We have travelled on over 15 ocean cruises but wanted to experience the river cruise. We chose Uniworld and the River Duchess, mostly for the ports in Eastern Europe.
Not knowing river cruising companies we were somewhat intimidated,however we lucked out in choosing Uniworld. Everything was great. Uniworld assembles mostly english speaking passengers for some of their cruises so we were able to enjoy all the people aboard. The main countries represented were US, Canada and Australia. River boat passengers seem to be very well travelled and welcome meeting new people. The dining was open and we never ate alone. The food was outstanding and after the big cruise lines, it was so refreshing to have the variety we experience there but not the massive quantity.
To my view, the river boats are not beautiful because of the specifications they have to follow re bridges etc. but the interior of the River Duchess was quite luxurious. Our stateroom was a little smaller than we had experienced on the ocean liners but very adequate and well appointed.
We thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of river cruising. We simply walked over a small gangplank and we were in a place to easily access the heart of the town or city. We were able to get on and off several times a day, at our convenience. One time we simply wanted an ice cream cone and a stroll in the shady park!
The included tours were very good, although we do like to do things on our own and that was very possible. Probably the most interesting tour was the visit to the home of a resident of Croatia for lunch. It is alway wonderful to be able to see how others live.
The staff went our of their way to see to our needs. Instead of the night tour in Budapest, my husband and I wanted to hear some gypsy music with a glass of wine. One of the staff found us a restaurant and when we arrived, a table had been reserved for us. We had a lovely evening enjoying the wine and the gypsy music. You would find that the staff is a little more laid back than the ocean liners, but very friendly, professional and helpful.
The entertainment was really enjoyable. We had a piano player all the time, supported by a singer at times on board in the lounge. The entertainment brought on board at several ports was very high quality. No night club acts but really good entertainment.
I do have to say that the cruise director Rick was excellent. He was helpful and informative at all times.
All together, a really great experience. We love river cruising.