15 Uniworld River Countess River Cruise Reviews

I had been on two river cruises before with AMA Waterways but this time chose Uniworld as it offered an Italian experience. The River Po is not itself particularly interesting although it does offer a change from the Venetian lagoon, ... Read More
I had been on two river cruises before with AMA Waterways but this time chose Uniworld as it offered an Italian experience. The River Po is not itself particularly interesting although it does offer a change from the Venetian lagoon, which in itself is spectacular. The ship, crew, captain were all excellent - clean, well managed, like a well-oiled machine. I was exceptionally lucky as the overall group seemed to be happy and well disposed. A highlight of the trip was an evening visit to St Mark's Venice with the eminent art historian Dr Steer, whose exposition of the cathedral was memorable and very entertaining. There is a daily choice of either on-board activity or tours and I chose (after Milan where we were for 1.5 days), Verona, Padua, Chioggia, Burano and Ferrara in addition to the days spent in Venice itself. Viewing the restoration of Da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan is also of interest to art lovers. Venice never disappoints and this time I booked a gondola ride, with a small group. The crew do everything in their power to make your stay enjoyable and deserve high commendation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our first Uniworld cruise and we have done Avalon & Viking. I am not impressed by the room size on the River Countess. We opted for the suite because we wanted more room. I loved the bathroom with the 2 sinks and large shower. ... Read More
This was our first Uniworld cruise and we have done Avalon & Viking. I am not impressed by the room size on the River Countess. We opted for the suite because we wanted more room. I loved the bathroom with the 2 sinks and large shower. The minibar was also a plus as was our butler. The biggest problem was the furnishings were way too large for the cabin. The table lamps were so large that you had little room to put anything on your night stand. Our friends who also had a suite had the butler take the shades off the lamps so they didn’t bump into them all the time. Also, the furnishings in the lounge we bulky and hard to move around to fit more people. A big plus was the fantastic crew. They were always happy to help with any request. The food was good most days and fair the rest of the time. I know it’s hard to cook for that many people but other lines do it and do it better. Also, there selections were very limited, especially on the Captain’s welcome and farewell nights when you had a fixed menu. Not everyone eats the same food all the time and they need to recognize this. To call this a river cruise is a stretch. Even if the Po River isn’t too low to cruise, the total time you cruise the river is maybe 3 hours. The only reason they run the ship up the Po is to make the drive to Ferrara and Bologna shorter. We didn’t make it to the Po River but instead the captain did an afternoon and evening cruise within the lagoon. These were probably much better than the river. Being all inclusive is great if you drink a lot of cocktails but not very good if you like good wines. Their wine selection was not very good. They did have a wine list where you could purchase wines but it didn’t seem right to buy wine when it was supposed to be included. Our group purchased wine when we were ashore and brought it to dinner. No corkage fees. The local tour guides were very knowledgeable but tended to be long winded and walked very slow. The biggest negative is the internet service. Their internet makes dial-up look good. With today’s technology, getting good internet service is not hard. Considering how much the cruise costs, Uniworld needs to step up to the plate here. What a great way to differentiate your cruise line from your competitors. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This is our 5th river cruise and Uniworld by far exceeded all expectations. All inclusive gratuities, drinks, choice of daily excursions were all contributing factors for choosing Uniworld. With many other cruise lines you are constantly ... Read More
This is our 5th river cruise and Uniworld by far exceeded all expectations. All inclusive gratuities, drinks, choice of daily excursions were all contributing factors for choosing Uniworld. With many other cruise lines you are constantly being nickled and dimed with every step. Not so with Uniworld. Their local guides were extremley knowledgeable,friendly and made the daily excursions so much more interesting. Chiara in Milan just made our day with her upbeat personality. Susan, on our Venice excursions was extremely knowledgeable and her detailed descriptions of the Venetian artwork and landmarks were the best we have ever encountered. The staff on the ship were all personable and did everything they could to meet the customer expectations. The evening meals were first class and a large variety of options for lunch, including a pizza bar in the top deck lounge. We are seriously considering doing this trip again in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
My husband and I just spent a week in Northern Italy aboard Uniworld's River Countess. This was our second Uniworld trip, (our first was in 2013 on the Paris and Normandy cruise) and both itineraries were amazing, though very ... Read More
My husband and I just spent a week in Northern Italy aboard Uniworld's River Countess. This was our second Uniworld trip, (our first was in 2013 on the Paris and Normandy cruise) and both itineraries were amazing, though very different. We realized when we booked "Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy" that we would be spending very little time actually cruising, and we were prepared for the bus drives to some of our destinations. The River Countess provided us with a beautiful place to come "home" to after a day of exploring. We were in cabin 105, in the "aquarium class" and loved our accommodations. We had plenty of storage space, including 2 closets for our hanging clothes, and additional closet with a safe and shelving, under the bed drawers (which we did not use) and space under the bed for our luggage. The cabin was very quiet, and several times we didn't realize that we were even moving until we looked out our window! The window, although only a foot or so tall, spanned the wall of the cabin, and let in plenty of light. It was interesting to be at water level. At times, the water taxis and other boat traffic would actually cause enough of a wake that waves would break over our window! Our bed, bedding and pillows were amazingly comfortable and cozy, and we both slept better than we do in our own bed at home. The bathroom provided plenty of space for one person, and enough shelving and storage for all of our toiletries. The marble shower ran the width of the bathroom, and I loved being able regulate the temperature once