From June 3 to 17, we sailed on the Unwieldy River Empress from Budapest to Amsterdam. We had previously done a Nile River cruise on GCT which we found to be wonderful. This last trip on the Empress was a mixed bag.
Rooms were expected to be small and they were. We had 2 chairs removed from the 150 sq.ft. room so that we could circumnavigate the bed. Bathroom was good and bath amenities were very good. TV in the room was very limited with about 3-4 English speaking channels and 1 film per day on the ship's channel.Stewardess was wonderful and the room was very clean.
Food was spotty. Breakfast was a buffet and had standard fare. Lunch was always a buffet with a really good and tasty selection of appetizers and entrees. Dinner was spotty, ranging from gourmet to awful. Usually 3-4 choices at dinner but they also has steak, chicken and salmon as standard fare (always available). We had salmon 5 times during the trip after we had to send back the daily choice of entree since it was inedible. At other times, the dinner was outstanding such as rack of lamb. The problem on this river boat was that save for mealtime the only other food available were candies in the foyer and cookies and/or coffees at the area that house the gift shop, gym, lounge area and computers. The Internet reception was a joke it was so bad.
The itinerary was great, always on time with really good guides, clean buses, when needed, and "gentle walkers" had their own group. The cruise director was the best employee on the ship. The tours outstanding.
Our morning wake-up call was usually prescribed by the sound of the thrusters which occurred at almost anytime during the nigh. 4 am was not unusual. We thought that getting a room toward the bow would alleviate our having to hear the engine noise. Apparently the best spot on the ship is in the 300 section toward the stern.
Library, bar area and deck lounge areas were good though we thought drinks were pricey.The wait staff in the bar area and restaurant were really good people and very competent servers, mainly from eastern Europe. Everything on board was in Euros and you could settle in US dollars.
The major irritant to me personally was that the $300 shipboard credit we had for our cabin was equated to Euros at the rate of $1.48 while the daily rate was circa $1.24. So we lost about 40 euros with the explanation the Uniworld only converted shipboard credit once a season and the they did, it was at the higher rate. We lost about 40 euros with that slight of hand.
This was our first European river cruise. Would we do it again? Maybe, but on a ship that had more suites, amenities, less motor noise, and more entertainment or offerings at night. Seabourn have any river ships?