57 Uniworld River Empress Cruise Reviews

We have just returned from our first river cruise on the River Empress. Our room was on the lowest level right beside the washers and dryers. One would think this was a poor location, not at all! Hardly any noise from the room next ... Read More
We have just returned from our first river cruise on the River Empress. Our room was on the lowest level right beside the washers and dryers. One would think this was a poor location, not at all! Hardly any noise from the room next door. (mostly from people visiting each other outside the room in the hall) Location was very close to everything. Rooms are basically all the same and are very compact. We spend hardly any time in the room so that was not a concern. An important note, the temperature control in the room was excellent and very quiet. A not on the washers and dryers. These were available to all travellers and detergent was free for the asking at the desk. Although the language could be changed to English on the units, this was not an easy task. Most of us just guessed. I tend to get sea sick on an ocean cruise. I had no problems as all on this river cruise. What a bonus! The lounge area and library were very comfortable. Main lobby clean and airy. Staff extremely friendly and helpful. The food was buffet at breakfast and lunch. There was something for everyone. I would have preferred a sit down meal for lunch as I found I ate too much with the buffet! Dinner always offered a pasta, meat, fish and vegetarian choice. Besides the daily choices, steak, chicken or salmon were always available. There was always cheese and crackers available after dinner as well and the cheeses were fantastic! Wine and beer were included with lunch and dinner and flowed freely. The German whites were outstanding as well as the German beer of course. There was a station with 24 hrs coffees and tea. There were also cookies available here as well. Very nice touch! There was a fruit of the day and a bowl of fruit was also to be found in the area. In this area you could also have early or late breakfast items for those early risers or for those who slept in. The internet was a bit sketchy at best but was free. Still much better than on the ocean cruise lines. Of course going through the many locks the signal was lost as well but can't be helped there. A pass code needed to be entered and was good for 2 hours. Codes were readily available from the front desk. TV very limited but then I did not come on the cruise to sit in my room and watch TV The excursions were of a good length and at most ports you had a fair amount of time to browse on your own after. Some excursions offered a slow walkers group. There were a few extra excursions offered at a reasonable price and those that went said they enjoyed them. I personally only went on the beer tasting trip and thoroughly enjoyed it! Captain Anton was at each port sending us off on our tours with a smile. He even sang a couple of times for us in the lounge. During the evenings there was a piano player in the lounge. We were somewhat disappointed here. The crowd would just get going and he would either play something that was not dance music or go for a break at which point everyone tended to drift back to their rooms. Several times during the two weeks we had local entertainment either right before dinner or after. For the most part this was quite entertaining and lasted about one hour. This was our first river cruise after having taken several ocean cruises. I much preferred the small and more intimate atmosphere of the river cruise. We found it much easier to socialize with other travellers. The scenery is wonderful on the river. We were able to spend a couple of days just sitting out and enjoying the quiet ride down the river. All in all the very best cruise we have been on by far! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
From the moment we arrived at the pier in Amsterdam where 2 crew members met us, brought our luggage in the ship to the moment we disembarked in Budapest where they continue to help us booking a taxi and transferring our luggage. As soon ... Read More
From the moment we arrived at the pier in Amsterdam where 2 crew members met us, brought our luggage in the ship to the moment we disembarked in Budapest where they continue to help us booking a taxi and transferring our luggage. As soon as we boarded the ship we were directed to the lounge where a nice and delicious buffet was available to us, plus a choice of beer or wine all inclusive. The stateroom was small but so beautiful and well organized that it was not a problem at all and we were able to completely unpacked and put our luggage under the bed. The bathroom all marble with Occitane products was another nicety. At the different ports all the excursions were well organized with plenty of room in the buses and they even had a group for gentle walker. Our cruise manager seemed to be everywhere at the right time to check if we were all OK. It was always reassuring to see him show up in the middle of town. The food was out of this world, I have Celiac disease so before each meal the dining-room manager came to see me and go over the buffet or the menu pointing which dish I could have. Twice they even made a special dessert for me. They had real good gluten free bread always fresh.The entertainments we had at night were tasteful and of good quality.I could go on forever on how happy my husband were with our choice of cruise line. We have been so spoiled,we don't know if we will ever be happy on the big, ocean ships. The ship was spotless clean everywhere. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
