14 Uniworld Joie de Vivre Cruise Reviews

This was our second Uniworld cruise (our first was on the Rhine) and my first time in Paris! I don't think it's possible to not have a great time when you start and end in Paris. The boat was beautiful! Not everyone likes ... Read More
This was our second Uniworld cruise (our first was on the Rhine) and my first time in Paris! I don't think it's possible to not have a great time when you start and end in Paris. The boat was beautiful! Not everyone likes the Uniworld decor but I felt it was reflective our where we were touring. The food was delicious and service was great. I thought the cruise director, Theirrey (I'm not sure that I spelled his name incorrectly), was very good and encouraged us to take a few tours that really made our trip (motorcycle side-car tour of Montmartre). I'd also like to thank, Augustine, who was professional, pleasant and witty, and always served our late night drinks with a smile. Overall, our fellow travelers were very friendly and social. Our party made friends with a great couple that we keep in contact with and will see this year in Florida. Groups seemed to mix very well on this trip. There was a lot of socializing after dinner and the entertainment for two nights was very good and had the dance floor packed. This was a very tour intensive trip. I did not realize that the Masterpiece Selection tours were going to be available, albeit for an extra cost. There were so many noteworthy things to see as I have outlined below. Unlike the Rhine, there did not seem to be a lot of traffic on the river. Most of the time, there were no boats visible as we were cruising. We arrived a day before embarkment and stayed in the beautiful St. Germain area, or 6th arrondissement, at the Hotel Esprit St. Germain. We loved this boutique hotel and we stayed for a reasonable price, probably due to it being the end of August. We walked to the Jardin du Luxembourg, walked by Notre Dame and toured Sainte Chapelle right before closing, so it wasn't busy. We ended the day dining outdoors at the restaurant recommended by the hotel. The next morning we enjoyed breakfast with our travel companions at Cafe de Flore. After that, we headed over to the boat around 10:30am. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea. While it wasn't on the agenda for the day, we went on a cruise of Paris on one of the main tour companies, perhaps because so many people showed up on the early side. Unfortunately, it was very hot, over 90 degrees and the boat was very crowded. No fault of Uniworld but this would have been much more enjoyable on a different day, when the temperatures were more moderate and the crowds lessened. Day 2 of Seine Cruise: We had two excisions with the first being Chateau de La Roche Guyon, an interesting castle first built in the 12th century with additions in the 14th and 18th centuries. In 1944, Rommel requisitioned the castle and used it as his headquarters. After the tour, back to the boat for lunch and then a short bus ride to Giverny to visit Monet’s house and gardens. Some folks from the cruise biked about 4 miles along the Seine to the property. Beautiful! Day 3 of Seine River Cruise - Normandy Beaches The Normandy beaches were a three hour bus ride from where our boat was docked but was well worth the trip. We visited two of the five landing beaches of the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, Utah and Omaha Beaches (the American landings). The Canadians in our group visited Juno Beach. We also visited Pointe du Hoc, the highest point of the American landings which was scaled by rangers, Sainte Mere-Eglise, and the American cemetery. Day 4 of Seine River Cruise - Golfing at Etretat and shopping in Honfleur The guys golfed at Etretat, a course with spectacular views of the Normandy Coast while the ladies chose to visit Honfleur, a picturesque village, the subject of many painters. Loved Honfleur! We finished the day off by walking to the cathedral at Rouen at 10:00pm, to watch an amazing light and sound display. Rouen is the city where Joan of Arc was martyred. Days 5 & 6 on Seine River Cruise - Mont Saint-Michel and Versailles Drove several hours to UNESCO site, Mont Saint-Michel, an island that is home to a medieval Benedictine monastery and a former pilgrimage destination. We took the shuttle but independent travelers, not on our cruise, can hire a guide to walk in during low tide, which is dangerous due to quickly changing tides and quick sand! The following day we visited Versailles. No lines and we toured the private apartments. Only 3 kings lived at the palace, Louis XIV, XV and XVI. Final Day of Seine River Cruise - Retro Sidecar in Montmartre and an evening at the Moulin Rouge No history or culture today! Started the day with a little shopping and stroll along the Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. Headed back to the boat to take our motorcycle-sidecar tour. Loved the ride and our brief time in Montmartre. Returned back to the area at night to go to the Moulin Rouge. Quite an experience! Sorry, photos of the show are not allowed! We spent a few more days in Paris after the cruise and toured the Louvre, L'Orangerie (to see Monet's waterlily panels), Jardin de Tuilleries, and ate at the Jules Verne restaurant in the 2nd platform of the Eiffel Tower (made a reservation months prior). My theory on river cruises is that so many different things can impact your experience. The weather, crowds, water levels, people on board, service,... However, so far, we've had two great cruises on Uniworld and are booked for the Danube next year. The River Heritage Credit for being return customers and the early booking, pay in full, 10% discount has made Uniworld and attractive option for us (plus a couple of complimentary bags of laundry). I hope future travelers have a great experience on the Joie de Vivre as well! Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We were originally scheduled to do Gems of Northern Italy but the ship was damaged in a port accident so we switched to the Grand France tour. The first week was on board the S. S. Catherine (reviewed separately) with a high-speed train ... Read More