at the beginning of our trip, then just turning the nozzle on when we showered. The River Countess is a beautiful, immaculate ship. There were only 88 passengers on board the week we cruised, so there was more than enough space in the dining room and lounge when we all gathered. The staff on board is what really makes the ship special. Everyone from the Captain on down pampered us for the week. Our waiter, Stan, learned our names during our first meal on the ship, and he greeted us by name every meal thereafter. He quickly learned our preferences, and made wonderful meal recommendations. The food on board was delicious. Our favorite breakfast was the eggs Benedict, which had the creamiest hollandaise sauce over poached eggs with the darkest orange yolks I've ever seen! Breakfasts and lunches provided plentiful buffets, but we could also opt to order off the menu. Dinners were a la carte, with many choices. What we enjoy the most was the fact that there were always "local" selections at every meal, using the freshest of ingredients. Although there was a selection of cheese offered, it was not nearly as delicious as the cheese we ate on our river cruise in France. One of my favorite excursions was visiting the Rialto Market with the ship's chef, Daniel. We got to see first hand how he selected vegetables and fish (including octopus) from the market, which we later enjoyed at dinner! One of the aspects of the trip that captivated us was having several days to explore Venice by taking walking tours, water taxis, and just venturing out on our own. It is a very unique, incredible place to visit. Going to St. Mark's Cathedral in the evening with just our group from the River Countess was a memorable highlight of the trip (especially after seeing the long, long lines of people waiting to enter the Cathedral earlier in the day). During the week we also had the opportunity to visit Padua, Bologna, Chioggia (while others opted to go to Ravenna), and Verona. Although some of the bus rides were up to 2 hours long, our guides always provided commentary along the way, and on our way back to the ship many of us took the time to rest! One afternoon the River Countess spent a few hours cruising along the Venice Lagoon, with a guide pointing out places of interest. The only optional tour we did was a wine tasting. We were supposed to go to an estate outside of Verona, but not enough people signed up for the tour. Our cruise director, Agnes, provided us with a wonderful option. We participated in a wine-tasting and lunch at a cafe right in Verona, and it was such a beautiful day, we were able to sit outside and enjoy our surroundings. Lunch was delicious, and the wine was abundant and some of the best we've had the pleasure of consuming. It is a testament to Uniworld that of the 88 passengers on board, more than 50 of us were repeat guests. We look forward with great anticipation to our next trip with Uniworld!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, and ... Read More
This was the first Uniworld cruise for my husband and me but we had been on several other river and ocean cruises. We recognized that the logistics for this itinerary would be challenging since it is a river cruise without much river, and since getting to our Veneto destinations took bus rides of 1-2 hours each way. Add to that the fact that local shops close for the “siesta” at mid-day (cutting out shopping) and you have a recipe for some dissatisfaction. However, knowing all these things we chose this cruise because it was the only one that offered Venice and nearby cities with historical significance. And much of it was good – for example, Ferrara was a real sleeper and well worth the visit. We were so tired after traveling overnight, arriving on Sunday, and having a full-day outing to Padua on Monday, that we decided to sleep in on the Bologna-or-Ferrara day and in the afternoon took the provided bus to Ferrara to walk around on our own. What a pleasure to see a real castle and moat, an old church, and a medieval village all within a few blocks. Padua had one church where we spend a lot of time but didn’t’ have much else. Ravenna had excellent mosaics in church and chapel and a great place for lunch; Verona was big and crowded but beautiful with many buildings of interest. Venice was…Venice! Arrive a day or two ahead or stay a day or two after the cruise to explore Venice on your own. Our cruise director was very knowledgeable but sometimes told us more than we needed to know – for example, about the movements of the ship while we did excursions. We only needed to know things that would directly affect us, one day at a time. We were not sure how well-organized he was. Some of our guides were excellent, like Manuela in Ravenna, but others were hard to understand and some pushed the “Puccini” group (those with mobility issues) a little too fast. It was a good plan to have a slower-moving group but not quite carried through. On the bus, we were promised a comfort stop on one of the trips but it didn’t happen. Sometimes it seemed that we were rushing in and out of our destination towns. And we had very little time between getting back to the ship and going to the lounge for the port talk. If it had been televised we could have taken our time preparing for dinner. But in Venice the market visit with the chef was very well done, and the evening visit to the Basilica with Susan was excellent. The buses were quite comfortable. The vox system worked fine. On the ship we were extremely pleased with the front desk people who were very helpful and efficient; the cleanliness of the ship and of our room; the organization and staff that got us from and back to the airport and provided help inside the airport; the Captain who projected competence and care; and the staff of the Osteria. The ship was not full so the Hotel Manager moved us to a room farther away from the exercise room and the coffee machine – much appreciated. We were less impressed with the friendliness of the staff in the main dining room. Early on we took to eating lunch and dinner in the Osteria, which offered pizza, prosciutto, and salad and of course wine. The view was great, the atmosphere informal, and the self-service for food worked just fine. We ate what we liked and felt no pressure to have more courses. We gave mixed reviews to the staff in the lounge – some extremely attentive, and others who took orders but drinks appeared whenever. Only once did we get the little snacks that come with drinks. We did not know whether the new “all-inclusive” policy, that included tips, had an effect on the attitude of the staff. The food was good but it didn’t seem to us that it was special. The menus in the main dining room were not exciting. At the Captain’s dinner I got halibut that had the watery quality of fish that has been frozen. On the other hand, the sea bass at the Farewell dinner (bought in Venice at the market that day) was excellent. The pizza toppings were good but the pizza oven was apparently not large enough to generate a crispy crust. The pizza was good anyway. Unfortunately there were things that were provided but we either weren’t told about or heard when we were sleep-deprived, but it wasn’t just us who didn’t know that there was a Bistro menu in the lounge; that you had to ask for the prosciutto in the Osteria; and that vaporetto passes could be bought at the front desk. All in all we enjoyed the cruise but there was definitely room for improvement.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was the first ever cruise I had been on and it did not disappoint. From the word go (collection at the airport) we were treated like royalty. Everything was organised to perfection. Staff were welcoming and could not do enough to help ... Read More
