European Holiday Markets
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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Our trip was not smooth "sailing" all the way, it was a winter of record snow falls in Europe. One of my luggages was sent to Finland instead and luckily we got it back the next day before the ship set sails.
Our Ship the River Countess could not arrive on time on the 1st day due to the high water ... level and a broke-down ship blocked part of the Main canal. We were put up at the Intercontinental Hotel instead for the first night. On the last day , our ship could not reach Nuremberg due to frozen ice on the canal and we had to get there by bus.
However , throughout this challenging period, all Uniworld staffs on the ship , especially our cruise manager Christine Bremberger and Captain Jord Zwaal tried their best to provide alternate solutions to each situations, not only we accomplished all the itinerary and activities, we none the less enjoyed the white Christmas Wonderland very much.
A special word must be said about Christine Bremberger, whom with meticulous detail went out of her way to assist everyone, from missing luggages, waiting at the bus stop under heavy snowfalls , well organised walking tours, seamlessly arranged all the departure connections for the passengers and the list goes on…and the smile is always on her face.
We do not need to repeat all the good things that have been mentioned by fellow travellers about Uniworld, but just one more: We will definitely book our next river cruise with Uniworld , Again.
ST Koay, Malaysia. Jan 2011