From June 3 to 17, we sailed on the Unwieldy River Empress from Budapest to Amsterdam. We had previously done a Nile River cruise on GCT which we found to be wonderful. This last trip on the Empress was a mixed bag. Rooms were expected ... Read More
From June 3 to 17, we sailed on the Unwieldy River Empress from Budapest to Amsterdam. We had previously done a Nile River cruise on GCT which we found to be wonderful. This last trip on the Empress was a mixed bag. Rooms were expected to be small and they were. We had 2 chairs removed from the 150 sq.ft. room so that we could circumnavigate the bed. Bathroom was good and bath amenities were very good. TV in the room was very limited with about 3-4 English speaking channels and 1 film per day on the ship's channel.Stewardess was wonderful and the room was very clean. Food was spotty. Breakfast was a buffet and had standard fare. Lunch was always a buffet with a really good and tasty selection of appetizers and entrees. Dinner was spotty, ranging from gourmet to awful. Usually 3-4 choices at dinner but they also has steak, chicken and salmon as standard fare (always available). We had salmon 5 times during the trip after we had to send back the daily choice of entree since it was inedible. At other times, the dinner was outstanding such as rack of lamb. The problem on this river boat was that save for mealtime the only other food available were candies in the foyer and cookies and/or coffees at the area that house the gift shop, gym, lounge area and computers. The Internet reception was a joke it was so bad. The itinerary was great, always on time with really good guides, clean buses, when needed, and "gentle walkers" had their own group. The cruise director was the best employee on the ship. The tours outstanding. Our morning wake-up call was usually prescribed by the sound of the thrusters which occurred at almost anytime during the nigh. 4 am was not unusual. We thought that getting a room toward the bow would alleviate our having to hear the engine noise. Apparently the best spot on the ship is in the 300 section toward the stern. Library, bar area and deck lounge areas were good though we thought drinks were pricey.The wait staff in the bar area and restaurant were really good people and very competent servers, mainly from eastern Europe. Everything on board was in Euros and you could settle in US dollars. The major irritant to me personally was that the $300 shipboard credit we had for our cabin was equated to Euros at the rate of $1.48 while the daily rate was circa $1.24. So we lost about 40 euros with the explanation the Uniworld only converted shipboard credit once a season and the they did, it was at the higher rate. We lost about 40 euros with that slight of hand. This was our first European river cruise. Would we do it again? Maybe, but on a ship that had more suites, amenities, less motor noise, and more entertainment or offerings at night. Seabourn have any river ships? Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Having taken a Uniworld Riverboat Cruise in April this year to Russia, and not being too satisfied with the Boat, and or Crew, we complained to our Travel Agent. We were convinced to give Uniworld another try, and were told - the ... Read More
Having taken a Uniworld Riverboat Cruise in April this year to Russia, and not being too satisfied with the Boat, and or Crew, we complained to our Travel Agent. We were convinced to give Uniworld another try, and were told - the situation in Russia was not truly a " Uniworld" experience due to the boat being owned by Russia, etc., etc. We decided to try the EUROPEAN HOLIDAY MARKETS Riverboat cruise on the Danube from Vienna to Nuremberg, with an extension to Prague. This trip was our 30th wedding anniversary present to each other, so we wanted it to be very special. This trip has turned out to be the " TRIP OF A LIFETIME " for the both of us, as we were amazed at the difference between the Russia Trip and this wonderful experience. The Riverboat Empress was clean, beautiful, and very comfortable all at the same time. The Crew made us all feel like we were royalty, and they were our subjects, as I have never had better service in any hotel, any large cruise ship, and / or the River Victoria in April this year. We were so amazed with the service we went way beyond the suggested quality guidelines when we departed the boat. The itinerary of Vienna, Durnstein, Linz, Passau, Regensburg, and Nuremberg was wonderful, and the "featured included excursions" in each port were excellent as were the local guides. Our main attraction of course in each city was the Christmas Markets along with the local sights. Our Cruise Manager - BART ROELOFS, of Uniworld was the very best ever Cruise Manager / Director we have ever sailed with on any ship/ boat including Cunard, Carnival, Celebrity, and Holland American. Our decision to take the "extension" trip to Prague for the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of December was the best travel decision we have ever made. The land extension Uniworld Staff and local guides were as equally talented and experienced as the Boat and other local guides. The experience in Prague, and the Christmas Markets there turned out to be the best Christmas we have ever had. Of the many places we have been lucky to visit in our 30 years together, and where we have said we would like to return to, Prague surly is at the top of our list. A Riverboat Cruise and visit to Prague = Wonderful Vacation. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Even though there were approximately only 130 passengers - EVERYONE was easy to get along with. Everything about the ship was great. The decor in our cabin (category 1) was beautiful. Although I did not realize that there are only 4 ... Read More