This was the first ever cruise I had been on and it did not disappoint. From the word go (collection at the airport) we were treated like royalty. Everything was organised to perfection. Staff were welcoming and could not do enough to help us enjoy our stay - but they were also able to have a chat to us also which made it more personal and friendly. The week was pure luxury - our cabin was exceptional and everything had been thought about - plenty of storage space for all our goods plus our extra shopping! The housekeeper Andrea was delightful and when she heard we were celebrating our 25th created a beautiful atmosphere with candles(safety ones of course!!) one evening after our return from dinner. The restaurant manager also did the same on another evening with a bottle of champagne. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou. Thank goodness we were on the River Countess and not one of those horrendous monster ocean cruise ships that kept passing us with thousands on board. At least we were able to meet a good mix of people and get to know them. The cruising of the River Po was relaxing and beautiful and we got to see parts of Italy most tourists would never see. The daily trips were optional and very well organised with the most friendly and informative Guides - loved it all. Thanks Martin for all the organisation - you certainly knew your customers. We were sorry to leave the boat but were then treated to a weeks visit to Florence and Rome - hotels were very good but not to the standard we had become used to on the boat but the daily trips were just as good with a couple of highlights being to a few wineries. The only negative was the 3pines restaurant - beautiful location but food was not that great and the coffee was dreadful. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Since ocean cruising makes me feel sick even before the ship leaves the dock, I decided to try river cruising. From the pleasant experience of working with Uniworld at reservations, to the efficient staff meeting me at the Venice airport, ... Read More
Since ocean cruising makes me feel sick even before the ship leaves the dock, I decided to try river cruising. From the pleasant experience of working with Uniworld at reservations, to the efficient staff meeting me at the Venice airport, I was hoping for a good experience on board. It was so much more than that. The reception area is so light and inviting, and the registration process was quick and easy. The stateroom is beautifully appointed and the marble bathroom is well stocked with big, fluffy towels and high-end shampoo and soap. There's even a complimentary washer and dryer on the bottom level. Celena, the hotel mgr, was very visible, always asking if all was well, and quickly answered questions and concerns. The daily excursions were led by extremely knowledgeable guides, and expertly supervised by Tony, the cruise director. His daily updates were entertaining as well as informative. There was even a group of passengers who had difficulty walking, that were included in every tour. There was a lot of walking involved in all the excursions, but it was well worth the effort to see the churches, shopping areas, and especially the private evening tour of St Mark's. The food was the highlight. The food was art. Breakfast and lunch were a buffet, plus custom delicacies that were made in the galley. The selection was varied and the food was well prepared and abundant. For those who didn't want to be wowed in the dining room, there was another area to eat a lighter breakfast and lunch. The service was exemplary. The wait staff treated me like a queen, and indulged every wish. There was also afternoon tea time, served in the lounge area, with little sandwiches, fruit, and cakes. Then there was a sort of happy hour with crunchy snacks, alcoholic beverages, and Mila, a very knowledgeable and competent bartender. Dinner in the dining room was the jewel in this crown. Romica, the maître d, made me feel like royalty, entering the room.The selection on the daily menu offered pleasing choices. Chef Daniel is a master of his art. The desserts were so beautifully presented and delicious. More solicitous service by this competent and funny staff. Then there was more drinking in the lounge, with Todor, providing lively music. He had a lovely singing voice, too. In the event you felt faint from not eating for five minutes, there was a coffee and tea station near the gift shop that also had chocolate and vanilla macaroons. Captain Oost was very visible for questions and fun conversation. The ship is immaculate, my room was always well tended to by Zhivka. It was a stunning week. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We sailed on Oct 13. The ship is lovely and our cabin was more than adequate. High end linens and toiletries in a well configured room. Can't fault the staff for anything. They were absolutely flawless. Meals were high quality and the ... Read More
We sailed on Oct 13. The ship is lovely and our cabin was more than adequate. High end linens and toiletries in a well configured room. Can't fault the staff for anything. They were absolutely flawless. Meals were high quality and the variety was endless. If you didn't see what you wanted and the chef had time, he would try to accommodate you and make it. The two times they brought in entertainment ( a jazz trio and then two opera singers) were very high quality. The tours in Venice were amazing. The walking tour that led into the Doges Palace was great. Seeing St. Marks go from darkness to light that evening was incredible. We were very impressed, thinking this is a terrific cruise.. Then we started on the bus tours. We couldn't sail the Po just like most of the other cruises this year. So we sat for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours (Paduva) and often much longer ( Bologna 4 hours) on a bus to get to a somewhat interesting city. The walking tours were well done and we saw some great sights. The Vox system of broadcasting worked really well. The lunch in Ravena and Bologna were very nice and the pasta making workshop was terrific. The last two reviews have done a great job in describing their experiences. We just felt somewhat disappointed that we didn't sail on any river. I wonder if in their haste to offer a river cruise in Italy and beat the competition, that they didn't do due diligence on whether Italy is a place that should offer a river cruise. The ports of call are okay and would be much more attractive if they were a stop on a river that you were sailing on. We may try another river cruise down the road, maybe the lower Danube, but this is a very expensive bus tour the way the Po river cruise stands at the moment. We had a good time because we always have a good time, but it just fell a little short of what we were expecting. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This Uniworld cruise was supposed to start in Venice and then cruise the lower part of the Po river. Because of low water levels on the Po (a chronic problem), our riverboat spent more time in Venice and cruised the Venice lagoon - this ... Read More
