We had done an AMS-BUD on Tauck which we loved and were looking forward to the same experience in France. Unfortunately Tauck did not offer this itinerary. Our TA suggested we try Uniworld due the Red Carnation connection and the rehabbing of all of their boats. We are glad we followed her advice.
The RB was well decorated although we thought the distressed paint effect in the lounge was a poor idea. Everything else was spot on and our suite was terrific, with lots of room and a bathroom that would be a positive on any cruise line; ocean or river.The decor in the suite was interesting with many Picasso prints as well as other interesting art. Most important the HVAC worked perfectly and the sound insulation was very effective.We had asked for the beds to be separated and this was well done. I must emphasize that this suite had plenty of room and was well worth the extra dollars; not so on the second half of the cruise on the River Royale.
The food, which of course is subjective, would get a B+ from us.
Breakfast buffets were all one could want and excellent. Lunch in our opinion was too much although good. My complaint was that there was no way to make your own sandwich either with cold cuts or something else. Would also have loved to have a cheeseburger once or twice-no such luck.
Dinner was in general excellent. The wine flowed freely, the service was outstanding and friendly, and with one exception the food was delicious. It is important to remember that european beef is in general grass fed, so although tasty it is tough to Americans. This would remove the steak option for me if I didn't like the main course choices. DW chose the fish every night and her constant refrain was slightly over-cooked and dry, but good.
The service was impeccable and friendly. Our suite was serviced twice a day by a lovely Hungarian. Being in a suite we got free laundry which never took more than 24 hours. The dining room staff bent over backwards to relate as well as deliver; kudos to them.
One discordant note: DW and I are not drinkers-except for wine at dinner. When we went to the bar for the evening port talks we were treated rudely by the bar tender to the point that I mentioned it in my survey. Twice we ordered something and were told not to wait at the bar, we would get it right away. It never was less than 15 minutes-annoying and combined with what we perceived as a bad attitude-unacceptable.
The programs were what we had hoped for; interesting, informative and well guided. Be aware that in August all Europe is on vacation so everything is crowded. In the case of Giverny this was a problem, the Bayeux tapestry not so.
We highly recommend the day long excursion to Etratat, the cider farm and Honfleur.
Be aware on both this leg and the Rhone the pace is not relaxed and many passengers would take days off in order to rest.
Summary: Loved the trip. Fellow travelers were fun, the shore excursions were compelling, the accommodations and food were as advertised.