After taking many ocean cruises with increasingly disappointing experiences, my wife and I decided to try a Uniworld river cruise during the December Holiday Markets time-frame. We flew into Vienna a few days ahead of time to see some of the local sights not on the Uniworld schedule. We headed to the pier Sunday evening and found several river ships moored with little activity. With the limited lighting on the pier and no directive signs, our taxi driver was a little baffled and dropped us off at a nearby restaurant. After wandering around, we located the River Duchess. Our first realization was that this ship truly only holds around 150 passengers. We walked right on, showed our passports, collected our room cards and were escorted to our cabin. The ship itself is upscale, well appointed and comfortable. Breakfast buffet came with ordered omelets. Lunch buffet was usually served with a meat entree and dinner was from their menu. Food was very good to excellent. Soups were always awesome. Service was usually speedy and attentive. Our waiter, Laurentia (sp?), was particularly attentive.
This was a port-intensive, Holiday Market cruise that only had one afternoon for scenic cruising. Despite the misty fog that day, it was still beautiful. One nice touch was the total lack of announcements on the cabin speakers. We were given the departure time for the buses at the briefing the night before and they left promptly at that time. A final mention needs to be made for our Cruise Manager, Christine. She was the most efficient, professional and dynamic cruise manager I have ever experienced. Somehow, she was able to solve multiple problems simultaneously along with herding us about on excursions and at the end of the cruise, solving dis-embarkation transportation issues. Ours was particularly complicated, but Christine solved it quickly and even told us in detail how to buy our tickets with the least hassle. She truly set the bar high for an outstanding Cruise Manager.