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Sail Date: October 2018
This was my first "river" cruise (in quotes because we did not actually sail on a river, but instead around the Venice lagoon) and probably also the most "luxury" cruise I've taken. Next would probably have been my ... Read More
This was my first "river" cruise (in quotes because we did not actually sail on a river, but instead around the Venice lagoon) and probably also the most "luxury" cruise I've taken. Next would probably have been my transatlantic cruise on Azamara a few years ago. I've done lots of ocean cruising, mostly on Celebrity but have also done Norwegian (next most frequent), Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America in addition to Azamara. This was by far the smallest ship I've been on. The cruise was a one-week Venice-based itinerary. It coincided with the highest "aqua alta" Venice has experienced in 10 years, which threw some curves at the cruise staff as they tried to adjust our itinerary around the high water. Luckily we had several days during the week where it didn't rain...much! I mostly sail solo, and this trip there were a large number of solos on board (so far as I know, all women) due to a no-single-supplement deal Uniworld offered. I thought Uniworld worked very well for solo travel. They did offer a singles meet-and-greet one day midweek, but I didn't attend so can't report on that. Because of the small number of passengers and the open seating at meals it was easy to meet others and find a congenial table for each meal. I felt like the price I paid was an excellent deal for the cruise, though my budget and skinflint tendencies mean I will need to really keep an eye out for bargains if I want to do another cruise like this! I purchased my air travel independently but because I was arriving/departing the day the cruise started and ended, during the hours Uniworld specified, my transfers from Venice airport were included. That turned out to be a very good thing on arrival day--many folks who were arriving at the ship independently had all sorts of problems. Apparently the ship was not where Uniworld said it would be (due to the high water) and passengers were not notified of the change. Plus, when folks called the number for the ship that we were given for situations like this, nobody answered the phone for several hours. Passengers told about taking expensive water taxis while they motored around Venice searching for the ship, being dropped off in the wrong place, having to walk through hip-deep water balancing suitcases on their heads, etc. Luckily these tales were told by the younger passengers--I can't imagine how some of the older folks on board would have coped with that! I will definitely plan to use the cruise line transfers again for any future Uniworld cruises--although I hate arriving the day of the cruise due to possible travel glitches, it seems like the advantages of having Uniworld handle the transfers outweighs that concern. For me, though, the trip was smooth through a rainy, windy Mestre and Venice, past the poor soaked Venice Marathon runners, to the riverboat. It amazed me how small it looked--but I found that it had everything I needed for a great cruise and I loved the small ship! Short walk to anywhere, the cabin was very well-designed, there was a dining room and a lounge and an outside deck (I was on that exactly once due to the rainy weather we had that week.) There was entertainment in the lounge each evening--sometimes just the onboard keyboardist/vocalist (who was just fine for a low-key evening of drinks and conversation) and sometimes special entertainers like a trio who sang opera accompanied by their keyboardist. The entertainment was much briefer and less flashy and less varied than on an ocean cruise, but I thought it fit well with the tour-focused and very small River Countess cruise. My cabin was 323, one short flight of steps down from the main lobby and at the far end of the hall. The shower was wonderful, the service was wonderful, I was not bothered by any noise or odd smells, the TV had lots of options and many excellent movies available (though I only used it to watch CNN.) The decor was interesting (onboard as a whole, not just the cabin) and though I wouldn't decorate that way at home I really enjoyed experiencing it for a week. I thought the food was just great. I can't remember a meal or, for that matter, a dish I had that I did not enjoy. I'm still detoxing myself from all the eating and drinking I did on vacation and trying to get back to a healthy diet! Many of the menu options focused on Venetian/Italian dishes, and included a lot of local seafood though they always had several non-seafood choices. The menus for dinner varied each day but there were some "always available" options--I didn't try those but heard from others that the salmon was good but the steak not so much. The breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent--at lunch they had many new options daily, but at breakfast it was mainly the same items each day. They were all excellent,though, so I thought it worked quite well giving one a chance to try everything on one day or another. They had a complimentary red and white wine at lunch and dinner, which they varied every day. I tried both wines every night and then drank the one I liked better. There were only a couple of them I did not care for, though I think that was more my preferences and not that the wines were poor quality, but I am far from a wine expert. They also varied the coffee and the menu had info on the coffee was being served each day, in addition to describing the wines. All alcoholic beverages were included unless you wanted to purchase the higher-end wine offerings, which I did not do. I'm not a huge drinker but I did