58 Uniworld River Countess Cruise Reviews

This cruise+tour was the second we have done with Uniworld. In May, 2012, we did their 10 day Nuremburg-Paris trip so we knew that Uniworld does a good job with land touring as well as cruises. Splendors of Italy was well done--ESPECIALLY ... Read More
This cruise+tour was the second we have done with Uniworld. In May, 2012, we did their 10 day Nuremburg-Paris trip so we knew that Uniworld does a good job with land touring as well as cruises. Splendors of Italy was well done--ESPECIALLY the land part. Of the 90 cruisers, 26 opted to take the extended land trip and most agreed that the land portion was more enjoyable than the cruise portion. The reason being two-fold. 1) the land tour guide, Damiano, was exemplary. Not just "good" or "knowledgeable" but exemplary. Our local tour guides were "good" to "excellent"--Damiano was on another level altogether. And 2) the bus transportation used for the land portion of the tour was far superior to the buses used during the cruise to get us to Padua, Ravenna, Verona and Bologna. So the trip went as expected. We were met at the Venice Airport but our transportation to the ship. Our flight arrived an HOUR early so the greeter apologized and told us we'd have a little wait for another flight due to arrive within the hour. No problem--we grabbed a seat in the terminal and did some serious people-watching. In no time, we were escorted to the ship where our room wasn't ready but a lovely lunch was set up in the lounge. We had a nice bite to eat and was told that our room was ready about 2:30. We were escorted to our room where our luggage was already in place. This ship is similar to the River Princess which we were on last year so we knew where everything was. The room and bed were comfortable, spotless and the a/c worked very well! So the week on board went like this: Walking tour of Venice where our charming guide got a real kick out of tourists taking pictures of Laundry day (envision clothing strung out windows and balconies sometimes across canals) and of the garbage boats picking up the weekly trash. During this tour, we walked past the long lines into the Palazzo Ducale and were given a very nice tour. After dinner, we were put in water taxis and treated to a 45 minute ride down the Grand Canal and through a few smaller canals and were let off at St. Marks. We met up with our fellow passengers and went into a side door at St. Marks where we were treated to a brief explanation and history and allowed to take pictures and even visit the crypt under the church which is normally off-limits. We were escorted to the vaporetto (water bus) which we took back to the ship. It was an intensive day 1. Next day was Padua. I LOVE this city. I particularly was moved by the shrine of St. Anthony and seeing the Scrovegni Chapel was magnificent. Ravenna was next with the fantastic mosaics--I especially enjoyed those in the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. the ceiling is stunning. Bologna was next. An interesting enough place--but a long, tiring bus ride to get there. The highlight was seeing pasta being made by hand and enjoying a marvelous lunch. Verona provided an opportunity to see a smaller colosseum (again, walking by long lines to do so) and, of course, seeing where Juliet "may" have lived--Romeo, too. Eh, not so interesting. But the city marketplace and the city square were lovely to see. We had lunch on our own at the restaurant across from the colosseum. Today we cruised the Lagoon for 2 hours. Some passengers were upset that we were unable to cruise the Po due to low water; however, the captain took us to Choggia where we docked for a few evenings and where we met the buses for the daily tours and we cruised up past Burano. The weather was perfect and it was a lovely experience. We had time in the morning to take in an optional tour to the Accademia and was escorted by an art historian who made the tour perfect! Where we docked, we could walk to the Accedemia in 10 minutes, so we had time to do this in the morning and be back on board for the afternoon lagoon cruise. Finally it was time to leave the ship. Of course, our luggage was handled for us and we found ourselves on a roomy, comfortable bus on our way to Florence. Where was this bus when we went to all those cities last week???? We stopped on the way to have lunch at a restaurant with an outside garden. It was beautiful. Again, a perfect day with a gentle breeze and a welcome aperitif. We sat down to a sumptuous lunch with 3 different wines with a guitarist and a vocalist who insisted on dancing will all the women. It was a HOOT! So much fun. Finally it was time to get back on the bus and by late afternoon, we had been escorted past another incredibly long line into see Michaelangelo's "David". Then a little walk to our hotel. It was a 4 star hotel--now our room was fine. Very large and a comfy bed with a gazillion pillows and 2 easy chairs and a large bath. I gather a few people were assigned smaller rooms and were unhappy. Also, wifi was iffy. Free--but iffy. Next day was a walking tour of Florence with plenty of time to explore on our own. We hit the church Santa Maria Novella with it's marvelous stained glass and art works. Note--the Uffizi is closed on Mondays!!! DRAT!!! We packed up and hit the road to Rome; BUT we stopped at Castell Di Verrazzano wine estate for a tour and yet another lunch with regional specialities and wine. And more wine.......We arrived in Rome in the early evening and the guide asked if we wanted to go to the hotel or did we want to see some of the city at night. Of course, we all wanted to see the city--we even stopped by the Trevi Fountain and had an