9 Uniworld Queen Isabel River Cruise Reviews

Having heard Uniworld was supposed to be a large cut ahead of the rest, I decided to explore Spain and Portugal on a cruise tour from Madrid to Lisbon. The tour director and organization of the sightseeing were outstanding. The Duoro River ... Read More
Having heard Uniworld was supposed to be a large cut ahead of the rest, I decided to explore Spain and Portugal on a cruise tour from Madrid to Lisbon. The tour director and organization of the sightseeing were outstanding. The Duoro River is definitely not a tourism area, so there was no local entertainers; in fact, there was nothing to do after dinner. Women would dance together in the lounge. That is the one negative. Food and sevice were excellent for the size of the crew. Dinner could be very slow. Travel companions were fun and interesting, about a third American and Canadian, one third British and the other third Australian and New Zealanders. The sites were beautiful. The wineries looked beautiful but the product was only fair. Tours in metropolitan areas were very interesting and enjoyable. We saw a variety of towns from medieval times and contemporary. We saw two impressive universities. We saw where and got an idea of how Jews were excluded during the Inquisition. I enjoyed the cruise but would appreciated a larger room with better storage. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This was a cruise of the Douro River and since we had gotten a super good price, decided to take this cruise . The ship is actually ran by a Douro Azul which owns several other ships that cruise from a Porto . The good: The staff were ... Read More
This was a cruise of the Douro River and since we had gotten a super good price, decided to take this cruise . The ship is actually ran by a Douro Azul which owns several other ships that cruise from a Porto . The good: The staff were amazing, so personable and always smiling The food was excellent as well as the wines served with dinner The excursions were hit and miss with a couple that could be rated as Fantastic and others just do-so The bad: The temp in room could not seem to get regulated from being HOT to warm to ok, not consistent . Not getting to go to Salamanca because were told two licks were closed due to rain BUT they did do a 3 1/2 hour bus ride into Spain at Santiago . Some felt cheated since it would have only been another 30 min. to have gone on to Salamanca. We would try Uniworld again but not this cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My wife and I recently completed or first river cruise and ver much enjoyed Portugal. We had previously been on two ocean cruises with Carnival and found the experience to be overwhelming due to the size of the ship and the continuous ... Read More
My wife and I recently completed or first river cruise and ver much enjoyed Portugal. We had previously been on two ocean cruises with Carnival and found the experience to be overwhelming due to the size of the ship and the continuous lines for everything because of the large number of guests. The river cruise was more to our preferences for number of guests, size of ship, quality of the included excursions, food quality and options. I also prefer to have everything included in the price at the time of booking. We are fit couple that walk regularly and recently retired. We opted for the three days in Lisbon prior to the cruise. The hostess/ manager/ guide - Pilar was excellent. This provide a time to adjust to the time changes and enjoy a very nice city. The hotel was very good and the included breakfast was enjoyed each morning before a full day. The hotel was accessible to do some sight seeing by walking to this area of the city. We did one afternoon walk around the hotel area and an afternoon at the Gulbenkian Museum. An included excursion in the city was excellent. We also did the optional excursion to Sintra and Cascais by bus - very good. The tree days in Lisbon were unseasonably warm between 25-27 C. We walked to very good restaurants around the hotel area each evening and felt safe and only required a long sleeved shirt for comfort. The bus trip to Porto was long, but managed well with a few stops. We enjoyed the visit to the University in Coimbra especially the library and chapel. At Porto, we had a city tour walk during a very rainy afternoon. Overall the weather in Northern Portugal during Porto and the river cruise was reasonable with one day low of 14C and most days at approximately 20C. The ship was very good with the low point being the compact cabins. We opted for the mid grade cabins that include the french balcony. This was very good with sufficient light and a wonderful view during a few afternoon cruises. The wash room was a good size and the shower very good size compared to ocean cruise cabins. You could actually move without hitting something. The food each day was excellent with the chef participating in the dining room each meal. Dennis was very friendly and welcoming. The dining room manager and staff were excellent, as well. The views of the river were picturesque, stunning and relaxing. The small towns and villages were laid back and easy to navigate on foot. The wine served with meals were very good in quality and choices were available. The include excursions were excellent with very good guides, especially Ricardo. The buses were clean and the distances not too long, except the two hour drive to Salamanca a university city in Spain, that we believe was worth the time. There was never any more than three people in a line ahead of you on the ship. My only criticism was the shortage of on board evening entertainment. The first night on board was excellent - singer and piano. The evening visit to Quinta da Avessada family winery and restaurant was also excellent. The Flamenco session in Salamanca was also very good.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We just returned from our Douro River cruise on the Quenn Isabel. This was the first river cruise we've taken and it definitely won't be the last. We arrived in Lisbon a day before the package tour started. Since this was sold ... Read More
