Uniworld Cruise Reviews
Castles along the Rhine 2014,6/23/2014
Enchanting Danube 6 stars,6/7/2014
We met some wonderful people and will likely book other Uniworld tour!
Amazing Cruise Director,5/27/2014
Burgundy & Provence,5/25/2014
Had a Wonderful Cruise,5/22/2014
We are back from a delightful cruise. We loved the SS Catherine. Our cabin was fine even where it was situated and the decor of the ship delightful.We had a wonderful trip and experience of France which is what we wanted. Our Cruise Director, Adrian, was amazingly knowledgeable and made our cruise special. Thanks for your assistance when we needed it.
We will consider using Uniworld in the future whilst we can still travel.
Just Back from China,5/22/2014
We returned 2 days ago from one of your trips to China, guided by Hubert. We were extremely lucky to have him as the guide. He added immeasurably to our experience with his knowledge of the areas visited, the culture we observed, and the politics he helped us to understand. He was able to communicate admirably. This was our first Uniworld trip and Hubert was certainly a good ambassador in promoting future Uniworld adventures.
Excellent Cruise Director,5/22/2014
I want to emphasize (aside from the survey already submitted) the excellent performance and service of Edward Tong on our 4/24 - 5/8 China trip. He went out of his way on numerous occasions for many of us (securing aisle seats on domestic flights for me and purchasing special items). He was at all times professional, courteous, and thoroughly knowledgeable in all aspects of our journey. Uniworld is very fortunate in having such a supremely qualified tour manager representing it in China.
A Culturally Rich Immersion into China,5/22/2014
My wife and I have just returned home from Shanghai, our last stop on the above referenced tour and want to let you know that we had a thoroughly enjoyable vacation with your Company. It was a culturally rich immersion into China, its people and history.
Our tour manager Edward Xuming was an outstanding leader who made this trip such a positive experience for us as well as the rest of our group. Edward was extremely knowledgeable, caring and organized which enabled all of us to relax and enjoy our vacation.
Thank you and Edward.
John ... and Roz Arenson
An Impressive Experience,5/22/2014
Dear Ms. Kendall:
We were recently passengers on the SS Antoinette - from Basel to Amsterdam (May 11-19). In addition to the feedback forms we completed and handed in while on the ship, we were so impressed I wanted to add to what we'd already said.
We have cruised a number of times and are used to the hectic last day of getting suitcases out the door and evacuating the suites early in the morning. The staff are always very busy, cleaning up and getting ready for the new passengers arriving on the same day. We get the very ... strong message that they want us OFF - as soon as possible: "Here's your hat! What's your hurry?" is the meta-message!
This experience was QUITE different! Although we were asked to be out by 8:30 (not a bad time at all!), we were welcomed to spend the day on board and not rush away. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, a lovely morning on the sundeck basking in the unseasonably warm Amsterdam weather, and a lunch before making way to our hotel. We were amazed not only at this opportunity, but also at the generous excellence of service from the staff that continued seamlessly through this time. It was fun to see the new passengers arriving, thinking that it was only one short - but action-packed week ago that we were among them!
This added such a lovely ending note to our Uniworld experience. I hope that you pass along our appreciation to whomever appropriate.
We look forward to our next Uniworld Cruise and although there are many competitors out there, we continue to share how the quality of service we've experienced with Uniworld is exemplary!
All the best,
Great China Experience,5/19/2014
My name is Larry Rollen from St.Louis Missouri. My wife and I were recently in China for a fourteen day tour and River Cruse sponsored by Uniworld. The assigned host for us was Mr. Lee and I have nothing but praise for him and his planning and preperation to make our trip as enjoyable as could be. Mr. Lee was professional, courteous, and knowledgable about the Chinese culture and history. Mr. Lee made this trip one to definately remember we were so lucky to have his services. He assisted us when needed and each step of our journey was planned ... with persicion from beginning to end. I wanted to thank you to assigning him to our group. My wife and I thank you and Mr. Lee for making our China experience a great one. Mr. Lee is the best.
China Tibet & Yangtze,5/18/2014
Just completed the China experience with friends and amazing new friends.
The trip started the end of April 2014 and the weather was optimal for touring. The tour was well organized and seamless through the expertise of our guide, Mr. Edward Tong. Edward, the best guide I have ever experienced, was knowledgeable, articulate and ever conscious of his groups' needs.
The cruise was a blast with adequate accommodations. The hotels we stayed in were very good and the employees were very helpful. If this trip is on your bucket list then count on Uniworld to provide the logistical support to ... make it happen!Read More...
One word: OUTSTANDING!,5/12/2014
As you know, we've sailed Avalon twice and Viking once in the past. Your presentation last year at our Travel, Ports, & Voyages meeting piqued our interest. And, we were clearly not disappointed! From the moment we boarded, the entire staff made us feel welcome and catered to us, as well as my friends/clients, like no other river cruise.
The Uniworld difference:
Staff- by the second day, most already knew our names. My wife told our waiter she can't have peppers. Never a problem throughout the cruise. Water, drink glasses promptly refilled both in lounge and dining room. Drinks on the ... deck, always filled, and if not, server told us to push the request button (never had to!).
Speaking of the top deck: Plush blankets for the ladies on a chilly afternoon cruise. Nice touch!
Food: Excellent throughout breakfast, lunch and dinner! Great choices. Drinks: Excellent choices, including top shelf, all-inclusive. (Bar opens at 9:00am! Too early for me!) Wines in the dining room changed daily to reflect the region visited. Excellent. One night my wife asked if a Riesling was still available from previous evening-not a problem!
Coffee/Tea: YES- REAL coffee! (not coffee-flavored product like the other cruise lines), Nothing like starting the day with a fresh-ground coffee or cappuccino, be it at the self service station or breakfast buffet. Also, a great selection of teas, fresh brewed leaves, not in a bag.
Ship/Stateroom: Up to date, well appointed, and spotless! Room always perfectly clean and organized.
Included Tours: Excellent presentation. Modern fleet of buses. Guides were all top-shelf.
Bicycles: Had a great group ride!
Cruise Manager: Christine Bremberger- very informative, and most important; always available for questions and comments.
Hotel Manager: Mihaela Arhilei- most pleasant, always greeted us by name. While all of the wait staff were excellent, Marija and Christian (bar staff) clearly stood out.
We're contemplating Russia either this year or next. As you may expect, on Uniworld, of course!
European Cruise on Uniworld,5/4/2014
Great First Experience,5/1/2014
I just returned from my first river cruise - aboard the Queen Isabel sailing the Duoro River and would like to congratulate the company and staff for an outstanding job. Everything was beyond what I had expected, the cruise director, Kirsten was marvelous. The lock issue was handled very professionally. I will book another cruise shortly. Well done - top to bottom and thank you.
I have just returned to Australia after finishing a trip Highlights of China and the Yangzte. This trip was exceptional. There service provided by our Tour Guide Li Zimeng was the best I have ever had. Everything about the trip was exceptional, Hotels, transport the Century Paragon, excursions, and the service that was provided was faultless. I have travelled a lot, and this was without doubt the best. This was my second experience with UniWorld, and I am so impressed. thank you for providing such high standards, and thank you for providing exceptional tour managers.
Helen Carpenter ... Canberra Australia.
Castles along the Rhine,4/25/2014
If you want to experience perfection then take a cruise with Uniworld. This was my first, but definitely not my last, river cruise. From the moment we boarded the ship in Basel to our leaving for the airport 10 days later Uniworld saw to every detail.
Their service was beyond first class, the suite was perfect, the food was beyond delicious. The land excursions are varied and well paced for whatever your activity level. Knowledgable tour guides who really know their stuff and love what they do. Our cruise director Tamas was wonderful , our butlers ... Lazlo and Valentine saw to our every wish.
This is truly a world class company Already planning. My cruise for next year. Thank you Uniworld for a truly memorable vacationRead More...
Enchanting Danube - Enchanting Time,4/15/2014
Loved it so much I have booked another river cruise for next spring!
Grand France 2013,3/9/2014
Castles along the Rhine,3/4/2014
Danube Holiday Markets,2/8/2014
Castles along the Rhine,1/27/2014
Parisian Winter Holiday 2013,1/22/2014
First Uniworld cruise,1/4/2014
Mekong River Cruise,12/22/2013
Christmas Market Cruise River Duchess,12/20/2013
The trip of a lifetime,12/2/2013
cheers was a wonderful guide,11/2/2013
The Beatrice and her crew were terrific!,11/1/2013
Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong,10/31/2013
Perfect Adventure for adult children and senior parents!,10/1/2013
What a delight. It was perfect for the more active like my sister and I and also for my 80 year old mother, who sometime was content to just sit and watch the action from the boat.
We got to enjoy the historic outings whether she felt up to it or not.
I highly recommend this vacation for Adult children and their parents. Everyone will have a good time, even the mobility challenged.
The service and friendliness of the staff were incredible. They often would even check on my mother when I was not on board.
The food was great, and historical tours were just the right pace. We so enjoyed so much this, that we may do it again in two years, to China.
