Well, we set sail from Passau after spending 4 days independently in Prague, which was beautiful but a tad wet. If you come into Prague, don't miss Cesky Krumlov on the way down to Passau. It is a magical place. Had we known, we would have left Prague a day early and stayed there over night. The embarkation, as everyone has already posted, was seamlessly easy and fast. Our stateroom, while smaller that the suites (slightly), was very comfortable and had, I think, more storage space than ocean cruises we have taken.
I will not go into all of the specifics of the ports as they have been reviewed in past postings but I do want to talk about the crew. Now, we have sailed Sea Dream Yacht Club, Oceana, Paul Gaughin, and Silver Seas. Never have I experience a crew that was as genuinely kind and attentive as the crew on River Beatrice. They always greeted all of the passengers with a smile and a name and some began to feel like friends. We all love to see beautiful sites and I am sure all of the other river cruise lines provide the same sites but I just don't think the service on Uniworld's River Beatrice can be matched.
Case in point, the night before we docked in Linz, I was speaking to Tania Da Clara, the concierge, and she mentioned there was a memorial called Mauthausen (a labor camp) near Linz. I said we would like to go there and she kindly arranged to have us taken there (after returning from Gmunden and Steyr). Tania contacted a wonderfully kind gentleman who offered to take us there in his taxi. It turns out, he is also a tour guide and was so helpful in getting us in the the camp even though it was the end of the day and the staff was preparing to leave. To be there when it was silent and empty of other people was so meaningful. Thank you, Tania and thank you Johann.
Another case in point - my husband surprised me by arranging to renew our wedding vows on the boat. My father and his family are from Budapest so this trip was very, very important to me. River Beatrice was docking in Budapest on October 19th and he planned for this to occur on that evening. He made all of the arrangements with Marela Varga, our wonderful cruise manager, Mario Mirao , our beautiful Tania and, of course, Captain Doede Smit. On the entire cruise, these people and our friends knew what was going to occur but not one person said a word to me. So, at 6:15 PM, in Bratislava (as we were delayed in coming in to Budapest), Harvey and I went up to the Captain's Lounge to have a drink with our friends and there was Captain Smit, Tania, Marela and Mario along with Steve and Jill, our friends. with Champagne and roses and Harvey asked me to marry him again. With the full moon behind us shining in the window, Captain Smit read the prepared vows and re-announced us husband and wife. It was his first time doing this and he was dignified and wonderful. What a beautiful moment that we will always, always remember. And, if that were not enough, Tania presented us with a CD of the photos she had taken that evening of us saying our vows. We really cannot thank them enough.
Next morning in Budapest, we went on the Parliament Tour as we were staying independently for 5 more days. I would highly, highly recommend the Parliament Tour. There were only 6 of us who opted for this tour as everyone else took the city tour. We went early in the day and the Parliament building was not at all crowded and we were even able to see the changing of the guards. Our very knowledgable and nice tour guide also took us on a walking tour and to the Great Market Hall which should not be missed - paprika, sausage, strudel - what more could one want. If you are able to do so, I would make sure to stay in Budapest either with Uniworld or on your own - it is truly beautiful (of course, I may be biased).
I, again, don't want to take up your time with the other ports as other posters have done a much better job than I can but I will say that we never, ever felt rushed of part of a cattle call on this trip. The tours were well organized and we were in small groups. If we wanted to go on our own, that was perfectly
fine. We just informed the guide that we were going.
Meals were delightful with lots of local specialties. Even the dining room crew was so kind. I came in late one morning not expecting to eat breakfast - just to sit with my husband who was finishing up - and the waiter insisted I eat something. He brought me what he had noticed I had eaten on other days.
Our room was always tidied before we returned from breakfast. Loved the L'Occitane in the bathrooms and the soft sheets and extra pillows for the bed. Thank you Ava.
Oh. I forgot to mention that our friend, Steve is a sailor and has sailed on his sailboat around the world. He is very critical by nature. Steve was so impressed with the way Captain Smit managed River Beatrice through the locks and docking her in the various ports. Smooth as silk.
OK!!! I know I sound like someone who is not for real and just writing this review to build up the business of Uniworld but I can assure you that this is not true. My husband and I appreciate nice things but we really, really appreciate nice people. Would I go on a river cruise again? Sure. Would I choose another river cruise line other than Uniworld? No. Would I recommend them? Well, that goes without saying. YOU BET I WOULD!!!!!