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Sail Date: May 2019
Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words? I never have until now. I'm Angela and I teach house cleaning for a living - all over the world. So when I stay at a hotel, or I go on a cruise - I can't help it. I notice the ... Read More
Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words? I never have until now. I'm Angela and I teach house cleaning for a living - all over the world. So when I stay at a hotel, or I go on a cruise - I can't help it. I notice the bits of dust on the lamps or the drapes or etched water stains on the shower glass. THE WORST DAY TURNED INTO THE BEST I hadn't been on board the S.S. Maria Theresa for more than a minute when my entire trip changed for the absolute best. Let me back up a sec. My husband and I traveled from Charlotte, NC, USA to Passau, Germany by way of Munich. The Passau to Budapest river cruise was the celebration of our milestone birthdays. Weather in Charlotte had steep flight delays and we missed our connecting flight to Munich. When we arrived four hours late, our luggage didn't. There we were in an unfamiliar place, no luggage and needed a means of transport from Munich to Passau two hours away. PANIC TURNED INTO PEACE No sooner had we filed a missing luggage report we came through the baggage claim doors. And waiting for us (much later than the pre-arranged time) is a Uniworld transport driver with a sign bearing our names. She was delightful, charming, and put us right at ease as she drove us to the ship. I thought she was the best gem Uniworld could offer. I didn't know she was the portal to the spellbinding service we would experience all week aboard the ship. We arrived at the ship somewhere around 10:30 pm. WELCOME TO S.S. MARIA THERESA Tired, weary and hungry we checked in at the front desk picked up a room key. Paul, dressed to the nines, escorted us to our rooms. He spent a few minutes showing us the lights, ways to adjust the room temperature, and the plug situation. (Note: There is a USB port hiding under each of the room's outlets in the top right-hand corner to charge your phones.) Then he invited us to the lounge where we could order some food. YES! At 10:30 at night they will bring you a menu, offer you drinks and cater to your every whim. I LOVE this place. THEN IT HIT ME... As I sat in the lounge waiting for them to bring our food my eyes scanned the room. Not in a judgmental way, just a way of familiarizing myself. The drapes in the lounge pooched up in Victorian scallops didn't have a speck of dust. How is this even possible? As my eyes wandered to the mystery of dust-free drapes I noticed the walls adorned in carved flourishes. (Also, dust catchers, they too are free of dust.) Am I dreaming? Sure, it's late, and my blood sugar is out of whack from no food and it's possible I am hallucinating. MY SHOCK TURNED TO HORROR The entry of the ship is glass. All Glass. Glass and Mirrors. And as my mind processed what I had seen a few minutes earlier passing through the lobby, it hit me that the lobby wasn't just mirrored. It was mirrors on top of mirrors. Mirrors made of flourishes attached to mirrors for decorations. Cleaning those mirrors would have made any sane housekeeper flee in horror. Now I sit in the lounge and there is a lavish bar filled with gleaming liquors, wines and drinks. Gleaming because every jar and bottle at the bar is spit-shined and polished. No dust. The glasses hanging from the bar must have been brand new - as in purchased today because not one of them had a smudge. No dust, no water spots. Just new. The thought of how much cleaning went into this "first impression" was horrifying to me. I KNOW CLEAN. And I've never in my life seen anything this clean. I WANTED TO DANCE WITH JOY The friendly staff, impeccably dressed served us as if we were royalty. Friendly, patient and attentive they brought us hot food and drinks. Anxious, exhausted and starved I wanted to hug every one of them. And the place was so clean I wanted to dance with joy. WHAT IS THIS PLACE? Before going to bed the front desk, the crew gave us toiletries for the night and assured us, they would contact the airlines and trace our luggage. I'd been on the ship less than 30 minutes and had already had the best trip of my life. Hooray! And I get to stay another week. ALL THE USUAL'S AND SO MUCH MORE If you've ever been on a cruise your expectations are pretty high. You want great food, clean rooms, nice excursions, friendly staff, and fantastic entertainment. Yes, yes, yes, this ship has all this. AND SO MUCH MORE Every corner of the ship is ornate. Carved flourishes, velvet walls, wrought iron stair railings, and Murano glass chandeliers. Mirrors, mirrors, and more mirrors. And marble floors. The house cleaner in me cringed with delight. Everywhere I looked, there was excellence in cleanliness. Every nook and cranny were shiny and polished. Not a hair out of place, not a speck of dust, not a smudge, smear, fingerprint or spot. EVERYONE KNOWS MY NAME Walking through the lobby at any time of the day or night during the entire week cruise every person on staff addressed me by name. Whhaat? There were 132 passengers on board. How did they learn everybody's names? Surely it wasn't just me. Can they really be that good? YES, THEY CAN! And not only did they greet me but they all knew our luggage hadn't arrived and they volunteered to get us anything we needed. Stephania and a young helpful team (whose names I'm ashamed I don't remember,) tracked our luggage down and had it shipped from Munich to Lenz. We didn't need to follow up with anybody - they took care of it all for us. YOUR EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED The cruise was spectacular in every way with delicious and healthy food. Lavish entertainment. Walking tours with local tour guides who were friendly, articulate and informative. And the beds provide the best night’s sleep you've ever had. (They are Savoir of England) Comfort takes on a whole new meaning on the S.S. Maria Theresa. And did I mention they have a menu of four different types of pillows? The ones on the bed are pretty amazing one being a down feather soft pillow and the other a supreme fiber comfort pillow. I know what you’re thinking - I didn't want to leave my room either. SHIP ACCESSORIES UMBRELLAS: The ship has umbrellas. If you're off to an excursion during the rain, they have an umbrella for you. (We used them a couple of times.) MAPS: And they provide city maps for you each day as you leave for your daily activities. BICYCLES: There are bicycles you can borrow (which we did three of the days of our trip) to go sightseeing on land. INTERNET: And of course, they have free internet in every room. If you have special internet needs (I have a YouTube channel) they have a special modem you can rent at the front desk. WASHERS & DRYERS: Oh, and did I mention that they have washers and dryers and an iron for your personal use in a public laundry room on the ship? It's true. You don't need to bring an iron or steamer on this cruise with you. Yay! All this and SO MUCH MORE. BEHIND THE MAGIC CURTAIN By Friday my observation of the cleanliness of the ship had turned to an obsession. I know how dust works. It comes in with opening and closing doors, and the AC units kicking on. And I'm on a ship for 5 days and every corner of the ship looks brand-spankin new. It was then I met Nicoleta the Housekeeping Guru who runs the place. Her specialty is in the systems she creates to get the work done on time to turn the rooms between meals and excursions. THE WIZARD OF NICOLETA She has systems for the laundry room where the guest towels and linens get washed. They label every type of linen to keep the turnover service running at optimal speed. She has systems for the uniforms the crew wear. Where it goes when it comes off and a system for its cleaning and ironing. There are systems for dishes and turning a banquet room. Systems for cleaning the common areas of the ship and hallways. And it's no surprise there are systems for cleaning the deck of the ship and removing seat cushions at dusk. The systems she has created for crew scheduling include "to do" lists as well as built-in breaks and time off for the crew. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I'D SEEN AND HEARD IT ALL... I took a cruise on the S.S. Maria Theresa - a Uniworld sensation. My expectations and hopes were illuminated with the impossible. Imagine me at my age - thinking I'd seen and heard it all - and now this! Awe, wonder, magic, and delight - all in a week on this ship. If you're ready for the time of your life - Choose this cruise. And prepare to be outrageously impressed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Was absolutely blown away with our experience. Our exceptional Egyptologist guide Hazem Khalaf solidifies our experience . From the moment we arrived in Cairo we were well taken care of! The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Was absolutely blown away with our experience. Our exceptional Egyptologist guide Hazem Khalaf solidifies our experience . From the moment we arrived in Cairo we were well taken care of! The Uniworld staff took very good care of us. The Tosca staff whether it was attentive details to our stateroom or assistance from the front desk. Dining experience from the helm of Chef Hamdy - to Restaurant Manager - Ehab Abdelsamd , to oversee perfection. Well done! Entertainment was unique and everyone joined in the fun:) We loved it! Special thanks and shout out to Mohamed and Sayed for the exceptional relaxing Spa treatments Nothing better than a good massage after a long day touring, including a lot of walking. To Mahmoud (Shopping experience) your pleasant personality and professional knowledge made our jewelry shopping a breeze . Love my purchases! River Tosca is a great ship . Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We love the Moselle and the lovely towns on its shores. That part did not disappoint. This was a new cruise, and we were the first group to take it. This was our fourth cruise with Uniworld, and we have always loved the elegance of ... Read More