Having been on many large impersonal liners, but this was perfect with the intimacy of the 130 passengers. The 35 employees on board became like family.
It's like a floating hotel.
I have a feeling this well kept secret will not be a secret much longer.
What a wonderful experience. Read More...
When we arrived at the ship, our cabins were not quite ready, but we were offered a nice buffet lunch in the lounge. After we had a bite to eat, we went across to the park to go on a tethered balloon ride. We were provided with yet another view of Paris....from a height of 500 feet!
Upon returning to the ship, we were shown to our cabins. The River Baroness is a beautiful ship, and the cabins are well appointed. We had ample storage space, a large picture window, a bathroom with a full sized shower (and wonderful soaps, lotions and shampoos), and a very comfortable bed. We found it interesting that the walls were covered with upholstery material, and were slightly padded. This must have contributed to the great sound insulation.
All of the Uniworld staff were attentive,professional, and very friendly. We were pampered for the whole week by everyone connected with the ship. Our guides on our shore excursions were excellent. Use of the quietvox system enabled everyone in the group to hear the guide's commentary while having the freedom to explore.
Our itinerary kept us busy, and we only opted for one additional tour (to Versailles).
We did spend some time on buses reaching some of our tour destinations (the Normandy D-Day Beaches, Honfleur, and Giverny) but the guides took this opportunity to give us valuable information about the destination, or about the passing scenery. We felt like this trip provided a wonderful combination of history, art, architecture, as well as spectacular scenery.
The food on the River Baroness was delicious. Breakfasts and lunches were buffets with amazing selections. Dinners were a la carte with several choices for each course. Wines and beer were free flowing at lunch and dinner, and at breakfast, mimosa were available. The variety of cheeses that were provided at breakfast and lunch reflected the regions that we visited, and most were melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
The only downside of the trip was that we spent very little time cruising along the Seine (at least in daylight). It was one of the highlights of the trip to relax on the deck, taking in the sights along the shore as well as the ever constant and interesting boat traffic.
Uniworld, and our experience on the River Baroness, has sold us on river cruising in Europe and we are looking forward to planning another cruise in the next year or two. Now we just have to choose an itinerary! Read More...
Uniworld’s Imperial Waterways of Russia,9/10/2013
In its brochure, Uniworld warns would be clients that since they don’t own the ship, travelers may find that the amenities “may differ from those of a Uniworld company-owned ship”. Our experience from this cruise, however, is that in terms of comfort and services, the River Victoria meets and even surpasses the levels of comfort and quality of services that we have encountered on other cruise ships. For one, the River Victoria has more decks and is considerably larger than most cruise ships on the Rhine and the Danube – there are no low bridges to deal with on the Russian waterways – which provides more comfort and space to move around. For example, the tables in the dining room are not as tightly packed on the River Victoria; the ratio of staff to guests is almost double on the River Victoria compared to the other Uniworld cruise ships (110 staff to 202 guests on the River Victoria vs. 41 staff to 130 guests on the other ships). This, of course, has a bearing on the quality of the services provided. The staterooms are not larger on the River Victoria than on the other ships, but on the two upper decks, the Volga and the Neva, they open on oversized (about 12 x 8 ft) private balconies. These balconies were originally part of the public decks and were divided up into private balconies when the ship was remodeled in 2011. And because the ship was completely remodeled in 2011, the inside is brand new and spotlessly clean.
It is difficult to imagine a cruise that would offer better food in terms of variety and taste than what was provided for us on the River Victoria – we were even served caviar and champagne for breakfast on one occasion! Most dishes were Russian, at least by name, with some western favorites mixed in. Many of the menu items were prepared with plenty of cream, which is great for the palate, but perhaps not so great for the rest of the body – but not to worry; it’s only for two weeks! The quality of the service in the dining room is also noteworthy. The staff is made up of young Russian college students most of whom study languages; they are well trained, always very polite and extremely keen to provide the best service possible. They seemed to work 24 hours a day but they were always smiling and very cordial.
As for the cruise program, the three-day visit to each of the two metropolises at the beginning and at the end, Moscow and St. Petersburg, were, without any doubt, the highlights of the trip. But three days is hardly enough time to get a full appreciation of those mega-cities. The heavy traffic in Moscow combined with the distance between the city centre and the docks contributed to shorten the period of useful sightseeing (it took about one hour each way to commute between the ship and the city centre). There was less time lost in St. Petersburg as the access roads were not as congested as they were in Moscow and the distance between the ship and the city was shorter. But, overall, our visits were satisfactory and we did get to see most of the essentials thanks to a clever combination of city tours and featured and optional excursions.
The cruising part of the trip, the five days spent sailing through the waterways, provide a totally different experience from the cities. The pace is more relaxed and there is more time to carry out on-board activities such as attending lectures on different aspects of Russian life (history, geography, art and culture), learn the Russian language, or watch the Russian countryside unfold from any of the public decks or your own balcony. But don’t expect the scenery along the Imperial Waterways of Russia to be as spectacular as what you might experience along the Rhine and the Danube – deeply incised valleys with quaint little villages and medieval castles at every bend. Northern Russia is not like that; it is very flat, mostly undeveloped with a relatively low population density. The waterways run through long stretches of forested land with little sign of human activity. There are a few villages along the way but most are uninteresting and appear rather run down. There are a few exceptions, however, including the cities of Uglich and Yaroslavl on the Volga and Kizhi Island on Lake Onega. These are real gems; all three are important historical and cultural centers with spectacular architecture, including colourful onion-domed churches. They are the three most interesting scheduled stops with shore excursions of the cruise. The other two, Kirillov and Mandrogi, are interesting but not nearly as attractive as those mentioned above. Some visitors regard Mandrogi as a tourist trap due to the large number of souvenir shops, while others complain about the overwhelming abundance of mosquitoes. We were blessed with perfect weather on the day we went and not a single mosquito. This was in late August which may be the best time of the year to go if you want to avoid the bugs. As for the souvenir shops, you might be wise to buy your souvenirs here if you don’t want to waste precious time shopping in St. Petersburg.
I should add that the tour guides, all Russians, were very knowledgeable about the history and other facets of what they were guiding us through. All spoke English well and with the Quietvox Transmitter System provided, it was very easy to follow what was going on even at a distance.
In addition to the numerous cruise ships, you will see many other types of ships including tankers and bulk carriers. These waterways constitute an important commercial artery linking the Baltic and St. Petersburg with Moscow and all the cities and towns along the Volga as far south as the Caspian Sea. So, if you enjoy watching large ocean-going ships up close, it may compensate for the lack of great scenery.
In summary, the Imperial Waterways of Russia by Uniworld is a great way, and probably the only effective way, to experience northern Russia. This cruise, our 8th (three on rivers and five on seas/oceans) ranks near the top of our cruising experiences. We strongly recommend it. Read More...
We have just returned from our Russian and cruise and would like to express our thanks to the staff and crew of the River Victoria for a pleasurable experience.
Alexander (hotel manager) Irina (dining room) Ibi and Lena (cruise managers) Kate (bar manager) all did an outstanding job. They were very friendly and always ready to grant any request.
The dining room crew of wait staff and the kitchen staff were extremely hard working. They had to prepare for additional events each day besides the 3 meals that had to be prepared ... and served.
Kudos to Uni World again for giving us a great trip. Read More...
We really enjoyed seeing Russia and ... learning about the country and their people from the university professor that gave daily lectures. She was so informative and easy to understand. We also liked the open seating for meals as we got to meet people from all over the world. The food was very good -- they were obviously trying to please the passengers with their breakfast/lunch offerings. Dinners were just the right portion size.
Moscow's cemetery visit was a very pleasant surprise. Walking in Red Square and the tour of the Kremlin were fascinating. The Cosmonaut Museum was also a pleasant surprise with it's tribute to women astronauts from all over the world.
We thoroughly enjoyed the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, staying a little longer than the tour to see additional things in the museum. The tour of Catherine's Palace showcasing the reconstruction of the Palace after WWII was amazing. Everyone should go inside the Church of the Spilled Blood. It was extra but well worth it as it is beautiful inside.
We wish we had more time in Mondrogi -- a whole day would have been nice to visit all the craftsmen's shops. I am so glad we got to experience the White Nights -- I don't think we ever saw it pitch dark in Russia!
Looks like we'll be a repeat customer on another Uniworld cruise to somewhere! Read More...
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
Mrs Sandra Ferrari,7/18/2013
We travelled on the River Queen from Amsterdam to Budapest in May 2012. I was unsure about being on a cruise for two weeks, but my doubts were soon dispelled.From the moment we stepped on board we were treated like family members.
The staff were amazing, as was the food and service. The ambience was special and all on-shore excursions were well organised and well chosen. There was no pressure to go on excursions or join in on organised events.
I am hooked on cruising and Uniworld. I would not contemplate looking at any other ...
cruise company as you cannot improve on perfection.
Sandra ferrari Read More...
Douglas Read More...