hour to grab a gelato and pizza. Eventually, we arrived at our hotel which was MARVELOUS. Definitely a 5 star. We took a day tour of the city and did the Colosseum--again walking by the crowd to go in. We spent the afternoon having a lovely lunch and finding the Spanish Steps and took a cab back to the hotel. Our final tour day brought us to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's. Talk about sensory overload! So to sum it all up--the cruise is not a typical river cruise. I found the bus transportation part during the cruise uncomfortable. I'm 5'7" and husband is 6'1" and our legs were squished. OTOH, the tour guides were really good and we covered a lot of Italy in a short period of time. The staff of the cruise ship were stellar. Once they figured out my "wants" (think massive coffee infusion in the morning) they were quick to refill my cup. The lovely lady who serviced our room was unobtrusive and accomplished in her job. The entertainment on board was good (and this surprised me). The first Uniworld cruise last year, the "talent" played the melody line on a keyboard and used synthetics to fill in. On the River Countess, the pianist could PLAY! And play well! One time a lady gave a scientific overview of the lagoon--how is was formed, what is happening to it and how they are trying to save it--she was awful. It was like she had a power point presentation from something else and was using it for this discussion. One night 2 opera singers and their pianist came on board and gave an excellent performance. Food on the ship was good. Italy has fantastic fruit and they had luscious apricots, cherries, grapes, etc. and the cheese selection was lovely. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and ample. Dinners were good. I think the dinners on the River Princess were better. One night there wasn't anything on the daily specials that interested me and I ordered a steak. Steak, salmon and chicken are always available, by the way, so no one is going to starve. We've already booked our next Uniworld cruise (Christmas Markets, 2013) so I guess they're doing something right.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We boarded the River Countess after 7 wonderful days on our own touring Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre by car. My husband is a great driver and was able to master the 6 speed manual transmission! We turned the car in at the Venice ... Read More
We boarded the River Countess after 7 wonderful days on our own touring Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre by car. My husband is a great driver and was able to master the 6 speed manual transmission! We turned the car in at the Venice airport and took a cab to the Santa Marta docking space to board the River Countess. There was a smile as we entered.....the pictures you see online were accurate! The staff was professional and cordial. We had a light lunch and our cabin was ready by 2 pm. The cabin is small compared to ocean cruising ships ( we knew this before booking) but they have done a fabulous job using the space available. Luxury, fine linens, mirrors, marble, great water pressure in shower, plenty of storage (look under the bed for 2 more drawers), vanity/desk, 3 AC/110 outlets (we were able to charge phones etc. easily), a safe, good air conditioning system, all this adds up to an A+ cabin. Meals/dining room: Very well done, attentive staff, good presentation and variety, and of course 360 degree views of Venice most nights! That is a wow. Ports: Venice was terrific. Much larger than I had envisioned, more boats, more land, more dwellings. We actually spent a total of 4 nights in Venice...great. Had free time and some scheduled tours of the city. One highlight was to visit St Marks for a private tour at night....slowly the lights come on, very special! Such history.  Tour to Padua: By bus we drove about 45 minutes west to the city. They use 3 buses each day but have 5 city tours guides so your groups are about 16-20 people. The Scrovegni Chapel and interior fresco paintings (painted around 1305) come to life as our guide detailed the works. Of note, you have to sit in a cleansing room for about 20 minutes prior to entering the chapel...but they have video of the history so that is helpful. Lunch was on your own, I was disappointed that most of the shops were closed after lunch (we were not told this) then we had to board the bus at 2:30pm. Ravenna: This was about a 1 3/4 hour drive south to the "Mosaic Church" Basilica Sant' Appolinare Nuovo. A wonder to see! We did tour the town also and then had lunch at a local restaurant. We enjoyed the countryside ( lots of green crops) and a nap on the drive back to the boat. Bologna: This was a 2 hour drive south west from our port. WE had a city tour, but by this time it was a lot of dates, and old buildings. This stop I would not do again. The redeeming factor was a pasta making demo and a great lunch with wine etc. (I feel Uniworld could have done this pasta making somewhere closer to the ship and skipped Bologna) Too long a drive. Verona: Great city, had some free time too. Could have spent more time there. Good shopping areas. Also about 1 3/4 hours each way to the boat. Back to Venice on Saturday morning and we sailed the lagoon, wonderful from the sun deck and then had free time in the afternoon! While we did not have a great dock location that day Uniworld had Mercedes vans available to shuttle us to Plaza Roma and we could walk from there to many great places.Entertainment: A very versatile piano player was aboard for the week, George, he was great! One night they had Veneto Commedia Art'e...it was ok. They had a great band on Friday night and on Thursday