We were originally scheduled to do Gems of Northern Italy but the ship was damaged in a port accident so we switched to the Grand France tour. The first week was on board the S. S. Catherine (reviewed separately) with a high-speed train connection between Lyon and Paris to begin the second leg. The train trip to Paris was fantastic. Everything was looked after by our lovely escorts and we arrived without incident. The ship: Decor was classic; beautiful and well-maintained. The maintenance staff worked hard to keep everything clean and shiny. Because we switched at the last minute, we were not able to get the same category cabin as we had booked on the Venice cruise so we were in the "basement". The room was larger than the one on the first leg of the trip. We didn't spend a lot of time in our room, so the size and location wasn't a huge issue. The guest laundry was located on this floor which was very convenient. However, the only coffee station on the ship was next to the bar on the other end of the boat which was very inconvenient. We had the same issue with the a/c on the Joie de Vive as we did on the Catherine; it was not nearly adequate given the temperature in France at the time. Even with the thermostat set as low as possible (5C), the temperature in the room never got cool enough. I was extremely uncomfortable, especially at night, and even though I requested a fan, none was provided. The pool was indoors in the middle of the bar - very unappealing location. It was covered over at night. The main lounge and rooftop deck were comfortable and it was wonderful to sit there and watch castles float by. The staff: By and large, we found the staff to be excellent. Most of them are from Eastern Europe but speak English well. I took the time to learn a few pleasantries (good day, please, thank-you) in Bulgarian, Romanian and Hungarian which they seemed to really appreciate. It was an ice-breaker that got them chatting about their countries and families. The food: I had high expectations for the food and was rather disappointed. It was fine, but not great. We took a cruise up the coast of Norway on Hurtigruten in 2018 and their chefs sourced local ingredients throughout the whole trip; the food was outstanding. We expected elegant French cuisine but it was all rather uninspiring. Service in the dining room was excellent compared to the Catherine. The ports: We loved all of the ports but did run into a couple of hiccups. At Giverney, there was an option to bike to Monet's gardens or take the bus. During the port talk, I asked if the biking was on level, paved trails and we were told it was. I am a casual biker, used to riding on level, paved trails, so I decided to sign up. At the muster point, there was a huge van dumping off bikes and bags of helmets. No one was available to help adjust seats or generally get you ready. The first thing we had to do was ride uphill onto a very busy bridge that was under construction. One of the participants fell off and suffered from bad road rash but he had to continue to walk his bike to the destination as there was no way to get back to the boat or the gardens. When we approached Giverney, we had to pedal up another steep hill, all the while dodging cars and pedestrians. Needless to say, I shouldn't have been on this tour and never would have participated if it had been adequately explained at the port talk. The tour guide was very frustrated with the inexperienced riders on the tour and complained about us to the more experienced riders. Monet's gardens were absolutely mobbed with tourists, but they were beautiful and it was worth the harrowing bike trip to get there. I got some amazing pictures. My takeaway is don't attempt a Go Active tour unless you are a real sports enthusiast :) We were looking forward to the tour to Juno Beach and the Canadian cemetery in Normandy. Unfortunately, these were add-ons to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery and we just didn't have enough time. We understand that most of the passengers are from the US and it probably doesn't make financial sense to have a Canadian beach tour. Our suggestion to Uniworld is they have an optional tour to the Canadian and UK beaches. It could probably be covered in a couple of eight-passenger vans and I certainly would have paid extra to have time to fully enjoy the experience. The opportunity to visit our beaches was a very special memory of our trip. We had an onboard credit that we decided to use to go to Moulin Rouge. The show was professional and very entertaining. However, six people were jammed together in tables meant for four which made it hard to fully appreciate the dinner and show. The food was mediocre and some of the champagne served at our table was flat. The entertainment: We usually spent some time in the lounge after dinner each evening and enjoyed the singers. There wasn't as much passenger participation on this cruise as the Catherine. The experience: This was our first river cruise and we will definitely do another one but not Europe in July or August; it's just too hot The all-inclusive policy on Uniglobe is very appealing as you aren't constantly being dinged for every drink, tour and tip. This was a lovely introduction to river cruising; it's going to be hard to top this experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We just returned from another perfect cruise with Uniworld but it’s what we expected being return customers. Every time we get on board it’s like coming home again, we always see some cruise members from a previous cruise on other ... Read More
We just returned from another perfect cruise with Uniworld but it’s what we expected being return customers. Every time we get on board it’s like coming home again, we always see some cruise members from a previous cruise on other boats. This time it was the head chef and our waiter Alexander. This particular cruise pays special attention to the D-Day landing sites in Normandy. For those of you interested in history and the sacrifices our young men made to free the world of terror, this is the cruise to take. Being there in person gives you a whole different perspective than what you got from the history books. On board we enjoyed a plethora of gourmet meals accompanied by a superb selection of quality wines. Try the La Cave du Vin for cozy, hands on, fine dining in the boat’s wine cellar. Book as soon you get on board because it fills up quickly. There is an extra charge for this but worth it. And the bar in the Salon Toulouse will amaze you with the selection of fine beverages from all over the world. Cleanliness on board is beyond reproach as is the friendliness and the service of the entire crew. Special thanks for service above and beyond go to our Hotel Manager Maria and our waiters Nikolay and Alexander. And the shore excursions are always well orchestrated and professionally guided through interesting places. But as with everything in life there are always some glitches, minor in this case but annoying. This boat was just refurbished so they added some “improvements”. The faucet in the bathroom sink has separate hot and cold water controls. The hot water is scolding hot so it takes you a while to temper it to a usable temperature with the two handles. But the bigger problem is the water spout which comes out from the wall and almost to the outside edge of the sink. It makes it impossible to bring your face over the sink and to bring the water to your face to wash it. You have to stand back and the water goes over your feet and the floor. Hint to the designers; shorten the spout by at least six inches. The other goof is the new “Do not disturb” notification. They’ve done away with the door handle sign and replaced it with an electronic touch pad inside the cabin. However, this very sensitive unit is just below the wall slot where you insert the key card to turn on the room utilities. It is almost certain that you will touch it inadvertently and alter the setting when you insert and remove the key card. And when the card is in the slot it hides the indicator light. So when we didn’t get our cabin made up for two days I went to the reception desk for an explanation. They knew immediately what was going on because it has happened to others and they very kindly explained how this new system functions. And lastly, the room thermostat control is another touch pad unit. It is preset to 23 degrees Celsius and has a wide range of temperature settings. But regardless of what temperature you change it to the room temperature never changes from the preset temp. But these minor glitches will not deter us from sailing on Uniworld again. As a matter of fact, while on board we booked the Bordeaux cruise for May 2020. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The Parisian Royal Holiday cruise travels from Paris to Rouen and back, spending more days in Paris than a similar cruise that goes from Paris to Normandy. We chose it because of the length of the Paris stay and a big plus was the ... Read More
The Parisian Royal Holiday cruise travels from Paris to Rouen and back, spending more days in Paris than a similar cruise that goes from Paris to Normandy. We chose it because of the length of the Paris stay and a big plus was the ship's berth on the Seine with a view of the Eifel Tower. We also prefer river cruising because the ships are more intimate and generally have fewer than 200 passengers. Getting to know new people and building relationships is much easier in a smaller venue. Our airfare package include transfers to/from Charles de Gaul (CDG) airport which is a good distance from the ship berth, but was accomplished with speed and comfort. The cruise includes visits to Christmas markets in Paris and Rouen, although the Paris markets were somewhat disappointing. The local tours included visits to 3 different chateaus with an evening concert at one and a private reception at another. The highlight tour was the Versailles Palace with a tour of the private royal apartments as well as the rooms open to the general public. We were also able to enter the Palace through a group tour door that bypassed the long entrance line. The ship was decorated for the holidays, the cabins were comfortable and the bathroom fairly spacious. The ship's crew was very friendly and helpful and all living areas could be reached by elevator, which was especially helpful since one member of our party had a broken foot. The injury did create some issues with tours that involved cobbles and long walks since this cruise, unlike others we have made, did not have tours to accommodate "gentle walkers". Using a wheel chair to improve mobility was not an option. The local tour guides were knowledgeable and most were fluent in English. Most days there was free time to pursue your own interests, especially in Paris, and the ship offered optional tours at additional cost including a Rolls Royce night time tour of Paris (if you were so inclined). For us, the tour highlights, in addition to Versailles, were the Rouen Christmas Market, the tour of Notre Dame de Paris, the Paris Opera House, and a night tour of Paris holiday lights in the major shopping areas concluding with the Eifel Tower light show. We also considered it a plus that the cruise was "all inclusive" so we didn't have to keep money on hand to tip the tour guides, bus drivers or ship's crew. In addition to the wine and beer served at lunch and dinner, mixed drinks were also covered making the trip more enjoyable. Most evenings there was entertainment in the lounge and before dinner the cruise director gave an overview of the next days tours. The food on board was somewhat a mixed bag. Breakfast had similar offerings each day that included eggs, meat, potatoes, cereal and a variety of breads. The food offered at dinner was generally unique and even included frogs legs and escargot on one occasion. The non-meat or fish dinner option was usually pasta which got a little monotonous. If I had to criticize anything it would be some of the lunches. It became obvious that a part of the lunch offering was recycled from the previous evening dinner. While I understand the economy of this it did get a little predictable. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
It has taken me more than 12 months to compose this review, mainly due to my bitter disappointment with Uniworld.My husband and I  did the Grand France river cruise and before that had been big fans of Uniworld. We had previously done the ... Read More
It has taken me more than 12 months to compose this review, mainly due to my bitter disappointment with Uniworld.My husband and I  did the Grand France river cruise and before that had been big fans of Uniworld. We had previously done the Christmas markets from Vienna to Nuremberg on the SS Maria Theresa, but after our Grand France tour would not recommend Uniworld and we are planning an Amsterdam to Budapest with another cruise line.Admittedly the Maria Theresa is a hard act to follow, but the first half of the Grand France cruise from Avignon to Lyon on the SS Catherine was wonderful and all that we expected. Service was great,food was delicious and staff were attentive and responsive.However that all changed when we boarded the SS Joie de Vivre from Paris to Normandy.I will deal with the boat first and how the layout and omissions have affected the quality of the experience.. We had a French Balcony cabin on the Balzac deck. No complaints with that,the usual high quality linens and cabin we had come to expect from Uniworld. The bathroom layout was a little cramped and not as comfortable as the Catherine and Maria Theresa but I acknowledge that is trivial and