River Duchess: Pampered like a King and Queen,7/16/2013
European Serenade June 2013,7/16/2013
Perfect despite Flood Conditions,7/10/2013
SS Antoinette “Castles Along the Rhine”,6/17/2013
Incredible Tour Guide, Amazing Trip!,6/15/2013
Before the trip was over, Hubert felt more like a family member than a tour guide. ... We have taken four vacations with Uniworld over the past few years, but Hubert stands head and shoulders above everyone else we have travelled with. High praise indeed, as all of our experiences have been excellent. If there's such a thing as Tour Guide of the Year - heck, Tour Guide of the Century! - Hubert would win hands-down. Read More...
Mr N Kerman,6/4/2013
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...
None come close to the enjoyment, sense of security and relaxation,5/22/2013
A Delightful Trip,5/17/2013
Highlights of China & the Yangtze River Cruise,5/4/2013
I can't say enough good things about the Captain and the crew - very friendly and willing to do anything to make your trip fun. Our cruise director worked very hard to arrange great entertainments ... for us.
The food and amenities were also wonderful! I will definitely cruise with UniWorld again! 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...
Our First River Cruise - Loved It!,4/20/2013
The tours were very interesting and the options and variety was perfect. The Nikolaihof Winery tour in the Wachau Valley was exceptional. We learned a lot and had a great time on all the tours. The meals were delicious and beautifully served. And with the open seating arrangement, we met lots of interesting people from many parts of the world.
The only problem was the weather - it snowed 6 out of 8 days - so we have clearly angered the Weather Gods - but the staff made up for it. The one day we were able to enjoy the sun deck (even though it was very cold) they provided blankets for the ones who ventured up.
The ship is beautiful - very well appointed and comfortable. Our cabin (a suite) was very roomy and had plenty of storage space. Another big plus is being able to see various locations and only having to unpack once. That was great!
Since our trip we can't stop telling our friends how much we LOVED this trip and that all of them should take a river cruise on a Uniworld ship. It is truly a luxury that everyone should enjoy. Read More...
So good that we signed up for the Purtugal trip as soon as we got back......we're going in July 2013...
The "Volcano" Trip,3/1/2013
By the time we reached Frankfurt one of Iceland's volcanoes had erupted, air travel in Europe was at a standstill, and those of us who planned to fly home from there were stranded.
The staff on Uniworld worked around the clock to make sure that every person on the ship had a place to go or somewhere to stay. My husband and I, not experienced travelers, ended up ... staying with family in the UK. The tour director helped us arrange train travel and a ferry across the North Sea. His patience was admirable and the travel went as planned.
All in all the trip was a great success. We loved everything about our River Cruise and even ended up enjoying our adventure on the way home. I call it our one week /three week trip.
This June we are taking another cruise with Uniworld. We are again looking forward to the excellent food and service as well as the shore excursions. (And hopefully no volcano surprises.) Read More...
Grand Christmas truly Grand,1/24/2013
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.
Uniworld say “You shall go to the ball”….and we did!!,1/5/2013
When we joined the impressive River Duchess at Nuremburg on 22nd December 2012 all were in festive mood and the reception given by staff as you enter the ship enhances the mood of all travel weary passengers. You are immediately immersed in the high but unobtrusive Uniworld standards of facilities and service – a standard that was maintained throughout the whole cruise.As this was a period of celebration we had a suite, this was spacious, fittings impressive, beds plush and very comfortable. There was ample storage space for the many clothes we had brought having regard to the festive ... celebrations that lay ahead including 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 to cater for any wish.
From the first meal to the last the food was of the highest quality and it was evident that fresh ingredients were being used and being expertly prepared by the army of chefs onboard led by Milos. The well trained, polite and disciplined waiters, marshaled by the more than competent Maitre D, Roberto, ensured an unforgettable dining experience. The complimentary wines and beer throughout all meal times was a bonus, quality wines as well!
The cruise started with 2 days in Nuremburg which is enough to savour the party atmosphere around the Xmas Market, (the largest in Germany) and to sample the quality shops that abound. In addition, for the culture vultures, there is much to see and the Uniworld tours provide a well informed, well organised and well paced and effortless way to sample the historical sites. One not to be missed are the famous 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 and anticipation of even greater times to come. The anticipated highlight was clearly going to be the New Years Eve Ball at the Daun Kinsky Palace in the heart of Vienna. This was to be followed by attendance at the famous New Years Day Concert also in Vienna. Little did we know or suspect that Mother Nature was conspiring to make the attendance at these events as problematic as possible - a conspiracy that Uniworld faced head on and defeated with efficiency and expediency over the next few days.
Arriving in Regensberg on 24th we were aware that the river level was rising and we were kept fully informed of possible issues by the able and energetic cruise manager, Tamas Kocsis. Xmas Eve and Day were spent as planned in Regensberg and all was going exceptionally well. Midnight Mass on Xmas Eve and 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 to the river level, the River Duchess, and indeed all the other cruise ships docked at Regensberg, were not able to pass under a nearby bridge and that we would have to remain in port for at least another day and hoping that the water levels may subside.
There were 6 other cruise ships in port and all were suffering the same fate. News arrived on the Duchess that other cruise ships were curtailing their cruises and passengers were given early flights home. The ball and concert planned over New Year in Vienna were becoming a far off dream. It was with great relief, and indeed surprise to many, that Uniworld were to continue their "cruise" to Vienna. There was clear determination from the crew and no doubt from the hierarchy and the behind the scene workers at Uniworld HQ that the cruise would continue in some form and importantly that the celebrations in Vienna would take place. The water levels did not subside over the next two days yet ample buses were on hand to take 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 commitment of all staff to make the problems have as little effect as possible. It was regrettable that there was a very small number of passengers who seemed hell bent on complaining at every opportunity but after a day, when all had time to reflect on the situation and course of action taken by Uniworld, all (except 1 passenger) had great admiration for the high quality of the alternative arrangement that had been made.
On the 29th December all passengers were taken by bus into Vienna and had 1 day 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 was good enough for me!. Cash was provided for the evening meal- this gave the opportunity to savour the local restaurants. We teamed up with fellow passengers and had a great Viennese evening.
Uniworld had called out numerous staff from all over Europe and they brought the ship, River Beatrice, out of winter storage, berthed her at Vienna and restocked and prepared her for us to continue our cruise. We boarded her on the 30th. The River Beatrice is fabulous and passengers thought her of a higher standard than the Duchess. Due to her larger size than the Duchess most passengers were ungraded to cabins of higher standards. Most of the staff were brought from the Duchess to the Beatrice but other staff that had been recalled to duty stayed with us and we continued our cruise.
The New Years Eve Concert at a palace in Vienna was something special and despite the quality of the food, wine and service not being of a Uniworld standard the ceremony of the occasion made it a memorable experience and one to recount and share with friends and family for many years to come. Back to the ship for midnight and then on the top deck to celebrate the New Year by sharing the massive firework displays that occur all around Vienna and its suburbs-a memorable 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 and it was a privilege to actually attend one of these occasions after seeing them every New Years day on the TV. Setting sail for Budapest in the afternoon most passengers relaxed and recovering from the 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 by Uniworld.
The action taken by Uniworld in relation to the high water problem clearly enhanced their already “top of the tree” status, the financial costs of the dramatic changes made to the itinerary must have been frightening and it was gratifying, in the economical climate, to see that passengers expectations and the Uniworld reputation was of far greater importance than the financial cost involved.
It is difficult to comprehend the extent of the efforts and expense that the preparing, restocking, and bringing new staff to the Beatrice would have cost. Some of the staff said they have been at home for less than 1 hour at the start of their 2 month break when they were informed to return- they came from all 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 of Uniworld.. The "new" captain had to leave on the day of his daughter’s birthday just to accommodate us.
Uniworld could have taken the far easier option and cancelled the trip. The booking conditions clearly allow this- this course of action was taken by all other cruise operators with ships at Regensberg. In addition, and quite unnecessarily they also gave each passenger a $500 credit towards a future cruise!!
Would we go again? Well, 2 days after arriving back we have already re booked for December 2013!
P and C McKay (UK)
"just another day in paradise",1/1/2013
Jean & Ray Read More...
The itinerary included a great mix of major cities and small towns that were unknown to us before this trip. What wonderful surprises they held!, the local tour guides we met were very knowledgeable and personable.
I would not hesitate to recommend this type of travel to anyone interested in a unique travel experience. Read More...
Castles on the Rhine,9/17/2012
The extra care and attention to detail was extraordinary,9/7/2012
The best vacation my wife and I have ever experienced.,9/5/2012
The best vacation my wife and I have ever experienced. Everything about the cruise was first rate. The food, the service, the attitude of the entire ship's staff was outstanding. I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone. From the time we were met at the Amsterdam airport until the time we were bussed to the Budapest airport, everything was outstanding. Tony, our tour director, Carylene, our hotel director, Roberto, our dining room director and most of all our captain - who got us through some pretty ... shallow water when other cruise lines were busing their passengers, shows the commitment of Uniworld to hire first rate people. Read More...
