Uniworld Cruise Reviews
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