enjoy wine with dinner, a coffee-and-Bailey's every night, and an occasional draft beer (Italian of course!) prosecco or bellini. And lots of San Pellegrino! I also had lots of excellent coffee, lattes and cappuccinos. All were served quickly, graciously, and with a smile. The croissants each morning except on disembarkation day were just fabulous--I was so disappointed the last morning when the croissants on offer at 6 AM In the lounge had obviously been baked the previous day--the single discordant note where food was concerned! I tried the latte/coffee/tea etc. machine in the coffee bar the first day to make a latte, and I did not like it at all! But there was never a problem getting one made by the staff, so it was not an issue. I noticed they had lots of syrups on hand in the lounge if one wanted a flavored latte--did not look closely to see which types though. Because of the high water, our Monday walking tour of Venice and visit to the Doge's Palace was cut short to just a shorter walking tour of the higher-ground areas of Venice. It was picturesque and interesting, and visiting the edge of St. Mark's Square to see the hordes of tourists wearing their see-through pastel plastic hip boots, the board walks being set up and the water start to cover the pavement was memorable. Normally there would have been a night-time visit to St. Mark's Basilica on Monday evening, but part of the basilica (and all of St. Mark's square outside) flooded so Uniworld scrambled to have it rescheduled for later in the week--absolutely the best part of the week tour-wise and I am SO thankful they were able to make it happen! We spent part of a day in Padua and part of a day with a choice of Ferrarra or Bologna (I chose Ferrarra because I had no wish to experience the pasta making demo). They were interesting, but I know if I had not visited Venice before I would have been disappointed that the high water and the days in other cities limited my opportunity to see Venice itself. Normally the ship would sail about 20 miles up the Po River, but due to the high water we did not do so--can't say that bothered me since I'd read it was not very scenic and its only advantage was to make the bus trips to these other cities a bit shorter. We spent another day visiting "the islands of the Venice lagoon"...and that was fantastic. We saw an ancient cathedral from almost 1000 years ago and other interesting stuff. I LOVE old buildings so this was probably my favorite tour after the St. Mark's Basilica visit. Another day we went to Chioggia, yet another island in the Venice lagoon where we visited a fish market and got to see the flood gates closing on their canals to protect the town from another round of aqua alta. We also had a couple of afternoons of "scenic sailing" around the lagoon with a guide to point out what we were seeing and give some of the history of the area. I missed the second of those (and the glass-blowing demo on Saturday afternoon) because I had fallen into a habit of taking an afternoon nap. Not sure why I slept so much, except that the whole week was so relaxing--there was no late-night entertainment keeping me up late. Maybe I was just catching up from the sleep deficit I usually run during my working life. Maybe it was just the big meals, but every afternoon my eyes got very heavy and most days I slept for a couple of hours. The bed was VERY comfortable! On Saturday we finally were back in Venice and the water was down to allow touring of the whole city, but that had to be done on one's own. The included tours were a choice of two, and I chose the tour of the Accademia with Susan, the art historian and guide who had taken us through the Basilica and the ancient cathedral (and who was also the guide of my group for the abbreviated Venice walking tour on Monday, because I recognized her name from reviews I'd read of the cruise and made sure I was in her group!) I know a couple of passengers who were art historians themselves found her to be a little over-dramatic, but honestly I think for the general public like me she was perfect and covered things at just the right level to keep us all fascinated. In the afternoon there was a glass-blowing demo and shopping for Murano glass, but I didn't attend that. I think a lot of passengers chose to use that time to walk around Venice on their own--I just slept! The best part was at the end of the cruise, I had no bill to pay. Everything had been included. All in all, especially considering the luxury level of food/beverage/amenities offered, I think it was an excellent value. I had a great time and I think the staff did the best job possible coping with the weather conditions.  Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
First, the good: the staff are outstanding. They bend over backwards for your every need because they are so grateful to be back at work since the 2011 revolution. The locals are friendly and also appreciate that tourists are starting to ... Read More