Perfect cruise for our anniversary,8/28/2012
We were impressed by how the entire crew worked collectively to offer great and friendly service. From day one, we were made to feel at home. It was nice meeting Captain Pascal who invited us to join him at his table for the Welcome Dinner and who shared information about the local culture & customs. Patrice, our hotel manager, is enthusiastic & excellent and it was wonderful that he spoke some Bahasa Indonesia (which is similar to our Bahasa Malaysia). We were surprised to later find out that he has only been working with Uniworld for 2 weeks as there is certainly great camaraderie between him and the entire crew. Emmanuelle, our Cruise manager, is fabulous - funny, entertaining, knowledgable and helpful. Together, Patrice & Emmanuelle kept the mood onboard fun & lively! There was much laughter daily at the pre-dinner briefings! Aniko & Cosmin of Front Desk, Marius, Kriztian, Georgiv, Sarin & Jakub (restaurant staff) and Ilona of Housekeeping are cheerful, efficient and great at their jobs. We enjoyed the refreshing morning walks with Rene, the onboard masseur. The guides we found particularly good are Kristian (Lyon), Jeannette (Tournon/Tain L'Hermitage/Viviers) & Francis (Truffle farm/Les Baux).
We also met many wonderful fellow passengers from various countries, some of whom we're keeping in touch with. It was with heavy hearts that we bade goodbye to everyone at the end of the week. We will definitely be going on another Uniworld cruise and will highly recommend Uniworld to our family & friends.
To the entire crew of River Royale, thank you very much, well done & keep up the great work! :) Read More...
p.s. We travel with our teenager. Many kids are over the raucous beach vacations and are ready for more substance. The demographic of Uniworld appears to be decidedly younger or younger at heart. This combination works out beautifully. Read More...
Uniworld River Queen Cruise - European Jewels (August 6-20, 2012),8/22/2012
Not a single issue, not a single excuse, not a better team on a cruise than the River Queen for those 14 days. We can understand why the River Queen was ranked #1 recently. If Uniworld can find a way to bottle this winning formula on each and every cruise ship they own.... The sky is the limit!
Someone told me many years ago - if you love your job, you will excel at it - I don't think there was a single Uniworld employee on the River Queen that didn't want to be there. Uniworld - the River Queen knocked this one out of the park!
I will be recommending the Uniworld Boutique River Cruises to anyone looking for a vacation idea. Read More...
Kudos to Kevin Lin,8/13/2012
Burgundy and Provence - Rhone River,7/31/2012
I thought the Cruise Manager was great in trying to be flexible with the program. There was a couple stops where we started the city tour an hour later because some folks requested a later wake up time. If possible, I would suggest offering both since I felt we lost time on that tour and visting the Valhrona chocolate factory in Tain L'Hermitage should be a must - we got to go but had very little time to sample and shop! The best experience was the open air market in Beaune but I felt we didn't have as much time for wine tasting. If we didn't stop for a sit down lunch, we could have but after looking at all the wonderful product on sale in the market, it made me hungry and I honestly didn't think i'd feel hungry all week. The service is so fantastic that there was a person waiting at the airport at 5AM to take us through the Lyon airport and made sure we got our baggage tags and boarding passes - and he wouldn't even take a tip. That was literally "door to door" or "plane to plane" service.
I am so hooked and can't wait to try another UniWorld tour! Read More...
Neville & Cathy,7/24/2012
NB: Our cruise was down river from Vienna - Istanbul (River Duchess).
Given the travel investment involved we felt a 15 day cruise was not enough to justify the time and cost so chose to break the journey north with a two day/night stopover in Dubai. Additionally we included the Prague pre-cruise extension and front loaded this with a further night in the same hotel. This gave us a suitable break (Dubai - Prague only 4.5 hours) and provided two buffer periods should there be any unexpected ... delays. This worked well and would recommend it.
We took as cash Euros only (1050) which lasted from Prague to Istanbul. Given most excursions are included in the boat fare only discretionary spending cash is needed. Money was changed either at a bank or an official money changer. Currency exchange was also available on the boat and given the small amounts of local currency required the cost was insignificant. In Dubai and Bangkok we accessed local funds from an ATM ($5NZD Fee).
We had a two day/night stopover in Bangkok on the return journey which very much assisted post travel recovery and gave us an overall 25 day journey which justified, and was appropriate for, the travel involved.
Uniworld are a great cruise provider; excellent food, service, excursions and boats. We stayed in suite 208 and consider the upgrade from level 1 to be well worth it. We visited new found friends in level four and found their suite to be the same size, a sliding door but no balcony - the slider remained closed most of the time due to heat/noise etc so not worth it in opinion.
Most afternoons were free but optional excursions at additional cost were available and many of these were also good value. Later in the cruise there were some all-day excursions which some less than fit struggled with in the heat. For shopping it was best to use the morning excursion for an overview then return on your own in the afternoon to spend more time a chosen sites/shops.
Overall a great experience. These types of cruises are only now becoming known in our country and in our view are much superior to travel by bus etc.
Note the advice re walking a footwear.
Neville & Cathy
New Zealand Read More...
The Perfect First Experience,7/24/2012
As I learned later, there was no reason to be nervous, because I immediately became one of a ... 128 member family on the Beatrice. From day one, the crew was fantastic. Service was great, but so was the camaraderie. We hadn’t even set sail yet, and crew members were already smiling at me on the deck and commenting on my book, as well as directing me towards the library and offering to fill my glass with water. And we had just begun! The rest of the week could only get better.
On this trip, I was determined to try all sorts of new foods, and I had all sorts of opportunities to do so! All the food was AMAZING, and every dinner had a vegetarian option. The breakfast and lunch buffets had a variety of ever-changing options, and the culinary crew was always more than happy to recommend and describe any odd-looking dishes. For example, one afternoon in Germany I selected a hot pretzel to join my lunch, and Armin (a member of the crew) immediately recommended a dish of funny looking cheese sauce I hadn’t even noticed. It tasted fantastic! My personal favorite was a linguine with ‘sea fruits.’ Well I learned that ‘sea fruits’ consist of pieces of octopus and squid…yet it turned out to be a very delicious dish. Another fun touch was that every meal had some sort of local favorite. For example, the day we set sail in Hungary we had the option of eating Hungarian goulash, while in Germany we had Bratwurst.
I also had the opportunity to be a guinea pig for an amazing excursion- an (at least) 11 mile bike ride from the town of Dürnstein to Melk (Austria), through all sorts of little towns. A group of eight people set out on this adventure, and I stuck with a group of four friends I had made earlier in the week. The bike ride took us four hours- but not because of the distance! We stopped at a local café for a cappuccino, ate the picnic box lunch provided by the ship while looking over the Danube, explored St. Michael’s church, as well as purchased freshly picked apricots and peaches from a local seller. We biked by terraced vineyards and sunflower fields, all the way directed by signs. We got lost once when trying to find the boat, but that is the reason why we were the guinea pigs! :) We made it back late and missed the bus to Melk Abbey, but this was just an opportunity for the front desk to exercise their talents. Within minutes a taxi was called, and we drove to Melk Abbey where our tour manager Markus stood waiting with tickets. We walked in and joined the fourth group as if we had been right on time. The bike trip was definitely one of the highlight experiences of this trip for me, and I hope anyone else who sails the Danube has the opportunity to experience it!
But what was my grandmother doing during this biking adventure? Not everyone was physically capable for this sort of a ride…well, while I was enjoying a freshly picked apricot she was relaxing on the sundeck of the Beatrice as it sailed to Melk. The crew had prepared a barbecue on the deck for everyone to enjoy as they took in the beautiful scenery of the Wachau Valley. While I was able to tell stories about biking over cobblestones, GranAnn learned all about the pirates who used to raid the Danube and what all those crumbly buildings along the river were. So no matter where we were or what we were doing, we were creating memories unlike any other.
The second new excursion was a hike along the Else river in Passau, Germany. It was a three hour hike (although quite honestly, about 45 minutes was spent at a lovely local café) led by a fantastic local guide, Hika. The hike gave us a wonderful view of Passau that not everyone gets to experience, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is physically capable of wandering over dirt and root trails. The forest of Passau is beautiful, and is a unique experience that you can’t find on the deck of a ship.
All of the provided city excursions contained the perfect balance of tour guide time and free time. With a guide, we got an idea of the simple layout of the city, as a well as a fascinating history lesson. We were then free to explore as we wished, an opportunity my grandmother and I enjoyed. With the free time, we managed to find a fun bookstore in Vienna, as well as experience the subway in a foreign country. In Salzburg, we explored the local marketplace and enjoyed local food favorites (I highly recommend Baumkuchen!) If I wrote everything we did and enjoyed, I would be publishing a book, not writing a review. :) But for those curious about what we saw, I would say this cruise was the perfect first experience in Europe. We saw castle ruins, as well as vineyards. We explored local towns and the country side, as well as the two well-known European cities of Vienna and Salzburg. This trip was the perfect mix of everything, as well as an excellent teaser for any future trips!