they had some opera singers. A lecture on the Venice Lagoon was informative. Our "cruise manager" was personable but I am not sure how often he has done this itinerary with Uniworld. Lots of referring to notes and not as communicative as he could have been....still he was professional and approachable. I have detailed some of this cruise because no one had yet reviewed this itinerary. It is a river cruise but not like the Rhine. We did go through one set of locks and cruised the Po some. Venice is wonderful and having your first class hotel float with you is quite nice. Only had to unpack once. We will certainly consider Uniworld again. When it was time to leave for the airport they had a van and an employee help us into the airport and make sure our boarding passes were printed. That was a very good extra that we appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our second cruise and our second with Uniworld. The ship is very nice and the staff, food, wine etc are all up to the high Uniworld standard we experienced previously. The ship was only just over half full so service was superb. ... Read More
This was our second cruise and our second with Uniworld. The ship is very nice and the staff, food, wine etc are all up to the high Uniworld standard we experienced previously. The ship was only just over half full so service was superb. It was nice to be on the water in Venice for a few days because we felt more a part of this maritime city than just staying on land. After disembarking on the final day we caught a vaparetto to Arsenale where we stayed in a B&B for two nights. We could have stayed longer because Venice is a most interesting city. One disappointment was that we didn't cruise the Po via the Adriatic because the authorities would not permit the ship to travel with passengers on that route. As a result we spent only a little time actually cruising. A few hours cruising the Venice lagoon which was great and another couple of hours on the Po which is not iinteresting at all. A short summary: Day 1 - Venice (Marittima - Santa Marta) We embarked at the Marittima (where the big ships dock). This is not easy to get to from the train station where we arrived from Milan. We walked to the bus station and then used the people mover but this only took us a short distance to the shuttle bus pickup point used by the big ships. Uniworld don't offer a shuttle so we walked a long way to the ship. We would have been best to get a taxi from the bus station. However, some Uniworld passengers were told the ship would be located at Santa Marta in the Dorsoduro district (including us) and they didn't check prior to arrival so had to leg it at least 2 km back to the ship or catch taxis. That evening we cruised to the Santa Marta dock! Day 2 - Venice (Santa Marta) Walking tour to Piazza San Marco & guided tour of Doge palace. Excellent tour. Return to ship by boat - only part of the way by boat, however, as there is no suitable jetty for water taxis within about a km walking distance from our boat. Be aware that the Santa Marta dock is a fair walk from the most interesting sights. However, there is a vaporetto (ferry) stop not far from the boat and this can get you anywhere. In the late afternoon we repeated the long walk to and from the loading jetty and went on a very nice boat ride along the Grand Canal. Day 3 - Venice (Santa Marta) - Padua - Venice (Santa Marta) Bus to Padua leaving at 8 am which I think is too early. Padua is wonderful. That afternoon we cruised the Lagoon to Chioggia where we docked for the night. Day 4 Chioggia - Ravenna - Polesella Bus to Ravenna leaving at 8 am again! Another superb city. Full of interest and beautiful mosaics. We go to an excellent restaurant for lunch. Bus back to the ship which is now on the Po river. Cruise the Po for a few hours and dock at a small town called Polesella. Day 5 Polesella - Bologna - Polesella Late start today 8.30 am! Bus to Bologna. Walking tour of city then an excellent pasta demonstration and a great lunch. Day 6 Polesella - Verona - Venice (Santa Marta) Another early start 8.15am bus to Verona. Love at first sight is right. Excellent walking tour of this most beautiful city. That evening we were treated to a boat ride along the Grand Canal and a private evening opening of St. Marks. I think our excellent guide, who also took us on the walking tour in Venice, was instrumental in organizing this special visit. One cannot put into words the beauty of this basilica and the pleasure of being able to walk freely around with a small group. Day 7 Venice (Santa Marta) am. Leisurely start today followed by a lagoon cruise on the ship which was a very nice. This is the life we thought as we lunched on excellent food on the top deck accompanied by a glass of prosecco. I think the chefs on this cruise produced even better food than the excellent chefs on our previous cruise with Uniworld. pm. We did our own tour of San Polo including the Scuola Grande di San Rocco ending at the Rialto bridge. The Scuola is not to be missed. If you take this cruise and you are docked at Santa Marta and you have time take a walk through the Quartiere S. Marta via the gate just opposite the S. Marta vaparetto stop. This is a short walk from the ship. There is a small market and a butcher among the residential buildings where washing hangs from every building. The butcher had a large pig roasting and gave us a taste! A short walk onwards via Fond. S. Marta and C. Nuova Terese gets you to a small church called San Nicolo dei Mendicolo. This was one of the first in Venice. It has a XIV frescoe among many other interesting paintings and features. They have a small booklet in English. We took a shortcut through a university or college of some sort to get back to the ship. A few small things we did miss on this cruise when compared to our previous cruise with Uniworld were: no reminder announcements to join a tour though we did get a reminder phone call call one morning that the bus was about to leave (the bus always left sharply on time) , no relaying of sound from the lounge to the cabin so we could listen to the port talk in the cabin, no dark chocolates on the pillow at night, no folder of the menus at the end of the cruise along with staff photos. As it was our second Uniworld cruise we expected to be offered a few things and at least an upgrade but this did not happen even though the ship was about half full. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My wife and I are seasoned travellers and spend more than 100 days per year on vacation. We have undertaken many cruises both at seas and on rivers and we have never failed to be impressed by the overall standard of the service we receive ... Read More
My wife and I are seasoned travellers and spend more than 100 days per year on vacation. We have undertaken many cruises both at seas and on rivers and we have never failed to be impressed by the overall standard of the service we receive on all Uniworld cruises. This was our 10th Uniworld cruise and this may suggest that we have a blinkered view of the company. This is not the case as we are always on the lookout for other avenues and compare value for money. We have yet to find a comparable value for money package. We had sailed on the River Countess in 2008 and since that time it has undergone a major refurbishment. When we boarded at Vienna the ship was almost unrecognisable. Our suite was spacious, impeccably clean (and remained so throughout our stay) and the shower room was state of the art with power showers, under floor heating and every other amenity. The room came with in-house internet access via the TV and a comprehensive entertainment system also operated via the TV, a coffee machine and drinks making facilities, stocked fridge and daily fruit, hors d'oeuvres were appreciated, nothing was left wanting. The food was of the highest standard, quality and fresh ingredients. often bought by the chef himself from local markets and suppliers and the choice and presentation could not be faulted. This was all complimented by "free" wine/beers etc at meal times but more importantly by the highest standards of service from the waiting staff led by an impeccable Maitre D'. There are many included excursions, at least one at each port, but my wife and I like to go it alone as we are putting off having to follow an umbrella or number on a stick for as long as possible. However all we spoke to on board had no complaints in relation to any of these tours and were impressed by the organisation of them shown by the onboard Cruise Manager. The ship is billed as "boutique" and as such there are no organised games etc on board - thank goodness and the entertainment is appreciably low key. There is an onboard musician who was most versatile and could play almost anything requested from him- the state of the art keyboard enhanced his abilities and much music was enjoyed by the guests. Embarkation and dis-embarkation was well organised and everyone In summary, the facilities, food, accommodation and service are great value for money- the age group of the guests reflects the "grey pound" and on this particular cruise was well over 65. However this is unusually high for Uniworld Cruises. I believe that this was due to the time of year and the destinations of the cruise. The true test, would my wife and I book again? Already done that, are spending Xmas and New Year on board the River Empress!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
We sailed on the River Countess on a Rhine and Main Rivers ("Rhine Discovery") cruise in July 2010, from Basel, Switzerland to Nurenberg, Germany. We arrived on our own in Basel a few days early and toured on our own. The day ... Read More
We sailed on the River Countess on a Rhine and Main Rivers ("Rhine Discovery") cruise in July 2010, from Basel, Switzerland to Nurenberg, Germany. We arrived on our own in Basel a few days early and toured on our own. The day of departure, we took a taxi to the dock around Noon. The crew took charge of our luggage. The Hotel desk staff had us checked in (in) less than one minute and sent us to the lounge to wait for our cabin to be ready. There were sandwiches, pizza and cheese for us to snack upon, with free tea, coffee, iced tea and water. Soft (and hard) drinks were available from the bar. Sodas cost about 2.50 (Euros) while drinks ranged from 4.50 to 6.50. We explored the ship as well. As you can see from the floor plans, it is small. It has: Lounge in the bow; a small library with 2 desks with PC's, two 4 person bridge-style tables and two 4 person easy-chair groupings; reception area with "hotel" and Cruise Director desks; 4 decks of cabins; "shop" (10 x 10 feet) with jewelry and kick-knacks; a coffee station with espresso, teas, hot chocolate and iced teas; a fitness room with 2 x each of treadmills, bikes, ellipticals; (free) passenger laundry with 2 x washers and dryers (soap available for purchase at the Hotel desk); massage room; and restaurant aft. We met a few other couples while we waited. The other passenger groups ranged in size from couples to a group of 8 neighbors from the States. There were two families with teens, but I strongly recommend against bringing kids. The company and tours are not geared toward them at all. The age range of adults seemed to start at 45 and went up to 93, with two couples seemingly in their late 30's (or with much better