Paris & Heart of Europe,8/3/2013
The Cruise Manager, Rik Sprengers helped to make this a memorable cruise to Vienna. The Captain was challenged by the Danube Lock Operators who decided to go on strike just days after the problems with the flooding of the rivers in June. However, with forward planning the Captain was able to pass through the canal locks about to be blocked. Uniworld then organised buses to take us back to the locations on the itinerary and generously provided lunch meal money as the passengers could not return to the ship for ... lunch on three of the days. In addition, Uniworld offered a discount voucher to use on any of its cruises in the next 2 years. This was our second Uniworld cruise and will not be the last as they are so professional in all aspects. The food and choices equalled any five star restaurant. Without exception, ALL of the crew have one goal and that is to make each passenger feel like royalty. You won't be disappointed if you choose this cruise.
I have prepared a website of the cruise and if anyone would like to browse it can be viewed at:
Regards - Alan Carter
Floating Boutique Hotel: All Aboard!,5/22/2013
We are 40/50ish couple from Sonoma/Napa Valley with a passion for food, wine and sailing and while this was not our first Luxury Link (LL) purchase, it was our first cruise and organized tour of any kind. This was a last minute getaway (within 3 weeks from departure) and LL (where we discovered UniWorld) ... and UniWorld collaborated seamlessly to finalize logistics timely (ticketing, transfers, land extensions, etc.) for the Imperial Cities Danube River cruise starting in Instanbul (land extension) and finishing in Vienna.
We started with a land extension in Instanbul. [One tip on visiting Instanbul. UniWorld must advise to get your Visa in advance and will recommend a company to do so. Due to limited time between booking and departure, this company was unable to guarantee receipt of our Visas before departure. I contacted the Turkish embassy in LA and the gentleman informed me to avoid paying high cost Visa service providers and to simply get the Visa upon arrival at the airport in Instanbul. He said it would cost $20 USD CASH and that it is simple. He was 100% correct and saved us $300 USD.
From the moment we stepped aboard our floating boutique hotel to disembarkation, we received continuous outstanding service, ate exquisitely prepared meals with local influences paired with delicious wines, enjoyed onboard entertainment (either by classically trained house musician Freddy or local musicians/performers) and explored each destination with expert guides.
Boutique Boat: Overall, we consider Uniworld's website extremely resourceful and accurate at representing the boat, the itinerary, and all other aspects of the cruise. The info and photos were accurate, in other words, there were no surprises. We were greeted by the ships crew in Guigui, Romania where we boarded our ship. My heart skipped a beat at first; as there isn't much curb appeal to the Princess from the exterior (or any other river cruisers we passed along the way); however, a modern with European bistro flare, well equipped, meticulous boutique ship awaits you on the inside. The ship is plenty large to accommodate guests and crew for all on board activities. We enjoyed lectures and entertainment in the lounge, relaxing and dining on the patio deck at lunch or while cruising, and strolling through towns and cities on the free bikes offered by UniWorld.
Stateroom: We upgraded to a Category 1 stateroom (Cabin 423) which gives you a room on the Rhine Deck (top floor) and a door that opens to the great outdoors (not more square footage). The use of space in the stateroom is brilliant with plenty of closet space and luggage storage under the bed (2 x 29, 1 x 20 inch luggage, camera bag). The beds were extremely comfortable with linens like silk. Bathrooms are small compared to hotel standards, however, as boat owners, offered more than enough space, were totally functional and equipped as described with L'Occitane shampoo, conditioner, hand soap & lotion. Deseslava did a fantastic job preparing our room day and night, managing to complete this without ever interrupting our privacy.
Food & Wine: We ate exquisitely prepared meals with local influences paired with delicious wines. The variety for breakfasts (served buffet style with made to order chef specials, eggs, omelets, etc.), lunches (patio or dining room options available) and 4 course dinners was typically a spectrum of delicacies with fantastic quality. They catered to specific needs and half way through the cruise requested a guest survey to improve the dinning experience. The next day, guests including our suggestions were implemented. The complimentary wines were worth exploring and for those interested in expanding their tasting horizons, the wine list was interesting and fairly priced. Martin and his staff are to be commended for our fabulous dining experiences.
Excursions: Our Cruise manager Bart was a blast. He made us laugh often, he arranged spontaneous walking excursions and was one of the best guides overall, and he was truly committed to ensuring a positive experience by all. We took advantage of most included and many optional excursions (additional fee) and considered the majority to be fantastic with tour guides that were subject matter experts and enthusiastic teachers. Often there were overlapping excursions and choosing was difficult; however, there was typically an overview tour (e.g, city) and an alternative more specific tour (e.g., fine arts museum). Uniworld had excursions for both the first time or repeat visitors and did a wonderful job ensuring enough guides to accommodate group size and ensure a more personalized experience. We appreciate the balance required for each tour and time needed. While many excursions are half or full day and guides are sensitive to group pace, many are fast paced for content and so the time allocated may not be enough for all (e.g., a half day at a fine art museum may be frustrating for a real art buff.) For the adventurous (us) with time to research/plan in advance (not us), you may consider planning your own excursions/ exploration which adds to the overall experience, explore at your pace, and this approach could also be money saving if cost is your concern. Given the nature of this specific cruise, there was a significant amount of motorcoaching involved for some destinations and each time, the accommodations were top notch (brand new coaches with AC and WCs). The convenience of the excursions adds to the overall relaxation. Guests are expected to tip the guides and drivers (and they are so good you'll want to). Uniworld does a fantastic job to recommend customary tipping guides, however, we look forward to 2014 and our understanding that UniWorld will adopt a truly cashless system and include all gratuities for excursions in the package price. We considered the following Optional Excursion highlights: Bosphorous cruise, Spice bazzar, Night in Budapest, Bodor Mayor Horse Farm,
Service: The service we received was as wonderful as the places we visited. The entire River Princess crew is to be commended for delivering exceptional professional, helpful, and friendly service. It is clear that UniWorld prides itself on service delivery. Our expectations were exceeded in every level and we look forward to going aboard a UniWorld river cruise in the very near future. Our only dilemna, which one?
Thank you LL for introducing s and UniWorld for providing a most memorable vacation.
River cruising is a wonderful way to experience a destination and will certainly become a new way of travel for us! Read More...
2012: Paris & European River Romance,4/22/2013
The river portion began at Nuremberg, GE, and ended at Trier, GE. We passed through 17 locks during the cruise, most at night and the crew handled the boat so gently that we seldom knew that we were passing through passing through a lock. The boat was beautiful and immaculate, the accommodations were luxurious and the food was wonderful. We took every possible shore excursion and loved every minute of the trip. The excursion guides were knowledgeable and professional as was ... Peter, the cruise director.
The Paris portion began with a bus trip from Trier to Paris. The only negative thing that occurred on the whole trip occurred on that leg: the bus driver on our bus was an ill-tempered person who was rude to several of the bus passengers, including me. We reported him to the cruise director upon arriving in Paris and I suspect that he will no longer be driving tour buses for Uniworld tours. Our stay in Paris was great and we had several nice excursions, including one to the Versailles Palace.
We enjoyed our 2012 Uniworld cruise so much that we are taking one in Italy in July 2013. Read More...
Imperial Capitals of Europe July 2011.,8/16/2011
A most wonderful cruise with you and the excellent staff,4/28/2010
Only one day home and I am already dreaming about our next Uniworld cruise.
Thanks for a perfect time.
Yvonne and Bob Ringgenberg
Mercer Island, Wa.
The most romantic cruise...,2/12/2010
-- Gene Sloan, USA Today, Cruise Log