hardly worth mentioning! Uniworld promotes this boat as a luxury ship and that description beggars belief! Uniworld have tinkered with the design of the ships in an effort to squeeze more dollars from cruisers and that was quite obvious on the ship.On both the SS Maria Theresa and the SS Catherine the Bar du Leopard was located at the rear of the ship with a 24 horu tea and coffee station and swimming pool. For the Joie de Vivre Uniworld has dumped the Bar du Leopard and instead has Club L'Esprit and Claude's and a swimming pool instead,as well as an ambitiously named 24 hour coffee station (cupboard would have been a more accurate description) The layout suffered from an alternate drinking and lounging place like the Bar du Leopard. Both the Maria Theresa and Catherine and a coffee "shop" or room where one could partake of a hot drink and cookie. This was absent in the layout of the Joie de Vivre where the La Cave des Vins replaced the coffee shop. The cover charge for eating in that venue was 90 Euros and a cynical interpretion is that Uniworld were hoping to gouge an extra fee from their cruisers.I will deal with the tea and coffee stations.The deck plans of the Joie de Vivre show a 24 hour tea and coffee station on the Victor Hugo deck in Salon Toulouse (the main salon). I could not find the 24 hour tea and coffee station. In the rare event that a waiter did serve us when we sat in the salon we  were brought a coffee or tea with a tiny cookie resting on the saucer.Otherwise we would approach the bar and ask for tea and coffee only to be told that the waiter would serve us,so we scurried back to our seats for the waiter to appear. Our other alternative was to hit the self serve tea and coffee station/cupboard at the rear of the ship next to Club L'Esprit. A complaint I have is that there were no cookies at the self serve cupboard. There were  cookies on both the Maria Theresa and Catherine tea and coffee "shops." This sounds trivial but when  you awaken at five am and want a coffee and one plain cookie  it would be nice to have access to them, and quite frankly for the  money uniworld charges passengers it is not too much to askfor a cookie to be provided. I completed the mid cruise review and suggested cookies could be placed in the 24 tea and coffee station and the crew responded by placing a  jar of homemade cookies in our cabin. I know this will come across as fussy  but the response missed the point. I wanted everyone to have access to the cookies (delicious by the way) by having them available at the 24 hour tea and coffee station. Cheap penny pinching by Uniworld. I will deal with Le Bistrot. We were looking forward to eating at Le Bistrot as it is promoted by Uniworld as an alternate eating venue and we had read a rather complimentary review in our city's newspaper of Le Bistrot. Also we had met some cruisers who raved about Le Bistrot and told us they had eaten in there almost every night. Sadly Le Bistrot was closed for the Paris- Normandy cruise and only opened on one night for a special dining night. When I tried to register for this I was told my name would be placed on the waiting list...so I asked if there were  many people on the waiting list could they not open Le Bistrot for a second night. This was not possible. I can only assume it was cost cutting on Uniworld's part that led to the closure of Le Bistrot for the entire journey. Service The service in the main dining room Le Pigalle was appalling and not up to the standard I expected from Uniworld. It was a struggle to get the waiters' attention, much less a tea or coffee at breakfast and forget about the a la carte menu at that meal.At lunch and dinner, my water glass was not refilled and I had to leave the table to approach waiters to ask for this to be done( which I don't mind) only to have the request forgotten. I am not a big drinker but would drink more than one wine with dinner and it was a struggle to have my wineglass refilled. I don't think that was pennypinching but merely staff who did not act as team or care about serving people.Penny pinching  One incident that highlights the lack of staff and thus cost cutting was one afternoon my husband and I were seated in salon Toulouse optimistically hoping for a coffee. A fellow passenger approached the bar and asked the attendant if she could have five champagne flutes and a bottle of champagne as she and her friends were seated at Club L'Esprit and would like some champagne and there was no one serving at ClubL'Esprit. A not unreasonable request at 4.40 pm and furthermore, one that was delivered with courtesy and charm. The bar attendant apologised and told her she could not give her the bottle and glasses (okay there are rules and we all abide by them) and asked if the woman could wait until 5 pm as the Bar attendant would be at Club L'Esprit then. My beef is not the rules but that there was not another person on duty. I cannot exaggerate how disappointing the lack of wait staff and how poor the customer service was on the Joie de Vivre. Overall I was bitterly disappointed with this ship. We had had a wonderful experience on both the Maria Theresa and Catherine and had been loyal to Uniworld in our discussions with family and friends.In discussions with fellow Aussies on the cruise it became apparent they felt the same.  Before you dismiss me as a petulant diva, remember that Uniworld markets itself as five star and the cruise cost  us approximately $700 Australian dollars per person per night. I expected more for that amount of money and truly believe that Uniworld's penny pinching and cost cutting impacted on our experience. For Aussies, a good friend travelled on APT Amsterdam- Budapest and that is what we will try. In the time since we have cruised on the Joie de Vivre I have read reviews on this forum and have been incredulous and envious of other people's experience with this cruise ship. My complaints may seem trivial but did impact on our enjoyment of the cruise.On a side note I have seen Scenic's Avignon to Lyon cruise that features a dinner in the papal palace in Avignon. I would love to have done that but Uniworld did not offer that option.My recommendation is avoid Uniworld. I certainly will. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our first Uniworld Riverboat Cruise and boy were we surprised at the experience. Totally different than a larger cruise. The boat was absolutely beautiful and the staff provided nothing short of five stars service! We never heard ... Read More
