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Reveiw of 2012/13 cruise

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Grand Christmas & New Year's Cruise: Reveiw of 2012/13 cruise
phone10phone10Member since 12/20/2012 Login to add friend Posted: Saturday, January 05, 2013 4:26 AM
Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Uniworld say “You shall go to the ball”….and wedid!![/b]
When we joined the impressive River Duchess at Nuremburg on 22nd December2012 all were in festive mood and the reception given by staff as you enter theship enhances the mood of all travel weary passengers. You are immediately immersedin the high but unobtrusive Uniworld standards of facilities and service – a standardthat was maintained throughout the whole cruise.
As this was aperiod of celebration we had a suite, this was spacious, fittings impressive,beds plush and very comfortable. There was ample storage space for the many clotheswe had brought having regard to the festive celebrations that lay aheadincluding the New Years Eve Ball in Vienna. The ship has a degree of opulence,is kept spotlessly clean and there was always a member of staff on hand tocater for any wish.

From the first meal to the last the food was of the highest quality and itwas evident that fresh ingredients were being used and being expertly preparedby the army of chefs onboard led by Milos. The well trained, polite and disciplinedwaiters, marshaled by the more than competent Maitre D, Roberto, ensured an unforgettabledining experience. The complimentary wines and beer throughout all meal timeswas a bonus, quality wines as well!
The cruise startedwith 2 days in Nuremburg which is enough to savour the party atmosphere aroundthe Xmas Market, (the largest in Germany) and to sample the quality shops thatabound. In addition, for the culture vultures, there is much to see and theUniworld tours provide a well informed, well organised and well paced andeffortless way to sample the historical sites. One not to be missed are thefamous courts where the Nuremburg trials took place after the Second World War.
When we set sail along the Danube from Nuremburg late on 23rd December,following the Captains Welcome Dinner, all were in great spirits andanticipation of even greater times to come. The anticipated highlight wasclearly going to be the New Years Eve Ball at the Daun Kinsky Palace in theheart of Vienna. This was to be followed by attendance at the famous New YearsDay Concert also in Vienna. Little did we know or suspect that Mother Nature wasconspiring to make the attendance at these events as problematic as possible -a conspiracy that Uniworld faced head on and defeated with efficiency andexpediency over the next few days.
Arriving in Regensberg on 24th we were aware that the river level wasrising and we were kept fully informed of possible issues by the able andenergetic cruise manager, Tamas Kocsis. Xmas Eve and Day were spent as plannedin Regensberg and all was going exceptionally well. Midnight Mass on Xmas Eveand a Mass on Xmas Day morning at the Cathedral attracted a large number of passengers-a 10 minute walk from the ship.
On Xmas Day we were informed in a professional and tactful manner that due tothe river level, the River Duchess, and indeed all the other cruise shipsdocked at Regensberg, were not able to pass under a nearby bridge and that wewould have to remain in port for at least another day and hoping that the waterlevels may subside.
There were 6 other cruise ships in port and all were suffering the samefate. News arrived on the Duchess thatother cruise ships were curtailing their cruises and passengers were givenearly flights home. The ball and concert planned over New Year in Vienna werebecoming a far off dream. It was with great relief, and indeed surprise tomany, that Uniworld were to continue their "cruise" to Vienna. Therewas clear determination from the crew and no doubt from the hierarchy and the behindthe scene workers at Uniworld HQ that the cruise would continue in some formand importantly that the celebrations in Vienna would take place. The waterlevels did not subside over the next two days yet ample buses were on hand totake passengers to the scheduled ports of call and most of the planned tours.
This of course meant more travelling in buses but all tours were honoured.The vast majority of passengers were greatly impressed by the total commitmentof all staff to make the problems have as little effect as possible. It was regrettablethat there was a very small number of passengers who seemed hell bent oncomplaining at every opportunity but after a day, when all had time to reflecton the situation and course of action taken by Uniworld, all (except 1passenger) had great admiration for the high quality of the alternativearrangement that had been made.
On the 29th December all passengers were taken by bus into Vienna and had 1day in the fabulous (and most expensive) 5 star hotel in the centre of Vienna,the Inter Continental - if it was good enough for President Bush then it wasgood enough for me!. Cash was provided for the evening meal- this gave theopportunity to savour the local restaurants. We teamed up with fellowpassengers and had a great Viennese evening.
Uniworld had called out numerous staff from all over Europe and theybrought the ship, River Beatrice, out of winter storage, berthed her at Viennaand restocked and prepared her for us to continue our cruise. We boarded her onthe 30th. The River Beatrice is fabulous and passengers thought her of a higherstandard than the Duchess. Due to her larger size than the Duchess mostpassengers were ungraded to cabins of higher standards. Most of the staff werebrought from the Duchess to the Beatrice but other staff that had been recalledto duty stayed with us and we continued our cruise.
The New Years Eve Concert at a palace in Vienna was something special anddespite the quality of the food, wine and service not being of a Uniworldstandard the ceremony of the occasion made it a memorable experience and one torecount and share with friends and family for many years to come. Back to theship for midnight and then on the top deck to celebrate the New Year by sharingthe massive firework displays that occur all around Vienna and its suburbs-amemorable evening and the perfect way to see in the New Year of 2013.
The New Years Day concert at 11am was a glitzy and extravagant affair andit was a privilege to actually attend one of these occasions after seeing them everyNew Years day on the TV. Setting sail for Budapest in the afternoon mostpassengers relaxed and recovering fromthe New Years activities and celebrations.
2 days in Budapest brought an end to a cruise of the highest of quality,one packed with incident and handled in the most professional of manner byUniworld.
The action taken by Uniworld in relation to the high water problem clearlyenhanced their already “top of the tree” status, the financial costs of thedramatic changes made to the itinerary must have been frightening and it wasgratifying, in the economical climate, to see that passengers expectations andthe Uniworld reputation was of far greater importance than the financial cost involved.
It is difficult to comprehend the extent of the efforts and expense thatthe preparing, restocking, and bringing new staff to the Beatrice would havecost. Some of the staff said they have been at home for less than 1 hour at thestart of their 2 month break when they were informed to return- they came fromall over Europe and all still with a great smile and not one complained to us-just the contrary, they were pleased to maintain the passenger reputation ofUniworld.. The "new" captain had to leave on the day of his daughter’sbirthday just to accommodate us.
Uniworld could have taken the far easier option and cancelled the trip. Thebooking conditions clearly allow this- this course of action was taken by allother cruise operators with ships at Regensberg. In addition, and quite unnecessarilythey also gave each passenger a $500 credit towards a future cruise!!
Would we go again? Well, 2 days after arriving back we have already rebooked for December 2013!