This Uniworld cruise was supposed to start in Venice and then cruise the lower part of the Po river. Because of low water levels on the Po (a chronic problem), our riverboat spent more time in Venice and cruised the Venice lagoon - this was better in most respects then cruising the Po. The lagoon is a very large body of water with fascinating towns and construction of the inlet barriers. Spending evenings and afternoons topside viewing Venice and the lagoon was wonderful. The Ship The River Countess can carry about 120 passengers (we had 96) in three levels, mainly differing in window size. The rooms are small but very well organized and furnished with high quality materials and fixtures. The common rooms are spacious for the passenger size and include an ornate dining room, cocktail lounge/multipurpose room, library, laundry, fitness room, topside snack bar (limited breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and two topside areas with chairs, umbrellas, and awnings. The fitness room had five high quality machines and a TV - can't ask for more on a riverboat. In our room on the 300 level, we had a super AC system that was easy to control, three 110V outlets, plenty of storage areas, very comfortable bed (two twins into a queen), fresh water every day, two metal water bottles for day trips, nice lighting, small marble bathroom but with a good sized shower (easily controlled water), Plan on dressing at different times to avoid collisions. The Staff You always got a Hello or How Are You from every staff member you passed. Very friendly staff and very competent. The star was Gyongyi, the Cruise Manager - she put together the daily excursions, was always around to answer questions, and would do special favors if you asked. She went on every tour to ensure it went well. Meanwhile, the Captain was pleasant and seen very often. When cruising, a number of us asked to join him in the pilot bridge and were welcomed. The maitre d was super efficient and his staff was competent if not always friendly. The front desk personnel were awesome - distributing maps, answering questions, and exchanging dollars for Euros (an making change for the E50 bills you got out of the ATMs). Several folks really liked the massur. Nicola. Dining Breakfast in the dining room was buffet with a good selection of eggs, meats, waffles, fruit, yogurt, breads, and extras. Always, there was a special area, like an omlette chef. Lunch in the dining room was again a buffet, but with a mix of dinner style entres (like beefsteak and potatoes), salads, pastas, olives etc, sandwiches, breads, and a nice selection of deserts with gelato. Dinners were more formal (wear long pants for the men) with a two sided menu with healthy dishes and traditional dinners, with a meat, fish, and veggie options always available. Portions were right-sized, good but not overwhelming. The pastas at lunch and dinner were awesome - I had the best lasagna I have ever had the last night. Specialties like osobuco were first rate. Wine and beer at lunch and dinner were free - the wines were excellent and the beer was Moretti. The topside dining area had limited menus but fit many cruisers just right. On the second floor is a coffee machine that makes coffee, capacino, hot chocolate, etc. And cookies too! The Tours First rate. No glitches. First day, we walked (yep, a river boat can be parked 10 min from St. Marks square) through Venice with Suzzane (Venice native) and saw some of the major Venice areas and background, then to the Doge's palace (right in with special tickets - awesome), then we were on our own. St. Mark's square is awesome but CROWDED. You are better off walking some of the other areas. That night, we had a water taxi tour of the Grand Canal, then a private night time visit to St. Mark's. There, they did a special illumination of the church and Suzzane gave us a splendid history of the church. The other tours were by large coaches - comfortable, each with a guide and driver, water and a bathroom. The destinations were Padua, Ravenna, Bologna, and Verona. We had wireless headphones on each tour so the local guide (yep, another guide) could reach everyone. On a couple of tours, we had lunch - best one was in Bologna with a pasta making demo. Awesome. Another one was outside in a patio. The wine flowed freely! Be prepared to do some walking. This is not for handicapped. Also, be prepared to tip the guides and drivers. This is how they make a living. One negative was that the drive time to the tour areas was longer because we were not on the Po. But, the sailings on the lagoon make up for it... Lagoon Sailing We repositioned our boat several times and did a couple of other lagoon sailings. These were delightful. By all means, go topside during these sailings. To see Venice from the water is a special treat. And, to see the different areas of the lagoon was inspiring. We docked in Chioggia (a fishing village on the south side of the lagoon) a couple of nights. Some of the passengers skipped the tours and toured Chioggia, which they found to be a great mix of working class folks and some tourist areas. Sorry I missed that. We also went to the north side and saw where the Venitians first settled to escape the barbarians. Great history. And, we passed the construction where Italy is building movable barriers to stop water entering the lagoon during storms. Venice is sinking. On one afternoon, the ship had a PHD talk about the history of Venice and the environmental problems the city now faces. Excellent! Overall This was a professional organization that was dedicated to your happiness.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
It was 42 degrees Celsius (107 F) the day we arrived in Venice for the cruise. We were told that night that one of three air conditioners was out, and that the Po River was too low to cruise, and the only cruising would be in the Venetian ... Read More
