Uniworld Cruise Reviews
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...