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5 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
5 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
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
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
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
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
4 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
2 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We managed to have a nice time but upon further reflection, I’d have to say it didn’t meet our expectations and couldn’t compare to our experience with AMA and the Normandy trip. Some of that is driven by the totally different ... Read More
We managed to have a nice time but upon further reflection, I’d have to say it didn’t meet our expectations and couldn’t compare to our experience with AMA and the Normandy trip. Some of that is driven by the totally different venue....the makeup of the Seine vs the Douro but a lot of it was just a poorly orchestrated itinerary. As I’m sure you’re aware, unlike the Seine, the river boats can’t cruise the Douro at night which probably presents some logistical issues. That said, as a more upscale provider, I would have expected UniWorld to have figured out how to compensate and address this. The other issue is that while the Douro is lovely and the scenery beautiful, there isn’t tons to do. Unlike the Seine, there are few cute little villages (except Porto) to explore along its banks so understandably, every sight or at least most, we were bused to. However, they did these bus rides/tours in the morning which meant rising at 6/6:30 to dress and get breakfast so we could be on the bus usually by 8:30 (one morning may have been 9). Then they’d get us back on the bus and back on the boat midday for lunch and an afternoon of sailing. Nothing of real substance to do except drink (btw the wine is delicious!). I should note that one day was a full day trip to Salamanca so of course we had to be up and out early but the others were half day excursions. If memory serves me, 3 of those morning / half day excursions involved wine tastings! Really....at 10am!!!!! Had they flipped the schedule and allowed for more leisurely mornings to eat breakfast and watch the countryside go by, the whole experience would have been more enjoyable and relaxing. We finished the cruise depleted and exhausted! Two other points. Lisbon. They put us up at the Corinthia Hotel on the outskirts of the city. The hotel was fine but the location made it difficult to get out and easily enjoy the city. On the return we stayed in the heart of the city (unfortunately it was only for one night). How much more delightful our Lisbon experience would have been had we been there for 3 days at the front end! I’m not sure if other tour companies offer a more centrally located hotel. If this is typical then I would urge you to suggest that people make their own hotel arrangements in Lisbon so they can take advantage of the city. There are plenty of local guides and a hop on hop off bus to get an overview of the city and then people can get out on their own and explore. The Douro is very dependent on the weather. Our week was cloudy, cold and rainy. The week before was lovely. But since there is so little to do, it’s extra important to have good weather. I wouldn't book beyond mid October. The food was inconsistent so disappointing. The buffet food at lunch was not always hot. Ama had a few things you could order from the kitchen, such as pasta, that came out hot. Uniworld was only buffet and carving station. Seafood was usually over cooked. They didn’t have some Portuguese specialties like shrimp in garlic or large prawns. Or even lobster. I expected this on a luxury line. It did seem like they were serving less expensive foods. The pork tenderloin the first night was excellent. The rest of the dinners were not memorable. Red Wines were excellent even though they were pretty inexpensive (we looked In stores). Our waiter, we had the same table all week, was outstanding. The Sandeman trip was a highlight - beautiful ride up. Would recommend the duo the last night in Porto be put on the first night in Porto - they we’re outstanding. Kirsten, the cruise director, was ok but a little misleading on what a disabled person could do. Also, the wine guy who explained the wine was worthless. It didn’t really tell us anything so I’d just eliminate that part. I would also recommend that Uniworld send more information in advance of the cruise. We skipped the dinner at the local winery, because we didn’t want the bus ride in the dark, or more cabbage soup. The dinner on the ship that night was mediocre. People said the winery dinner was not very good but the evening was fun. Coimbra was lovely, even though it poured. Read Less
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