We love the Moselle and the lovely towns on its shores. That part did not disappoint. This was a new cruise, and we were the first group to take it. This was our fourth cruise with Uniworld, and we have always loved the elegance of their product. Here’s what was disappointing: 1. no pianist on board - have always loved the sophisticated atmosphere in the lounge with a pianist taking requests. No pianist. Bummer. 2. Food was not as wonderful as usual...twice I ordered steak from the alternate menu...both times lots of gristle and tough. No ice cream offered as alternate dessert. No apple strudel or sauerbraten although we were in Germany...bummer. 3. There were 3 evening shows. One was classical string music and it was terrific, but the other two played oldies and pop music. Uniworld has always been great about affecting cultural programs in the evenings (folk music, etc), but we didn’t get any. We didn’t book a German cruise to hear YMCA and ABBA in the evening.very disappointing. Ocean cruises play that pop crap...Uniworld is better than that. 4. The Uniworld catalogue in its description of this cruise listed a lot of cultural excursion offerings, NONE of which ended up being offered. 5. Too much time in big cities...Frankfurt, Mainz, Bonn, Cologne, which could have been spent in the Riesling towns on the Moselle All this being said, the service was FANTASTIC. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
We took a trip recently on this ship from Amsterdam to Basel, our thrip trip on Uniworld. Although the ship was beautiful and the crew were terrific, it may be our last such trip with this company because we found, especially at dinner ... Read More
We took a trip recently on this ship from Amsterdam to Basel, our thrip trip on Uniworld. Although the ship was beautiful and the crew were terrific, it may be our last such trip with this company because we found, especially at dinner that the dining room was so loud. We complained and were told that others have raised the same concerns. Part of the reason may be that the company has a policy of serving unlimited amounts of wine and liquor. Some people do not know how to regulate themselves. They below quite loud and obnoxious. The dining room needs major soundproofing and/or the company needs to rethink its policy re unlimited drinks. Again, the ship is very nice, and the crew was terrific. They went out of their way to meet our request for a specific food consistent with a religious holiday that took place during our cruise. Our cabin was lovely. But dinner consistently was not a pleasant experience. We have written an extensive review for the company on this issue and have received no response. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
I'm going to break my review into some basic areas that really are the things most folks look for on river cruise. The Tours, Food, Accommodations, Ambiance and staff. Let me start with the easiest first...Staff. Staff: Uniworld ... Read More
I'm going to break my review into some basic areas that really are the things most folks look for on river cruise. The Tours, Food, Accommodations, Ambiance and staff. Let me start with the easiest first...Staff. Staff: Uniworld certainly knows what it's doing when it comes to hiring the "best of the best" as we found each and every person on board to be kind, engaging, fun, service oriented and just lovely. In particular Adrian, our Waiter, was Amazing, as was a bar waitress named Sylvia. Always a smile, they remembered the smallest details: How you like your drink, or the type of coffee you enjoyed. Our stewardess kept the cabin SPOTLESS and we were so impressed with how quickly they did their work. Can't praise them enough! Food: Meal quality was a little uneven. In particular Uniworld always has some basics on the menu in case you can't find anything you like in the daily featured dishes at dinner. The "Everyday" menu included things like Chicken and Steaks and Salmon and while prepared pretty well, the quality of the ingredients seemed to be lacking a bit. Strongly suggest they look to their purveyors to up that quality of the proteins on board. The breakfast and Lunches are all buffets and they were really excellent always plenty of choices. The dining room is a bit tight with big comfy chairs but overall a very pleasant place to spend a good portion of the evening. Again, the staff shined with complimentary wine flowing. Overall dinners were OK, just not at the level we were expecting at this price point. Tours: This is where I feel Uniworld really shines and is totally the reason to pay a little more for Uniworld. We saw other lines with huge groups of people but Uniworld had these small intimate group tours around the various cities. We couldn't have been more impressed with the guides (they get the best of the best) and loved the 'do as the locals do" visiting markets, riding public transit with our guide and learning ever so much, about the daily lives of the locals. A++++. Accommodations: So Uniworld claims to have the best beds on the rivers and indeed they do. Seriously it's no joke, these beds are off the chart. It's like sleeping in a gloved hand, resting on a cloud. I could go on and on but suffice to say, you will want to try, as we did, to figure out how to get this bed home with you! The decor is really quite something, shall I say " Over the Top". Makes you feel like you are staying in one of the palaces that you've toured each day. Initially I was a bit taken aback, but quickly realized it was replicating the experience of old Europe and very quickly I fell in love with it all the tufts and frills. while I wouldn't decorate my home this way, the style and glamour immersed you in the European style and we loved it! Ambiance: Sadly on our sailing there wasn't a piano player in the lounge and that was a miss, as a little music during cocktail hour and afterwards would have made the product come to life a little more. Uniworld does bring on entertainment in some of the ports but would have loved a little more consistency in this area. I found the other guest on board to be quite social and we met tons of new friends. Bottom Line: It's worth the extra $$. You will be wowed and super comfy! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our first cruise ever. Was somewhat hesitant on cruising as we thought we would not have enough to do and things would be too micro managed. This boat was wonderful. Once met at the airport, Uniworld took charge of the bags ... Read More
This was our first cruise ever. Was somewhat hesitant on cruising as we thought we would not have enough to do and things would be too micro managed. This boat was wonderful. Once met at the airport, Uniworld took charge of the bags and upon boarding the boat all bags were brought to the room. Room and boat were wonderful. All our needs were met on board and tours were arranged with very knowledgeable guides of the various cities. Our tours were well set up and there were options available depending on what your interests were. Our ship had some children on it and there was enough for them to do. We traveled at times during the day to take in the beautiful scenery, although some of the travel was done in the evening. The food was delicious. There was so much variety. Breakfast was buffet, with also an special order option. Lunch buffet with every day a special chef's carving station. Wine and drinks all day. Staff was just wonderful Special bar area for relaxing between meals and after a day of touring the various cities and several evening entertainment. Sun deck had lounge and tables available with bar set up during the day. Room was beautiful and heated bathroom floors and towel rack. My husband said he had never wanted to go on any type of cruise and here he is planning the next one. We can't say enough about how great this trip was!!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was the fifth Uniworld cruise for my wife and me and it immediately followed the Highlights of Eastern Europe on the S.S. Beatrice. Our experience on the Beatrice did not meet the Uniworld standards so we were anxious to see if this ... Read More
This was the fifth Uniworld cruise for my wife and me and it immediately followed the Highlights of Eastern Europe on the S.S. Beatrice. Our experience on the Beatrice did not meet the Uniworld standards so we were anxious to see if this cruise met the Uniworld standards. This cruise was excellent in all areas: the staff, service, ship, food and excursions. Be advised that this is not your normal river cruise. There is some cruising but much of the time is spent docked in the Venice Lagoon and traveling by water taxi. It’s a great way to visit Venice. The trip started with two nights at the Rosa Grand Hotel in Milan. There was a welcome meeting at 5 pm where the local Uniworld host explained the schedule for the next two days which was followed by a vicinity walk around the hotel area. Uniworld made dinner reservations at a local restaurant (at your own expense) or you could have dinner on your own. Uniworld did this for both nights and it was very convenient to have the reservations made because Milan was very crowded because it was Design Week. The next day following the included breakfast at the hotel (which was a delicious selection) we had a walking tour of Milan. The group size averaged about 25 people. Our first stop was a private viewing of the Last Supper. Our group was alone in the viewing area for about 30 minutes while the guide discussed the painting. Our last stop was the interior of the Milan Cathedral (Duomo). That afternoon there was an optional Duomo Rooftop Tour via elevator (55 € per person) which included an aperitif after the visit. You could also purchase a tour ticket and do the tour on your own. I would recommend doing it with the group because it includes a very knowledgeable guide. This tour was very interesting but not for anyone with a fear of heights or mobility issues. It includes a lot of walking and stairs. The next morning following breakfast, we traveled to Verona where we had a walking tour followed by lunch and wine tasting at Serego Alighieri Wine Estate. We arrived in Venice about 4:30 pm and boarded the River Countess. The next day we had a 3.7 mile walking tour which included a visit to Doge’s Palace and returned to the ship thru the back alleys and streets. The groups were small and the guide was excellent. Several different excursions were offered each day. That afternoon we sailed the Venice Lagoon. Our group visit to St. Mark’s Cathedral was cancelled due to Easter preparations. An after-hour visit of Scuola Grande di San Rocco was substituted. Many guests, ourselves included, felt this was a poor substitution. It involved a lot of walking over uneven ground in the dark and once we reached the building, the