Some say river cruises are the new bus tours of Europe -- only better. Cruisers unpack once and then sail down Europe's famous rivers to dock in the heart of its wonderful cities.
Uniworld's River Empress, like most river boats, is long and narrow with an interior -- and stylish decor -- remind me of the ambiance on a small, luxury cruise ship. Still, while the River Empress offers a soothing atmosphere with rich-looking materials, roomy cabins, and fine cuisine, don't think it's a snobbish experience. A cruise on this ship is casual, from the dress code to its down-to-earth clientele who love to talk, walk and explore the culture of the region they are visiting. It's not a totally laid-back experience either -- the ship sometimes stops in two or three places a day.
The ship generally sails during daylight hours so passengers can enjoy the view while lunching, and docks at night so they can stroll around in town after dinner. The ship was designed to appeal to Americans, and features English-speaking staff, a lighter cuisine and no smoking allowed except on the Sun Deck.
River Empress Fellow Passengers
Uniworld customers tend to be older, experienced travelers, although the age demographic may be trending downward as river cruising grows in popularity. The typical passenger is 50 years of age or older with a household income of more than $75,000. Many have cruised on large ocean-going cruise ships although Uniworld trips are also eminently suitable for the first-timer to Europe. Perhaps this is a more comfortable option than the five-country motorcoach tour?
River Empress Dress Code
Casual and comfortable during the day. Evenings are more "dressy" and a jacket is recommended for the captain's dinner. Most passengers are American seniors and the line says it wants them to feel comfortable, so dress regulations are not enforced.
River Empress Gratuity
Recommended gratuity is $10 per passenger per day to be pooled among the crew and $3 per person per day for the cruise manager. Uniworld will move towards all-inclusive in 2014, when most cruise fares (excluding Russia, China and Vietnam) will include unlimited fine wine, beer and spirits, as well as gratuities for onboard and onshore services, including pre- and post-cruise extensions.
We did our first river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. Everything about the trip was wonderful...the ship, the people, the food, the tours, the people, the service...did I mention the people. The crew thoroughly enjoy their jobs and have fun ...continue
I know I should review the ship and the ports, but looking back on the trip, the service is what I remember most and what makes me want to travel with Uniworld again. The trip was great, despite the rainiest spring Europe has had in over 30 years ...continue
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Summary: If you want to take the Tulips and Windmills cruise to see the tulips (our trip started April 12, 2013 from Antwerp to Amsterdam), understand that you are guaranteed to see windmills but all bets are off regarding viewing fields of tulips. ...continue