This was our first Uniworld Riverboat Cruise and boy were we surprised at the experience. Totally different than a larger cruise. The boat was absolutely beautiful and the staff provided nothing short of five stars service! We never heard the engines on this electric boat and our cabin was decorated nicely. The menu items and food was great. Loved the selection of wines and top shelve liqueur. In fact the food was so good and the wine so delicious I had a gout attack when I got back to the states. Just to easy to over indulge on a Uniworld trip, so be prepared to pace yourself. We used the laundry service twice and our cloths came back fresh and clean. The spa service on this ship is so popular that we could never book an appointment but I heard they were wonderful. We enjoyed all the excursions. We really enjoyed Normandy and all the monuments. Omaha Beach was a site to behold. The yellow canola fields were beautiful along the ride to Normandy. Standing at Point du Hoc and looking at the vertical cliffs made me better appreciate the difficulty and challenge our troops had climbing them. We enjoyed finally seeing the Sainte-Mere_Eglise church where John Steele parachute got entangled. The military museum there was full of WWII artifacts including a glider. We opted for the early morning Mount Saint Michel island excursion and was not disappointed at the beauty of the architecture and all the panoramic views. Honfleur was another surprise where my wife went nuts shopping.The spring is a wonderful time to visit Monet's garden, and the colorful flowers will make you pull out a paint brush or use up a 32 gig memory card fast. What we enjoyed most was our fellow passengers. Many had been on several Uniworld cruises and were ready to take more. Lots of professional and business owners were in the mix. We really enjoyed the onboard entertainment. Impossible to go to Paris and not have a good time. We stayed an extra day to take in the museums and take in some of the optional tours. We highly recommend this Uniworld cruise to anyone who enjoys great food & wine, good conversation and lots of history. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Cruising on Uniworld Joi de Vivre was a pleasure almost beyond description. This small boat had an outstanding staff in every way. Open seating for the meals made dining a pleasure rather than the usual hassle of "cruise food". ... Read More
Cruising on Uniworld Joi de Vivre was a pleasure almost beyond description. This small boat had an outstanding staff in every way. Open seating for the meals made dining a pleasure rather than the usual hassle of "cruise food". All inclusive really meant all inclusive. I had a 60.00 Euro bill when I checked out because of laundry and one extra excursion. (A great wine tasting). Our staff called us all by name after the first evening's dinner. The excursions were extremely well planned and all went off without a hitch. The highlight of the trip was the Beaches of Normandy. Our French guide provided an excellent narrative of the days events. Highly recommend this as a trip for everyone. Be prepared for a full schedule on the excursion days. Lots of walking, particularly Richard The Lion Hearts castle. That might not be for everyone. Versailles was also a great excursion but had a lot of steps, so also might not be great for people with mobility issues. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
From the moment i stepped aboard the beautiful ship, i felt completely at home. The personnel at uniworld are simply magnificent and helpful. They eased my mind about going solo for the first time to europe and were completely ... Read More
From the moment i stepped aboard the beautiful ship, i felt completely at home. The personnel at uniworld are simply magnificent and helpful. They eased my mind about going solo for the first time to europe and were completely correct. I requested a special bread at dinner thinking it wouldn't be noticed or fulfilled, never even mentioned it to the restaurant manager and lo and behold, he brought it to my table without even being asked, even calling me by name! How in the world did he know, i never gave him or the staff my name. That is one example of the superior royal treatment the passengers receive every day. The front desk was warm and helpful and allowed me to borrow a phone to call my husband to let me know id arrived safely on the ship(my verizon phone didn't work in paris). That was just another example. The fitness director, elena, found out i was up for a walking hike to the eiffel tower and personally escorted me, giving me tips all along the way. We not only saw the beautiful tower but also took a river cruise tour afterwards (her treat and idea) It was a fabulous start to the trip of a lifetime even before i got to my room. Once in the cabin i almost fainted at the beautiful savoy bed (made in england), the picture window, the heated marble floors in the bathroom and best of all, the gorgeous bouquet my uniworld advisor sent me welcoming me to the ship, it was simply stunning and a complete surprise, her name is eileen too. Laila at uniworld also eased my butterflies about traveling to europe and was so encouraging and helpful, she also made me feel completely comfortable about going solo. i cannot say enough great things about the Uniworld group, the ships, the staff and the royal treatment they provide, all with a big smile, each and every day, Thanks so much for giving me the dream trip of a lifetime. I"ll book another as soon as i get the money together for another. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
This was my husband's and my second Uniworld Cruise (we cruised the "Castles along the Rhine" itinerary several years ago), but the first with our children (ages 12 and 16). Our first river cruise experience was ... Read More