We just returned from our Douro River cruise on the Quenn Isabel. This was the first river cruise we've taken and it definitely won't be the last. We arrived in Lisbon a day before the package tour started. Since this was sold as all inclusive, I think our meals in Lisbon should have been included for the three nights included in the package. Only breakfast came with the package and was wonderful. We paid extra for the tour to Sintra but would not do that again. Had we known that we would just tour a palace, we would have taken a train on our own and toured the monestary and castle instead.I had some misgivings from reviews of th Queen Isabel and some of them were valid. The service in the dining room on the ship and the food definitely did not live up to a 5-star rating. However, the tours, our room, the room service, the bar, etc. were definitely 5-star. This was a very expensive cruise but overall, I felt the money was well spent. There were less than 100 people on our ship and at times, we felt as if we were on a private yacth. This ship is not owned by Uniworld and the staff, all but the one cruise director, were not employed by Uniworld. I think if Uniworld had control over training the staff, the experience would definitely be 5-star. Our cabin, though small, had lots of room for storage. The bathroom was nice and the french balcony helped with my claustropobia. Claudia cleaned our room to perfection each day. We never left the room without everything being spotless when we returned. The location of our room was perfect - very quiet. We found lunch in the lounge suited us better than the dining room. The piano music along with the view made it nicer and less noisy than the dining room. Only about 8 of us ate there each day so it felt very private with the lovely view out the front of the ship. Tours were well organized and interesting. Dinner at a private winery was the highlight, so lovely and fun. All in all, a wonderful cruise with wonderful people. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My wife and I just returned from our fourth Uniworld trip in the past two years and we have our fifth Uniworld trip already booked for this September. We have become frequent and loyal Uniworld customers because of the extraordinary ... Read More
My wife and I just returned from our fourth Uniworld trip in the past two years and we have our fifth Uniworld trip already booked for this September. We have become frequent and loyal Uniworld customers because of the extraordinary quality, service, and care we have experienced on earlier trips. This cruise on the Douro River was a different story entirely. This is not a Uniworld-owned ship--a fact that is not at all clear unless you read the very tiny print at the back of the catalogue. In fact, the ship is owned by a local Portuguese company, Douro Azul, and there is only one Uniworld employee on the entire boat. The Queen Isabel itself has a gloss of Uniworld decorating about it, and it flies a Uniworld flag at its bow, but it is by no means equal in quality to the Uniworld-owned ships we have enjoyed before. The failings of this ship and its staff are far too numerous to detail, but the most annoying of all was that we could hear every single time a toilet flushed on every floor above us (we were on the bottom deck, so that's a lot of toilets!). Between 10 and 11 in the evening we would hear as many as 6 flushes per minute (I counted!). The noise was so loud that the cruise manager moved us to another room, where the flushes could still be heard but not quite as loudly. The flushes were also clearly audible in the hallway outside the rooms. Who designed this ship?! I have a bad neck and the pillows on the bed were so soft that I couldn't get the necessary support for my neck. Since Uniworld boasts in its catalogue that “you always have your choice of pillow options to ensure the most restful sleep,” I asked the manager for a firmer pillow. He had none, but said he could go ashore the next day and buy me one if I could tell him what I wanted. Uniworld promises in its catalogue: “We’ve crafted a culinary program for the most discerning of palates. . . .” Not on this ship! Dinner the first night set the pattern for the week--food that was, on the whole, mediocre to inedible. The first night my beef was nothing but fat and gristle--and it was accompanied by frozen mixed vegetables! Service was rushed and the wait staff was inadequately trained, lacking the professionalism we have experienced with wait staff on other Uniworld ships In short, this is not a Uniworld ship and it is not a Uniworld operation. Despite Uniworld’s promise, you will not have a “Six-Star Experience” on the River Isabel. You’ll get a Douro Azul experience, which is something quite different. What astonishes me is that Uniworld states in its catalogue: “Unlike many other river cruise lines who use third-parties to cater their onboard operations, Uniworld handles ALL aspects of our onboard