2 Budapest to Europe - River Cruise Uniworld S.S. Beatrice Cruise Reviews

We've done ocean cruises for years and decided to try a river cruise because we always wanted to see the Danube. We chose Uniworld since it was a boutique line with good reviews. We did the 9 night Delightful Danube and Prague on ... Read More
We've done ocean cruises for years and decided to try a river cruise because we always wanted to see the Danube. We chose Uniworld since it was a boutique line with good reviews. We did the 9 night Delightful Danube and Prague on the SS Beatrice on July 24, 2019. We opted for the 2 day pre-extension in Budapest. Overall the vacation was good. But given the price, I would say it failed to live up to our expectations. The Good: - Food was excellent. That part was very much in line with our expectations. - Itinerary was excellent. I liked river cruising and especially the locks. I wasn't sure if I would like river cruising (being an ocean cruiser), but it was nice. - Ship was nice. - Staff was for the most part very good. - All tips included which was nice. - All drinks included (but I'm sure we paid for that with the price). - Many excursions were included (but that wasn't necessarily good - see the ugly below). - Cabin was nicely decorated. It was pretty tiny, but we knew that going in. Just be aware that it is very small. The bathroom would be hard for an elderly person (in my opinion. One annoyance to me was that light from the hallway came around the door on all 4 sides so the cabin was never really dark at night. French balcony was nice. - Pre-Cruise in Budapest. I would definitely recommend extending your trip in Budapest. Amazing city and you really need more time to see it than you will otherwise get on the 7 night cruise. - Post-Cruise in Prague. I would also recommend this as well. I loved Prague. Would definitely do this since you should see it. The Not so Good: - Public areas were limited. There weren't too many places you could go on the ship the get out of your small cabin. The top deck is closed between Nuremberg and Regensburg so that took away a nice option leaving only the lounge. If a talk was going on in the lounge, you then really had no options. That final day (when the sun deck was closed due to low bridges), the ship felt much, much too small to me. - Excursions were not that great. I actually thought they were pretty poor. Nothing amazing and certainly nothing close to what we paid for with Celebrity in Greece. We even paid for a Masterpiece excursion one night and even that wasn't really that amazing. I was disappointed with the excursions. We could have done much better on our own and if I did this cruise again that is exactly what I would do. - Information was poor. I've never been on a cruise before with such little information being provided. We didn't realize until we were on the ship that the ship was leaving Budapest the following morning. We thought we had a day to see Budapest and all we had was a bus tour (included) which did not give a very good overview of Budapest. Had we not done the pre-cruise stay in Budapest we would have been very upset. - Excursion groups were HUGE. Ship may have been tiny (130 or so passengers), but the excursion groups were very big and many did not break up in to smaller groups. We did a bike tour in Austria that had 65 people riding in one large group. Our last cruise was with Celebrity in Greece with thousands of passengers and we never had groups this big. To me it ruined the small ship feel since the excursions were anything but small. - Open seating was a pain for a group of 4. Being a family of 4 in two cabins, we wanted a table of 4 for dinner. It was hard to ensure that since there were not many 4's and some of those were reserved by larger groups (which is annoying). So we always had to be at dinner right as it opened to ensure we got a table of 4. Not the most relaxing feeling when you have to worry about that each evening. Not sure why they allowed so many tables to be "reserved" like they did. The Ugly: - Cruise Manager was poor. This was our biggest gripe on the cruise. The cruise manager several times gave out false information about tours. It almost seemed like she had never done this before (but I know she's been doing it a while). On the biking tour from Austria to Passau, we were under the impression that drinks at the "Beer House" stop were included in the excursion. Prior excursions included water so we figured this would be no different since we were biking 18 miles. We only got water for ourselves and 2 kids at the Beer House. Prior to biking away, we were told that some tables hadn't paid their bill. Turns out we had to pay for that water. It was rather embarrassing - especially for another guest who didn't have euros on him to pay. I mentioned to the Cruise manager immediately upon returning to the ship that she might want to explain that to future guests. She said it was mentioned at the talk the night before