4 Uniworld River Countess Cruise Reviews for River Cruises to Italy

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
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
River Countess Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.6
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 5.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.9
Family 1.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.0 4.5
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 5.0 4.5
Rates 5.0 4.3

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