It was 42 degrees Celsius (107 F) the day we arrived in Venice for the cruise. We were told that night that one of three air conditioners was out, and that the Po River was too low to cruise, and the only cruising would be in the Venetian Lagoon. The A/C was "fixed" 5 days later, they said, but the temperature in our room was high enough that even my wife, always cold, was laying naked on top of our bedding until 2 in the morning hoping for sleep. I, on the other hand, soaked the bed with sweat every night and got at most a couple of hours sleep. Due to increased drive time required on the bus excursions all being from Venice, one agenda item was skipped (not too bad, actually). The crew busted their behinds for the passengers - I was going through 2 or 3 shirts each day, they had to be wringing wet since they were working in hot kitchens, laundries, and bustling around the boat. They were troopers, and everyone on the cruise was extremely impressed by them, especially the way they kept a positive attitude and a smile almost always on their faces. On Friday, a fan did appear in the lounge, which helped a lot during the port talk. If we had not been told every day that the a/c would be fixed "today", I would have purchased a small fan for our room and maybe gotten a little more sleep. I guess that is the real point of this ramble - we felt that the management of Uniworld was not upfront with us, nor were we treated with the respect I try to show my customers when confronted with difficult issues that are beyond my control. Honesty and transparency are always appreciated, but did not happen here, or at least not until after the fact. They had to know in advance the Po would not be available, but we were not informed - same with the A/C. Uniworld did offer a 13.4% rebate (not an instant one, as I still owed for drinks and an optional excursion at the end of the week - so I don't know when I might get the credit) and an equivalent amount off a future cruise, which we are not sure we would want to take with this company after this experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This cruise+tour was the second we have done with Uniworld. In May, 2012, we did their 10 day Nuremburg-Paris trip so we knew that Uniworld does a good job with land touring as well as cruises. Splendors of Italy was well done--ESPECIALLY ... Read More
This cruise+tour was the second we have done with Uniworld. In May, 2012, we did their 10 day Nuremburg-Paris trip so we knew that Uniworld does a good job with land touring as well as cruises. Splendors of Italy was well done--ESPECIALLY the land part. Of the 90 cruisers, 26 opted to take the extended land trip and most agreed that the land portion was more enjoyable than the cruise portion. The reason being two-fold. 1) the land tour guide, Damiano, was exemplary. Not just "good" or "knowledgeable" but exemplary. Our local tour guides were "good" to "excellent"--Damiano was on another level altogether. And 2) the bus transportation used for the land portion of the tour was far superior to the buses used during the cruise to get us to Padua, Ravenna, Verona and Bologna. So the trip went as expected. We were met at the Venice Airport but our transportation to the ship. Our flight arrived an HOUR early so the greeter apologized and told us we'd have a little wait for another flight due to arrive within the hour. No problem--we grabbed a seat in the terminal and did some serious people-watching. In no time, we were escorted to the ship where our room wasn't ready but a lovely lunch was set up in the lounge. We had a nice bite to eat and was told that our room was ready about 2:30. We were escorted to our room where our luggage was already in place. This ship is similar to the River Princess which we were on last year so we knew where everything was. The room and bed were comfortable, spotless and the a/c worked very well! So the week on board went like this: Walking tour of Venice where our charming guide got a real kick out of tourists taking pictures of Laundry day (envision clothing strung out windows and balconies sometimes across canals) and of the garbage boats picking up the weekly trash. During this tour, we walked past the long lines into the Palazzo Ducale and were given a very nice tour. After dinner, we were put in water taxis and treated to a 45 minute ride down the Grand Canal and through a few smaller canals and were let off at St. Marks. We met up with our fellow passengers and went into a side door at St. Marks where we were treated to a brief explanation and history and allowed to take pictures and even visit the crypt under the church which is normally off-limits. We were escorted to the vaporetto (water bus) which we took back to the ship. It was an intensive day 1. Next day was Padua. I LOVE this city. I particularly was moved by the shrine of St. Anthony and seeing the Scrovegni Chapel was magnificent. Ravenna was next with the fantastic mosaics--I especially enjoyed those in the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. the ceiling is stunning. Bologna was next. An interesting enough place--but a long, tiring bus ride to get there. The highlight was seeing pasta being made by hand and enjoying a marvelous lunch. Verona provided an opportunity to see a smaller colosseum (again, walking by long lines to do so) and, of course, seeing where Juliet "may" have lived--Romeo, too. Eh, not so interesting. But the city marketplace and the city square were lovely to see. We had lunch on our own at the restaurant across from the colosseum. Today we cruised the Lagoon for 2 hours. Some passengers were upset that we were unable to cruise the Po due to low water; however, the captain took us to Choggia where we docked for a few evenings and where we met the buses for the daily tours and we cruised up past Burano. The weather was perfect and it was a lovely experience. We had time in the morning to take in an optional tour to the Accademia and was escorted by an art historian who made the tour perfect! Where we docked, we could walk to the Accedemia in 10 minutes, so we had time to do this in the morning and be back on board for the afternoon lagoon cruise. Finally it was time to leave the ship. Of course, our luggage was handled for us and we found ourselves on a roomy, comfortable bus on our way to Florence. Where was this bus when we went to all those cities last week???? We stopped on the way to have lunch at a restaurant with an outside garden. It was beautiful. Again, a perfect day with a gentle breeze and a welcome aperitif. We sat down to a sumptuous lunch with 3 different wines with a guitarist and a vocalist who insisted on dancing will all the women. It was a HOOT! So much fun. Finally it was time to get back on the bus and by late afternoon, we had been escorted past another incredibly long line into see Michaelangelo's "David". Then a little walk to our hotel. It was a 4 star hotel--now our room was fine. Very large and a comfy bed with a gazillion pillows and 2 easy chairs and a large bath. I gather a few people were assigned smaller rooms and were unhappy. Also, wifi was iffy. Free--but iffy. Next day was a walking tour of Florence with plenty of time to explore on our own. We hit the church Santa Maria Novella with it's marvelous stained glass and art