which we hadn't attended (since we had already signed up for the tour). She seemed rather indignant to my wife and I - like it was our fault. I would think that given the cost of this vacation, they could actually mention something like this at the onset of the tour itself. I mean it's a vacation and why should we have to attend every little briefing just to hope we get the tiny details that you would think would be given to you on the actual tour itself. But it was just another sign of the poor information provided and for that I totally blame the Cruise Manager. Recommend? I don't think I would recommend Uniworld to someone who wanted to River Cruise. For the price, I was definitely not impressed and the organization on the ship was very much lacking. If we river cruise again (which I expect we will), we will try another company. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have sailed with Uniworld 8 times in the past, 6 times in Europe plus once each in China and Egypt. We embarked in Budapest which we'd visited before so didn't spend any extra time before the cruise started. Uniworld ... Read More
We have sailed with Uniworld 8 times in the past, 6 times in Europe plus once each in China and Egypt. We embarked in Budapest which we'd visited before so didn't spend any extra time before the cruise started. Uniworld picked us up at the airport and delivered us to the ship with no hitches whatsoever. As usual, the food was excellent and Dimitar, the restaurant manager was the best we've had in Europe. He was personable and interacted with diners well while keeping an eye on the level of service. When serving staff were pressed, he pitched in serving beverages and assisting to keep service flowing smoothly. Danny the Hotel Manager was also very helpful when anything needed attention. As in the past, all of the staff were a delight working hard to keep everyone happy. Uniworld has the best soups at lunch in my opinion. We love Uniworld's use of the VOX Box (guides transmit commentary by radio into an earpiece or headset) which allows us to hear over traffic noise and distance which develops when a group gets spread out because of narrow sidewalks, etc. Since our last Uniworld cruise in France in spring 2016, the earpieces have been improved so they actually fit in my ear canal and I didn't need to use my headphones. Suggestion for those who use hearing aids and can't insert an ear bud: Take headphones with you. The VOX receiver which has a lanyard to hang around your neck takes a standard audio jack. In addition, there is now a setting that can be used when you're on the deck. There is a GPS system that provides relevant commentary as you float past landmarks, towns and villages. It also told us about food and drink of the region. Breakfasts and lunches are buffet style and times will vary somewhat depending on when excursions are scheduled. Dinner is generally served at 7. If there is an excursion that needs to start at 6 pm, dinner will be served early or in one case, there was a buffet dinner. Every breakfast has a special of the day (example eggs Benedict). In the past this special was advertised on a podium at the entrance to the dining room. Now, you have to ask for a menu in order to see what the special is. People who had been on the ship for the preceding leg of the cruise didn't know that there was a special. We asked only because we'd been on other Uniworld cruises. The on-board entertainment, a brother and sister, (Rita and MIchael) were excellent and the best on board we've had. Refurbished SS Beatrice: I like the decor much better than on other Uniworld ships we've been on. It's more understated than the decor of the others. There is an elevator from the bottom level to the 3rd level and a mechanical chair to take a person to the top sun deck. Great for those with mobility problems. On the negative side: the lobby floors are marble which can be slippery when wet and when wearing non-grip soles on shoes. The regular rooms (i.e. not suites) have too much furniture in them. The rooms are small, but we expected this. But between the bed and the outer wall were two arm chairs and a glass coffee table. The clearance to get into bed was far too narrow. We and other passengers had, at minimum, the glass table removed entirely and some also had one of the armchairs removed. When speaking with staff, they told us they had a room full of excess furniture. It may look nice to have these furnishings but so many pieces is not functional in the least. The bathrooms are small (again we expected this) but the toilet is squeezed between the shower wall and another wall. And it is not normal adult height but might work well for a 12 year old. Taller men were heard to say that they had to heave themselves up to get off. I'm 5'5" and had to work at standing up. There is no hook in the bathroom for a bathrobe. The water in the shower would on occasion stop altogether but only for a second or two. A problem with flushing