plastic surgeons). There were 138 passengers on board for our cruise. An aside: One couple, from Australia, told us Uniworld had lost their reservation (yes, they had their confirmation paperwork) and had to scramble to find them a cabin. They were booked in a Cat 4 cabin, but were given a Cat 1 for the first ½ of their cruise (7 days). For the inconvenience, they were invited to the captains table and given a suite for the second ½ of the cruise. We were given our cabin keys at around 1:30. The cabin was a little smaller than most other cruise ship cabins we have had. It had 4 large drawers, 2 half-height and one full-height closets...plenty of space for our clothes and a tall space under both double beds for our luggage. One of the closets had a large safe, able to hold a large camera, wallets and laptop. It also included two fluffy robes and a large umbrella. There was a "makeup" area with mirror and stool with its own light as well. The TV was about 13 - 15 inches seemed to have lower resolution than SD, making it very hard to read the daily announcements, menu's, etc. The ship has satellite service which went in and out as we passed bridges, trees, clouds, etc. It worked fine while we were docked. Channels included CNN International, BBC, Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network. Two different recently released to DVD movies which changed daily played as well. For our cruise, they included Alice in Wonderland, Dear John and Shutter Island. As with our other cruise experiences, the bathroom was just large enough for a sink in a small vanity with mirror and lit magnifying mirror, toilet and shower. The shower was surprisingly large, considering the rest of the bathroom. The crew is simply the most cheerful, helpful group we have had the pleasure to meet. Everybody was smiling and seemed genuinely happy to help in any way possible. The Captain and Hotel Manager (married) were professional and very funny throughout our interactions. The Cruise Director (Claudia for this cruise) was very knowledgeable, helpful and kept close track of all 140 of us through our excursions. Unlike most of our other cruise experiences, the food ranged from very good to excellent. Even the breakfast and lunch buffets were of excellent quality. Lunch and Dinner menus were posted the night before on the TV and before each meal at the Hotel desk. Wait staff were all friendly and attentive, serving and refilling drinks at all meals and helping the mobility-challenged of us. Breakfast included a daily special, like crepes or eggs benedict, eggs/omelets cooked to order, a great selection of breads, juices, smoked salmon, cheeses, cereals and a variety of hot foods: scrambled eggs, bacon (crisp AND soft separately), pancakes. All meals were served in one sitting, without any assigned seating. All passengers fit at once(obviously). Tables held from 2 - 8 (10?), all with views out floor to ceiling windows side and/or aft. You could either sit at a table the size of your party or dine with other groups. Each meal most people either sat at tables with empty spaces or asked to sit in said empty spaces. If you wanted to "reserve" a large table for a large group, you simply got there as early as you could to hold it. The variety of people we met made for the best part of the cruise. We met families from US, UK, Australia and Canada. Most people were happy to meet each other, though there were a few groups more insular. Over the course of the cruise, we met about 16 different couples over meals and found a number of friends with whom we plan on keeping in touch. Lunch changed daily and always included a different carving station entrEe, such as a German version of a Pot Au Feu (the best offering, in our opinion), salmon with a lemon cream sauce and carved beef. There were also different soups each day, all made in-house. Every single one was excellent. There were a variety of cheeses, three different salads (changing each day as well...chicken and Caesar salads were great), two different hot entrees, vegetables and starches. Finally, there were always 2 or 3 desserts created by the in-house pastry chef. Her creations were always beautiful and had excellent flavor. Finally, if you did not like her creations that day, there was an ice cream sundae station. Dinner was served, as opposed to the buffets of the other meals. You were given a menu listing the (4) courses, with a choice of entrEe and occasionally a choice in appetizer. Appetizers included I am not going to discuss the tours at any length. They were a good compromise, given the range of passengers. All guides were friendly and easy for us English speakers to understand. Some thought the guides were long-winded, others thought they gave an excellent level of detail. Our only real complaint: Internet access was as close to useless as I have ever seen. At least dial-up provides you with a consistent connection, slow as it may be. The wifi network was only usable from the lounge and library (and on the rear sundeck, I think). Once you signed in to get access, you were usually unable to get any further to the Internet. There are also two desktop computers to share, which had exactly the same lack of Internet service. While I understand the spotty nature of Satellite Internet service, it should have at least been available while we were docked. The whole week, all of us would stick our heads into the library and ask the current set of frustrated EMailers if the "Internet was working". 75% of the time it was not, 10% of the time it seemed to move at 1 Kbps (Yahoo/G/Hot- mail would take about 5 minutes to load), and 5% of the time it was "normal". Mind you, that 5% of the time, maybe 2% gave us speeds fast enough for ANY media access. One poor woman worked for an hour to view pictures of her grandson and family online. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