works. Note--the Uffizi is closed on Mondays!!! DRAT!!! We packed up and hit the road to Rome; BUT we stopped at Castell Di Verrazzano wine estate for a tour and yet another lunch with regional specialities and wine. And more wine.......We arrived in Rome in the early evening and the guide asked if we wanted to go to the hotel or did we want to see some of the city at night. Of course, we all wanted to see the city--we even stopped by the Trevi Fountain and had an hour to grab a gelato and pizza. Eventually, we arrived at our hotel which was MARVELOUS. Definitely a 5 star. We took a day tour of the city and did the Colosseum--again walking by the crowd to go in. We spent the afternoon having a lovely lunch and finding the Spanish Steps and took a cab back to the hotel. Our final tour day brought us to the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's. Talk about sensory overload! So to sum it all up--the cruise is not a typical river cruise. I found the bus transportation part during the cruise uncomfortable. I'm 5'7" and husband is 6'1" and our legs were squished. OTOH, the tour guides were really good and we covered a lot of Italy in a short period of time. The staff of the cruise ship were stellar. Once they figured out my "wants" (think massive coffee infusion in the morning) they were quick to refill my cup. The lovely lady who serviced our room was unobtrusive and accomplished in her job. The entertainment on board was good (and this surprised me). The first Uniworld cruise last year, the "talent" played the melody line on a keyboard and used synthetics to fill in. On the River Countess, the pianist could PLAY! And play well! One time a lady gave a scientific overview of the lagoon--how is was formed, what is happening to it and how they are trying to save it--she was awful. It was like she had a power point presentation from something else and was using it for this discussion. One night 2 opera singers and their pianist came on board and gave an excellent performance. Food on the ship was good. Italy has fantastic fruit and they had luscious apricots, cherries, grapes, etc. and the cheese selection was lovely. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and ample. Dinners were good. I think the dinners on the River Princess were better. One night there wasn't anything on the daily specials that interested me and I ordered a steak. Steak, salmon and chicken are always available, by the way, so no one is going to starve. We've already booked our next Uniworld cruise (Christmas Markets, 2013) so I guess they're doing something right.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
We boarded the River Countess after 7 wonderful days on our own touring Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre by car. My husband is a great driver and was able to master the 6 speed manual transmission! We turned the car in at the Venice ... Read More
We boarded the River Countess after 7 wonderful days on our own touring Tuscany, Florence and Cinque Terre by car. My husband is a great driver and was able to master the 6 speed manual transmission! We turned the car in at the Venice airport and took a cab to the Santa Marta docking space to board the River Countess. There was a smile as we entered.....the pictures you see online were accurate! The staff was professional and cordial. We had a light lunch and our cabin was ready by 2 pm. The cabin is small compared to ocean cruising ships ( we knew this before booking) but they have done a fabulous job using the space available. Luxury, fine linens, mirrors, marble, great water pressure in shower, plenty of storage (look under the bed for 2 more drawers), vanity/desk, 3 AC/110 outlets (we were able to charge phones etc. easily), a safe, good air conditioning system, all this adds up to an A+ cabin. Meals/dining room: Very well done, attentive staff, good presentation and variety, and of course 360 degree views of Venice most nights! That is a wow. Ports: Venice was terrific. Much larger than I had envisioned, more boats, more land, more dwellings. We actually spent a total of 4 nights in Venice...great. Had free time and some scheduled tours of the city. One highlight was to visit St Marks for a private tour at night....slowly the lights come on, very special! Such history.  Tour to Padua: By bus we drove about 45 minutes west to the city. They use 3 buses each day but have 5 city tours guides so your groups are about 16-20 people. The Scrovegni Chapel and interior fresco paintings (painted around 1305) come to life as our guide detailed the works. Of note, you have to sit in a cleansing room for about 20 minutes prior to entering the chapel...but they have video of the history so that is helpful. Lunch was on your own, I was disappointed that most of the shops were closed after lunch (we were not told this) then we had to board the bus at 2:30pm. Ravenna: This was about a 1 3/4 hour drive south to the "Mosaic Church" Basilica Sant' Appolinare Nuovo. A wonder to see! We did tour the town also and then had lunch at a local restaurant. We enjoyed the countryside ( lots of green crops) and a nap on the drive back to the boat. Bologna: This was a 2 hour drive south west from our port. WE had a city tour, but by this time it was a lot of dates, and old buildings. This stop I would not do again. The redeeming factor was a pasta making demo and a great lunch with wine etc. (I feel Uniworld could have done this pasta making somewhere closer to the ship and skipped Bologna) Too long a drive. Verona: Great city, had some free time too. Could have spent more time there. Good shopping areas. Also about 1 3/4 hours each way to the boat. Back to Venice on Saturday morning and we sailed the lagoon, wonderful from the sun deck and then had free time in the afternoon! While we did not have a great dock location that day Uniworld had Mercedes vans available to shuttle us to Plaza Roma and we could walk from there to many great places.Entertainment: A very versatile piano player was aboard for the week, George, he was great! One night they had Veneto Commedia Art'e...it was ok. They had a great band on Friday night and on Thursday they had some opera singers. A lecture on the Venice Lagoon was informative. Our "cruise manager" was personable but I am not sure how often he has done this itinerary with Uniworld. Lots of referring to notes and not as communicative as he could have been....still he was professional and approachable. I have detailed some of this cruise because no one had yet reviewed this itinerary. It is a river cruise but not like the Rhine. We did go through one set of locks and cruised the Po some. Venice is wonderful and having your first class hotel float with you is quite nice. Only had to unpack once. We will certainly consider Uniworld again. When it was time to leave for the airport they had a van and an employee help us into the airport and make sure our boarding passes were printed. That was a very good extra that we appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We sailed on the River Countess on a Rhine and Main Rivers ("Rhine Discovery") cruise in July 2010, from Basel, Switzerland to Nurenberg, Germany. We arrived on our own in Basel a few days early and toured on our own. The day ... Read More
