We are a couple from Southern California, both in our late 60's, taking our first river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest on Uniworld.
The arrival and departure went very smoothly. Even though we managed our own transportation to/from Europe (miles),we were met at the airport and after a short wait for some other passengers, bussed to the River Empress. The departure was also done well. People left as early as 4:30 AM and as late as 2 PM. All were taken to the airport or to a hotel by charter bus.
We were in a category 2 room which was small, but with the luggage under the bed, we managed to get everything in its place and could sit comfortably in the room. However, we found we spent very little time in the room. If we weren't eating, on a shore excursion, or in the lounge, we were topside watching the amazing scenery.
The food and meal service was outstanding! The breakfast buffet always included scrambled eggs, sausages or ham, a chefs special (eggs More
Benedict, sailor's omelet, etc.), yogurt, cereal, cheese, cold cuts and more. The lunch buffets were also great with a wide variety of dishes with beer and/or wine included. The dinner's were from a menu with several choices for each course. If none of the entrees looked good, sirloin steak, salmon, and chicken were always available.
We took a few optional tours, the best being the concert in Vienna. Another highlight for me was a 33 km bike ride, with escorts from a local shop. Sixteen of us left about an hour ahead of the boat and met the boat down river near a bier garden where we had stopped after our ride.
One thing not clear to me before the trip was that you could put gratuities for the tour director and staff on your cabin bill and settle it at the end of the cruise with a credit card. I thought the gratuities had to be in cash so I made a couple of stops at ATM's in Germany. ATM's were easy to find at each port. We were given maps of the cities that highlighted the local attractions, ATM's and the ship's location.
Other cruise lines may be excellent as well, but I was really impressed with our crew and staff. At every stop I could see our sailors cleaning the outside of the ship, and when the hotel staff wasn't cleaning rooms, they were dusting the passageways. We were always met by the hotel staff with a cold towel and a cold drink after each shore excursion and welcomed back aboard.
All the cabins, except the suites, are the same size. The only differences are the windows and theme. The category 1 rooms have a slider, category 2, a large window, and category 3 and 4 have smaller windows.