I boarded the River Countess in Nuremberg for the 2009 European Holiday Market Cruise. There were 76 passengers on board,the trip was exceptional. The room spacious and clean. Serviced regularly. the quilt and pillows made sleeping easy. ... Read More
I boarded the River Countess in Nuremberg for the 2009 European Holiday Market Cruise. There were 76 passengers on board,the trip was exceptional. The room spacious and clean. Serviced regularly. the quilt and pillows made sleeping easy. All of the crew from the Captain Jorg Zwaal and his wife the hotel manager, where friendly, thoughtful and helpful. Meals where well presented and plentiful, I especially enjoyed the breakfast and lunch selections. Evening dining was always relaxing. Wine and other beverages where plentiful throughout dinner. A highlight of the trip was being selected to dine at the Captains farewell dinner. The average age of cruisers would have been in the neighborhood of 65, but there where several younger people on board, and many interesting people to meet and visit with. The cruise was relaxing and the sights plentiful. The guided tours in our ports where very well done with the except I felt of Linz, where our particular guide seemed more in a hurry to have us off on our own. She did know the information and history but her presentation was a tad off. Highlights of the trip was the time in Passau, the beauty of the interiors of the baroque churches, the Wachau Valley was lovely, watching the sailors of the boat make a snowman, watching the snow fall gave it a festive air. Vienna at the completion of the trip was another highlight, the beauty of the city and ease of getting around, make it an interesting experience. The extra excusion to the Schoonbrunn Summer Palace was excellent and well worth the time and dollars spent. All the Christmas markets where different with different things to see and eat.Nuremberg sausages, the chai tea at the market in Vienna, Hot Chocolate at the market in Regensburg. The tour guide Woulter went out of his way to ensure that the passengers had the opportunity to see and do the things they wanted to. The evening entertainment on board provided a diversion from a busy day, and a relaxing way to settle down prior to bedtime. My cabin was on the second level,close to the coffee station, I would recommend requesting a cabin farther down the the hallway, activity could be regularly heard from the coffee station. Prior to embarking on the ship I overnighted two nights in Frankfurt, to help with the Jetlag. On disembarkation I spend an additional two nights in Vienna. I would recommend taking a cruise on the River Countess at any time of the year, the staff will make you feel as if your at home and a part of their family. I hope to be able to cruise again on the River Countess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We have been on many ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise and it was truly a remarkable way to travel. We previously visited Europe on land tours which involved lots of packing and unpacking and getting on the bus and off the ... Read More
We have been on many ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise and it was truly a remarkable way to travel. We previously visited Europe on land tours which involved lots of packing and unpacking and getting on the bus and off the bus. The river cruise takes all the hassle out of traveling from one locale to another. Uniworld has certainly perfected the art of river cruising by choosing unique and entertaining destinations, first class service and a beautiful vessel. We sailed on the River Countess and were amazed that the shower was much larger than on ocean cruise ships. No need to do the hokey-pokey to take a shower! The tile and marble were beautiful and the towels big and fluffy. The entire ship was well-maintained and always clean. The entire staff was outstanding and made each guest feel special. Our cruise manager, Hildegard, had an amazing store of knowledge about every port and all the castles and towns, locks and vineyards we sailed past. Her enthusiasm, experience and love of cruising were contagious and enhanced our experience onboard. The food was of excellent quality, beautifully and artistically presented, and represented a wide variety of ethnic cuisines which we especially enjoy. The wine included in the price of the cruise was quite good and plentiful. The itinerary included a great mix of major cities and small towns that were unknown to us before this trip. What wonderful surprises they held! Without exception, the local tour guides we met were very knowledgeable and personable. Our only criticism of the cruise concerns the lack of consistent internet access. We had inquired before departure and were told that internet access could be purchased for 20 Euros for the entire trip, whether using the ship's computers or our own. We therefore decided not to bring along our international cell phone as we would keep in touch with family via email. We were told that there might be reception difficulties when traversing locks, but were not aware that there would be 66 locks on our voyage from Amsterdam to Vienna! As soon as we boarded, the staff informed us the internet reception was not good and they would not charge us for access. Many guests were frustrated trying to get online, and we finally resorted to seeking out internet cafes after our tours in order to keep in touch with family as promised. This was not an insurmountable problem, but was annoying until we got near the end of the journey when internet reception was much better. As we sailed past many similar ships, we marvelled that there exists this wonderful segment of travel that we were totally unaware of until very recently, and we're so glad we discovered river cruising! I would not hesitate to recommend this type of travel to anyone interested in a unique travel experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Fourteen Days on the Uniworld River Countess After spending five days in Salisbury, England, to help some of our English friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, my wife and I hopped on a Flyby turboprop airliner from ... Read More
