The lounge on La Gironde Deck is the social heart of the vessel. There, daily briefings are held during cocktail hour. On the starboard side is the tour manager's desk. Afternoon tea is served in the lounge, and after the tour in Blaye there's a cooking demonstration of the local delicacy Canele de Bordeaux -- a cake filled with custard. In St. Emilion, there's a lecture on the Aquitaine region.
This attractive room, though somewhat dated in comparison with what's found on Uniworld's more modern vessels, is outfitted in walnut paneling and drapes of rust, terracotta and beige. In the forward section, four tables are arranged near windows looking out over the bow, and doors lead to the stairs up to the Sun Deck. Farther aft are four large settees, plus burgundy-colored tub chairs. Toward the bar are occasional tables with similar chairs and armchairs with striped fabrics.
In the center of the lounge is a large mirror-topped table with art books and a large display of white roses, surrounded by two-seater settees in cream and fawn brocades. More tables and chairs line the port side, and a small dance floor makes up the center of the lounge.
At the entrance to the lounge, near reception, is a horseshoe-shaped bar. Included drinks are comprehensive, with a wide variety of aperitifs, cocktails, beer, spirits and wines by the glass. For higher-end drinks, you can pay for liquor on the Diamond Selection menu.
In keeping with most river cruises, entertainment is fairly low-key. There is a piano and electronic Clavinova to the starboard side of the lounge where the onboard pianist entertains each night. During the week, visiting entertainers, such as singers or a classical duo, come onboard to perform.
The sommelier holds 45-minute wine-tasting events three times throughout the cruise. These take place in the Claret Room and feature wines from a winery in Libourne, as well as a selection of charcuterie and cheeses, all at no extra cost.
Excursions are all fully escorted by English-speaking local experts, as well as a Uniworld cruise manager. Passengers can choose the pace and content of their trips with different types of land tours. "Gentle Walking" programs feature slower-paced guided sightseeing tours, "Go Active" options focus on biking and walking on shore, "Do As The Locals Do" experiences provide chances to meet locals and visit their favorite spots, and "Choice Is Yours" tours offer alternative trips for repeat visitors. Quietvox portable audio headsets are provided on all excursions.
One deck down from the Sun Deck -- accessed by a flight of stairs on both port and starboard sides -- is the main La Gironde Deck. There you'll find the reception desk with a Provencal-themed backdrop in colorful mosaic tiles and a dramatic Murano crystal chandelier. There is elevator access to all decks, and a stair-lift links La Gironde Deck to the Sun Deck on the port side of the lounge.
A half-staircase leads up to a small but elegant lounge area with two tables filled with lifestyle magazines and occasional chairs. Here, glass cases display crystal souvenirs, watches, jewelry, logo items, perfumes and Rituals cosmetics for sale. There is also a small library where copies of condensed daily newspapers can be found. This area, along with the lounge, is one of the most popular Wi-Fi enabled areas of the ship. Reception can lend passengers a laptop for use onboard. Internet access is free of charge.
The entire outer Sun Deck is covered with high-quality brown textured flooring, which resembles teak decking. It's also dotted with tubs of conifers, palm plants and potted ivy. In the forward section, 10 decorative white cast-iron tables are accompanied by four chairs each. There's also a large novelty chess board in the center of the Sun Deck.
Aft of the bridge are two more tables and chairs; this is the ship's only designated smoking area. Under a large canopy, 32 sun loungers with deep taupe cushions, plus four double sun-loungers, provide comfortable outdoor seating. Towels, all monogrammed, are provided. In the surrounding teak chests are cozy monogrammed deck blankets. Toward the rear of this area is a large wrought-iron table and chairs.
Behind the Blue Fox Cafe and three steps down is a semicircular space with a Jacuzzi, surrounded on three sides by 10 loungers with deep cushions. This area is particularly popular with sun-worshippers.
At the aft end of La Gironde Deck is a circular fitness and spa area. Equipment includes four stationary bikes, a cross-trainer, two exercise balls and dumbbells. There are two flat-screen televisions and a water cooler. In the adjacent massage room, therapies include a 60-minute Classic Body Massage for €65, a 60-minute Sheer Bliss Wellness Treatment for €80 and a 90-minute Restoration and Rejuvenation Treatment for €120, all using Ritual products.
Passengers have the use of complimentary bicycles and Nordic walking sticks, subject to availability. Daily yoga sessions take place in the Blue Fox Cafe at 7 a.m.
River Royale is not suitable for children, and it has no facilities for families.