This was my husband's and my second Uniworld Cruise (we cruised the "Castles along the Rhine" itinerary several years ago), but the first with our children (ages 12 and 16). Our first river cruise experience was amazing--attentive staff, excellent dining, sumptuous decor, comprehensive guided tours--so we enthusiastically rebooked with Uniworld. This itinerary of "Paris and Normandy" on the new Joie de Vivre was a Generations cruise. My review will focus on our experience on this family cruise; since I found very few reviews that focused on Generations when I was researching, I want to provide insights that may be helpful for other families. As Uniworld caters to mature guests (with fine dining and minimal on-board entertainment), we weren't sure what to expect with the Generations itinerary. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see many families on-board (including middle-aged parents, children, and grandparents). There were approximately 30 children on ship, and throughout the week, our children--especially our 12-year-old--had many opportunities to interact and make friends. There were two youth counselors assigned to our ship, and they supervised kid-friendly activities and tours. On-board activities included a movie night (with popcorn and snacks) and a crepe-making session with the ship's pastry chef. Often there were kid-friendly tours (parents were welcome), where the tour guide focused on information that would appeal to a younger crowd. Children/families could join these designated tours at will. There were also bonus kid-only activities after the regularly scheduled tours, such as visit to a clock tower and a round of miniature golf. (No additional charges for these activities.) Sometimes, my husband and I had both children tour with us, such as when we toured the Normandy WWII sites (as there was no kid-designated tour that day); other times, they stayed with the children's group. For instance, at Versailles our youngest son joined the children's tour that visited just a few highlights inside and focused more on the gardens (the adult tour covered the small and large apartments, not the gardens). These added kid-friendly touches truly appealed to our 12-year-old, but our 16-year-old usually felt he was a bit too old (as seemed the consensus of other teens over 14). My recommendation to Uniworld would be to provide more of a teen component to the Generations itinerary. Although I would agree that older teens can comfortably join their parents on the "adult" tours, I do think additional on-board entertainment that appeals to teens would be welcomed. For instance, one night a guest singer performed dance hits (from "YMCA" to "Uptown Funk"), which brought most of the teens to the dance floor. But this was really the only teen-friendly nightly entertainment. I wonder if karaoke would be a hit? (Sometimes it's hard to predict with teens.) On our cruise, the children's activities were not listed on the daily itinerary sheet or discussed at the port talk before dinner each night. We had to directly ask the youth counselors what would be happening that day. Usually, it was easy to find the counselors to ask. But a few times we noticed that parents less "in the know" didn't realize there was a children’s activity until it was too late. Fortunately for us, we found that our 12-year-old usually knew what was going on and was ready to join his friends at the designated time and place. Since staterooms are designed for two guests, many children/teens had separate rooms from their parents. There were only a few adjoining rooms--and we did not have one. Actually, our children's room was directly below ours. However, we did not feel it was a problem to be separated since the ship was very intimate and secure, and our children could call our room and then be at our door in under one minute. One stateroom on the 3rd floor was reserved as the "kid's room." It was filled with treats/snacks and video games. Several of the children (generally ages 9-13) hung out together during on-board free time. This room became a "meeting spot," which was great because it kept children out of one another's cabins. The room was locked at 10 pm, so there weren't any issues with late-night noise or ruckus. The only slightly awkward part was that the bed (with white duvet cover) hadn't been removed from the room (I'm guessing because of logistics)--a couch or chairs would have been more appropriate in the space. However, kids just sat together on the bed and seemed fine with the arrangement. Other on-board gathering spots: The Joie de Vivre has a small indoor swimming pool, where our children spent just a little time. The pool was too small to do more than cool off. They also spent time on the top deck sitting on the lounge chairs. Sometimes, we went up top to watch the locks and/or to see the scenery. After dinner, we often gathered in the lounge and played card games (we brought several card games with us). As they got to know other families, our children invited them to play with us. By the end of the week, there were spirited games among the teens. I suppose the disadvantage of limited on-board entertainment allows families to create their own fun. Uniworld's gourmet dining is top-notch. Children had the flexibility to eat from this adult menu and/or from a dedicated kid's menu, which offered standards like pizza, but also more sophisticated things like chicken Caesar salad. Often, our children would order from both menus (such as a soup from the kid's menu but the entree from the adult menu). They tended to be adventurous (trying frog legs and escargot) because they knew they could always order something more familiar. Since drinks are included in the all-inclusive pricing, our children took advantage of the opportunity to order Shirley Temple's or smoothies with their meals. The wait staff was always extremely accommodating and quickly learned their preferences. We usually ate together as a family for dinner, but during lunch (which is a buffet) our children often sat with other kids/teens. From what we could tell, all the children/teens behaved; for instance, we never witnessed kids running down the hall at night or using their fingers at the salad bar. I suppose when parents invest in a luxury river cruise, they bring children mature enough to appreciate the experience. (This was our mindset when we decided to book our family.) However, despite children behaving as ladies and gentleman, I do think some older solo couples on our cruise may have been a bit on edge when they saw so many children on-board. However, I think we families proved to them that there was nothing to worry about--and hopefully they enjoyed a more vibrant cruising experience. Highlights: We will forever remember riding bikes along a paved path to Giverny, which was dotted with ivy-covered stone cottages and inns. It was adventurous and scenic--and the early July weather was perfect. Our children were as impressed as we were with Monet's gardens. I have taken (not drug!) them to art museums all their lives. They can identify Monet's paintings of water lilies--and now they have experienced the lush landscape first-hand. The D-day beaches were especially moving, and our children recognized the significance of these hallowed sites. It did help that I required them to do research and presentations BEFORE our trip (on WWII, Monet, Joan of Arc, etc.), so that they would have a context for our tours. I do wish that the Rouen tour had focused more on Joan of Arc. Maybe an on-board lecture or a children’s scavenger hunt that would bring her story alive? I also felt that our tour of the Latin Quarter/Notre Dame in Paris was a bit dull. The children's "rooftop vistas” tour, which our youngest son attended, sounded much more interesting. I'd love to see Uniworld incorporate some uniquely Parisian options--like a cooking glass or an art lesson at Montmartre. But, really, this cruise exceeded our expectations in so many ways, these suggestions would just bring us one step closer to perfect. Would we go on another Uniworld Generation's cruise? Absolutely. If money were no object, I'd love to travel more-generationally, i.e., with my parents and siblings and their children. The Uniworld experience is just too great not to share it with loved ones. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Our cruise on Joie de Vivre originating in Paris was truly superb!! From the omlet chef at breakfast to the head matre de in the dining room truly a white glove service experience. We were celebrating my sister's 60th b'day and ... Read More
Our cruise on Joie de Vivre originating in Paris was truly superb!! From the omlet chef at breakfast to the head matre de in the dining room truly a white glove service experience. We were celebrating my sister's 60th b'day and had a wonderful time. The itinerary may seem somewhat boring, but we had an excursion guide, Barbara ,that made for a memorable and interesting time in both the gardens of Monet and the beaches of Normandy. The other stops on the itinaray are Ruen, Place of Versailais and Honfleur all make for interesting excursions. The service on board the ship is 1st class. Anna the bartender had special drinks ready for us after a long day of site seeing . Sevin the head matre de had a special b'day cake ready for our b'day celebration. The omlet chef at breakfast had my special omlet delivered to my table everyday. The bartender in the rear of the ship had my special Normandy brandy ready for me every night for my night cap. We ate at the Bistro on board ship one night and a couple of lunches. Food on board the ship in both the dining room and Bistro is excellent. I would definitely recommend Uniworld and Joie de Vivre ( a brand new ship) for seeing Paris and its stops along the Seine. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The Joie de Vivre lives up to its name. From the luxurious bedding to the push-button draperies and windows and the marble bathroom, the cabin exemplifies the joy of living well. The whole is beautifully decorated with the comfort of the ... Read More
The Joie de Vivre lives up to its name. From the luxurious bedding to the push-button draperies and windows and the marble bathroom, the cabin exemplifies the joy of living well. The whole is beautifully decorated with the comfort of the passengers always considered. There were a couple of small glitches, the bathroom floor warmer did not work and the entry waterfall gave out after the first day; but there was less than might be anticipated with such a new ship. The crew could not have been more attentive and pleasant. At first we were a little disappointed because, as retired language teachers, we were looking forward to using our French on board, and the hotel crew was mostly from eastern Europe; however, they were so delightful and efficient that our disappointment quickly faded. Moreover, the cruise manager, chef, and marine staff were all French and were happy to communicate with us en francais. The daily excursions also gave us ample opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture. As frequent travelers to France, we were familiar with most of the excursion sites. Still we enjoyed and learned a great deal from the excellent local guides, some of whom followed the ship and met us on successive days. Even the long, almost three hour, bus ride to the beaches at Normandy was made less onerous by the introduction and history given by the guide on the bus. Every day brought another positive experience; the beauty of Giverny, the Cathedral of Rouen, the picturesque harbor of Honfleur, the tapestry at Bayeux, the Chateau of Malmaison, and more. As Uniworld offers less strenuous and more active options, we were always able to find a suitable choice. As for the dining, the food was excellent. What we particularly appreciated was the possibility of lighter fare in the small bistro behind the bar and famlly-style shared tasting menu at another dining area in the spa area. We were so tired most days that we hardly saw the entertainment, but we absolutely loved the keyboardist and chanteuse the last night docked in Paris. She and I even sang a duet to "La Vie en Rose." More could have been done to make the tour groups more equally divided. I should have mentioned that this cruise was offered to us after Uniworld cancelled a 10-day Impression Cruise on the Seine which we had booked and for which, we had already bought our airline tickets. For this shorter 8-day cruise, they gave us our first night in their pre-tour hotel and transfers from the hotel to the ship and from the ship to our hotel at the end. We might not have accepted their offer if we had not already gone on their Venice cruise and loved it. We celebrate our decision to travel once more with Uniworld because we had such a great time Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Normandy has been on list for quite some time and we decided to take advantage of a Uniworld offer on their newest ship and visited Normandy in mid April. We began our trip in Lyon and then spent a few nights in Paris before taking a taxi ... Read More