Fourteen Days on the Uniworld River Countess After spending five days in Salisbury, England, to help some of our English friends celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, my wife and I hopped on a Flyby turboprop airliner from Southampton to Amsterdam to board the Uniworld, MV River Princess for a 14 day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, Hungary. We had purchased the cruise at the last minute through an interliner site for $1399 per person plus port charges and taxes. The total cost (including port charges and tax for two people) was a little over $3200. This covered transfers to and from the airports and a number of city tours. True to their word Uniworld met us at the international airport in Amsterdam and by 1:00pm our luggage and we were in our cabin on the River Princess. Although the cabin was mostly below the waterline of the boat, it had two large windows just above the waterline that made for an unusual look at the river. All the cabins on the River Princess are the same size (about 154 sq. ft.). The difference in categories and prices is simply the height above water level and the style of windows you have. We found the furnishings, bed linen, towels and robes to be first class all the way. We quickly made our way to the dining room where a great buffet awaited us. The food was good and plentiful. The wait staff could not do enough for you and they meant it when they said, If there is something you want, just ask. The afternoon was spent getting familiar with the boat. It was small compared to the 2000 passenger ocean going vessels we were used to. It did have a laundry room with two washers and dryers plus a place for ironing clothes. It had a nice patio with 24 hours tea and coffee service, a well-stocked library/computer room and a good size show lounge. There was a small fitness room but with all the walking tours, additional exercise was not needed. The top of the boat had a huge sun deck, which was partially covered in case of bad weather. There was no pool or hot tub but we thought we could rough it for two weeks. A hot tub would have been nice after a day of sightseeing. The Captain, hotel staff and crew were just as friendly as the wait staff and the passengers got to know them all during the cruise. There was only one open seating for all passengers and the spacious dining was pleasant and not the least bit noisy. The first night dinner was a time for testing the wait staff. I soon found out that the menu was limited. There was a choice of three main courses and always consisted of one meat, one fish dish, and one vegetarian choice. Since I am a beef eater, I only ordered from the menu three of the fourteen nights we were on the cruise. The rest of the time I ordered steak that they were happy to provide. The desserts were the best I have ever had on a cruise. The little gal who did the pastries made apple straddle that one could die for. The rest of the pies, cakes, strudels and other desserts were done equally well. I must say, however, that this trip was the first time that I have ever eaten walnut ice cream topped with dried apricots and prunes. The first night the Captain, Hotel Manager, and Cruise Manager briefed us. We knew exactly what to do in case of an emergency (if the boat sank, go to the top deck and wait). The boat was taller than the river was deep. The cruise manager, Maddy, told us what to expect the next day, a routine that happened every evening before dinner. The hotel manager covered the procedure of keeping track of the passengers and all other related procedures. Our musician, Matthew, played the piano for a couple of hours after dinner for those of us who could stay awake after a long day. On day two we arrived in Cologne. After a walking tour we had some free time to see the city on our own. We had been to Cologne in 1960 and to say the least, it had changed. The only thing we recognized was the cathedral. We soon learned the ABC's of river cruising. Another Bloody _______. You fill in the blank with castle, cathedral, city, church or canal lock. After walking about the shops and bars for a hour or so, it was back on the boat for Maddy's briefing for the next day, dinner, and more piano music by Matthew. The next day we cruised through the Rhine Gorge that was one of the highlights of the cruise. Passing castle after castle we spotted the Lorelei just before we arrived in Rudesheim. Our tour in Rudesheim was of the Siegfried's Mechanical Musikkabinett. The private collection of working mechanical music makers (some of them filled an entire room) is outstanding. Anyone who travels to Rudesheim should tour the collection. We were back on boat by six but to tired to take the optional Rudesheim dinner and entertainment tour that night. Our new friends spoke highly of the tour. The next day we toured Heidelberg, another bloody castle. We had been there in 1960 and the castle had not changed, however, there were so many tour groups around that it was hard to take a picture without getting a tour