Another unique feature of this cruise was how they created a fantastic experience by reading the group of people aboard the ship. Originally, there was only one onboard musical group scheduled to perform. (And they were AMAZING!) But as the week progressed, travelers began to dance. Every night after dinner, a good number of people would head to the lounge and dance as our pianist Zultan played and sang along. I learned to twist, cha-cha, and many more! Recognizing this developing hobby, ship managers Markus and Mario found a local jazz band from the area and brought them on board one night to play for us- not only for us to watch, but to dance along! We danced the night away, and even if you weren’t dancing, you were sipping a glass of wine watching and chatting with new acquaintances. The crew actually came to know us as people- for example, by the end of the week, everyone knew that my grandmother and I were in room 203 and that all I ever drank was water (much to the entertainment of bar tenders Georgi and Mladen!).
Not only did we become friends with the crew, but with the people around us. This is where the size of the River Beatrice comes into play. With a boat that only holds around 162 guests, we voyaged with 128 people. Because of the size, we recognized faces and made all sorts of friends. As the week progressed, we would always meet new people, but we would also create solid friendships over dinner and during city tours. We became one big happy family, one that was very hard to leave on the last day! All the trips and history I absorbed during this trip was amazing, but it was my fellow passengers and crew that added the icing on top of the cake. After all, what’s better than exploring the Danube River on a gorgeous boat full of friends? :) I’m never going to be able to thank my grandmother enough for sharing this amazing experience with me, and hope that whoever is in room 203 of the River Beatrice right now is having as much fun as we did.
Uniworld & River Royale Really Get It!,7/4/2012
This cruise was our first river cruise, and we rate it a "5+ star" in all major categories. Even better than most of the "ocean" cruises we have taken. The staff were extremely friendly, courteous and always there to help. Our cruise director Gabrielle was totally awesome and ought to be on stage (in fact I heard at the end of our cruise that this is exactly what she will be doing)!
We were certainly pleased with the luxury and comfort of our cabin, as well as the lounge and dining room. Our room steward, Csaba, was especially wonderful and took ...
great care of us, often with a lot of patience. The food was "5 Star" at every meal, and the dinners were always delicious and well-presented. They offered a wonderfully diverse and delicious selection, especially at the daily lunch buffet. The dessert chef truly outdid herself! Our waitstaff were fantastic to a person--always attentive, polite, and very friendly. The wine selection was superb (this coming from a native of Napa California!), and the quality of wine served was only surpassed by the skill and panache of the wine steward Nicholas. Our glass never seemed to run dry.
The top deck was a bit sparse, but no loss as we seldom had the opportunity to use it, as were too busy exploring the local towns and villages at each stop along the way (or the lounge prior to dinner). We would recommend this cruise to anyone except those wishing to travel with teenage children or younger--they'd be totally bored. Uniworld is a wee bit more pricey than some other popular lines, but several of our travelling companions commented on "you really get what you pay for" and that Uniworld was worth the extra cost.
We had been to France in the past, but this was our first time to explore the Burgundy & Provence regions. Travelling via the River Royale is certainly the way to go, and we especially enjoyed our four days in Aix-en-Provence on our own prior to boarding in Arles. Our biggest & warmest "thank you" and a bigger Merci, a bientot! to the entire crew!Read More...
Imperial Waterways of Russia,6/9/2012
The ship is fresh and clean. We walked through several other river ships (all apparently made by the same company) when we were double or triple docked, and the Victoria is without doubt the most attractive of all the ships we saw. The ... dining room is larger than it looks on Uniworld's slides. The beds are really comfortable.
We had a balcony, which we used frequently as the sun didn't set until 11 PM.
The ship's all-Russian staff is friendly and eager to please. The itinerary is fabulous, from three very busy days in Moscow and in St. Petersburg to peaceful, relaxed cruising on the canals, rivers and lakes between the two cities. This cruise probably has the most time devoted to cruising day and night of all the river cruises due to the distance between the two cities. If you like a very active day every day and entertainment at night, this may not be the cruise for you. If you'd like to watch beautiful and historic scenery pass by and enjoy visits to places not seen on most land tours, plus of course the two fascinating cities, you'll love this cruise. Read More...
THE BLUE DANBUE,5/21/2012
We are looking forward to booking another cruise with UNIWORLD Read More...
Fantastic Danube Cruise,5/21/2012
On April 19, 2012 we departed Los Angeles International Airport for Budapest via Heathrow Airport in England. We were excited because this was to be our first river cruise, though we had enjoyed ocean cruising prior to this. My wife Rosalie was having a "big" birthday and always wanted a river cruise and loved a previous trip to Budapest. So naturally, a river cruise from Budapest to Passau on the Danube would be just the thing.
My Internet research indicated that the highest rated Danube river ... cruise was with a company called Uniworld so I booked a reservation on one of their highest rated ships, the River Beatrice. With great anticipation, we planned, packed and were on our way.
We arrived at the Budapest airport Friday evening, April 20th. Through Uniworld we had planned a pre-cruise day at the beginning of our trip but were unsure of our transportation needs at our arrival. We were pleasantly surprised to see Adam standing on the arrival ramp waiving a sign with our name on it after we cleared immigration. He gathered up our luggage, placed it in a modern van and we were on our way. Uniworld had made reservations for us at the Budapest Hilton. Upon arrival there, we signed in and were escorted to our room. The next two mornings we enjoyed complimentary breakfasts at the Hilton arranged by Uniworld.
The next day, Saturday the 21st, we chose to be on our own even though Romulus, the Uniworld local host in the hotel, had arranged a tour of the city for us and any others staying at the Hilton. We declined, not particularly caring for the 0815 tour departure, having arrived tired after approximately twelve hours enroute from Los Angeles.
We had a wonderful day wandering around Budapest, taking pictures and ending up for dinner at Fatal, a restaurant we remembered from our previous trip twelve years earlier. Returning to the Hilton, Romulus gave us the schedule for the next day, Sunday the 22nd; when to check out and how to leave our luggage in our rooms for the Uniworld crew to retrieve and place in the van that would take us to the River Beatrice. Rosalie and I thought this was a nice touch on the official start of our cruise.
On Sunday, April 22, we boarded the River Beatrice and were shown to our cabin, number 315 on the main deck. The River Beatrice registration procedure was flawless and pleasant and we were impressed by the beauty of the vessel. Our cabin, though "snug", was perfect with large sliding doors to a river view and a queen size bed that we found to be very comfortable. The cabin air conditioning was adjustable and the bathroom, " the head," was well appointed with ample counter space and a nice shower stall. Incidentally, the towels were monogrammed and luxurious. We had our first dinner aboard that evening.
We spent the next day in Budapest after our first night on the River Beatrice. Monday morning again we decided to do some touring on our own. Uniworld had arranged for a river shuttle boat to take any of us from our mooring on the Pest side of the Danube over to the Buda side. We took the shuttle, docked on the other side and walked a short distance to the famous Budapest Market, a very large two story building with food stalls on the main floor and gift stalls on the upper balcony. What fun. Rosalie bought Hungarian paprika in two decorative ceramic containers, our only purchase. She wanted these because we didn't purchase them on our last visit to Budapest. We walked back to the shuttle, which ran every hour, and rode back to the River Beatrice where we had lunch onboard.
Our meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner were served in the beautifully appointed comfortable dining room. This main dining room had many tables, some round seating eight and some straight seating either eight or ten. Breakfast and lunch each day were buffet style with a wide selection of dishes both hot and cold and delicious. And, additionally, a wide selection of desserts, wickedly sweet and delicious. How tempting and, of course, we tried out many of them. Complimentary wine and beer was available at lunch and dinner. The dinner menu featured dishes of the areas we visited each day - goulash while in Budapest, etc. Coffee was served by the friendly, courteous and helpful staff and, caffeinated or decaffeinated, was served in insulated Bodum French coffee presses. What a nice touch and what a way to keep the coffee hot and delicious.
The Chief Steward must be complimented for his staff, all English speaking though mostly of Eastern European heritage. In particular I became infatuated with Sandra, one of our servers, a twenty-eight year old college graduate with a degree in hospitality management who soon will move to the reception desk in a new position on the vessel. Incidentally, only on two occasions did the dinner dress call for sport coats with or without a tie. Otherwise it was shipboard casual with many of us in jeans and sport shirts. Yes, I did pack a sport coat which immediately we hung in the spacious closet to hang out the wrinkles.
Once underway, we settled into a routine. Sumptuous breakfast buffet followed by either a bus or walking tour of the current city. Christine, the onboard excursion manager did a fantastic job of gathering us all up, sorted us into the correct buses or walking groups and assigning English speaking guides. We got used to following a guide holding up a large number sign that denoted our particular group. Lots of fun and we saw and learned a lot. Again, Uniworld is to be congratulated on how they conducted these various tours. The venues they chose were outstanding, many of unbelievable magnificence; churches and monasteries that appeared as if constructed of solid gold. Amazing. And while underway on the Danube we were treated to ever more amazing scenery as we sailed past story book village after story book village with castles and churches that looked out of the middle ages even though many were reconstructed and new.
