Uniworld Rhine river cruise
Day 1 arrival at Amsterdam Schipol airport.
We arrived at 3:30 pm, were greeted by a representative, and were on our way within 15 minutes to the ship by bus. Check in was seamless, our cabin was ready so we were allowed in immediately. Please note, if your plane arrives before noon, you will be taken to the ship, but you will not be able to go to your room til they are ready, usually around 1 o'clock. You will be accommodated in the lounge until your room is ready. This may be tiring for some passengers, so try to arrange your arrival in Amsterdam for after 1.
Room was very nice, comfortable beds, nicely appointed bathroom. No refrigerator in room. Cabin was small, but adequate, and beautifully decorated. NOTE: if you purchase local wines, you may have it chilled and served to you with NO corkage fee.
Day 2, Amsterdam canal cruise and museum visit.
Canal cruise was lovely, not to be missed, you get a lot of history from the cruise. We chose the Van Gogh museum tour, arrived before opening and we allowed in per an agreement that Uniworld has with the museum, so we got a full half hour in the museum before it opened. Very nice museum, learned a lot about Van Gogh.
Day 3, Cologne, Germany
Pier was within walking distance to the heart of Cologne, Dom Square. We visited the Roman-Germanic museum, it was ok, but if you are not interested in artifact overload, go to the Dom instead, it is awe inspiring. Also, Cologne is one of the best places to buy souvenirs in Germany, a wide variety and lower prices than you will find elsewhere. This is also one of the best spots to "pub crawl" in the evening, visit a few pubs and drink the Krolsch beer, very fresh and delicious.
Day 4, Koblenz, Germany.
We were surprised at the size of the city, on our last visit we only did the castle tour, this one we did a walking tour, and found it a charming city, with a wide variety of shopping and nice cafÃ©'s. This is also a nice souvenir spot. Don't miss the Willhelm statue, it is huge.
Day 5, Cochem, Germany
Nice walking tour, pleasant city, the Reichsburg Castle is a must see, but be warned about the Ediger-Eller trip. We thought that it was an enterprising Mayor who had arranged tours of his small town to boost sales, turns out, he is the only one who is making money on it. You will have no time for shopping or exploring here, even though it looks like a nice quiet town. He escorts you to a church for a little organ music, then to a cemetery, then to his pub, where you are crammed in, and served some olives and bread, and have to suffer through a film, along with wines from a local vintner. The wine was not very good, and the "show" put on by his parents was embarrassing. I would definitely miss this "tour", but go to the town on the bus and go on your own, give some of the other businesses a boost. The Mayor is an opportunist, but not for his town, only his coffers.
Day 6, Luxemborg, Luxemborg
Awesome tour of the WWII US cemetery, where Patton is interred. Beautiful memorial for our men, very moving, don't miss it. Luxemborg itself is more of an industrial city than charming.
Day 7, Trier, Germany
This tour starts out very slow, with a bus ride to the top of a vineyard to look at a Roman amphitheater ruin, which you can't tell what it is from looking at it. The afternoon part of the tour to Trier and the Porta Negra is wonderful, a great shopping town. The gate is really impressive. Don't try to take pictures of the flower peddlers, they get snippy about it. Whatever.
Day 8, Bernkastel, Germany
Didn't go on the tour, felt like vegging out. People said it was nice, though, and the wines were good.
Day 9, Boppard, Germany
Cool music museum, awesome views of the Rhine castles during the afternoon cruising.
Day 10, Speyer, Germany
There is a really cool museum here, it is the Speyer air museum, they have every mind of motorized conveyance you can think of, a big hit with the guys. There is a cool U9 submarine that you can go into, as well as a Lufthansa 747. Town of Speyer is cute, though most things were closed as it was All Saints Day.
Day 11, Strasbourg, France
What can I say about France? I don't like it. People are culturally rude, not just to tourists but to each other, and no one picks up after their dogs, ugh. Watch your step.
Day 12, Briesach, France
France again, I can do without it. We chose the optional excursion to the Black forest, don't miss it, it is like an Alpine Old Sturbridge Village. You will stop at a clockmakers shop, this is the place to buy cookoo clocks, and also linens (Christmas) the price is reasonable and you won't find anything in Switzerland to compare.
Day 13, Basel, Switzerland
Disembark went like clockwork, the staff makes everything smooth and painless. We chose the extended option for Lucerne for 3 nights, stayed at the Radisson Blu, it was just ok for the money. Be prepared, Switzerland is EXTREMELY expensive. A large French Fry can run you 15 francs (about 18 USD). Really. There is a little grocery store in the Rail station, the COOP, where you can buy some staples to save money. We took the ferry to Weggis, it was mostly closed up, but the little cafÃ© on Main st had a great lunch special, only 16.50 francs each (cheap for Switz). You can take the cable car up to the top of a mountain here, we chose not to because the day was overcast.
About the ship-
Beautifully decorated in the Art Deco style, nice marble, VERY clean, no smoking in any of the rooms but a smoking area on the top deck. There is a small elevator if you need one. There is a washer/dryer on the 3rd deck, it takes a long time to wash and dry but is worth it, especially if you have a down day where you don't want to go on a tour (France, LOL). The food is fabulous, the variety is great, service is good, everything you expect from a Boutique cruise ship. We found the housekeeping staff to be exceptional, and the front desk staff, too. Our tour manager, Ann Smits, was FABULOUS, I have never seen such a friendly, outgoing manager as she.
The demographic on the ship is generally US, Aussies, UK and Canadians, with maybe a smattering of South Africa here and there. Almost everyone is retired, with just a handful of us in our 40's and 50's. The lounge entertainment is great, they bring in a lot of local artists for your pleasure, and they have the obligatory lounge pianist for times when there is no entertainment. The tours are generally pretty good walking wise, but they do offer a "gentle walkers" tour also, so if you have a sore foot or back you can still see a lot without the pain.
All in all, this was the best cruise we have taken. We will definitely return to Uniworld for our next cruise. We sailed with Viking on a previous river cruise, while it was nice, Uniworld is better, for one thing the beds on the Viking Legend were as hard as a board, where the beds on Uniworld were great.
Hope you take this cruise, it is an unforgettable experience.