River Baroness Cruise Review by 7seven: Uniworld
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First, comments about the Uniworld experience. My husband and I have previously cruised with AMA on the Danube, and with Scenic Tours on the Saone and Rhone river.
Service: excellent, décor: boutique hotel, beds and bedding: excellent, food: excellent to outstanding, wine: average to very good, tours: well-organized and interesting, Al Fresco dining option: fantastic, no announcements in your room: FANTASTIC (I hope all cruise lines will copy this)daily tour talks: available in your cabin on the t.v. (another excellent and innovative service). Bikes: available as well as Go Active bike tours. I haven’t ridden a bike in 35 years and now have gone on 2 of the Uniworld bike tours in Bordeaux. Wireless: included and in your cabin!
All-inclusive: very good but not yet excellent. It was lovely to have drinks in the lounge and on the deck without worrying about cost. My husband and I cruised with Scenic Tours last year, and they are all-inclusive. We did not More have any extra charges for tours. Uniworld still charges for “optional” tour. Scenic had 3 tours available each day, and no surcharge. Uniworld has usually 1 or 2 tours a day, and then very expensive optional tours that can be cancelled because not enough people signed up. A cooking class tour was a very expensive optional tour on Uniworld, but with Scenic we had a cooking class at the Paul Bocuse culinary school and it was included. On Uniworld, there is a different white and red wine served in the dining room. When we asked for a wine that is served on a different night, we were told that wasn’t possible by the waiter. Our cruise manager clarified this situation once she knew about it, and waiters then did serve any of the wines that are part of the “all inclusive” wine list.
Which brings me to my last point, customer service: excellent. Our complaints and concerns were addressed promptly and graciously. Thank you to Georgina, our hotel manager.
Paris to Normandy on the River Baroness
Positive: visit to Giverney, visit to Juno and Omaha Beach, Uniworld provided a wreath for a powerful service at the American Cemetery – I had a lump in my throat the entire day. Rouen and the cathedral light show were lovely. Excellent, informative and interesting guides.
Negative: there is no way I would have booked this trip with Uniworld had I understood how very, very small are the cabins. You can barely get a suitcase under the bed, and you can barely walk around the bed. There is chair in the room but you cannot put it beside the glass window and look at the river. The bathroom, very nicely done, is claustrophobic. My husband and I are not very large, but I can’t imagine how a large person could move in that space. The closet is so small that not only did all of our clothes not fit in it, but the clothes hangers don’t fit in it. You cannot close the closet door with your clothes on the hangers and the closet light shines all night long. For the same money or less, you can have almost the same itinerary on a competitor’s boat and have a much larger cabin. Because Uniworld combines 2 or more river cruises, our next boat, the River Royale, was a surprise. We had a lovely cabin with a much roomier bathroom, 2 chairs and a table, ample closet space – and for the same price as the River Baroness. My husband sent an irate email to our travel agent once we could compare the two exactly same priced one week cruises. Passengers who had been on the Uniworld Rhone river cruise on the exquisite S.S. Catherine were somewhat horrified when their next week was on the cramped River Baroness.
Bordeaux, Vineyards and Chateaux on the River Royale
Positive: Focus on food and wine – and the food was divine! We promised ourselves to have a light lunch – and would have 3 or 4 courses - the food was just that good. Excellent meals on the ship and at the Chateau for lunch. Bike riding in bucolic vineyards, visiting charming small towns like Saint Emilion and Bergerac. Wine tasting Sauternes. Seeing famous chateaus and vineyards for real after having only seen them on labels. Arachon oyster tasting! Wine tasting in the Claret Room, Shopping in Bordeaux – same shops and fashion as Paris but in a calmer, smaller and very beautiful area. Younger and more active crowd on this cruise -families, 20,30, 40 something’s plus the usual 50 to 80 crowd.
Negatives: the Gironde Estuary, Dordogne and Gironde River are brown – not what I was expecting! A different shore and water look from the other rivers I have cruised. In 2014, there are only 3 cruise companies in Bordeaux. Next year, there will be more. Half of the time, we were tied up to another ship, meaning you need to keep your curtains drawn so you don’t look into another person’s cabin. Viking cruise passengers couldn’t use their balconies when that side of the ship was tied to a ship. Without more docks, I can’t imagine where all of these ships will anchor! Less
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