paintings weren’t that interesting. The next day was one of two when the River Countess crossed the Adriatic Sea and Italian Maritime authorities do not allow passengers to remain on the ship. We enjoyed a walk through Chioggia and a boat tour through the lagoon to hear about mussel harvesting before enjoying a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. That afternoon we sailed the Po River. The next day we had a Bologna walking tour, pasta making demonstration and Bolognese lunch. That evening we sailed the Po River. The next morning we visited the local market in Chioggia and sailed the Venice Lagoon in the afternoon. The next day we visited the “Magic Islands of Venice” (Torcello, Mazzorbo and Burano) via private boat. The following day was one of our favorite excursions: a water taxi ride to the Rialto market with the ship’s chef to purchase produce, meat and fish for today’s lunch and dinner. We also had time to take a gondola ride. In the afternoon we visited the AVG Murano glass factory for a glass-blowing demonstration and opportunity to purchase Murano glass pieces. Early the next morning Uniworld took us to the airport for our flight home. A Uniworld representative took us to our check-in counter and then to the security check to make sure everything went smoothly. The River Countess is a wonderful ship. We enjoyed all of our meals in the Savoy restaurant and there is Osteria Siena which seats about 20 people and serves delicious pizza. There was an on-board musician that played during the afternoon and evening hours when local entertainment was not brought onboard. Our cruise director was wonderful and made sure everything ran smoothly. The walking groups averaged about 15 people, the local guides were excellent and a gentle walkers group was offered. Since we were past passengers, we each had one bag of laundry done. The turnaround time was quick and everything came back nicely folded or on hangers. There was a lady on this cruise that used an electric scooter. The Uniworld staff members went above and beyond to accommodate this passenger, carrying her scooter on and off the boat for excursions and assisting her in every way imaginable. They went above and beyond. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was our fourth Uniworld cruises, all of which had been excellent. PRO’s Staff, service and shore excursions lived up to Uniworld standard of excellence. This cruise concluded with a two-night hotel stay in Bucharest. We were ... Read More
This was our fourth Uniworld cruises, all of which had been excellent. PRO’s Staff, service and shore excursions lived up to Uniworld standard of excellence. This cruise concluded with a two-night hotel stay in Bucharest. We were then transferred by Uniworld to the airport for our flight to Milan. Upon arrival at the airport we discovered that we had left our passports in the hotel safe. The Uniworld representative at the airport kept our luggage, had the driver return us to the hotel and notified the Uniworld representative at the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, they had retrieved our passports and had them at the front desk. We were then put on the next airport transfer and made our flight in plenty of time thanks to the efficiency of Uniworld. CON’s Food and presentation was just average, not up to Uniworld standards. Pastry items were terrible. Same pastries were served each morning. Deserts were ordinary and uninspired. Cabin layout was terrible compared to every other Uniworld ship we've sailed. We had Room 320 (French balcony) and had to have furniture removed so there would be enough room to walk around. The only evening entertainment was when local talent (which was very good) was brought on. There was no regular musical entertainer. If this had been our first Uniworld cruise, we would not continue sailing with Uniworld. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Overall excellent service. Boarding was very smooth. we were the first to board. Rooms were smaller than other Uniworld boats. We were on the lower level. this boat had a wider wall than other boats. The boat did have a problem with ... Read More
Overall excellent service. Boarding was very smooth. we were the first to board. Rooms were smaller than other Uniworld boats. We were on the lower level. this boat had a wider wall than other boats. The boat did have a problem with a lack of hot water. cold showers were not pleasant. The water problem did seem to get better later in the cruise, but only for short showers. Food service started a little rough. I was served raw salmon, and my wife was served raw chicken. I think it took a little while for the cooks to get used to the ovens. The food overall was very good. The lunches were outstanding. Uniworld offers local foods, and the chef did a great job with them. The only other misstep was during a flaming salmon presentation. The fire unexpectedly jumped and caught two passengers on fire. one was singed, the other had the presence of mind to roll on the ground and escaped with minor injuries. The restaurant staff was fantastic. the really anticipated your needs. Service was always prompt and with a smile. Problems were handled very well. Bar staff was also very good. they remembered what you liked. The only drawback was Uniworld did not include the same high quality drinks as part of the all inclusive. Many other passengers and myself were surprised to find a 9 euro fee for Makers Mark. The wines and port served at dinner and in the bar were surprisingly good. Excursions were changed because of maintenance on a river lock. This changed our itinerary. Overall I thought Uniworld did a good job redoing our ports. Our favorite excursion was dinner at a winery. the owner was a real character. The Sandman port tour would have been better if more time was added to enjoy the grounds. Front desk staff were mostly outstanding. One new person was not up to speed yet, but was very friendly. Lounge entertainer was better than other Uniworld boats. the additional entertainers were ok. My favorite part was cruising by the vinyards. The landscape was beautiful.This is not a high activity cruise. It is a great cruse for someone who wants to relax and enjoy some nice wines Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
I have been wanting to visit Egypt since I was 4 years old. Instability and fear had always held me back until I discovered Uniworld River Cruises. Uniworld has a unique way of always making you feel like you’re a VIP. So was it possible ... Read More
I have been wanting to visit Egypt since I was 4 years old. Instability and fear had always held me back until I discovered Uniworld River Cruises. Uniworld has a unique way of always making you feel like you’re a VIP. So was it possible that Uniworld could possibly provide us the security and comforts of home that we demand in Egypt? The only way that question could possibly be answered was to book the trip and find out first hand. So after much anxiety we did we booked our trip for March 23, and I am all the more thankful and grateful for the decision we made. For us, it was truly that trip of our life time thanks to Uniworld. We arrived at the Cairo airport a day early and was greeted by a smiling and friendly Egyptian holding up a Uniworld sign named Ahab. He grabbed our luggage and the luggage of another Uniworld couple and headed us to the Uniworld Van. He then began to explain all the wonderful things we would be experiencing over the next two weeks and gave us a short Egyptian language lesson. He was funny and knowledgeable and gave us a very positive impression of what was instore. He offered us an optional day trip to the bent pyramid. Any time you meet a 55 year old guide with a high energy cell phone ring tone, you know you are in for a really good time but we had already made other plans. Uniworlds trip includes a visit to the pyramids, sphinx and camel ride, but we were so anxious we booked a private half day exertion via Viator and had a really good guide named Marwa who made certain we had a great time, along with lots of photo opportunities. Our stays at the Four Season Hotel was wonderful. This hotel is well managed and was like an luxury oasis in the middle of the desert. This hotel exhibited very good security and we always felt safe. Our room was magnificent and over looked the Nile River. My wife and I were treated like VIP’s the entire visit and we received exceptional service. The spa was fantastic and the services they provided were extremely professional. We dined at the Italian and Oriental restaurants and the buffet. The food and service at the buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner was our favorite! Since there was 72 people, they divided us into two groups and each assigned a bus and our own Egyptologist. Ours was named Tarek Mostafa and he was absolutely wonderful. Not only was he extremely knowledgeable about Egypt but had good command of the English language, authentic, funny and extremely good dresser. He also made us feel like we were VIP’s the entire trip. My wife and I have traveled to a lot of places in this world and used a lot of guides via Uniworld, Tauck and Viking, but Tarek Mostafa is hands down the best we have ever experienced. I hope you are lucky enough to have him as your Egyptologist. He went out of his way to provide our group with plenty of safe shopping opportunities during a very packed schedule and even helped us negotiate prices with vendors. He will teach you how to deal with locals trying to sell you stuff for one dollar. Every local knew him, and locals treated him with great respect and admiration. If you are lucky enough to get Tarek as your guide, you tell him Pete said hello. I loved the ole majestic Tosca river boat and all the five star staff that they had on board. I thought it was elegant and beautiful just not a quiet as the electric boats Uniworld has in Europe. She parted the waves of the Nile like a knife through butter. I loved all the wood work, comfortable seating and the pictures of old Egypt that hand on the wall. We enjoyed the Egyptian entertainment and dressing up for the Galabeya party. I even learned how to really dance like an Egyptian! We absolutely loved cruising the Nile River from on top of the Tosca. Plenty of comfortable seating and nice relaxing pool. We returned home so dark, that our family thought we had gone to Miami. Expect to see lots of beautiful tall palm trees and tons of banana trees. The only