our toilet was solved quickly because the fix-it man was in our hall after fixing someone else's toilet. The ceiling height in the lounge and dining room is quite low. Taller people may need to duck. On the other hand, the sound baffling on the ceiling is much improved. On other ships, dinner conversations could completely obliterate your ability to hear others. This ship has fixed that problem. The lounge is chopped up compared with previous ships, probably because of the addition of the Schubert's dining area. However the furniture arrangement of very deep sofas arranged back to back and jutting into the smaller space didn't allow much dancing room and impeded many passengers from seeing the speakers.There were no true arm chairs in the lounge. My husband with balance problems had trouble getting up and the sofas were too low and deep for him to use. We've chosen Uniworld because of the delicious food and the attentiveness of the staff AND their provision of a gentle or easy walker program. On arrival at the ship, we were told verbally that this program was cancelled and this was confirmed by Uniworld by e-mail. After my protestations, this program was promptly reinstated for this cruise and subsequently reinstated for all for 2018. Thanks to Uniworld for addressing our complaint but the cruise started on a sour note. My husband has MS and has problems with balance. On the ship he uses a cane; on walking tours, he uses a walker. European streets often have cobblestones which can be difficult even if you have no mobility problems. The ship staff found a place in a public space but out of public traffic to store the walker. We already had too much furniture in the room. Comments on tours that were memorable for us: Those who went on the 27 km bicycle ride loved it. The same for those who did the 7 km hike. Both these groups departed the ship at one dock and met up with the ship further up the river. Spitz Village Day with wine tasting: This was an easy walk just by its nature. Our guide was both on the board of the Shipping Museum and was involved in the family business of producing apricot products. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the museum much but was pleasantly surprised by the ingenuity used in the past in using the wooden boats. We then went on to the tasting of apricot products: brandy, liqueur, jam and barbecue sauce. Altogether a very nice half day. Nuremberg Panoramic City Tour: We were bused to Zeppelin field where Hitler held marches. A local historian guide was very good and most informative. The Nuremberg Castle was also most interesting in terms of how well protected it was. Prague: We were bused from Nuremberg to Prague. checking in at the Art Deco Imperial was disorganized and late based on what we told on the ship. When we got to the room, we discovered that you had to step up about 22 inches to get into the tub. We were offered steps to get in (but you still had no way to get out.) Because my husband could not manage either getting in or out, we were offered a room with both a tub and a shower. In talking with others in our group, at least three able bodied people slipped in the tub. There was a combination of new tubs and soft water and no arm height grab bars. All had asked for and not received non-slip mats for the bottom of the tub. Not a good choice of hotel. Prague: morning Estates Theater and Mucha Museum: We chose this as it involved the least amount of walking. Even so, we took a cab to the Theater so that my husband wouldn't get too tired because we'd also booked an afternoon tour. This small theater is used only for Mozart operas and is a jewel. We were entertained by a quartet playing classical music. A lovely interlude. We then walked to the Mucha Museum. I'd never heard of Mucha but recognized his work and style and it was interesting to learn more about him. And then recognized his work on hotel walls and other buildings throughout the city. Prague: afternoon Terezin Concentration Camp: We were driven through the countryside to this camp which was primarily a transition camp where conditions were so bad many died there. There are two cemeteries, one for Christians and one for Jews. Not necessarily an enjoyable tour but most interesting. A special guide was assigned to my husband to take him the easiest walking route through the camp. This was followed by a visit to a museum in the Jewish ghetto nearby. By then, at the end of the whole cruise and the end of a long hot day, we left a little early to visit the local ice cream shop. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
S.S. Beatrice Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 2.7
Dining 5.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 2.4
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 2.8
Family 3.5 2.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 2.4
Enrichment 5.0 2.7
Service 5.0 4.7
Value For Money 5.0 2.7

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