First, the good: the staff are outstanding. They bend over backwards for your every need because they are so grateful to be back at work since the 2011 revolution. The locals are friendly and also appreciate that tourists are starting to slowly return to Egypt. The food on the ship is fabulous. We miss the daily fresh mango, the delicious hummus and the lamb. The onboard activities were fun, especially the Egyptian evening. The rooms are very pretty although the shower is cramped. There's not much of a spa, although my massage was lovely. Make sure to get a room towards the front as engine noise is loud. The ship is supposed to be non smoking. However, when the staff smoke out back, the smoke gets sucked in through the ventilation system so you can often smell it. But after all, you're in Egypt and EVERYONE smokes! Even the nicer hotels have locals smoking in elevators and in doorways. It's so gross. The worst part of this trip (that we are still recovering from a week later!) is the ridiculously early mornings for tour start times. One day we had to get up at 2:00 am!! When you're already struggling with jet lag, it was too much to ask to get up that early. The pace of the cruise is definitely not one to promote relaxation either. You're constantly on the go which gets stressful after about the fourth day. People on our tour, including us, skipped a tour just to catch up on sleep. That's unfortunate since we paid to see all these cool places but were too damn tired to enjoy them to the fullest. In a way, it's unfair to guests. We're in our 50's and fit, so you can imagine what a toll this took on those who were older. My suggestion would be to go to Cairo at least three days prior to the trip so you can climatize and check out some of the temples on your own before embarkation. We did and it helped a little. However, I still say this tour needs some serious revamping to allow passengers more free time on the ship to let all of Egypt's splendor to sink in. The general consensus in our group of 55 was that all the temples and sites we visited blurred together after a while and without down time to process, we all felt we had been deprived of a lot of true enjoyment. By the end, we were all exhausted and anxious to get home. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We had planned for our first trip to Europe in almost 30 years and had been sold on the Uniworld Castles on the Rhine river cruise by Uniworld reps. When we arrived in Basel the captain and cruise director allowed all passengers to board. ... Read More
We had planned for our first trip to Europe in almost 30 years and had been sold on the Uniworld Castles on the Rhine river cruise by Uniworld reps. When we arrived in Basel the captain and cruise director allowed all passengers to board. We were unsuspecting of any issues, but Uniworld KNEW that the Rhine River was IMPASSABLE and they boarded everyone anyway. Then 24 hours after boarding at the first night Captain's dinner we were informed that the river was impassable and our river cruise was OVER. We would reach our first stop, Strasbourg, and that would be it for our boutique, high quality river cruise. Uniworld knew about the river levels BEFORE and still allowed all passengers to board. No amount of rain would have changed the outcome!! Passengers should have been informed before boarding and given an option of a refund. A cancellation would have been a huge disappointment, but fair. Once on board we were basically their CAPTIVES and spent the remaining time crammed into buses for hours, lugged our own bags around from location to location, stopped at gas stations to pee, and were given a meager amount for daily meals. We sat on a speeding bus for our Castles tour seeing more buildings and phone poles than castles. The staff seemed overwhelmed,frus trated, and unable to help. Our days were poorly organized, and attempts to contact Uniworld's customer service went unanswered. Every day, rather than relaxing on the cruise ship, we had to find our own restaurants for meals in unknown destinations with inadquate funds for the exquisite meals we had paid for. We arrived one day early in Amsterdam after hours on the bus and were put up at the AIRPORT hotel with a lovely (sarcasm) view of the control tower. We had planned to stay in Amsterdam for two additional days and had selected our hotel to be near our final destination. We now had to travel from the airport to our hotel on our own, at our expense with no assistance from the staff. A $1,000 per night boutique river cruise it was not!! The entire experience was a fiasco and very poorly handled by Uniworld! We ended our boutique river cruise experience frustrated, exhausted, and stressed. We were offered a $1,000 credit for a future river cruise expiring in 2019. That offer had no value to anyone!! The company intentially boarded passengers so they could make their profit. They put corporate PROFIT over honor and customer service! We are beyond disappointed with our first river cruise and more importantly with how Uniworld handled the difficult situation. I would encourage you NOT to book with Uniworld. Look elsewhere!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Our 8 day river cruise has turned into a 4 day cruise and 4 day bus ride. Due to low river levels along the Rhine, we only got as far north as Kehl, Germany and are being bused into Amsterdam from there. Yes, I understand that Uniworld ... Read More
Our 8 day river cruise has turned into a 4 day cruise and 4 day bus ride. Due to low river levels along the Rhine, we only got as far north as Kehl, Germany and are being bused into Amsterdam from there. Yes, I understand that Uniworld can’t control Mother Nature and water levels, but it would have been nice to have been warned that this was a possibility and been given the option to cancel with a refund. No mention was made that water levels might be a problem until once under way. On the second night out of Basel we received the “unforeseen” bad news that we would not be able to continue by ship. On the positive side, the crew has done everything they could to make the remainder of the trip as positive as possible, but again, a bus ride is not what we paid around $8000 for. As partial compensation they offered $1000/person off the fare of a future cruise. The only catch was we had to use it by the end of 2019. After contacting them, they did extend the deadline to the end of 2020. I really hate being so negative as we had received nothing but glowing reports from friends who had done several Uniworld cruises, but to say I am extremely disappointed is a gross understatement. Again, nothing against the crew of the ship as they seemed as disappointed as we were to be unable to continue as we were but I feel that Uniworld corporate could have handled this in a much better way. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