modern machinery you will see is electric pumps to irrigate the miles of farms. I saw lots of fisherman checking trout lines and nets. My favorite were the smiling faces and waving arms of children along the banks of the Nile all happy to see us. Every single day of our trip went as planned and we were always informed throughout the day by our Egyptologist, staff on board the ship and received a printed itinerary of next day’s events in detail. We always felt extremely safe because on every single excursion we had our own embedded guard who wore a three piece suit and holstered an impressive 9mm MP5. In addition, our buses were always escorted by the Egyptian military or police. Everyone waved to us and thanked us for visiting Egypt. I cannot tell you how many people randomly thanks us for coming to Egypt. Not once did we feel unsafe or threatened. We loved the balloon ride and the trip to Abu Simbal. Everything worked like clockwork during the entire trip. We were lucky that the Nile was high enough to cruise to Dendra, and that there were not sand storms or strong winds for us to experience the hot air balloon ride. All the interior Egyptian flights were with Egypt air and they ran smooth and security was extremely good. Expect some early morning wake-ups to avoid the heat, other tourist and sand that can rise up to 13,000 feet during the mid-day. Trust in the process cause these folks are experts when it comes to experiencing Egypt in a safe and comfortable manor. In return, we experienced a perfect trip and a trip of a life time that I will always remember. We left Egypt with a greater knowledge of Egypt and a much better understanding of the Muslim and Christian people who call Egypt home. The last days visit to the pyramids, sphinx and camel ride was as much fun as the first one! I just wish my wife would have let me buy one of those camels for the back yard. Uniworld not only meet our expectations but exceeded them. Ahab, even helped us inside the airport terminal to make sure we made it through security and check our luggage with no issues on the way home. No other company has ever done that for us. These folks treated us like family. If you want to see and experience Egypt first class and feel like a VIP, choose Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Treated myself on this cruise for a 70th birthday present. Ships was only half full and besides an English couple, Scandinavian couple & Canadian and 4 Australians the rest of the guests were from the USA. The group bonded well. The ... Read More
Treated myself on this cruise for a 70th birthday present. Ships was only half full and besides an English couple, Scandinavian couple & Canadian and 4 Australians the rest of the guests were from the USA. The group bonded well. The local guides were enthusiastic and knowledgeable and changed in Cambodia. We were divided into two groups for the entire trip with separate buses. Dining was buffet for breakfast and lunch and dinner was a choice of dishes. We would have liked to see more local food on the menu but did notice that many Americans preferred their style of food. Staff were amazing, efficient and friendly. Entertainment was just a pianist but we were lucky that one of our guest was a good singer and Bing the Uniworld rep also played the guitar. Some of the excursions such as the visit to a local school and joining their English class was so much fun! We were told that Uniworld will have a new ship next year January. Please note that March is very hot in Vietnam and Cambodia Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We had great flights and connections from a very cold Mid-western winter and came to Cairo in the evening. We had been told that we would be met by UniWorld rep as we came off the plane, but we kept on walking and just met him at the ... Read More
We had great flights and connections from a very cold Mid-western winter and came to Cairo in the evening. We had been told that we would be met by UniWorld rep as we came off the plane, but we kept on walking and just met him at the customs. As we had e visas, it was easy to enter and went to the baggage claim. We had to wait for quite some time before everyone in our group had collected their baggage. Then we had to wait again to get the bus for us to show up and then we had to use our carts to maneuver over curbs to get our luggage to the bus. It was not the best beginning. We arrived at the Four Seasons where a bomb sniffing dog checked out the bus, then the luggage was put through the X-ray machine, and we walked through the metal detector. We chose to carry our bags ourselves to the room, so we did not have to wait at all. Four Seasons is a lovely hotel as one would expect. There is smoke in the lobby and an ashtray in the room just next to the arrow that points to Mecca (for praying). Buffet breakfast was excellent, and was the only meal that was included in the tour. The morning started early with a meeting for all of us. We were 68 on our tour and were divided into two buses, A and B. We were on bus B which had 35 guests. I was surprised at having that many guests on our bus. I thought UniWorld prided itself on having small groups. 35 is not small. Our guide was Muhamad Abdelrahman and he was excellent. His English was great and easy to understand and his knowledge of the language was such that he could joke with us. He was helpful and kind and I cannot say enough good things about him. We had an issue right away. Most of us wanted to sign up for the Abu Simbel tour which was an add on, optional tour. The person who ran the program in Cairo said right away that there might not be enough spots on the plane for all of us to go to Abu Simbel. There were almost riots among the guests. We all wanted to go there. I think UniWorld should add this to the cost of the tour and include it, so that when we go to Egypt, we know that we will see that great site. (It turned out that all of us did go, but a few went the day after the rest and that was not ideal either). This is the time when we signed up for the optional tours and paid. We signed up for the Abu Simbel tour, the Luxor sound and light show and the Coptic tour (when we came back to Cairo after the river cruise portion). I would skip the Luxor sound and light show, there is one included at the pyramids, go to that one. Luxor show was a snooze, literally. A few signed up for the Cairo Nile dinner cruise and it was a let-down for most of them. (This took place for our group upon returning to Cairo.) The next day was the flight to Luxor. We had early wake up call at 2:30 AM for the flight. We were provided with boxed breakfasts from Four Seasons. Others have described the day to day activities and they were similar for us. The ship, Tosca, features large rooms and bathrooms. I would say though that the ship is looking worn. The food was excellent and they catered to special needs well. The daily excursions started very early in the morning, all of them before 8AM. Uniworld uses the Whisper system so we could wander off a bit and still hear the guide. Being such a large group, it still was a bit frustrating if you were in a narrow passage and in the back, because it was not all clear what you were looking at. Our guide did an excellent job of getting our group to gel and be a group. There was tea served on a few occasions, and other special treats on the ship. There were a few exercise classes with Muhammad Ali, who kept imploring us to “Focus”. Evening entertainment was fun for such a small ship with local shows that involved getting the guests up on the dance floor for Belly dancing and a dance that looked awfully similar to the Conga line. All had fun. Wine and beer and other beverages were included with lunch and dinner, but not otherwise. Drinks were $10 to $15. Tips were included in this sailing, but there was a box for Gratuities on the reception desk, but no mention of it to the guests. We were never told to tip anyone a few dollars, so it was a truly inclusive deal. Vendors in Egypt can be rather persistent, our guide referred to them as “Valley of the Vultures”. In addition to this, some of the guards at the monuments wanted to take our photo, and then required a tip. Some of them asked for your photo pass and then taking a photo and asking for a tip. Just a heads up. Our guide told us to not hand over the camera to anyone. You will need 5 Egyptian pounds to use the rest room. We exchanged money with our guide. Previous reviews have stated that you get an envelope with 5 pound notes. We did not, but were thankful that we could get them from the guide. I had brought tissue paper from home, a good thing because all toilets did not have paper. We were told not to drink any tap water and were provided with bottled water the whole time, even in the Four Seasons. Do no even rinse your toothbrush in the tap water. We did not get sick, but I think a few got a touch of stomach upsets. After spending 7 nights on the ship, seeing so many temples and wonderful antiquities, we flew back from Luxor to Cairo, back to the Four Seasons. All of us got rooms with a view of the Nile. Some even got suites. As the rooms were not ready, there was an optional tour of Coptic Egypt. We thought that was a fantastic tour and highly recommend. The following day was the Great Pyramids. Yes, they are as great as you think, perhaps even better. We were able to climb up a bit and even go into one, with many steps down. We could ride camels in the Sahara, and even though it sounds so touristy, it sure was fun, I think it was $11 per person and then the camel driver expected a tip, which he got of course. WE had armed escort on most excursions, especially in the cities. We could not figure out why there was a siren blasting behind us the whole time, but then realized that it was the escort. There was also an armed guard on the bus. Uniworld really excelled in helping us with departure. We were escorted by a Uniworld representative who looked after us very carefully making sure that we got where we were going and our luggage as well. He stayed with us the whole time. We flew to Tel Aviv for the post cruise extension. The review of that will be on the River Cruise board under “Uniworld Jerusalem Extension”. Overall I was very happy with our trip. Our guide Muhamad Abdelrahman made it the very best he knew how. We felt safe the whole time, and stayed in luxury accommodations. I recommend this trip highly. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
