Uniworld Unveils First River Ship With Internet Access

February 3, 2006

River cruising is coming of age -- the technological age, that is. Uniworld, a Los Angeles-based tour operator specializing in European river cruises, has announced that it will launch the first river vessel with Internet access and ship-to-shore satellite calling.

The new ship, the 132-passenger River Royale, will provide Internet access with e-mail -- including Wi-Fi capabilities for passengers with wireless-enabled laptops; rates will be comparable to those at on-shore cafes. Satellite calling will also be available onboard at a cost similar to that charged by long distance cellular providers.

Other innovations include a special hydraulic system for lowering the top deck railings to clear low bridges. The ship will also feature one 247-square-ft. suite, and many staterooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. All cabins will have flat-screen televisions.

Though recent years have seen many innovations in river cruise ship design -- several Deilmann ships have swimming pools, for instance, which are not typically found on river vessels -- Uniworld's high-tech advancements could take this niche to the next level, attracting a broader and possibly younger clientele.

River Royale will sail its first season between April 12 and November 1 in France; nine-day itineraries will focus on Provence and Burgundy.