My wife and I are repeat customers on Uniworld River Cruises and were on the ill-fated above eight-day river cruise that in effect lasted 2-3 days. We departed Basel on October 14, 2018. At that time the crew had to know that completion ... Read More
My wife and I are repeat customers on Uniworld River Cruises and were on the ill-fated above eight-day river cruise that in effect lasted 2-3 days. We departed Basel on October 14, 2018. At that time the crew had to know that completion of the scheduled eight-day river cruise was extremely unlikely, given conditions on the Rhine at that time. The Captain later indicated to us that at the time we had left Basel, he was aware of the low levels, but was hoping for an immediate rainstorm to boost the river. Within two days -- when we arrived at our second port of Strasbourg – we were told that because of water levels, the river cruise was essentially over and that the remainder of the cruise would be an impromptu attempt to duplicate what we had paid for. We were never given any choice as to how we wished to proceed at that point. As a result, a day later our crowded bus sped past the fabled Rhine castles in the fading twilight. We never saw the port of Mannheim (Speyer) or Koblenz, despite brochure promises we would dock there. We took long and tedious rides on buses (5 hours in the case of the excursion to Marksburg Castle), instead of the short excursions that had been scheduled. I had signed up for your bicycling excursion, but that was cancelled as well. Instead of our cabin, we were placed in two different hotels. Instead of eight days of fine dining experiences with wine and spirits, we given a token amount of per diem money, to buy food wherever we could find it. I understand that there are weather risks, and that their contract allows them to make accommodations in the event of circumstances such as this. But what I am saying is that their attempt to remedy the situation completely failed to substantially comply with the experiences that they had promised. The company’s offer of $1000 per passenger on a future cruise in 2019 is totally inadequate and of no use to us: our 2019 travel plans were long ago finalized. I will never again risk my money again with Uniworld. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Don't ever book a cruise with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection unless you want to be held hostage on a bus tour instead of being on a 5 star ship. We were told 2 days into our 8 day river cruise that we would be getting on buses ... Read More
Don't ever book a cruise with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection unless you want to be held hostage on a bus tour instead of being on a 5 star ship. We were told 2 days into our 8 day river cruise that we would be getting on buses to finish our cruise with NO option of cancelling. And there was no chance of getting a refund of any kind on our HUGE bill. The company allowed us to get on a ship knowing full well that they would be doing this to all of the passengers. The buses Uniworld uses are meant to take passengers on excursions not take them for 7 hour drives. Uniworld's CEO, Ellen Bettridge, should be forced to sit on one of Uniworld's uncomfortable buses for a 7 hour trip. She should have to pay over $1000 for a night's stay in a $100 a night hotel with enough money to buy 2 average meals to see how she feels about her own company's policies. As compensation the company offered us a coupon for our next cruise. What a JOKE! Why on earth would I go through this nightmare again? I understand weather is unpredictable and things can happen but forcing a passenger to finish the tour on a bus is crap. We should be allowed to decide what to do not be forced to do what they want us to do. Cruise companies should not be able to get away with this. We need to band together to fight this issue. It should be illegal. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
While water levels on the Danube and Rhine were beyond Uniworlds control the way they handled things was very unprofessional. They knew of the river conditions several weeks prior to departure but deliberately kept this information from ... Read More
While water levels on the Danube and Rhine were beyond Uniworlds control the way they handled things was very unprofessional. They knew of the river conditions several weeks prior to departure but deliberately kept this information from participants Having purchased trip insurance from Uniworld had they been up front about the conditions I would have gladly cancelled and rescheduled at at later time when conditions had improved. The bottom line was Uniworld delivered an inferior product at every operating level..We changed ships twice winding up docked in Frankfurt for 2 nights before finishing the last half of the trip via bus.. Service on both ships was average at best and food was a 3 Star product as opposed to the 5 Star quality Uniworld promotes. The bus segment of the trip was a chaotic disaster. Having spent over 25 years in the travel industry I feel qualified to critique a product and in my opinion Uniworld delivered an inferior product. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We sailed in October 2018, when the Danube and Rhine were terribly low. Much of Europe was in a drought all summer, and the captain told us he's never seen the rivers this bad. It was affecting all of the cruise lines, not just Uniworld. ... Read More