Gangies voyager 11 I will try to cover the whole time and be as honest in my experience The boat is spotlessly clean, the floors polished and the furnishings of a high and comfortable quality. There is ample room in the sun deck ... Read More
Gangies voyager 11 I will try to cover the whole time and be as honest in my experience The boat is spotlessly clean, the floors polished and the furnishings of a high and comfortable quality. There is ample room in the sun deck or lounge for everyone so it never feels busy or full. The dining hall was light airy and the range of food was of a high standard. The chef was a really great guy. He walked around the tables, offering his advice and offered to personally cook what ever you fancied. There was a full breakfast. The obligatory egg station, along with the continental style cuisine of cheese, meats and pastries and one part that I personally loved which was the healthy station. Here were local smoothies, juices and yogurt. The coffee was sublime, proper coffee and great sized cups to. English breakfast tea along with all the India teas were also on offer. Lunch was a buffet, many hot local dishes and by hot I mean cooked. The curries were all mild and the wok fried vegetables were one of my favourite. The India people love sweet things so the deserts were rich in cream and sugar. Free flowing wine, red or white, or beers and the staff always knew when your glass was nearly empty. You really never needed to ask. Afternoon tea was almost another meal with sandwiches and cake. Evening dinner was wonderful. Lots of choices from several starters, several mains too. We had scallops, lobster and the chef did us proud in his recommendations. Again the free flowing wine or beer. The wine was local to India but palatable and if you really wanted a premium bottle they were available to purchase. But personally I don’t think you needed to. The bar staff were very quick to make sure your glass was never empty, and each day was a Uniworld cocktail to try. The waiting on staff were cheerful and happy. When I spoke to them I asked if they were looked after and they all loved working for Uniworld which was a comfort. We had a suite mentioned separately. The other rooms were still very spacious, this were the colonial or the signature rooms. These still had the wonderful sliding windows and a walk in shower. On board activities ranged from yoga which was twice a day, cookng classes, history of the Ganges river and sari wearing. Then we were all given henna tattoos, I chose simple design on my leg and hand I loved the thought I could be daring even if just for a few days. Most days began early with yoga, then breakfast and we were split into two or three groups to visit temples and walk around the local markets. This splitting us up meant we had a large bus to 12 of us. All could have the window seat and easily to keep together. We were given small walk handsets so we could listen to our guide without disturbing other holiday makers. Our first 5 nights Were in the tune of the infamous golden Triangle of India New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. were on land so we visited the Taj Mahal and New Delhi with it’s bustling streets and chaotic road system then off to see the Agra fort. I loved seeing the Taj Mahal so awe inspiring and definitely a catch at the back of your throat moment. We had ample time to explore on our own. But if I’m honest the hotels were a treat in themselves so we chose to stay in the grounds, lie by the pools and enjoy the rest bite before the cruise. We were on this cruise the only British. But never let this be a negative, often there are more British, It had Canadians, Americans and Australians. All over 50 years as far as I could tell. Mostly couples but mums & daughters and 2 solo travellers. We all mixed well after the welcome dinner. Which gave us a chance to chat and start our new friendships. Which we did, and hoping we continue our new friendship in more years to come. People ask me did I enjoy India. I totally fell in love with the people and the place. Uniworld river cruise Ganges 2 was the icing on the cake. The staff bought the experience on board with turban and sari lessons, cooking lessons and talks about life on the Ganges. Jane Mac Donald came on board so I knew it was going to be on the TV....and I watched the episode with pride and fond smiles of my perfect holiday. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
What a trip of a lifetime! Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt and the Nile was one of my most memorable vacations due mainly to our Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb, the fabulous staff on the River Tosca and the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel ... Read More
What a trip of a lifetime! Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt and the Nile was one of my most memorable vacations due mainly to our Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb, the fabulous staff on the River Tosca and the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Nile River in Cairo. I have traveled to about 50 countries on 6 continents and this trip offered one of the best itineraries with staff offering the most attentive service ever. It's my 8th cruise (all ocean until this river cruise) and I will definitely be river cruising again. Mohamed just made ancient Egypt come to life with his tales about the pharaohs, heiroglyphics and gods/goddesses. He was extremely knowledgeable, well-educated and was able to answer just about any question about Egypt immediately. He was also very funny and charming, with no air of academic pretentiousness. Every day there were several items on the itinerary to look forward to; I thought I might get bored with too many temples, mosques, pyramids, etc. but each day seemed to be more fascinating than the last. The Uniworld itinerary did a good job of mixing ancient Egyptian sites with felucca (sailboat) rides on the NIle, a Nubian Village visit, and High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile. There are a lot of included excursions, virtually all of the major sites. Definitely climb into the Great Pyramid to the tomb with the sarcophagus if you are physically able to, and take the camel ride in Giza. I also recommend going on nearly all the optional excursions, especially the optional excursion to Abu Simbel...what an experience! We signed up for the hot air balloons into the Valley of the Kings, but unfortunately there was a sandstorm and we were unable to go. We did both sound and light shows, but not the dinner cruise as we elected to go to Khan Al Khalili (the grand market in Cairo) on our own instead. Also, we did the optional Coptic Christian church tour upon returning to Cairo (after the Nile River cruise) with the other tour guide Akrum (for the group on Bus B, since we were on Bus A) who was also excellent. We got to see where the Holy Family stayed when they fled to Egypt on this Coptic Christian tour. The quality of the food, the staff and the small group experience (with a wonderful group of fellow travelers) was remarkable. My only suggestion on the food is to offer more Egyptian options for each meal since they were the most delicious (even though they can be special ordered I don't like to create a fuss and generally will eat what's served.) The ship River Tosca has an understated elegance. It was a bit dated, but that was hardly noticeable given the size of the cabins (over 300 square feet) and the quality of the service. The staff was so attentive to every detail and really tried to make the experience special for everyone. They were willing to cook off-menu items if you asked. They went out of their way to go above and beyond what I have experienced on other larger cruises (Viking, Celebrity, Princess, etc.) The 90 minute massages were also good for only about $45 USD. The transfers to and from the airport went extremely smoothly, and the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo was just so lovely. I was a little nervous about safety before going, but having now returned from Egypt it seems as safe as anywhere in the world. There is almost no petty crime. The risk of terrorism exists, but that can happen anywhere (Barcelona, Paris, New York, Washington DC) and the likelihood of that happening is extremely low. The Egyptian government seems very committed to keeping tourists safe, and provides armed guards to protect tourists in some venues. I personally felt very safe and protected at all times with Mohamed and the entire Uniworld staff. Bring lots of $1 bills for tips and bathroom attendants. Also a lot of the items to buy in the souks cost $1. The US dollar goes very far in Egypt so it's a great time for Americans to go. In fact, several Egyptians we met were very happy to see that Americans are coming back, and said so. There are a lot of early mornings, but the sights are much less crowded and the temperature is more comfortable then. After the morning tours, typically there is time in the afternoon to rest/nap on the boat or in the hotel before the late afternoon/evening excursions. So while it's busy it is not overwhelming, even if you do nearly all the optional excursions. Truly this was one of the most magical trips, due in great part to our Egyptologist Mohamed Ragheb. He was charming, friendly, funny and brilliant, and made exploring ancient Egypt a very colorful and memorable experience! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We have been on 2 other Uniworld river cruises in Europe prior to this Egypt trip. The sights were spectacular and we met lots of nice people. A couple of things you should know if you are looking at this trip. - The Abu Simbel trip ... Read More