We sailed on the River Countess on a Rhine and Main Rivers ("Rhine Discovery") cruise in July 2010, from Basel, Switzerland to Nurenberg, Germany. We arrived on our own in Basel a few days early and toured on our own. The day of departure, we took a taxi to the dock around Noon. The crew took charge of our luggage. The Hotel desk staff had us checked in (in) less than one minute and sent us to the lounge to wait for our cabin to be ready. There were sandwiches, pizza and cheese for us to snack upon, with free tea, coffee, iced tea and water. Soft (and hard) drinks were available from the bar. Sodas cost about 2.50 (Euros) while drinks ranged from 4.50 to 6.50. We explored the ship as well. As you can see from the floor plans, it is small. It has: Lounge in the bow; a small library with 2 desks with PC's, two 4 person bridge-style tables and two 4 person easy-chair groupings; reception area with "hotel" and Cruise Director desks; 4 decks of cabins; "shop" (10 x 10 feet) with jewelry and kick-knacks; a coffee station with espresso, teas, hot chocolate and iced teas; a fitness room with 2 x each of treadmills, bikes, ellipticals; (free) passenger laundry with 2 x washers and dryers (soap available for purchase at the Hotel desk); massage room; and restaurant aft. We met a few other couples while we waited. The other passenger groups ranged in size from couples to a group of 8 neighbors from the States. There were two families with teens, but I strongly recommend against bringing kids. The company and tours are not geared toward them at all. The age range of adults seemed to start at 45 and went up to 93, with two couples seemingly in their late 30's (or with much better plastic surgeons). There were 138 passengers on board for our cruise. An aside: One couple, from Australia, told us Uniworld had lost their reservation (yes, they had their confirmation paperwork) and had to scramble to find them a cabin. They were booked in a Cat 4 cabin, but were given a Cat 1 for the first ½ of their cruise (7 days). For the inconvenience, they were invited to the captains table and given a suite for the second ½ of the cruise. We were given our cabin keys at around 1:30. The cabin was a little smaller than most other cruise ship cabins we have had. It had 4 large drawers, 2 half-height and one full-height closets...plenty of space for our clothes and a tall space under both double beds for our luggage. One of the closets had a large safe, able to hold a large camera, wallets and laptop. It also included two fluffy robes and a large umbrella. There was a "makeup" area with mirror and stool with its own light as well. The TV was about 13 - 15 inches seemed to have lower resolution than SD, making it very hard to read the daily announcements, menu's, etc. The ship has satellite service which went in and out as we passed bridges, trees, clouds, etc. It worked fine while we were docked. Channels included CNN International, BBC, Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network. Two different recently released to DVD movies which changed daily played as well. For our cruise, they included Alice in Wonderland, Dear John and Shutter Island. As with our other cruise experiences, the bathroom was just large enough for a sink in a small vanity with mirror and lit magnifying mirror, toilet and shower. The shower was surprisingly large, considering the rest of the bathroom. The crew is simply the most cheerful, helpful group we have had the pleasure to meet. Everybody was smiling and seemed genuinely happy to help in any way possible. The Captain and Hotel Manager (married) were professional and very funny throughout our interactions. The Cruise Director (Claudia for this cruise) was very knowledgeable, helpful and kept close track of all 140 of us through our excursions. Unlike most of our other cruise experiences, the food ranged from very good to excellent. Even the breakfast and lunch buffets were of excellent quality. Lunch and Dinner menus were posted the night before on the TV and before each meal at the Hotel desk. Wait staff were all friendly and attentive, serving and refilling drinks at all meals and helping the mobility-challenged of us. Breakfast included a daily special, like crepes or eggs benedict, eggs/omelets cooked to order, a great selection of breads, juices, smoked salmon, cheeses, cereals and a variety of hot foods: scrambled eggs, bacon (crisp AND soft separately), pancakes. All meals were served in one sitting, without any assigned seating. All passengers fit at once(obviously). Tables held from 2 - 8 (10?), all with views out floor to ceiling windows side and/or aft. You could either sit at a table the size of your party or dine with other groups. Each meal most people either sat at tables with empty spaces or asked to sit in said empty spaces. If you wanted to "reserve" a large table for a large group, you simply got there as early as you could to hold it. The variety of people we met made for the best part of the cruise. We met families from US, UK, Australia and Canada. Most people were happy to meet each other, though there were a few groups more insular. Over the course of the cruise, we met about 16 different couples over meals and found a number of friends with whom we plan on keeping in touch. Lunch changed daily and always included a different carving station entrEe, such as a German version of a Pot Au Feu (the best offering, in our opinion), salmon with a lemon cream sauce and carved beef. There were also different soups each day, all made in-house. Every single one was excellent. There were a variety of cheeses, three different salads (changing each day as well...chicken and Caesar salads were great), two different hot entrees, vegetables and starches. Finally, there were always 2 or 3 desserts created by the in-house pastry chef. Her creations were always beautiful and had excellent flavor. Finally, if you did not like her creations that day, there was an ice cream sundae station. Dinner was served, as opposed to the buffets of the other meals. You were given a menu listing the (4) courses, with a choice of entrEe and occasionally a choice in appetizer. Appetizers included I am not going to discuss the tours at any length. They were a good compromise, given the range of passengers. All guides were friendly and easy for us English speakers to understand. Some thought the guides were long-winded, others thought they gave an excellent level of detail. Our only real complaint: Internet access was as close to useless as I have ever seen. At least dial-up provides you with a consistent connection, slow as it may be. The wifi network was only usable from the lounge and library (and on the rear sundeck, I think). Once you signed in to get access, you were usually unable to get any further to the Internet. There are also two desktop computers to share, which had exactly the same lack of Internet service. While I understand the spotty nature of Satellite Internet service, it should have at least been available while we were docked. The whole week, all of us would stick our heads into the library and ask the current set of frustrated EMailers if the "Internet was working". 75% of the time it was not, 10% of the time it seemed to move at 1 Kbps (Yahoo/G/Hot- mail would take about 5 minutes to load), and 5% of the time it was "normal". Mind you, that 5% of the time, maybe 2% gave us speeds fast enough for ANY media access. One poor woman worked for an hour to view pictures of her grandson and family online. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