In Vienna, Rosalie and I made a solitary pilgrimage to the Vienna Opera House, a magnificent structure and a dream visit for us as long time opera buffs. It literally brought tears to my eyes as we visited the inside lobby. I couldn't help but picture in my mind the tuxedoed burghers and bejeweled matrons of past decades ascending the formal stairway to hear the magnificent voices and spectacular music of past performances. Unfortunately that day the normal tour was not available but we were allowed by the Opera House ticket seller to take pictures even though ropes held us back from going up the stairs. We then visited the outside and around the corner Opera House bookstore. And we spent; a shoulder bag emblazoned with "Vienna Opera House" for Rosalie to flaunt back home to show we were there and some books, in German, picturing the insides of the Opera House and Natalie Dessau performing La Traviata there. We hated to leave this heart rending structure, but it became time to catch up with the tour bus and get back to the vessel.
I should mention that when leaving the vessel, we turned in our room keys and, for security, were given numbered shore passes. Upon returning, Jan, the vessel hotel manager, who is in charge of the hotel crew, would greet us, show us bowls of sweets, have us use a hand purifier that they use to keep outside viruses from coming aboard and guide us to the reception desk where Tanya or Martin would exchange the shore passes for our room keys. Additionally, this gave the desk a method to see if everyone had returned. We also were greeted with iced tea or soft drinks as we returned aboard from our excursions.
I also must say that the Reception Desk crew, Tanya, Martin and others, throughout our cruise, were extremely helpful. Martin, in particular, was the "go to person" for any wi-fi, iPad or laptop problem. The vessel had free wi-fi, mainly in the forward lounge, but, alas, was connected to the Internet via a satellite, after all, the vessel was cruising the Danube and not connected to shore. Vessel Satellite Internet is not configured for one-hundred plus people trying to connect at the same time on their iPads, laptops or assorted other devices. Usually we could download email but were unable to send messages. Such is life!
The River Beatrice also provided "low key" entertainment on occasion in the lounge. A piano player and local musicians presented short entertainment that was fun but not intrusive. This was a river cruise, not a large cruise ship with elaborate presentations. Very appropriate for us guests that spent each day on marvelous shore excursions and enjoyed a relaxing time in the lounge to meet with other passengers who became new friends.
Finally I must mention that our fellow cruisers were a nicely mixed lot and at no time did I feel out of place or uncomfortable. There was a nice mixture of gray and not yet gray hair with seniors like ourselves and younger people but no young children. Over all the experience was more than outstanding.
One unique experience I should mention was that as a retired officer in the United States Merchant Marine, I was allowed to visit the wheelhouse of the vessel while we were underway. I watched the Assistant Captain control the vessel with just slight hand movements on joy-stick like controls. Wonderfully modern on this vessel whose ships' bell indicated 2009 as the commissioning date.
If it were possible to rate Uniworld and the River Beatrice with more than five stars, definitely I would. And Rosalie and I hope to take another cruise with Uniworld in the future.
A terrific cruise!,5/14/2012
Castles along the Rhine,5/3/2012
Very pleased except for a few items,4/26/2012
Our flight arrived at 6:05 AM. We had requested early check-in, but were told when we boarded the ship that our cabin would not be available until 3PM. We were extremely tired, and I wasn't feeling well from the fatigue. After much pleading with the reception staff, they agreed to speak with the ... hotel manager, Celina. She agreed to make an exception to the rules and arranged to have our cabin available by 10:30 AM. This was greatly appreciated. My advice is if you have to arrive that early, arrive the previous day and book a hotel for 1 night. Hotels are more likely to have early check-in than the cruise ship.
Also, as I noted last year, some of the local guides did not allow sufficient free time. In Antwerp, our guide spent so much time in the cathedral that we had no free time to shop or enjoy this beautiful city. Uniworld should assure that guests have a minumum of 45 minutes of free time for all tours.
Finally, I am allergic to fish & seafood, and on this cruise, there was an abundance of fish on the menu. However, Zhivko, the restaurant manager, spoke to me personally about my allergy. The wait staff always made sure that suitable food was available.
In spite of these minor problems, I would still consider Uniworld for future river cruises. Read More...
Portugal,Spain & the Douro River Valley,4/9/2012
Everything was amazing...from the tours to the cruise, staff, food, ship and especially the new friends that we made.
We would highly recommend this trip to anyone especially with the extended 3 days in Lisbon.
Enchanting Danube June 2 2011,3/10/2012
Mom passed away last week, and I can honestly say that this trip was one of the highlights of her life. Thanks to Uniworld and the staff of the River Beatrice for giving her, and me, one of ... the most memorable trips ever. Read More...
the enchanting danube,2/17/2012
Burgundy & Provence - Voila! Voila!,12/24/2011
Christmas on the Danube,12/14/2011
Gail and John Ogden
Grand Christmas Fantastic,12/12/2011
From Amsterdam to my early departure in Kehl/Strasburg, I had a wonderful time, the cruise was magnificent and the whole trip met my expectations and more. Would have loved it to end on a better note but it is in times of adversity that you find out how good the staff are - and they were magnificent. Read More...
Grand China and the Yangtze, Sept. 19 - Oct. 6, 2011,10/25/2011
best ever experience,10/10/2011
The trip began in Paris, which was the least of our favorite due to the large number of tourists, pick-pocketers and an environment lacking authentic French culture. Paris today doesn’t compare to how we remembered it from our first visit 10 years ago.
The Baroness welcomed us with a lovely lunch, after which we were led to our 1st class cabin draped in fine fabric and offering a luxury bed, refurbished bathrooms, luxury bath robes and toiletries.
Our tour director ... for the entirety of the trip was Alexandra – she was very knowledgeable and well-organized, as well as willing to accommodate all of interests in local history.
The ship’s restaurant offered open-seating, allowing us to socialize with others and make friends right away. Of course there is the option of keeping to yourself, but this seems less fun. All of the waiters were very hard-working and provided attention to all of our needs.
We would like to thank Vasil and Violetta on the Baroness, as both made every meal so special for us. We would also like to thank Georgiev on River Royal, who served us wonderful meals with a smile, even through the pain of his injured foot.
Another thank-you goes to our wonderful chef Carlos Benedito - for all the lamb, fish, and escargot prepared in a small hot kitchen. You name it, he had it. Carlos was always interested in our approval and criticism and was attentive to our food restrictions. Merci beaucoup, Carlos.
The scenery and little towns were amazing, as were the bigger cities like Roeun, Lyon, Avignon. Our visit to the Normandy beaches was very special, as was Alexandra’s presentation and explanation of the history.
Entertainment on the ship was very relaxing – it included a piano player, invited performers, a French-singing couple and violinist.
The local guides were very knowledgeable: Christian and Laurent, to name just a couple, exposed us to so much history and local flavors. We found Quietvox to be very helpful, especially when taking 1,000 pictures and at the same time listening to the presentation.
We went on 4 optional trips: to the Cider farm and Versailles in the north, and to the truffle and olive farms in the south. All were very interesting and special, and we would definitely recommend them.
We met a lot of great people from Australia, the US, Israel, England, Taiwan, Hong Kong and France, not to mention our waiters who were from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and other Eastern European countries.
We also would like to thank our hospitality directors Georgina on Baroness and Eric on Royale for the smooth and personable service and great coordination of the staff. Eric – thank you for a wonderful gift shop.
We returned home reenergized, with many new experiences, new friends and the best memories in our hearts. Not to mention all the pictures we took along the way.
Thank you Uniworld for smooth sailing along the Seine, Saone and Rhone. We won’t forget this wonderful trip, which we took for our upcoming 30th Anniversary. Thank you for the celebration of my birthday, too, with the cake and warm wishes.
Alex and Elena. Read More...
European Serenade - August 24, 2011,10/3/2011
A Wonderful Memory,9/6/2011
The friendships we made on this cruise will be remembered all our lives. The fun and companionship we shared made the trip even more special.
You are treated like a guest in someones home and the casual elegance is unmatched. A great trip and we will certainly think of Uniworld first on our next holiday. Read More...
Take the River Route,9/3/2011
My wife and I had long been tempted to try river cruising. We kept it as a backup idea mainly because we thought it was more expensive than ocean cruising for a trip of the same duration. This year we were tempted no more and took the plunge. An airfare discount was part of the incentive and did the trick to get me to book “Castles on the Rhine” aboard Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette.Our expectations were exceeded for service, food, itinerary and atmosphere. Our only regret is our cabin was ... small, we booked late and upper deck cabin were not available, so we took a water line cabin. The cabin did fit us and all of our stuff so I do not regard the cabin as a detriment. It does bring up the advice to book and get a upper deck cabin, the S.S. Antoinette is new for 2011 and the boat is comfortable and tastefully decorated. There is a lounge with views on both sides, a dining room, and a top deck dining room ad a separate lounge. The Antoinette even has a pool, no Olympic venue but sizable for a boat that is only 36 feet wide.