We have been on 2 other Uniworld river cruises in Europe prior to this Egypt trip. The sights were spectacular and we met lots of nice people. A couple of things you should know if you are looking at this trip. - The Abu Simbel trip was not $295 as we were told before the trip, but $324. This is a must trip. - As River Heritage Club members, we each received complimentary laundry, although we were told by the Uniworld L.A. office that we would not. - The Egyptian wine served on the ship was not drinkable. We met a Canadian passenger who managed to get some South African wine served for the three of us. Not sure how she did that, but we were not going to say no. The South African wine was at least drinkable. Uniworld really should be able to have better wines, but I understand we were in an Arab country… - The Uniworld staff couldn’t have been nicer! - The Springs Tours staff were OK, but not the quality of the Uniworld staff. - Our egyptologist(Hani) was wonderful...Gracious, kind, knowledgable and very patient. - The River Tosca was old, but very clean. Cabins were huge…although Uniworld’s ships in Europe are much nicer. We heard the River Tosca will be replaced next year. - Suggestions to Uniworld: > Make the 4 days of the Cairo touring at the beginning or at the end of the cruise; 2 days in Cairo on each end of the trip was too much flying back and forth. > The “wake-up” hours were not reasonable (one morning we had to get up at 2:30a.m. to catch a flight). Many days had an unreasonable wake-up time causing us to not have a proper breakfast(a box breakfast on the bus). Don't know why this is. Perhaps all companies in the region have these unreasonable hours. - The Four Seasons was fabulous. We were in beautiful rooms facing the Nile. We had room service lunch on the balcony one day. Staff were wonderful. - The air in Egypt, especially Cairo, is extremely polluted. - Be prepared for lots of litter. - January temperatures were perfect for us. Never too hot. You just need to be aware of what you are getting into. We had read CruiseCritic reviews and sort of knew what to expect, but we naively thought Uniworld would have corrected these issues by the time we took the trip. All in all this is a fabulous trip and we are so happy that we were able to see the wonderful sights before we leave this world. Uniworld is a top notch cruise company. I would have given the trip a 5 star, but when compared to Uniworld's European cruises, I had to give it a 4 star rating. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
There is much more to Egypt than the pyramids, and Uniworld River Tosca is a great way to see it. We were met at the airport by a Uniworld representative, helped through visa on arrival and promptly transported to hotel. This was ... Read More
There is much more to Egypt than the pyramids, and Uniworld River Tosca is a great way to see it. We were met at the airport by a Uniworld representative, helped through visa on arrival and promptly transported to hotel. This was appreciated because the Cairo traffic was unbelievable! The Four Seasons Hotel was lovely, but it did not seem like we had much time there. We ate in Bella (Italian) and 8 (Asian) restaurants, and both were excellent. We met our Egyptologist, Sameh, at the hotel. He was a real asset to the Egypt experience and brought the sites and history alive. After a day of seeing the Alabaster Mosque and Egyptian Museum, we had a 2:15 A.M. (that is not a typo - 2:15) wake-up call to get flight to Luxor. The Tosca was a pleasant ship. Our room was spacious and comfortable. Food was very good and fresh. Beef was tender and tasteful. All service was excellent, and we were always welcomed back on board nicely. It is an activity filled agenda with lots to see and little down time to enjoy sailing on the Nile. The pace of the tours was a little exhausting with many very early wake ups. The pace seemed to wear on some passengers, and they had to miss some activities. We always felt completely safe there (except for the wild traffic - but we were in a big bus) The men trying to sell you items was the biggest problem especially at the Step Pyramid. Just try to not make eye contact. Some things that would be helpful to know: In January, it was cold!! (did not expect that) Toiletries are olive oil based, so consider bring hand lotion, etc. Take lip balm - very dry there. Galabeya party - I had brought costumes from home because I did not want to have to bargain to obtain one there. However, the ship gift shop had very nice outfits for about $20 and I wish I would have just bought one there. It was a bit of a hassle to obtain small Egyptian pounds (EP). The first floor ATM at Four Seasons was often out of money. There is one on the second floor, but it does not take cash, only debit cards. The hotel could only make limited change. Once we got on the Tosca, we could get 5 pound notes (needed for bathrooms!). Maybe Uniworld could up the charge a few dollars and have some 5 EP available in your packet on arrival. There are various times that one needs additional Egyptian pounds for the tours (for example to buy camera passes, to buy entrance to tombs, pyramids, etc.) It would be nice if Uniworld could print out a list of these so we could plan on how much to take out of ATM. On the last day at the Great Pyramid, not too many of us had 300 EP each left to buy pass to enter. If we had known ahead, we could have had this with us. When booking, get an even numbered cabin - these always face the Nile. When docked the odd numbers sometimes faced right up against a wall or another ship. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Being out 40th anniversary we chose to splurge and get the Royal Suite (202). While it was definitely bigger, and had more impressive views, it was a big disappointment (and not worth the expensive upgrade). The shower leaked horrendously. ... Read More
Being out 40th anniversary we chose to splurge and get the Royal Suite (202). While it was definitely bigger, and had more impressive views, it was a big disappointment (and not worth the expensive upgrade). The shower leaked horrendously. The soft furnishings were warn and in need of replacing (drapes, furniture, carpets), the marble floor was outdated and generaly there was a poor fit and finish throughout. There was nothing luxurious about it (except your view of the Nile from your comfy bed). The sitting are was the worst - it is in desperate need of updating. You often have to keep the front window blinds closed as that’s the forward crew deck. While it was nice to have a mini fridge, it was plunked in the corner or the room. Again although they supplied extra things like the stocked bar fridge, coffee, tea, small decanters of three hard liquors, they were all presented very cheaply (instead of being on lovely trays or in nice baskets). Bath shampoos etc were locally sourced, which is great, but they smelled awful. Cheap little sewing and shoeshine kits. They could use some help from The Four Seasons in how to outfit a room. Tiling in the bathroom needed regrouting. Towels not that luxurious. But the main issue was with the leaking shower stall (I had a flood the first day). Apparently the other suite -201- has the same issue. I suggested they put a bracket for the hand shower on the wall in the bathtub and use that instead. The room doesn’t have drawer space in the bedroom (another disappointment) so you use the hall closet shelves (cheap, painted white doors with old mismatched hangers), (As there is already a desk in the lounge area they should switch out the one in the bedroom for a chest of drawers. There was plenty of space to store luggage under the bed. The room also adjoins if you had children accompanying you). There is a safe and a blow dryer. Electrical plugs are two-pin 220V. Bottled water is always available (and highly recommended to drink - because of the chemicals they place in theirs). It was nice having butler service which included free laundry, fresh fruit, cookies and chocolates in your room. You also get un upgraded wifi booster. Every evening at 6pm the butler comes and makes you a signature cocktail. Ours - Abe - was very attentive. They do clean your room very well. Although tips are included you do feel obligated to tip your butler for his exceptional service. Also, choose your cabin on the starboard side of the ship as we were frequently rafted on the port side against cement walls or other ships. In general, the whole boat itself needs renovating. Although listed as being “inaugurated in 2009” it looks like it was built in the 1990s). The dark traditional furnishings (with their incredibly uncomfortable deep seat sofas and chairs that require you to fight for pillows to place behind your back) need replacing. The upper deck is nice. We cruised in January so it was cold. It would have been nice if the pool was heated during these off seasons. Although we used the proved towels to keep warm, lap blankets would be nice for chilly afternoons and evenings. There is a cute gift shop that sells some quality stuff. They also sell the native Egyptian dresses & outfits for men for their Egyptian night party (I highly recommend joining in). The crew really made up for what the boat lacked. All incredibly friendly and attentive (I swear they must all review our passport pictures as part of their training as they knew our names!). Again, although tipping is included you do end tipping some individually. Some complaints I heard from other passengers who had cruised other Uniworld itineraries was that they were upset that the wine and beer was only complimentary at meals (and not in the lounge and in deck). And that it did not include cocktails. Some were also saying the wines served were not as good. I also found the food be be just average. In particukar, thei English tea was a joke (tea bags dipped in your cup of hot water; no scones with jam and whipped cream).. Seating for meals is open. There were no table cloths on the tables at breakfast and lunch (which are nice buffets). Evening ambience not great. But again, the servers and waiters were incredible. The absolute best part (which increased my overall score from a 3 to a 4) was the itinerary. It will blow your mind. You are totally immersed in the Egyptian history and culture. Our tour guide (Egyptologist) was an oarcheologist. His name was Assem Omar. He had such interesting facts you couldn’t easily find yourself. His descriptions at the temples and museums made the artifacts come to life. Now, some practical things: Dress in warm layers. January was cold and windy..Sunglasses (although not often used for sun are great during sand storms). Bring an umbrella (if planning on visiting Alexandria as a pre/post excursion). Thermal underwear, thick socks, gloves and scarves were useful. In fact, if you are trying to pack light, for women a good trick is a long sleeve thermal T-shirt under your coat accessorised with different scarves each day. You tend to wear the same things off the boat so the scarf switches it up a bit. (As an aside, we never had to cover our heads in mosques). . On board the ship in the evenings the look is business casual (resort casual I imagine in the summer season). No one dresses up. Closed-toe, sturdy walking shoes are mandatory