River Royale Cruise Review by Lightening Al: To river cruise or not to river cruise, that is the question
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To river cruise or not to river cruise, that is the question
After hearing so much about the benefits of river cruising we thought we would give it a go and selected the Uniworld Soane/Rhone wine country cruise. The cruise itself was very good to excellent. Ship was in good condition and very clean, only exception was tile in our shower that was quite grotty - made no sense when rest of ship was so clean. Crew and staff we friendly and helpful. Food was very good and nice size portions. The local wine served with meals was all excellent. Dining room service was a bit spotty, wondered at one point if they were short crew. Would agree with a previous reviewer that cliques formed quickly, tougher to mix, mingle and meet new people at dinner than we had experienced on other cruises or land tours.
On board entertainment was geared to the over 90 set. I am sure the individual artists were very talented but Uniworld is obviously not targeting fit and active baby boomers.
Overall I expected better / more from the excursions. We had More some excellent guides but we also had a couple of real duds and for what we paid they all should have been top notch. We ended up buying the supplemental tours as we quickly realized that if we did not, there was nothing to do in the afternoon other than sit around the ship, which I am sure is fine for many travellers, but not us. All the supplemental tours were excellent both in content and guides. Included tours were a mix, but the common denominator was that they were all low impact, stair and hill avoidance and in the case of the trip to Les Baux rushed.
I am sure buried in the small print of the contract it says that excursions can be cancelled or can be limited in the number of participants. The supplemental excursion to Pont du Gard was cancelled the night before because not enough people had signed up. Because of some new inane policy on Uniworld, the tour director cannot make announcements, so no effort was made to advise passengers that the tour would be cancelled unless more people signed up. Ultimately the tour director arranged for 4 taxis to take 17 of us there, a worthwhile excursion, but I felt overall very poorly handled.
Similarly, both "strenuous" walking tours were filled before we had a chance to sign up, limited to 25 persons. So in Lyon we had the choice of a bus tour or doing things on our own, at our own expense. We opted for the later. In Avignon, same, tour filled. We went on the general tour of the Pope's Palace but left it early to follow our own tour plan.
Our friends were on AMA, same week, opposite direction. They had previously travelled with Uniworld but felt AMA was a step up and almost all their excursions were included.
If you are an active traveller, I would suggest you think twice about a river cruise. We will probably give it another try in 10-15 years. Less
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