operations—hospitality, culinary, and nautical.” This is flatly wrong with regard to the River Isabel. It is owned and entirely operated by a third party—Douro Azul. Since there is only one Uniworld employee on the ship with the rest of the staff—and the ship itself—owned and operated by Douro Azul, I think it’s fair to compare the price of the 7-night Douro River cruise on the River Isabel with the other Douro Azul-owned ships that take visitors on the identical trip (same length, same stops, same excursions). Douro Azul's Douro Spirit and Douro Cruiser both offer the 7-night trip. The base price ranges from 895 to 925 Euros. Douro Azul charges extra for the excursions—but if you include those in the price and convert to dollars (at 1 to 1.36), you get a total price for the trip on the two Douro Azul ships of $1,535 to $1,576 respectively. Uniworld charges from $$3,849 to $4,499 base price for the same cruise on their Douro Azul-owned and operated ship—not a bad markup for doing a little decorating on the ship and adding a single Uniworld employee to the voyage! Even if Uniworld could get Douro Azul to get its act together, I wouldn’t recommend this trip to anyone who is familiar with Uniworld quality. As long as the River Isabel is owned and operated by Douro Azul, it will never match the quality of a Uniworld-owned and operated ship. It's that "third-party" operator problem that Uniworld says in its catalogue that it doesn't do (but, in fact, does do on this ship). I also believe Uniworld should make it clear in their catalogue that this trip will not meet the standards touted in their catalogue. If you believe you will be getting Uniworld’s “Six-Star Experience” on the River Isabel you will be disappointed and for Uniworld to offer this trip with the suggestion that you will receive that level of service amounts to little more than “bait and switch.”   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was our first river cruise, after many hours of research of different river cruise ships, we chose UniWorld due to so many great reviews. We are well traveled seniors, having visted over 40 countries the past 10 years. Disappointment ... Read More
This was our first river cruise, after many hours of research of different river cruise ships, we chose UniWorld due to so many great reviews. We are well traveled seniors, having visted over 40 countries the past 10 years. Disappointment with this cruise and cruise line would be a vast understatement. The Queen Isabel is a leashed ship, and falls short of meeting the high standards and expectations of UniWorld superior reputation. Several malfunction of the ship put a damper on the comfort of the passengers. Two guest had an unexplained loud noise in their cabin, they spent the first night sleeping in the lounge, called it to managements attention the following morning, maintainance was sent to check the problem. It was deemed as a unknown problem, the solution was the guest either put up with it, or sleep in a very small, dark room on the next level down. They chose to sleep with earphones on the remainer of the cruise. A couple nights later they were given a free bottle of wine to compensate for their inconvenience. The air conditioner quite working and it reached well over 90 degrees in the dining room for the last 3 days. The breakfast and lunches were good, but dinners fell way short of of expectations. Most shore excursions required 1-2 hours each direction on very curvy roads, many of the passengers experienced motion sickness. On the plus side the housekeepers, waiters, and tour guides, did a superior job. When sharing our grievances with UniWorld, five couples whom we are in touch with, did not even get a response . After several attempts, five months later, and the help of our travel agent, we were offered a pittance ,their cookie cutter offer for any unhappy customers, a 350.00 credit for a future cruise with them. No Thank You, we have scratched them off our list. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We just got back from Portugal after a trip on Uniworld's Queen Isabel Duoro River cruise. Since several of our fellow travelers had sailed with Uniworld many times before and raved about the experience, we had great expectations. So ... Read More
We just got back from Portugal after a trip on Uniworld's Queen Isabel Duoro River cruise. Since several of our fellow travelers had sailed with Uniworld many times before and raved about the experience, we had great expectations. So here are my downsides and upsides comments. The downsides: While the boat is relatively new, it certainly lacks the style of the other Uniworld boats, based on the glossy photos in the brochures and reports from our friends. And while the crew was generally friendly, the service was very uneven, especially at dinner, suggesting insufficient training and supervision. Waiters would come once and then disappear and have to be hunted down for refills of the water glasses. It was the food, however, that was the big disappointment. The first evening I had a pasta and vegetable dish (being a vegetarian) and I was dismayed to realize that the veggies were frozen and the pasta cooked well into mush territory. Yikes. This is not a complicated dish to prepare well! Subsequent meals were similar, ranging from the kind of grub you generally get at a business convention to slightly better than standard fare. Breakfast was generally much more interesting and varied. The wines served at the meals were basic plonk which is kind of inexcusable since there are some very