as there is A LOT of walking on uneven, dirty (and sometimes wet) streets and sandy temples (I ended up throwing mine away at the end). Now . . . Public toilets! You must be prepared with sani-wipes to wipe down toilet seats, packages of Kleenex (as toilet paper is rarely provided, and if it is, a man or woman with grubby hands is dispensing it out to you at the door). There is usually a sink to wash up but rarely soap or paper towels to dry your hands. Hence, more sani-wipes required! And finally, the person “helping” you needs to be tipped (5-10 Egyptian pounds, or failing that $1 USD.) Take a nap sack on the tours but leave it on the coach (it’s very safe). Then have a smaller side bag/purse to just put what you need for that couple hours of touring ($1 USD and/or Egyptian pounds, Kleenex, Sami-wipes, iPhone, credit card, sunglasses). Be aware of pickpockets! Always have your hand on your bag, especially in crowds. No need to bring bottled water off the boat as it’s always available on the coaches. Note: some temples and museums do not allow photography unless you purchase a camera ticket (and they do check to make sure you have one) That takes us to currency. It is handy to have some SMALL denominations of Egyptian pounds (They can be obtained from the ATM machines at the Four Seasons Hotel). They do also take USD in tourist market places. However make sure your US currency is in NEW small denominations. Apparently the Egyptian banks will not accept bills that are old, torn or written on, so the vendors can’t trade them in. One previous post suggested taking lots of $1 US bills. In addition to some larger bills, I took 50 $1 bills and that was barely enough. Credit cards are accepted in higher end shops. Speaking of shopping, personally I did not find much to my liking, except the Egyptian cotton sheets. Ask your tour guide about them (you order in advance and you pick them up when you visit the papyrus making factory. One word of caution about the street vendors and “guides” at the tourist attractions . . They get progressively more aggressive. The vendors obviously want to get you into their shops. If you are not interested, don’t make eye contact and just keep walking and saying “No thank you”. My husband made the mistake of commenting on how nice an object was that was thrust in our faces. Bad move! That vendor followed us out of the market trying to get us to buy it. At that point, unfortunately, you have to be more forceful. They sometimes force a “free gift” into your hand or tuck it under your arm (and I mean forcefully!). Just take it and drop it on the ground, as it’s obviiysky not going to be free. Be careful too as a lot of their wares are made in China. If you are seriously interested in something, enlist the help of your Egyptologist who can verify authenticity and help you negotiate prices. It’s really a shame they are like that. We did take us to one market where the vendors prided themselves in not bothering you and I know they got more sales from our group. The locals that hang out in some of the temples and exhibits try to be nice and help you select the best location for photos or offer to take photos with your phone. But beware! They will ask for money (sometimes holding your phone ransom until you pay). Even our armed security guard (paid already to protect us) kept hinting for a tip after taking a few pictures of us). The worst was at the pyramids. They are continually in your face, almost ruining your experience. In hindsite I should have been more forceful and told them point blank we wanted to be left alone and that if we needed their help we would come look for them. (I’m not sure even that would work but it’s worth a try). Regarding security, we felt very safe. We usually had a plainclothes, armed police officer ride with us. We took approved, secured routes (manned with police checkpoints and bomb sniffing dogs). You go through X-ray machines at each site (including the Four Seasons). Tours: All excellent (with the exception on the Karnak and Pyramid light shows). I recommend all the other optional tours. We were interested in going hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings and although it wasn’t a Uniworld excursion they kindly made arrangements for about twenty of us to go. Unfortunately, it was cancelled twice due to high winds. I would recommend it though as I was VERY impressed with the qualifications of their pilots. (They are commercial pilots. They can’t carry passengers by themselves until they have 1000 solo hours). Although the pace of the tour was busy, I personally didn’t find it too onerous. Most mornings were 7:30 pick ups. Often we returned to the boat for lunch and a rest then went out again. In all an incredibly well planned, stress free vacation. All transfers were impeccably organized. No “hitches” along the way. The Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo was lovely (We did expect an upgraded room however but didn’t get one). Also, the hotel does not have a proper gift shop to pick up any forgotten personal items. I hope you find this review helpful. O Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We have been on Uniworld over and over in Europe, and opted for a change and booked the Vietnam and Cambodia cruise on the Mekong. Departed Saigon, staveled through Vietnam and then to Cambodia, ending up in Hanoi. We started at the Park ... Read More
We have been on Uniworld over and over in Europe, and opted for a change and booked the Vietnam and Cambodia cruise on the Mekong. Departed Saigon, staveled through Vietnam and then to Cambodia, ending up in Hanoi. We started at the Park Hyatt in Saigon and had 2 days in Ho Chi Minh City. We had been there before, so we took the opportunity to see things not on the schedule (like the War Remnants Museum). Embarkation was smooth and easy, with luggage in our cabin waiting for us. The Mekong Navigator ship is small, but perfect for the 50-60 Uniworld guests. The hotel and cruise staff was terrific and went out of their way to make you comfortable and attend to every need. Food was superb with plenty of great selections, well prepared. The stops on the Mekong were usually quite primitive, as is the country. But you see things you wouldn't see otherwise than on a river cruise. And they were always waiting for you with cook towels and refreshing drinks, and they collected and cleaned the dirt and grime from your shoes! The hotel manager (Roberto) and the cruise director (Hua) were among the best we have had in 9 Uniworld trips. Only issue was that the ship had no elevator -- but we all have to make sacrifices! Stops in Siem Reap, Cambodia at the Sofitel was wonderful, especially visiting the Indiana Jones temples! Pity those traveling in the future, because the trip now stops at Siem Reap and you'll have to see Hanoi as an extension -- but well worth it! Hanoi was amazing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our Uniworld tour, starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon, was flawless and fully met our expectations. Along with the land tour, we traveled on a 7-night cruise on the Mekong Navigator and, once again, this was flawlessly executed. As ... Read More
Our Uniworld tour, starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon, was flawless and fully met our expectations. Along with the land tour, we traveled on a 7-night cruise on the Mekong Navigator and, once again, this was flawlessly executed. As to the land tour, the sights visited were directly on point and as advertised, travel arrangements were well done and every element of the tour was meticulously organized. In particular, our tour director (Binh) performed in an exceptional manner. The hotels on the land portion of the tour (Hanoi, Siem Reap and Saigon) were also excellent. As to the cruise portion of the tour, the food was great, our "prestige suite" met our expectations (although the quarters were a bit smaller than a suite on a sea-going cruise ship) and the staff was truly remarkable. From the waiters, to the "butlers," to the people who cared for our cabin, genuine friendliness was the standard - at all times. I also note the Uniworld representative (Roberto) on the cruise was present almost "everywhere" and was very helpful. The only negative I can think of centers on the fact the tour guides (one in Hanoi, one in Cambodia and another in Saigon) were, at times, a little difficult to understand because (of course), English was not their native language. One other point, I became ill (vomiting and diarrhea) one night and the crew was helpful in addressing this situation. Fortunately, i recovered fairly quickly. In summary, I very much recommend Uniworld in general and the Vietnam/Cambodia tour in particular. Both my wife and I fully enjoyed the tour and offer our highest recommendation. As we frequently visited "rustic" sights or areas, those who may be mobility challenged may find portions difficult. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
we had expected a magical experience after watching Jane MacDonald on this Christmas Markets Cruise last year. The itinerary was wrong as it had listed an Xmas Market every day. They failed to advise us prior to the cruise that the ... Read More
we had expected a magical experience after watching Jane MacDonald on this Christmas Markets Cruise last year. The itinerary was wrong as it had listed an Xmas Market every day. They failed to advise us prior to the cruise that the shops close on Xmas Eve so the last market was on the 23rd. The ship was beautiful but the cruise was dull & boring with no atmosphere. The cabin was lovely, well decorated but did lack a mini bar. Service very good. Every night we were entertained by the same duo apart from an additional singer one night who bombarded us with non stop Xmas songs. As you can imagine, by Xmas eve we were sick of hearing Xmas songs. The food was good but we never saw a menu until we sat down for dinner. One exception was Xmas night when the turkey was awful as it was stuffed with figs! There was no onboard activities, so for those who did not get off the ship or go on an excursion, it was uneventful. For what we paid we could have had 3 months on an ocean cruise. No more river cruises for us, especially with Uniworld! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This is my first review...I have to share this so others will not hesitate to go. Our cruise/tour actually started with 5 nights land based, first in Delhi. You are met at the airport by your Oberoi Hotel Mercedes driver. 4 of us were ... Read More