I boarded the River Countess in Nuremberg for the 2009 European Holiday Market Cruise. There were 76 passengers on board,the trip was exceptional. The room spacious and clean. Serviced regularly. the quilt and pillows made sleeping easy. ... Read More
I boarded the River Countess in Nuremberg for the 2009 European Holiday Market Cruise. There were 76 passengers on board,the trip was exceptional. The room spacious and clean. Serviced regularly. the quilt and pillows made sleeping easy. All of the crew from the Captain Jorg Zwaal and his wife the hotel manager, where friendly, thoughtful and helpful. Meals where well presented and plentiful, I especially enjoyed the breakfast and lunch selections. Evening dining was always relaxing. Wine and other beverages where plentiful throughout dinner. A highlight of the trip was being selected to dine at the Captains farewell dinner. The average age of cruisers would have been in the neighborhood of 65, but there where several younger people on board, and many interesting people to meet and visit with. The cruise was relaxing and the sights plentiful. The guided tours in our ports where very well done with the except I felt of Linz, where our particular guide seemed more in a hurry to have us off on our own. She did know the information and history but her presentation was a tad off. Highlights of the trip was the time in Passau, the beauty of the interiors of the baroque churches, the Wachau Valley was lovely, watching the sailors of the boat make a snowman, watching the snow fall gave it a festive air. Vienna at the completion of the trip was another highlight, the beauty of the city and ease of getting around, make it an interesting experience. The extra excusion to the Schoonbrunn Summer Palace was excellent and well worth the time and dollars spent. All the Christmas markets where different with different things to see and eat.Nuremberg sausages, the chai tea at the market in Vienna, Hot Chocolate at the market in Regensburg. The tour guide Woulter went out of his way to ensure that the passengers had the opportunity to see and do the things they wanted to. The evening entertainment on board provided a diversion from a busy day, and a relaxing way to settle down prior to bedtime. My cabin was on the second level,close to the coffee station, I would recommend requesting a cabin farther down the the hallway, activity could be regularly heard from the coffee station. Prior to embarking on the ship I overnighted two nights in Frankfurt, to help with the Jetlag. On disembarkation I spend an additional two nights in Vienna. I would recommend taking a cruise on the River Countess at any time of the year, the staff will make you feel as if your at home and a part of their family. I hope to be able to cruise again on the River Countess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We have been on many ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise and it was truly a remarkable way to travel. We previously visited Europe on land tours which involved lots of packing and unpacking and getting on the bus and off the ... Read More
We have been on many ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise and it was truly a remarkable way to travel. We previously visited Europe on land tours which involved lots of packing and unpacking and getting on the bus and off the bus. The river cruise takes all the hassle out of traveling from one locale to another. Uniworld has certainly perfected the art of river cruising by choosing unique and entertaining destinations, first class service and a beautiful vessel. We sailed on the River Countess and were amazed that the shower was much larger than on ocean cruise ships. No need to do the hokey-pokey to take a shower! The tile and marble were beautiful and the towels big and fluffy. The entire ship was well-maintained and always clean. The entire staff was outstanding and made each guest feel special. Our cruise manager, Hildegard, had an amazing store of knowledge about every port and all the castles and towns, locks and vineyards we sailed past. Her enthusiasm, experience and love of cruising were contagious and enhanced our experience onboard. The food was of excellent quality, beautifully and artistically presented, and represented a wide variety of ethnic cuisines which we especially enjoy. The wine included in the price of the cruise was quite good and plentiful. The itinerary included a great mix of major cities and small towns that were unknown to us before this trip. What wonderful surprises they held! Without exception, the local tour guides we met were very knowledgeable and personable. Our only criticism of the cruise concerns the lack of consistent internet access. We had inquired before departure and were told that internet access could be purchased for 20 Euros for the entire trip, whether using the ship's computers or our own. We therefore decided not to bring along our international cell phone as we would keep in touch with family via email. We were told that there might be reception difficulties when traversing locks, but were not aware that there would be 66 locks on our voyage from Amsterdam to Vienna! As soon as we boarded, the staff informed us the internet reception was not good and they would not charge us for access. Many guests were frustrated trying to get online, and we finally resorted to seeking out internet cafes after our tours in order to keep in touch with family as promised. This was not an insurmountable problem, but was annoying until we got near the end of the journey when internet reception was much better. As we sailed past many similar ships, we marvelled that there exists this wonderful segment of travel that we were totally unaware of until very recently, and we're so glad we discovered river cruising! I would not hesitate to recommend this type of travel to anyone interested in a unique travel experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
River Countess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 5.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness & Recreation 3.0 N/A
Family 1.0 3.9
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 5.0 4.8
Value for Money 5.0 N/A

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click