My unease and perception at cost difference between Ocean ships versus River boats was resolved when I realized that 1 excursion per port was included as well as included wine beer or soft drinks at dinner. The dinner waiter was very dedicated to keeping my glass full. The meals were good of high quality with larger than expected portions. This was no “scale model food” involved.
The crew was fabulous from the stateroom attendants, front desk staff, waitstaff to the Captains (Capts Peter and Freddy). All were professional and focused on the guests. My highest praise goes to our cruise manager, Christine. She was always around when we were touring, open to questions or just conversations. She demonstrated resourcefulness on the morning of day#5, just as the boat was about to pull out of Rudesheim, we got word that no movement was allowed because of a bad barge accident further up river. Within one hour Christine arranged for busses to take us up to our next port at Koblenz and the optional excursion to Marksburg Castle. Since the busses could not be in Rudesheim until the afternoon, she also arranged for complementary morning activities.As an experienced Ocean cruiser I, found that this river cruise was better than the large ship ocean cruise I have been on. Rather than being 1 passenger in 1600, you are 1 in 140. You can get to know everybody on the boat and there is an intimacy that you can’t get on a mega-ship. True there won’t be a broadway-style show in the front of the ship, you may have to be happy with a piano player and a singer, but the absence of lines and crowds more than make up for the absence of the glitz. Read More...
European Serenade River Countess,8/28/2011
As very experienced river cruisers,....we first discovered river cruising in 2000!!... we have travelled with many cruise specialists. However, we have never experienced the level of service and quality food that we did on the River Countess. This is surely due to the professionalism of Hotel Manager Julie and her entire team. WE made some lovely friends and look forward to travelling with Uniworld again and regularly in the near future. They really could not have been better.Thank ... you, Uniworld!!!
Toni and Edwin Fine, London, England Read More...
European Jewels with Uniworld,8/22/2011
Hi there, just wanted to tell you what a wonderful holiday we had from May 21-June 7 of this year. Our Travel Agent Tom did all the bookings for us, we chose European Jewels with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, it was fantastic, we flew Vancouver, B.C. Canada with KLM Airlines to Amsterdam, met by a Rep. from Uniworld & taken to our ship "The River Empress" where a lovely brunch/lunch was awaiting us. The Cruise Manager Monika, Hotel Manager Jerry all the Staff were so friendly, accommodating, everything was so well organized. Our Stateroom was great the Food that was ... prepared everyday was good. We Thoroughly enjoyed all the Ports of Call, my 1st trip to Europe, Cruise the Rhine, seeing all the Castles, Germany with so many Roman Ruins, cobblestone streets, palaces, Vienna, Budapest, wow it was a Dream come true for my Husband and myself, one of the best Holidays we have taken and we love to travel. We also booked the extended days in Budapest and was amazed at our Hotel The Corinthian Royal, 5 star and it certainly was in every way, from our rooms to service to the food to the pool/spa. We have been on 3 trips with the larger ships and we could not have asked for anything better. In Budapest we also booked a Hungarian Dinner with the Gypsies, taken by coach and we also did some sightseeing. Again the guide was great and we really enjoyed this. I also want to mention that we really enjoyed the smaller ship as you get to know your fellow passengers, the only way to travel from now on.
Every tour was so well organized with guides waiting for us, we were so surprised that between the two of us we took about 1500 photos, thanks goodness for digital cameras.
At the end of our trip we were asked to fill a survey, well what could we say we could not find one thing to complain about it was such a wonderful time for both of us. Thanks go out to all the Crew of the River Empress for being so outstanding we are now left with so many wonderful memories for Fantastic Trip along the Rhine, Main, Danube.Read More...
Imperial Capitals of Europe July 2011.,8/16/2011
All in all, it was a restful, interesting, and enjoyable vacation. Read More...
Bastille Week Paris & Normandy,7/28/2011
Our suite, #215, was spacious and suitably, Napoleonic (1800-10) French decorated. The daily food plates, daily laundry service, complimentary Burgundy wine, in ... addition to regular services, made our suite extraordinary. I booked an extended massage with Elena which was exhilarating. The fitness room has new machines so I could row, bike, and jog many miles, as we sailed each day. My husband enjoyed the lounge and sundeck during sailing.
Special mention for the hotel cleaning and laundry staff. Standards are exceptional. Clean laundry was returned each day, after dinner.
The cruise was the most enjoyable holiday we have ever had,7/8/2011
The cruise was the most enjoyable holiday we have ever had.
The staff from the Captain down could not do enough to make everything run smoothly.
We would like to thank all the staff for such a pleasant trip. Could you please pass on our thanks to Captain Bot, Cruise Manager Monica and Hotel Manager Lucia.
We will certainly recommend Uniworld to our friends.
Jim and Jan Doyle
.....everything was first class the whole way!,7/8/2011
Now that we are finally back and "sort of" in a routine again, we would like to take this time to thank your whole team for putting together such a wonderful, educational trip!!! We were so happy with the Ship, River Duchess, AND her staff.....everything was first class the whole way!
I was particularly impressed with the way my allergy to garlic was handled, no cruise before has held a candle to the service your team provided! Chef Orlando was most gracious, making all my food just as special as everyone else's, and I had not one problem the whole trip. Thanks ... goes also to our table waiter, "Vinni" as we called him, he was an absolute charm! The whole staff felt like family, from the engine room to the wheel house, it was a wonderful, wonderful experience! We have absolutely NO negatives about the trip at all, from the minute we arrived at the dock in Amsterdam to the time we disembarked in Vienna! We can not see anything we would change other than the fact we wish now we had gone the whole way to the Black Sea!!!! We just can not say enough, we are most certainly going to book another cruise with Uniworld, and would have done it from the ship but, have friends who want to do a trip too (actually they are the ones who had to cancel because of an unfortunate fall) We need to consult with them of course to make this perfect for all of us.
We certainly hope the tips we left got to all the very deserving staff!
Looking forward to sailing down another river with Uniworld soon! Thank you so much for making it such an exciting experience.
Lynne and Dave GregoryRead More...
Multi-generational trip with our twin 11-year old girls and had a wonderful experience.,7/6/2011
Although the kids did not start using the kids' room right away, it became their meeting place for fun - it was their "club" room.
As for our experience as parents - in one word, "pampered".
Thanks to the crew.
It was probably one of the best vacations ever...and we'd go again...but for a longer trip,5/12/2011
My husband and I just returned from a cruise on the River Empress from AMS/FRA. It was probably one of the best vacations ever...and we'd go again...but for a longer trip.
We have been on many cruises..this was our first river cruise...I have to tell you that your Cruise Director, Rik, was the best we have ever dealt with. He was great...never saw his roll his eyes with a sometimes difficult "older" crowd. Luccia,. the Hotel Director, was also excellent.
We are most interested in the upcoming cruise to include the ... Flora Gala expo in AMS...Rik told us the info not out yet, but please keep us on the list.
Thank you for the trip of a lifetime.
Pam and Denny Schulstad
I’ve sailed on big ships and one other river cruise which did spoil me, but this trip takes the CAKE,5/12/2011
First, and far most, I want to THANK my Reservation lady, Annette Pesa for arranging a cake for my daughter’s birthday aboard ship the second night (happened to be the Captain’s Dinner at his Table). The best present my daughter has ever had, so she said. Outstanding, Annette, the presentation was great, cake was light and hit the spot. Thank you, again, for all your hard work and time. It was appreciated.
I’ve sailed on big ships and one other river cruise which did spoil ... me, but this trip takes the CAKE. We were treated like Royalty in every sense of the word. The ship was breath taking, the staff was at your beck and call and always eager to please you. Yes, the staff would go that extra mile out of their way to assist or please you. No request to large or small—they handled it all with a smile and a happy voice. The food was outstanding and the wait staff was always ready to fill a glass or to see if you required something special to drink or eat. You always felt welcome and at ease with any request you might have. I took my own brand of coffee and requested a pot of water the first morning, didn’t have to request a pot of water afterwards they always brought it to me without my asking for it. Shows how they pay attention to the guests and their needs.
Our room was continuously clean and ready to accept us when we arrived. I have to admit that on one occasion, bad me, I flooded the bathroom. It was reported immediately and before we could get seated on the couch there was a knock on the door and before he could get to the bathroom door another knock on the door—it was a maintenance man with a water-vac to clean up. Next thing we had four (4) men working to clean up my mess. It seems the door got out of adjustment and that caused the mess. It was fixed immediately. I really couldn’t figure out why when prior nights I had no problem at all then all of a sudden it floods. They had it cleaned up in no time.
Sorry, Annette, I just can’t think of all the great things to say about the SS Antoinette or her staff. Just wish everyone I know could make their next trip on that boat, because they would never stop talking about it or the people. I know they would enjoy it because you just can’t help it. I’m already trying to see when my daughter finishes school, so I can book our next trip on one of your other boats. I can honestly say, “ UNIWORLD” has me not wanting to go if your boats do not go to that particular place.
