This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, ... Read More
This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, and since getting to our Veneto destinations took bus rides of 1-2 hours each way. Add to that the fact that local shops close for the “siesta” at mid-day (cutting out shopping) and you have a recipe for some dissatisfaction.
However, knowing all these things we chose this cruise because it was the only one that offered Venice and nearby cities with historical significance. And much of it was good – for example, Ferrara was a real sleeper and well worth the visit. We were so tired after traveling overnight, arriving on Sunday, and having a full-day outing to Padua on Monday, that we decided to sleep in on the Bologna-or-Ferrara day and in the afternoon took the provided bus to Ferrara to walk around on our own. What a pleasure to see a real castle and moat, an old church, and a medieval village all within a few blocks. Padua had one church where we spend a lot of time but didn’t’ have much else. Ravenna had excellent mosaics in church and chapel and a great place for lunch; Verona was big and crowded but beautiful with many buildings of interest. Venice was…Venice! Arrive a day or two ahead or stay a day or two after the cruise to explore Venice on your own.
Our cruise director was very knowledgeable but sometimes told us more than we needed to know – for example, about the movements of the ship while we did excursions. We only needed to know things that would directly affect us, one day at a time. We were not sure how well-organized he was.
Some of our guides were excellent, like Manuela in Ravenna, but others were hard to understand and some pushed the “Puccini” group (those with mobility issues) a little too fast. It was a good plan to have a slower-moving group but not quite carried through. On the bus, we were promised a comfort stop on one of the trips but it didn’t happen. Sometimes it seemed that we were rushing in and out of our destination towns. And we had very little time between getting back to the ship and going to the lounge for the port talk. If it had been televised we could have taken our time preparing for dinner. But in Venice the market visit with the chef was very well done, and the evening visit to the Basilica with Susan was excellent. The buses were quite comfortable. The vox system worked fine.
On the ship we were extremely pleased with the front desk people who were very helpful and efficient; the cleanliness of the ship and of our room; the organization and staff that got us from and back to the airport and provided help inside the airport; the Captain who projected competence and care; and the staff of the Osteria. The ship was not full so the Hotel Manager moved us to a room farther away from the exercise room and the coffee machine – much appreciated.
We were less impressed with the friendliness of the staff in the main dining room. Early on we took to eating lunch and dinner in the Osteria, which offered pizza, prosciutto, and salad and of course wine. The view was great, the atmosphere informal, and the self-service for food worked just fine. We ate what we liked and felt no pressure to have more courses. We gave mixed reviews to the staff in the lounge – some extremely attentive, and others who took orders but drinks appeared whenever. Only once did we get the little snacks that come with drinks. We did not know whether the new “all-inclusive” policy, that included tips, had an effect on the attitude of the staff.
The food was good but it didn’t seem to us that it was special. The menus in the main dining room were not exciting. At the Captain’s dinner I got halibut that had the watery quality of fish that has been frozen. On the other hand, the sea bass at the Farewell dinner (bought in Venice at the market that day) was excellent. The pizza toppings were good but the pizza oven was apparently not large enough to generate a crispy crust. The pizza was good anyway.
Unfortunately there were things that were provided but we either weren’t told about or heard when we were sleep-deprived, but it wasn’t just us who didn’t know that there was a Bistro menu in the lounge; that you had to ask for the prosciutto in the Osteria; and that vaporetto passes could be bought at the front desk.
All in all we enjoyed the cruise but there was definitely room for improvement.