Normandy has been on list for quite some time and we decided to take advantage of a Uniworld offer on their newest ship and visited Normandy in mid April. We began our trip in Lyon and then spent a few nights in Paris before taking a taxi to the ship from our hotel in the 9th. All in all, we had a very pleasant experience, with a few missteps. Itinerary highlights: - Giverney was just lovely! The town was very small with a few galleries and an inn or two. Monet's gardens were in bloom and beautiful! - The day at the Landing Beaches was very moving and this is an area we will return for a stay as we did not see enough or have adequate time to experience what this part of France has to offer. It was a very long day with lots of bus time and not much time in any of our stops. It would have been nice to have museum entrance fees included as well as a box lunch provided to save time. We stopped at a small town for about 90 minutes to grab a bite and we would have much preferred a quick bite and more time to spend at the landing beaches. - Rouen was a nice, medium sized city and we spent a few hours in the morning exploring and then went back in to do some shopping. - On our last full day in Paris we took the advice of our Cruise Manager, Thierry, and went to Chartres for the day. It was a fast train ride and the cathedral alone was well worth the trip! - My husband took advantage of the golf program offered to play at Étretat and said the experience was spectacular! Our overall impressions of the SS Joie de Vivre: - Ship itself is lovely and very French.  Loved the red and white awnings, which are charming and make her easier to spot.  Convenient docking location in central Paris. - Main lounge is bright and spacious and feels larger than many we have experienced on larger ships.  Seating was very comfortable. - There are too few public restrooms aboard the ship. - The use of fabric on the ceilings in the MDR made a big difference in the quality of acoustics as compared to other ships. - Staff and crew were delightful and it was great to see Martin, our concierge from our cruise on the SS Catherine, aboard.  Uniworld has a top notch team on this ship. - The ship was very quiet, and onboard technology advanced, though the internet has the same issues as we encountered on the Catherine. This can be very easily fixed and should be as the internet quality was a real issue for me. Uniworld must use a blocking scheme to control what can be sent and that was a hassle for me. - Soundproofing on this vessel was superb. We never even heard a blow dyer or a toilet flush from an adjacent stateroom. - Rooms were very nicely appointed and comfortable.  Great beds, linens and towels. Blue night light along the floor in bathrooms was a nice enhancement. - Included wines and spirits were very good. - We were very happy to see that Uniworld stepped up the entertainment for one great evening. The dance band, Shine, was amazing and everyone loved them! The other nights were the usual duet in the main lounge most nights. One night there was a vocalist but we did not stay long. - Sommelier was very good and always remembered our preferences. - The Bistro was a charming and enjoyable venue.  This would be a nice venue to have a light continental breakfast available there for those who prefer it. - Cruise manager, Thierry, was great!  He was very visible, approachable and thorough. To a person, the staff and crew were top notch and very well managed. Hotel Manager was also excellent. - We were not fans of the new design of Claude’s. The indoor pool made the room humid and the smell of chlorine was always present. Plastic seat covers also took away from what could otherwise be a very chic, intimate and popular venue. I actually never saw anyone there other than people in robes waiting for a massage. On the Catherine, the Leopard Lounge was our favorite spot. Claude's is under utilized on this ship. - Breakfast and lunch were good, with ample choices.  Dinners were underwhelming, with just a few exceptions. Dishes were not served hot and had to be sent back several times over the course of the cruise. Soups were bland. Meat dishes were disappointing. Desserts were also not a strong suit. Breads, on the other hand, were baked on board and there was a great variety to choose from, all of excellent quality. Food in the Bistro was good and the area pleasant and service very good. All in all, SS Joie de Vivre is an elegant lady and we enjoyed our time aboard. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
This was our second Uniworld river cruise. The Joie de Vivre is as beautiful as the pictures! Of interest to many are the beautiful fabrics used throughout the boat. Would love to go again after the new furniture is broken in. Thinking ... Read More
This was our second Uniworld river cruise. The Joie de Vivre is as beautiful as the pictures! Of interest to many are the beautiful fabrics used throughout the boat. Would love to go again after the new furniture is broken in. Thinking squishy, soft seating where one could curl up with a book. A favorite activity when we were on the SS Antoinette. Highlights were the Normandy and the Monet's garden excursions. The different walking abilities, gentle walkers to very active, including bicycles, are addressed in each outing. Guides and headsets are top notch. Onboard, service is as close to perfection as humanly possible. It was fun to run in to at least eight of the staff from our previous cruise who recognized us! We very much enjoyed our intimate dinner and cooking lesson in the Cave de Vin. Our special place was the small deck just past the pool/Claude's on the fan tail...don't tell anyone! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I was wanting to experience the feeling of travelling France with the feeling's of being surrounded by France. Friends and clients have traveled with Uniworld before and when people described what it was like there was not 1 specific ... Read More
I was wanting to experience the feeling of travelling France with the feeling's of being surrounded by France. Friends and clients have traveled with Uniworld before and when people described what it was like there was not 1 specific thing that any of them could put their finger on. Now I know why! Nothing was ever left to chance the ship was a total joy to travel on, every detail was just perfection. The staff were so attentive that it was like travelling with your best friends yet they were there for anything that you needed. The food was hands down some of the best I have ever had the joy of having, so much so when a meal was requested the head chef would check in with you. My travelling companion want to know how a soup was made (it was to die for), the next day there was a copy of the recipe on the bed! We thought that was just spectacular. Every single member of staff right down to the engineers had time to say hello and talk about their history and what they were up to. The journey itself was spectacular - with some highlights of playing gold @ Eterate (on the cliffs of Normandy), bike riding in Paris and visiting Omaha Beach to pay tribute to the fallen. Uniworld you have meet and exceeded my expectations we will see you again very soon. Thank you Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Joie de Vivre Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.9
Dining 5.0 4.6
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 3.5 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.5
Enrichment 3.0 4.2
Service 5.0 4.6
Value For Money 5.0 4.3

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