River Duchess Cruise Review by Fostersmith
- Sail Date: May 2017
- Destination: Europe
- Cabin Type: Stateroom with French Balcony
So I want to get that out of the way first. We booked the pre cruise tour in Amsterdam and had a very difficult time getting the timing of the excursions that came with the pre tour. Apparently there were two different cruises leaving on the same day and the guide was juggling both groups. We finally received an itinerary so we could plan our other excursions only to find that the tour guide changed the timing because "of the other group". This was really not my problem, they should have called in a second guide to deal with any issues that came up with another group. As it happened we missed the main excursion with the guide, as we had other plans for earlier in the day and could not make it to both. The canal tour he took us on was ok, although he sat in the back of the canal boat and just spoke using the audio equipment we had. He could not even sit with us and maybe spontaneously point something out. Then the day we were supposed to embark there was a glitch with the bus picking us up because of traffic and the size of the bus. We were supposed to arrive for lunch and as time got tight, he said just go and get lunch the dining room is open until 3 pm. Wrong. First we had to sign in, and by time we got to the dining room, we were told it was closed. In the meantime he went and got his food and was sitting eating and totally ignored the fact that we were expecting something to eat, from his directions. I was really upset, as he did nothing except kept on eating, even though he saw us walk in. Luckily a very good manage, Karolina, heard the issues and had the 5 of us go into the lounge and order off the bar menu. But why should we have to have an issue with this, the local guide should have taken care of this. All in all, I am not sure I would do another pre cruise tour with Uniworld local guides. I would rather plan private tours and arrive take a cab to the ship. Of course you might say, at least you get an airport pick up, wrong again. He did not even get that part correct. there were three of us waiting. Luckily a AMAcruise guide helped us, by calling the River Duchess for us, and helping us get a cab to the hotel. We were easily reimbursed, but another unpleasant way to start our vacation.
BUT EVERYTHING ELSE WAS GREAT!!!
Once we got on the cruise it was great. We had a lovely Level 1 cabin. This boat only has 4 suites, so if you want one, you need to book very early.
The dining room was well laid out.There is a Buffet for Breakfast and Lunch and served sit down dinner. There was alway plenty of food to choose from and fresh food was brought up frequently to fill the warmers. Being a vegetarian sometimes causes issues, but not on a Uniworld cruise. There was always a vegetarian option for dinner and plenty to choose from at lunch. The staff went out of their way to be sure I had enough to eat and would often have something special made for me for dinner if I did not want what was on the menu. The wines were very good. Since I love Rieslings from Germany, this cruise was wonderful for me. Maria, the head bar tender and sommelier alway discussed the menu and wine pairings before we went into dinner, and her recommendations were excellent. Peter, the Head Chef, did a great job with the food and especially the specialty local foods.
The excursions were incredible. We were on the ship for 21 days and always had a great choice of what to do. Gabriel had wonderful excursions lined up and often times reorganized them when he realized that some of the folks needed the "gentle walker" option. He was very good at changing plans as needed and everyone had the opportunity to enjoy themselves within their capabilities. He also organized a wonderful excursion for the 19 people who were doing the 21 days of sailing from Amsterdam-Bucharest. When we got to Budapest many people disembarked, and others embarked for the last week of the cruise. The turn over day was left open, but he scheduled a wonderful visit to the Hungarian wine country with a beautiful lunch in one of the cavern wine cellars. This was one of my favorite days and Gabriel did this at the last minute. Fast thinking!!!
The rest of the cruise was very interesting sailing on the Danube, through the countries claimed by the Soviets after WWII. The people we met were very open about what their lives were like pre 1989 and how things had changed since then. The sailing through the Iron Gate area was spectacular and I feel honored to have been able to see this beautiful region on this wonderful cruise.
I want to thank Maria, our cabin caretaker and Celina for helping to make our Anniversary so special. We returned from our dinner to find a beautiful red organizer bow on our bed, with heart shaped chocolates and candles lit through out our cabin, as well as a bottle of Champagne. This was an incredible surprise and we just loved the thought that went into making our celebration so special.
Once we arrived in Romania we had a short drive to Bucharest. Disembarkation was a dream. We were organized into three time groups. When it was our turn to board the bus, we went to our bus, identified our luggage and off we went. On arrival, we had time for a snack, which was organized by the local guides in the hotel, before heading our for our afternoon tour of Bucharest. Once we returned to the hotel, our room keys were waiting for us with the local guide, our luggage was already in our room and we were set to go. We had received information of suggested dining options for dinner from the local guides, even before arriving, so we did not feel at a loss of what to do and where to go.
Transfers to the airport went just as smoothly. They organized us according to flight time so we did not have to wait at the airport all day. Since we left before the dining room opened, our group was given boxed breakfasts and there was coffee for us in the lobby. This was a wonderful group of local guides who had everything organized the way I have come to expect from Uniworld. They lived up to our expectations and worked hard getting us where we all needed to be for our return flights.
We are already looking to book another Uniworld cruise for 2018.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
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