group in the picture. There were also more shops and restaurants ready and willing to separate the tourists from their money. We had lunch at a local restaurant that served typical German food and it was surprisingly good. Not what I expected, having been in Germany a number of times. Miltenberg in the morning and Wertheim in the afternoon of day five saw us taking ABC tours. Tour guides gave us a little history and a lot of legends about the towns but who knows what to believe. I did not know that the Crusaders had brought so many religious relics back through Germany and dropped them off at every little town on the Rhine. The next stop was Karlstadt. In the morning before we stopped at Karlstadt, Karl Heinz, a guest lecturer from Wurzburg, lectured on Architectural Styles that we would see in cities on the cruise. After lunch aboard the boat, we debarked in Karstadt for the bus ride to Wurzburg where we had a walking tour of the Prince Bishop's Palace. The palace was awesome. Although the palace had been largely destroyed during WWII, it had been restored in all of its grandeur. If anyone ever visits Wurzburg, you must take a tour of the Prince Bishop's Palace and do not miss the chapel. Monday, October 2nd started out overcast with a 60% chance of rain forecasted. It was one optional tour that we really wanted to take. It was to Rothenburg, the walled city. Here again, a large part of the city had been destroyed during WWII but had been restored beautifully. A walk around the wall revealed a number of plaques with names with 1m, 2m, or 3m on them. These people were responsible for restoring the wall, meter by meter. The rain held off and the sun showed Rothenburg in all of its beauty. The optional tour was well worth the extra $82 pp it cost. At Bamberg, the next stop, the rain finally caught up with us. However, a stroll downtown in the rain was worth the discomfort. The big attraction was the town hall in the middle of the river. The market might have been a great place to shop but most of the booths closed early because of the rain. The canal between Bamberg and Nuremberg was extremely interesting. We went under bridges where we had to flatten all the lounges on the sun deck in order to make it under the bridges. Even the wheelhouse was lowered. We would lie on our backs to take pictures of the bottom of the bridges. At mile markers 53.7, 61.9, 79, and 87.1 the canal went over roads and rivers. It was unusual to see cars and trucks as well as boats going under your own riverboat. We declined to take the optional tour of Nuremberg when we found out that we would not be able to tour the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials were held after WWII. Instead we enjoyed just cruising down the river taking pictures of the beautiful countryside. The next stop was Regensburg, where we had two hours of free time before returning to the boat. One hour was plenty of time. It was a quaint little town but by this time we had had enough of quaint little towns. It was Friday so we must be in Passau. Another quaint little town, however, this one had a big cathedral with the world's largest pipe organ. Uniworld provided us with free tickets to an organ concert and it was well worth the price of the tickets. I think that the concert was designed to display the ability of the organ and organist rather than to please the concertgoers. The next morning we arrived in Melk and took a bus to the Abbey. Although we had been there before, it had changed. Modern art was everywhere to be seen. Gift shops and restaurants were everywhere. What had been a beautiful Abbey was had been restored and renovated but some of the charm was missing. Maybe it was the busloads of tourists that made it feel like a tourist trap rather than a piece of history. Vienna was Vienna. What a beautiful city. Just to walk about and look at a piece of living history was well worth the cost of the entire cruise. We visited some old haunts and relished the new look of old landmarks. The black soot, for the most part, was gone and the buildings gleamed white in the sunlight. Part of the restaurant that we had enjoyed in our last visit in 1997 was now a sports bar but enough of the old remained that is was recognizable. We could have spent much more time in Vienna and the 7 ½ hours allotted by Uniworld passed quickly. We arrived in Budapest the next day and docked on the Pest side. We took a shuttle boat to the Buda side. Here again 7 hours was not enough time to see all the wonders of Budapest. I suggest that if you have not been to Budapest and want to take a river cruise that you take the three-day extension that Uniworld offers, buy a transportation pass, and see the city on your own. It is a beautiful city and deserves more than a few hours. A Hungarian Operetta and Folklore Performance highlighted our last night on board in the lounge. The performers were professional and the program was outstanding. Uniworld did an outstanding job of organizing the cruise and tours. This has to be near the top of all the cruises I have ever been on and another river cruise is definitely something I would want to do again. Bucharest to the Black Sea comes to mind. Debarkation was quick and uneventful. The Uniworld bus took us to the Budapest International airport where we Delta 99 direct to New York JFK International where we took a flight straight to Tampa. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
River Countess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness & Recreation 3.0 N/A
Family 1.0 3.9
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.8
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

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