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RitabobRitabobMember since 6/24/2012 Login to add friend Posted: Sunday, January 06, 2013 4:22 PM
An excellent review ! Thank you for taking the time to post it.Also very interesting to note...what a difference a year makes. We were on the same cruise a year ago and had smooth sailing from Nuremberg to Budapest.
Your comments about the meal on New Year's Eve had us was probably okay for the venue's standards, but not up to Uniworld standards, that's for sure.
Six months ago we booked for Christmas and New Years 2013-2014, so we'll see you in Nuremberg in 11± months!
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AskiesDogAskiesDogMember since 1/7/2013 Login to add friend Posted: Monday, January 07, 2013 11:13 AM
We were on the Duchess from Vienna to Nuremberg and disembarked on Dec 22. We had a similar problem with water levels which saw us ending up in a hotel in Nuremberg the last night in order to make an early transfer connection.

Like you we have the highest regard for the staff of Uniworld. They made arrangements and all the while kept the program going - even giving us an optional excursion for free to make up for the inconvenience.

The only problem with this kind of service is that it sets the bar so high for others! :-) Not that we mind. Roberto and his team were a pleasure; our cabin attendant a gem, and so on and so on. Pity we did not get the white Christmas we hoped for, but that is hardly Uniworld's fault...indeed we have memories that will last a lifetime.
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carolelynnecarolelynneMember since 11/21/2012 Login to add friend Posted: Tuesday, January 08, 2013 7:48 AM
"phone10"...You did an awesome review...and I so agree! My husband and I were on the trip and although I would LOVE to repeat it, we will do another cruise yet this year with Uniworld. Hooked! I'm hoping to hear back after signing up with Onboard Booking Request. In the meantime, working on photos and recalling the best of memories! Carole
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NordblomRASANordblomRASAMember since 12/12/2011 Login to add friend Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013 9:33 AM
Our mystery blogger told it all so well. Uniworld is like cream that rises to the top. Only a first class operation could have over come "the weather" and made the Grand Christmas/New Years a most memorable and enjoyable cruise. I will personally "stomp" on any one who whines. Having traveled for so many years, any one who expects travel to go without a hitch is both uneasonable and impractical. The secret to handle travel hicups is to make a great "adventure" and go with the flow. Of course it really helps to have a company like Uiworld and Staff like Captain Ronald, Captain Tom, Steff, Carlynn, Roberto and Tamas making everything smooth, doing everything possible to make this the best cruise ever. Perhaps Palias Palivicini will be in future cruises and we too will rebook Grand Christmas in 2014. But, to be sure other cruises before, we can't stay away. Uniworld river cruises gets in your blood.
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