good Portuguese wines that are quite inexpensive (I drink them at home). The upsides: The Duoro River is achingly beautiful, underdeveloped and with little boat traffic. The excursions were well thought-out and organized and led by the incomparable Kirsten (who turned out to be the only Uniworld employee on board). We embarked and disembarked at Porto which has gone to the top of my list of European cities to photograph - visually rich and exciting. Conclusion: 3 days into the trip, we learned that the Isabelle is chartered from Duoro Azul which also owns the boats used by Viking and AMA and essentially has the monopoly on this route. So, what we had was an Azul experience, not a Uniworld experience and I was told by many fellow passengers to please not judge Uniworld by this particular cruise. Bottom line: if you want to sail the Duoro, be aware of the charter situation and price shop; no need to pay Uniworld prices since Azul services them all. Note also that I am taking all of the comments about Uniworld's other cruises seriously and booking a trip on the Danube to celebrate my 60th birthday. Second time a charm? Let's hope so! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Cabin is small but set up with plenty of storage suitcases fit under the bed and you can access the internet on the tv in your room-service was very good and food was good .The bar is open after dinner and no charge in fact everything is ... Read More
Cabin is small but set up with plenty of storage suitcases fit under the bed and you can access the internet on the tv in your room-service was very good and food was good .The bar is open after dinner and no charge in fact everything is included tips etc of course you pay for this in the price but it is nice not to be nickel and dimed on every tour etc.It is winery and castles and very low keyed but we enjoyed it very relaxing .One thing that I noticed from the other river tours(Budapest France)is that people do not dress up at all in fact even at the captains dinner only about 6 men wore Jackets.(a lot of times shorts were worn!)On this tour we were met at the airport driven to the hotel in Lisbon with no waiting checked in by a rep from uniworld get together that night about the tour.I have been on a lot of tours and this was a nice set up also when tour was over they drove us to airport and walked us to the airline check-in and to the security check-in which was nice esp if you have not been in this airport before-we had a very nice time Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We just returned from the Douro River Cruise with Uniworld and we would give this cruise 5 stars if we could! First of all, we flew into Lisbon and spent 3 nights in the Tiara Hotel, which we thought was beautiful. The local coordinator ... Read More
We just returned from the Douro River Cruise with Uniworld and we would give this cruise 5 stars if we could! First of all, we flew into Lisbon and spent 3 nights in the Tiara Hotel, which we thought was beautiful. The local coordinator Petra and her assistant Isabell were our guides for Lisbon and from Lisbon to the ship. We opted to take the optional tour to Sintra the second day and would highly recommend it. We learned the first night that our ship was unable to reach Porto for us to board because the lock the ship had to travel through to get there was having a "small problem", so the day from Lisbon to the ship we were on the bus an hour longer than it would have been and that was a long day, but Uniworld gave everyone on board $250 credit for any future river cruise through 2016 for any inconvenience. The cabins are small because the locks are smaller that the other European rivers. The ships can only travel from port to port during the day and that provides a great opportunity to see the beautiful countryside. The ride to Salamanca was 2 hours each way, but again - the scenery is beautiful. The Flamenco show was terrific. Another highlight was dinner at Quinta Da Avessada. Uniworld is "all inclusive" and they mean what they say. You are not charged for any alcohol you order during the day, for lunch or for dinner. After dinner, when you go to the lounge to listen to the music, they meet you at the door with a nice glass of Port. If there are any negatives to speak of - the small cabins would be one (but again that is due to the size of the locks). We had a "French Balcony" which is not a "French Balcony" but a patio door. The dining room in the evenings when everyone is having dinner is extremely noisy due to the low ceilings. Breakfast and lunch buffets were very good with many choices, but the evening meals did not live up to Uniworld's standards. Plus one evening after a long day of touring - the meal was another buffet. Our opinion is that all evening meals should be sit down meals. The Douro is now our new favorite river in Europe. Portugal is beautiful, the people are lovely and we would highly recommend this river cruise. Our thoughts were that after the word gets out - this itinerary will be high on everyone's Bucket List. This is our 4th river cruise and second one with Uniworld. Cole   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Queen Isabel Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 3.0 3.3
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness & Recreation 3.0 N/A
Family 2.0 2.9
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 1.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.1
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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