it. Yes, there was an incident when our guide left us standing in the cold. I gave them space to deal with it and they dealt with it professionally and without a fuss. Stuff happens.
The food was very good and visiting the dining room always a pleasure; Roberto and his team learned our preferences quickly and we were treated like royalty. It happens that the menu does not always suit one's taste, but it is rare and you work around it. Uniworld is excellent with making exceptions. The fact that we picked up weight is proof of their culinary successes! When a steward brings gluhwein onto an icy deck, you know you are in good hands.
I never saw a staff member in a bad mood. I made a point of not having a bad mood around them either. They work hard and looked after us well. Our cabin attendant Biljana was like a ghost - things just happened. What a pleasure.
I did find our stateroom a little tight but after all it is a river cruise, and the furnishings etc. of high and pleasing standard. The temperature control worked perfectly, and in so many hotels I find it a challenge to get the temperature right. Not here. Perfection.
The guides employed were almost always of very high standard, with some real gems among them. Eva was a bundle of energy who had us in stitches for two days. Uniworld's excursions on this cruise are worthy of mention - especially the trip to Theresienthal.
And then the problems struck with water levels rising too much. Nature happens. And our Cruise Manager Mery did not blink an eye. I often saw her on the steps of the bus making calls to change arrangements without us hearing a word. Well done.
The alternative arrangements were perfect and our only sadness is that our last night was spent in a hotel and not on the ship, but we were adequately compensated. We did not miss any excursions and they did in fact throw in an extra excursion for us together with future credit and cash for an evening meal. Attention to small detail is what sets them apart, I think. Even to arranging our transfer outside of the normal transfers - a little extra that they did not have to do. The kind of thing I remember.
Any real complaints? Well, we did not have the White Christmas we hoped for, but that is not their fault, is it?
Thank you for a bunch of very special memories that will last a lifetime.
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