S.S. Beatrice is one of Uniworld's signature "Super Ships," a superior class boasting redesigned accommodation, upgraded technology and signature features such as a grand central staircase. Formerly sailing as River Beatrice, the slightly renamed and vastly redesigned S.S. Beatrice is virtually unrecognizable. For a start, it's grown a few feet in length to install a sleeker hull. All public rooms and accommodation interiors have been transformed, and dining and bar options doubled.
The addition of three larger suites and four cabins reconfigured as connecting family rooms, has reduced capacity from 156 to 152 passengers. Our early-season sailing had only 97 passengers and 56 crew, so we were lavished with attention. The ever-professional crew made such a difference to everyone's enjoyment. From the captain, the cruise manager, restaurant manager and hotel manager to the delightful waiters, bartenders and impeccable housekeeping, Beatrice's team is hard to beat.
A sign of the times: The Captain's Lounge, which housed a small library, is gone to make way for the modern Max's, where every table has USB ports and international power points to plug in and charge phones, iPads and Kindles. Max's hosts cooking classes (for an extra fee), while its bar is completely overlooked; there is no entertainment so many passengers didn't know it exists. More popular is Schubert's, a complimentary, Austrian-style cafe. Much of the outdoor deck at the bow has been reclaimed for this lovely, indoor alternative to the main restaurant.
The 2018 renovation, undertaken by designers from Red Carnation Hotels (Uniworld's sister brand), addresses style and comfort in equal measures. The overriding feeling is one of lightness and brightness as sunshine streams in through panoramic windows onto the light wood and blue decor. New furniture and divine beds make everything literally comfortable. Adding to this appeal are special touches, most notably the marble-floored lobby with jars of candy, lots of vases of fresh flowers and the impressive artwork collection (some original Picasso, Alexander Calder and Murano glass artist Pino Signoretto).
Nine itineraries are offered on various rivers, stopping in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and the Netherlands. Dedicated family sailings are held on select dates.
Largely North American couples, as well as smaller numbers of British, European, Australian, Asian and South African are mostly in their 50s to 70s. Around a dozen solo travelers, usually women, can be found on some voyages when the single supplement is waived. Most people are well-traveled and many have never cruised.
Resort-style casual is acceptable day and night. In the evening, men wear trousers, a collared shirt and optional jacket; shorts are not appreciated in the restaurant for dinner. For women, summery dresses, skirts or nice pants and top are fine for all occasions. At the welcome and farewell festivities, men should wear dark trousers, a button-down shirt and sport coat (or jacket and tie --although you could get away with not wearing the latter), while women can opt for a cocktail dress or elegant pantsuit. A low heel or flat shoes are easier than high heels on a moving ship. Passengers who don't wish to change for dinner can dine casually in Schubert's cafe or order room service. There are no formal nights.
Europe's weather ranges from chilly and wet to hot and humid, so bring a rain jacket or coat (umbrellas are provided), hat and sunglasses. If you plan to use the gym, don't forget activewear. Walking shoes are recommended for shore excursions.
The fare includes all meals (except in Max's), drinks (excluding premium wines), 24-hour room service, shore excursions, Wi-Fi, exercise classes, bicycle rental, entertainment, lectures, self-service laundry, in-cabin movies and gratuities for onboard crew and tour guides. There is a self-serve coffee machine (near the stairs on Deck 4), as well as tea facilities, jars of cookies and candy, and a water dispenser with three nozzles for a choice of chilled, sparkling or room temperature. The only extra expenses are optional, such as massages and other spa treatments, laundry and pressing service (if you don't want to use the free laundry), a few premium brands of wine and alcohol, and a small selection of additional tours. It's very possible to not spend another cent above the cruise fare. The onboard currency is the euro.
Small ship, big price, big excursion groups, poorly organized