This is my first review...I have to share this so others will not hesitate to go. Our cruise/tour actually started with 5 nights land based, first in Delhi. You are met at the airport by your Oberoi Hotel Mercedes driver. 4 of us were travelling so there were 2 cars for our us!. The Oberoi Delhi is very nice hotel, clean and the service is absolutely wonderful for our 2 night stay. This is consistent with each of the amazing Oberoi Hotels that are used on this trip. You will get a briefing and meet your Tour Manager. (ours was Vishal..fantastic and totally organized and on top of everything for the entire journey). Our land based Guide (Rishi) was excellent too! We boarded a very clean comfortable bus (there were 2 buses for our group of 27 and never felt crowded) and did a sight see around Delhi and fortunately due to a Political rally that would of had us caught up in traffic, we altered the Gandhi Tomb portion and went to the place he spent his last days. This we recommended to be in the tour in the future instead of the tomb, it is so worth while to see. Agra and the Taj Mahal were the next stop. From the Oberoi hotel, every room has a view of the Taj! It is a short golf cart ride to the main gate. You get to visit twice, once in the afternoon for sunset and then again for sunrise. Do both visits! Next was Jaipur. Here you get to view a place where they make inlaid marble items. (a bit of a tourist stop, no one purchased anything and we never felt pressure to do so). Next was a carpet stop, you get the presentation etc..prices are good. (we actually bought one after we had a super lunch around the corner.) There were lots of other stops too during our stays in Dehli, Agra & Jaipur, this is just a taste. The next day is an early rise for the flight to Kolkata. Upon arrival we are met by our two new local guides & board a bus for our transfer to the Ganges Voyager II, the bus is ok, not as nice and smooth as the ones used for the other cities. A city tour of Kolkata gets you ready for the next leg of your journey. During the travels through India, you will see lots of areas with people living amongst garbage & animals, tough to see, and the honking is constant, (Honking is a language on the road, it will be explained and then you realize how they communicate as they drive). Once you board your ship, if you thought the land portion was crazy hectic, prepare to be swept away!! The service on board is outstanding! The cruise itself is something you can't explain but have to experience! The stops on the Ganges starts with Kalna. This is were you start to realize how friendly the people are in the villages all along the river. They have very little in terms of possessions (comparing that of most westerners). They have a culture and way of life that works for them. The children come up to us to say hello and wave as they are so happy to see us. The smiles go on forever! This is the first step into the incredible life along this amazing river that is used by the people every day. Each day we traveled to a different village and each time it was a new adventure. You will see how families, and their way of life, come together. The colors along the river bank are another highlight. No one in our group suffered with any major stomach issue. A bit gassy one day by one, but didn't stop any plans. We had our vaccinations as recommended, and we all took Ducoral before arriving. There were 3 people on board who had a bit of tummy trouble, don't know if they had used anything prior to the cruise. The water on the ship is treated but we used bottled water for teeth brushing just to be sure and there is an ample supply of water. Each day when you return from the shore excursion, as you enter the ship, you remove your shoes and they clean them and return them to your door in a few minutes. On your shore excursions, the staff from the ship are always around to keep you supplied with hand sanitizers and help you with translation if you need. They are outstanding every day! The food on board was another highlight. If you are not wanting to try the local foods, there is plenty of western style options that they will have or prepare for you. Their Indian cuisine was excellent. So much variety and flavors that you want to keep eating! I will explain my ratings here: This Ganges Voyager II is not Uniworld's own ship, it is used by them but is definitely the nicest one on the Ganges. Embarkation- smooth and easy Cabin, no issue, bathroom counter is a bit small - shower is huge, bed is comfy. Dining - lots of variety of food, even for myself being probably too cautious. Enrichment activities - cooking demo, talks about the way of life of the Ganges people and Saree & turban wearing demonstration, tour of the engine room, yoga twice a day, everyone had fun. Entertainment - couple of Indian dance groups came on board, very colorful and gave you a taste of how deep their traditions are. Small gym- not a lot of time to use it but you can fit it in if you like. Spa has two ladies for facials & massages. My wife had 3 massages and I had one and they were excellent. Onboard experience- above a 5 if I could give it. The crew are your friends and gracious and always there for your every need. wifi service was good in some locations and in and out in others. Might be a few hours without but not too long as I managed ok. Public Rooms- Lounge outside and bar area both on upper deck providing views of the Ganges left and right, just don't know which way to keep looking! Shore excursions- you will get use to the sight of Water buffalo on the streets along with cows and pigs. The people and colors and smiles will stick with you! Value for Money- ABSOLUTELY, this is a great way to see a little part of India. This is a luxury cruise and you get totally immersed into it all on the Ganges. There were so many highlights on this trip, but here are some extras I wanted to add. I mentioned this one above- All the Oberoi hotels, Ghandi's last place residence, Taj Mahal, Rickshaw ride in Kalna, Craftsman in Matiari village, having a try at Cricket in Murshidabad with the crew. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
On all our travels around the world we.had never been to this area of the world and it appeared to be safer now than in the past.This seemed a good way, and place to start. We never felt unsafe even though we clearly had armed security ... Read More
On all our travels around the world we.had never been to this area of the world and it appeared to be safer now than in the past.This seemed a good way, and place to start. We never felt unsafe even though we clearly had armed security with us on all "out trips". Uniworld did a great job with Airport Pick-up, Hotel Choice (Four Seasons) for the pre cruise time and all transportation needs. Our guides,Mohamed (ours group) and Osoma made all the difference in taking this trip from just ordinary to amazing. Their knowlege of the History,Sites, ad how to do this trip were outatanding to say the least. Their organization skills were great. The tousr are not that strenuous, but by the evenings we were "done". Some tours required very early departures after our great breakfast. This kept us out out of the sun and heat, also away from the crowds. Although the ship is not new, it is extremely well kept.clean,and attractive. The rooms are large and are nicely decorated. Odd # rooms always have a river view when docked as opposed to seeing the land side or a rafted other ship. (all ships dock to the North no matter which way they travel) Their are no elevators so the 3rd floor is a hike,but good for the waistline. Food is good,plentiful, although sometimes although unusually spiced. Breads are fabulous. The onboard atmousphere is casual with very little evening activity due to early excursions. The staff was very helpful and pleasant. The only improvement would be better communication skill by the dining room staff. Other staff is a little more conversant. The Abu semel extra excursion was worth the time and effort as was the ballon ride. The extra light show in Luxor wasn't great..(there is a light show included on the itinerary). We do reccomend this trip particularly if you are lucky enough to have our guides. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We were traveling with a group of friends on a trip organized by a local vineyard wine club, of which we are members. This was our first European adventure and our first riverboat cruise, so we were very excited. Flying into Lisbon and ... Read More
We were traveling with a group of friends on a trip organized by a local vineyard wine club, of which we are members. This was our first European adventure and our first riverboat cruise, so we were very excited. Flying into Lisbon and having 3 days to explore the Portuguese capital city and acclimate to the time change was very well-planned. The Corinthia Hotel was outstanding and their included breakfast buffet was simply amazing. Our Uniworld hosts and tour guides were very impressive, experienced, friendly and helpful at every opportunity. Once we were transferred to Porto to board the Queen Isabel and embark on our tour of the Douro River Valley, we were once again very impressed with the ship and especially the staff members. Without exception, everyone we interacted with were overwhelmingly helpful and focused on quality guest service. Being on a small boutique cruise ship offered the opportunity to meet and interact with everyone onboard. We appreciated the personal interaction and familiarity we developed with the crew members. By the second day onboard, many were already greeting us by name! Simply amazing. Each day offered us different engaging adventures that were well-planned and enjoyable at every port of call. The onboard dining was simply outstanding and the entire dining room staff was always focused on providing great service to all guests. We also were amazed at the lounge staff, especially our favorite bartender, Alexandra. She was wonderful and by the end of the cruise, we felt as if we'd made a new friend! Ours was the final cruise of the 2018 season and we were consistently impressed with the pleasant interactions we experienced with everyone onboard and the friendly service we received, usually accompanied by a bright smile. Thanks to the entire staff and crew of the Queen Isabel for a relaxing and memorable vacation! Read Less
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