We sailed in October 2018, when the Danube and Rhine were terribly low. Much of Europe was in a drought all summer, and the captain told us he's never seen the rivers this bad. It was affecting all of the cruise lines, not just Uniworld. So we had some disruptions, but we still had a great time. We left Budapest a day early because of the river, but got an extra day in Vienna, which was great. Once we got as far as Vilshofen, the river was no longer navigable. We were still able to do most of the tours, but had to take a bus to get to the various towns for our tours. It's not what anyone hoped for, but the buses were comfortable, and the tours were quite enjoyable. Passengers who didn't want to go on a bus were welcome to stay onboard the ship. After 9 days (of a 15 night cruise), we packed up and rode to Frankfurt where we boarded another Uniworld ship to use that as our base for the next 3 nights while we had tours in towns in that area. The final 3 nights were spent in hotels in Cologne and Amsterdam. The hotels were quite nice, and Uniworld provided money for our meals while we were not on the ship. I noticed that the Cruise Critic overview for this ship is a little out of date. Alcohol is included with this cruise, except for high-end drinks that are listed in a book at the bar. Also, on the Gala night and Farewell night, dinner is somewhat dressier, but not necessarily as dressy as described. A lot of men wore a jacket without a tie, some wore a tie but no jacket, and some just wore a dress shirt. Women dressed a little dressier than the other nights, but nice slacks and a dressy blouse were fine. There was a resident pianist/vocalist playing in the lounge before and after dinner, and outside bands were brought in to play on several nights. The food was generally quite good, and if we found something not to our liking, the wait staff were happy to bring something else. Regarding tours, they did offer a "Gentle Walkers" option for passengers who would like a slower and easier pace on the tours. Otherwise, I think every town had a choice of at least 2 different tours that were included at no extra charge. They did offer a few special tours that cost extra, but there were always some free tours as well. Overall, we had a great time, and look forward to our next river cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
Uniworld is a top rated line. Called just two days before leaving for Budapest to check water levels and was told that all was great and we were "assured" that there would be no problem for our embarkation on 9/23. Not so! Got ... Read More
Uniworld is a top rated line. Called just two days before leaving for Budapest to check water levels and was told that all was great and we were "assured" that there would be no problem for our embarkation on 9/23. Not so! Got an email in the wee hours of the morning the day before telling us that the ship was in Vienna and we would have to stay in Budapest an extra night, because of low water levels, in another hotel. We would then be bused to Vienna. A nightmare. Got sent to a horrible hotel who had no idea of what was going on! No reservations held for us or other Uiworld passengers. We called Uniworld to no avail. Operators told us the office was closed and had no way to check on status. Our other travel friends didn't even get an email telling them of the delay or anything at all. Ended up in another hotel that was better than the wrong one originally sent to, but not great by any means. We were given 80 Euros per person for dinner and lunch the next day. Got on a bus the day after and sat for 3 1/2 hours to Vienna. Once on board, got a notice saying we would get $150 (US) each to spend on board. Of course, everything was priced in euros. This trip cost each couple $1,500 PER DAY. We virtually lost 2 days and this was the compensation. We were greeted warmly on board, and the staff was great. Food mediocre. Sailed in the evenings so saw no beautiful sites along the way. Only a short afternoon sailing in between 2 towns. The water levels cant be helped. We learned that they have been down for a very long time due to a dry warm summer. Uniworld had to have known this and handled this issue very poorly. They insulted us by offering to pay for a cab fare as we had to drag our luggage to the wrong hotel they gave us. Funny that all the 5 star hotels were available, yet they stuck us in cheaper ones. We then were offered $500 off, per person, a future cruise. Really! The better thing for them to have done was to reimburse us for THIS cruise. Do they honestly think I would pay over $12,000 to them AGAIN just to get a discount! No way! Many other lines to choose from. Very disappointed in Uniworld. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We started at Roomers hotel in Munich. We did not think much of this hotel. It is chic and stylish, but not for us. Everything was black and the room was not laid out for good use of space. We loved the SS Maria Theresa. The ship was ... Read More
We started at Roomers hotel in Munich. We did not think much of this hotel. It is chic and stylish, but not for us. Everything was black and the room was not laid out for good use of space. We loved the SS Maria Theresa. The ship was exquisite. We were very comfortable in our room and loved the french balcony - it was the first time we had ever had a full wall window that would fully open. Service on the ship was outstanding, we can't say enough good things about all the staff. Especially the two Alex's at the bar, but also the desk, the dining room, Marko our room steward. Tours were enjoyable, we had fun on every one, and there were tours tailored to all paces - slow or fast. Food average. Corinthia hotel after disembark in Budapest was 5 star. This was our first river cruise, will sail Uniworld again. Read Less
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