Even though there were approximately only 130 passengers - EVERYONE was easy to get along with. Everything about the ship was great. The decor in our cabin (category 1) was beautiful. Although I did not realize that there are only 4 cabins that have double sinks in the bathrooms. We enjoyed having the "French Balcony" - sliding glass door. The reason that the ships do not have balconies is because of the width of the numerous locks that you travel through. Sometimes there are only inches between the ship and the walls of the lock. The food was delicious and the service always great. We had the most interesting dinner conversations with numerous new friends on the ship. The included shore excursions were fantastic. My favorite was wine tasting under a castle with 1,000 lite candles. The tour guides in every city were very knowledgeable. We are looking forward to cruising with Uniworld again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My wife and I took the European Jewels cruise May 9th 2009 aboard the River Empress. I will say that the entire experience, from the time we boarded the ship in Budapest and were checked in, to the day we disembarked in Amsterdam, was far ... Read More
My wife and I took the European Jewels cruise May 9th 2009 aboard the River Empress. I will say that the entire experience, from the time we boarded the ship in Budapest and were checked in, to the day we disembarked in Amsterdam, was far beyond our expectations. The food was remarkable and the wait staff was exceptional. I have eaten in five star restaurants that didn't do as good a job as the restaurant staff on the River Empress. Almost without exception, the shore excursions and local guides were easy to navigate and understand. The ports selected were a wonderful cross section of the area and represented big cities to small villages and everything in between. The Cruise Director became the "Go To" person for questions large and small and handled each one with humor and grace that had my wife and me shaking our heads in wonderment. Bravo to Bart. At the end of a long day of sightseeing ancient towns and villages, eating great food and drinking wonderful wines and beers, if was a pleasure to retreat to our cabin and climb into the best "Hotel Bedding" we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I would recommend this cruise and Uniworld to anyone who would like to experience Europe in comfort and style. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Holland at Tulip Time Uniworld Cruise aboard the River Empress May 1- 8, 2005 After taking many traditional cruises, decided to explore Holland about a river cruise ship, the Uniworld River Empress. Although quite different than typical ... Read More
Holland at Tulip Time Uniworld Cruise aboard the River Empress May 1- 8, 2005 After taking many traditional cruises, decided to explore Holland about a river cruise ship, the Uniworld River Empress. Although quite different than typical cruise ships, it was nonetheless a terrific experience and a great vacation. Approaching the ship in Amsterdam, the first thing that occurred to me is that there were "no people" waiting to board!! We walked right up the short gang plank into the lobby where the Uniworld crew welcomed us with warm smiles and keys to our cabin. Check in was quick and easy and we were in our cabin within only a couple of minutes. The ship holds 138 passengers, and has 5 passenger decks. Deck 5 is the "Sun Deck" which is mostly an open air viewing deck with chairs and lounges. There is also a glass covered sitting area so that even in inclement weather you can have a panoramic view. This is where the "bridge" is located as well, and towards the very front are tables and chairs. We often brought drinks to this part of the deck and watched the countryside slowly pass us as we relaxed. Deck Four is where the beautiful dining room is location (more on food later!). Also, all of the ship's suites (4 of them) and top-graded cabins with floor to ceiling windows are on this deck. Towards the front is the bar/lounge which is the meeting place for port talks, captain's welcome aboard party, etc. Deck Three is cabins, and Deck Two is cabins, along with an area (indoor patio) for 24 hour coffee and tea, a small boutique shop, the gym/sauna and the hairdressers. Deck One is cabins, along with the small launderette (2 washers, 2 dryers which are free—soap is available for $2.50 for 2 loads). From top to bottom, the ship sparkles. Although much smaller and cozier than a cruise ship, they have all the bases covered with great cabins, a spacious and bright dining room and the services mentioned above. The Itinerary: Holland is really beautiful at tulip time. The trip begins in Amsterdam, sails north to Hoorn and Volendam, then heads back south to Rotterdam, Delft, Arnhem, and Schoonoven. I won't go over each and every detail of the ports (Uniworld's brochure does a terrific job of that!), but instead will provide some of our favorite activities on the trip. Amsterdam: We were lucky that the cruise spent a night in Amsterdam at