I did mention I had been on another river cruise prior to this and it was on the River Queen. That ship did spoil me to doing another river cruise which to me is really the only way to travel. You feel like a family traveling together not a bunch of strangers. That trip was really good and special things did happen, people were fantastic and it was relaxing the way it should be. Since I’ve been on that ship it has been completely updated and the pictures look great. In fact, my daughter and I have been thinking about doing another one on her soon.
Ann DowdyRead More...
The cruise was one of the best vacations we have ever taken,5/5/2011
We just returned from the most marvelous vacation on the Rhine river! Our week on the SS Antoinette exceeded our expectations. The ship is fantastic and the entire crew was professional, friendly and very well trained. The food was varied and delicious. The excursions were well planned and our guides very informative. We were blessed with outstanding weather which just added to the overall experience.
Lastly, thanks for the stateroom upgrade that you provided to both ourselves and the Palmquist party. The staterooms were beautiful. Your team is to ... be congratulated for the design of this supership. We have sung the praise of Uniworld to our friends and neighbors and already are planning our next cruise.
Jim & Dolores Flashman
I can truly say that this trip was a most wondeful experience and surpassed our expectations,4/25/2011
I can truly say that this trip was a most wondeful experience and surpassed our expectations.
From the moment we arrived in Amsterdam until we flew from Vienna we could not fault the Uniworld staff.
This is truly a wonderful way to travel and we would do it all again tomorrow.
The whole trip was outstanding,the places, the staff and crew nothing was too much trouble.
The accomadation onboard was spotless and the house staff kind and efficient. The onboard entertainment was also very enjoyable.
We experienced so much and met wonderful people and will travel this way again, the ... only problem we have now is deciding where to go. Would recommend doing the pre and post cruise tours especially to people travelling from Australia and New Zealand as it gives you time to get over the longhaul flights.
-Aileen CouttsRead More...
Castles Along the Rhine on the SS Antoinette,4/6/2011
Our trip was from March 27,2011 till April 3, 2011---so sad to leave. -Ann Dowdy & Tammy Baker ... (daughter) Read More...
They made keeping the guests happy and safe a priority. This makes Uniworld A+!,3/3/2011
Uniworld has a winning formula for success that should be envied by the entire cruise industry.,2/2/2011
I don’t think a lot about soap. The cosmetic industry reports tens of billions of dollars in revenue, annually, and quite frankly, it is lost on me. Give me a bar of zest, splash on a little Old Spice, and I am good to go. This explains why I didn’t really get all that excited when my colleagues went on and on about how pampered I was going to be when embarking on my upcoming Uniworld River Cruise. The company uses the L’Occitane product line of toiletries on their river boats. Because of an arduous journey getting ... to the beautiful River Beatrice river boat, I really wanted nothing more than to get something to eat, and then crash. Long airline delays and near cancellations of flights had left me frazzled. After enjoying a sumptuous dinner, I made my way to my stateroom. Figuring a nice hot shower would help wash the day’s tension and frustrations away, I unwrapped a bar of soap, and waited for the water to cascade over me. I had no sooner disposed of the soap’s paper, when I noticed an unusual and pleasant aroma. Could a bar of soap smell this good? Perhaps it was the extra virgin lotus petals, (or whatever they use in their soap), that had the calming influence I needed to get a good night’s sleep. The following morning, as I was about to make my way to breakfast, I met my stewardess, Stefania. I introduced myself, thanked her for making my stateroom so comfortable prior to my arrival the night before, and in passing mentioned how nice the soap smelled. Stafania flashed a huge, bright smile and said she would try to make me as comfortable as possible during my stay on the River Beatrice. Who’s not going to be comfortable, I thought? Egyptian cotton linens and towels, a bed so comfortable, you could do nothing more than sink into a sublime bliss for 7 days? I thanked Stafania again and went on my merry way. Upon my return to the River Beatrice after a day of exploring Budapest, I couldn’t help but notice the same inviting aroma I had experienced the night before. It took me a few moments to realize that it was the soap. Geez…this stuff could double as a nice room freshenerl! I turned on the light to the bathroom, and instantly noticed three bars of the L’Occitane soap on the vanity. I didn’t readily make the connection, and thought my first impression with my stewardess hadn’t gone as well as I thought. Did she really think I needed three bars of soap to get clean? No matter. Perhaps she had left a week’s supply of soap behind as a time saving measure during her daily routine. While dining with my companions that evening, I casually introduced the fact that I had enjoyed the soap. Instantly, one of the guests informed me that indeed it was not soap, but rather a “cleansing bar”. They didn’t use lotus petals, they use verbena. You can’t call it soap, because it is made with extra pure vegetable oil. Okay, Okay, I get it! I made a mental note not to bring THAT subject up again, and bid my dining companions good night. Upon returning to my stateroom, I passed Stefania. We exchanged pleasantries on the way to my stateroom. My bed had been turned down, the lights were low, and on my pillow were two more bars or soap! Some people get chocolates, I get soap. Stefania greeted me the next morning, and I could contain my curiosity no longer. I asked my stewardess why she was leaving me so much soap. I will never forget the look of concern on her face. Stafania asked if there was something wrong with the soap. Of course not, I assured her. It’s just that how much soap can one person use during the course of a week’s cruise? She advised me that it was her responsibility to ensure my comfort while sailing on the River Beatrice. She was part of a team whose job it was to make sure this cruise would be an unforgettable experience. My stewardess listened to my saying something as innocent, as liking a bar of soap, and took it upon herself to guarantee my supply would not run out. Stafania went on to explain, that her intent was for me to take some of this soap home after the cruise, so the memory of my time on the River Beatrice would not end at disembarkation. It finally hit me. And it wasn’t only Stefania who felt this responsibility. What about the waiter, who after hearing me lament at breakfast, the fact that while in Brataslava, there was no Slovak staples on the menu at lunch, or dinner? Surely they should offer Haluski, a cabbage and noodle dish, and pierogi. Imagine my surprise at dinner, when my waiter brought me tastings of both dishes. I told my waiter that the chef didn’t have to make those dishes just for me. The waiter let me in on a secret. The chef hadn’t prepared those dishes for me. After finding out about our discussion, the chef sent a staff member to the Christmas market, purchased the dishes, and brought them back to serve, so I didn’t have to venture out at night. Wow. I was speechless. My time on the River Beatrice was such a rich learning experience. There is a lot to be said for docking in a town or city, walking off the boat, and instantly becoming a part of the charm each destination has to offer. No need to travel hours at a time on a motor coach for some shore excursion that will likely be over in twenty minutes. The ability to go on and off the boat at my leisure, afforded me a convenience not found on a conventional ocean liner. Nothing however, can compare to the service given on the River Beatrice. Uniworld has a winning formula for success that should be envied by the entire cruise industry. This morning I picked up a bar of the L’Occitane soap, (or cleansing bar or whatever you wish to call it). Instantly, I was transported in thought back to my stay on the River Beatrice. Stefania, et al, you succeeded. Indeed, my memories of being in your company stay with me even today. For that, I am eternally grateful.Read More...
Converts to Cruising,1/11/2011
A wonderful white Christmas,1/3/2011
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
Beautiful Trip -- Paris & Normandy,1/2/2011
(PS -- I plan to visit the Duoro region end of August, 2011 -- how about transferring Chef Sousa to that new vessel?)
Mrs Joyce Schoen,7/13/2010
Our Anniversary in Vienna,6/30/2010
THe Best Cruise-Ever,6/29/2010
Splendors of Egypt and the Nile,6/26/2010
A Truly Wonderful Experience,6/11/2010
This cruise was everything that I hoped it would be.,6/9/2010
Jewels of the Nile,6/8/2010
Absolutely Wonderful Ship and Crew,6/5/2010
What a great way to travel!!!,5/25/2010
The River Royale provided a great introduction to river cruising,5/24/2010
A great crew and staff.,5/20/2010
Highlights of China Review,5/7/2010
SERVICE BEYOND EXPECTATIONS,5/6/2010
A wonderful time,5/4/2010
What happened after the 18th was extraordinary. Stranded in Germany with the skies closed and no where to go we were amazed ... that Uniworld offered to let us stay on the ship at no cost until we could arrangement travel back to the USA. We were the guest of Uniworld for 7 days cruising back down the Danube until we again reached Budapest and had flight arrangements for the 26th. We had all the amenities we previously enjoyed including Internet access so we could contact our children and travel agent to apprise them of our situation and make the necessary arrangements.
The crew was outstanding, always very helpful, cheerful and friendly with an excellent command of English. A special word must be said about Markus Schindelegger, our tour Director and Silvia Anghelescu, our Concierge. Both went out of their way to assist us in making arrangement for the trip home. Markus was also a knowledgeable, humorous individual who provided a delightfully educational tour prior to the volcano eruption.
From what we have heard of other people cruising with competitive companies we were very fortunate to have chosen Uniworld. We had a wonderful time with no stress or anxiety just a delightful extended cruise.
-Barry Collins Read More...
Another Unbelievable Uniworld Cruise,5/4/2010
Splendors of Egypt & the Nile,5/1/2010
Highlights of China and the Yangtze,4/30/2010
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.