the beginning of the trip, and 2 nights at the end. There is a lot to see and do, so don't worry that there is too much time there. We boarded the ship about 2:00 p.m. on Sunday and spent an hour on board getting unpacked and touring the decks. Went to visit the Anne Frank House (well worth the 15 minute wait to get inside) and walked around central Amsterdam. We had tried to go to the Anne Frank House earlier in the day, but the lines were too long. At 5:00, they had diminished quite a bit and I had heard that the later you go, the shorter the wait. The next morning, Uniworld took us to the world's largest flower auction just outside of Amsterdam. It is called the Aalsmeer Flower Auction and it is similar in many ways to the New York Stock Exchange, except that in place of stocks, the product is flowers. This place is HUGE and you walk ABOVE all of the action and look down at flowers, the actual auctions (where the prices are set for flowers WORLDWIDE) and the logistics of getting the flowers in and out of the auction center. We returned to the ship midday and as we were eating lunch we sailed up to Hoorn. Zaanse Schans is an outdoor windmill museum and they also give demonstrations on how to make wooden shoes. Great photo opportunities here, and also on the bus ride through the multi-colored fields of tulips that extend as far as your eyes can see! In Delft we toured the Delft pottery factory and then spent time downtown. Many old and interesting churches, and a huge plaza with nice outdoor cafes. The Dining Room: Open seating at all meals. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. However, at breakfast, you can order an omelet of your choice from the buffet and at lunch, you are offered soup and and desert from your waiter. Dinner includes a starter (every night is different, and they are really creative!), soup, a main selection (either meat, fish or vegetarian), a nice desert choice and cheese and fruit from the buffet. The food was all outstanding and there is something for everyone. If you cannot find something, they will make something for you e.g. steak. The food overall was high quality, tasty and delicious. The cabins: At 154 square feet, not overly spacious but certainly adequate. The cabin layout was very nice and they managed to fit in bedside tables, a sitting chair and table, and a bathroom with nice shower (that consistently had great temperature control and water pressure). Very clean and new, and the cabin service is excellent. Ten reasons to choose a river cruise over a traditional cruise: To begin, I believe there is a market for both types of cruises. However, here are 10 reasons why I would travel on a river cruise again with Uniworld: 1. The crew. They can make or break a cruise, and hands down this crew (of only 36) did an outstanding job in every way. We had great service from the cruise manager, the officers, the front desk personnel, the cabin attendants and the dining room staff. 2. The ship. Although much smaller than traditional ships, the River Empress had a great deck plan and above all, was sparkling clean. Everywhere. 3. The food. I was never disappointed with any of the meals. There was a lot of variety, and portions were the right size (although you could order seconds if you wanted). 4. The destinations. Although Amsterdam is a large city with an adequate port, most of the other destinations we went to were too small for traditional ships. This trip gave us an opportunity to experience, and explore, ports that we otherwise would never go to see on a cruise. 5. The tours. Every one is included with your cruise fare. Just show up when they tell you to, and a first class tour bus is waiting for you just a few feet from your ship. Not only did they leave and return on time, every one had a knowledgeable and friendly tour guide, along with an experienced driver. Do not underestimate the value of having all your tours covered in your cruise fare, particularly when the conversion rates for dollars to euros are so poor! 6. Easy on, easy off! These river ships are more like hotels when it comes to arriving and departing guests! Whenever the ship is in port, it is easy to just walk off and on without great fanfare...it reminded me of going to and from a hotel. Quick and easy, in and out! 7. Other passengers. With such a small group, it is easy to meet others and we found that over the week we made many new friends. 8. Relaxation. There is something remarkably soothing about sitting on the top deck and watching the nearby land go by. 9. The other itineraries. Uniworld has many ships sailing throughout Europe and other parts of the world. Now that I've had my first experience with them, I'll definitely be back to another river cruise. 10. The small things. Umbrellas in the cabin should it be raining out. Juice, coffee and pastries at 6:00 a.m. for us early risers. A small vase of fresh flowers in every cabin after the cruise begins. Free washers and dryers. Welcoming smiles from the crew in the lobby every time you come back on board. What a wonderful week we had seeing Holland on the River Empress. I'd do this trip again if there weren't so many other places I want to see first! Read Less
Sail Date May 2000
River Empress Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 3.9
Public Rooms 4.0 4.8
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 2.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.8
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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