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Sail Date: August 2011
We just arrived home, happy that we went again on this cruise...the 2nd time in 4 years. This is a beautiful scenic cruise. Lots of history, shopping, great included excursions. Our cruise manager Ramona was knowledgeable and helpful at ... Read More
We just arrived home, happy that we went again on this cruise...the 2nd time in 4 years. This is a beautiful scenic cruise. Lots of history, shopping, great included excursions. Our cruise manager Ramona was knowledgeable and helpful at all times. The crew were very helpful and polite. We are fairly well travelled when it comes to cruising and noticed that the atmosphere on the River Queen amongst the crew was very pleasant. This has to be attributed to the Captain, Hotel and Cruise Manager, and of course the Dining Room Manager. The meals were always excellent, thanks to our chef. Our cabin was wonderful. The River Queen has recently been renovated and very well done...we were on the original 4 years ago. We chose a suite this time around and were very happy that we did. The upgrade charge (saved with early booking) was worth every penny. The extra space is very nice, when you need some time alone. River ships are small compared to big ships, so a little space is good. There is a very good onboard pianist, but when they bring on the local talent that is fun! A nice addition since the refurbishing, are the great coffee table books and magazines in the lounge for you to enjoy. We were also impressed with our transfer to the airport. This time around we had a `transfer agent` that went with us on the bus, he made sure we had a luggage cart upon arrival and knew the check-in counter number for our flight. Right to the last minute Uniworld made sure we were looked after Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
This was our first river cruise out of 10 cruises. We love small cruise ships and wanted to see how this compares to ocean cruising. We made our own travel arrangements.The River Antoinette is beautifully decorated and has many amenities ... Read More
This was our first river cruise out of 10 cruises. We love small cruise ships and wanted to see how this compares to ocean cruising. We made our own travel arrangements.The River Antoinette is beautifully decorated and has many amenities for a small ship. The Dining Room and Lounge are bright and comfortable. Because of the weather we didn't spend a lot of time on the upper deck and never visited the Leopard Bar. We enjoyed the pool and fitness room. The staff was excellent and committed to customer service. I especially commend the cruise manager, the waiters and the room stewards. They made a nice cruise a great cruise. Low water levels on the Rhine created some problems, but they found alternatives to ensure it didn't impact our experience. We had a category 4 stateroom. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of storage available and the bathroom, while compact, was well laid out. The bed was very comfortable. BUT the stateroom was cramped. If we were both in the room, I had to climb over the bed to reach things. There were 2 chairs under the window leaving only a few inches of clearance to the bed - more of a nuisance than a sitting area. We couldn't fully open the bathroom door because of the bed. Breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent, with good variety and quality. However I feel the dinners could be improved. First, the food always arrived warm, never hot. We sat at different tables served by different waiters so it cannot be attributed to the wait staff. The quality and presentation of the food was good but I have another issue. Dinner selection was limited to 2 items per course, but on 3 nights the menu was set and we could only choose the main course. The 2 main course selections were usually fish and red meat, both of which are problems for me so I frequently ordered the alternative - broiled chicken. When I asked for a Caesar salad minus the anchovies the waiter told me "no alterations to menu items" (this was the first time I've heard "no" on a cruise). Other waiters were more accommodating and helpful. The 6th night a waiter showed me a special vegetarian menu. I wish I had known about it earlier.Shore activities were very good. The guides hired by Uniworld were excellent. Two of the activities (Marksburg Castle and the winery) used guides supplied by the facility and they were okay but not up to the quality of the other guides. The assisted listening devices worked very well and definitely made the tours more meaningful. For several ports, shuttle buses were supplied from the ship to the center of town giving us greater options to indulge individual interests after the organized tours. The ship entertainers were fine. We had already seen most of the movies shown in the theater (which included "The Sound of Music") so we didn't use that amenity. WIFI was routinely slow - and stopped whenever we entered a lock. They loaned laptop computers to passengers who didn't bring their own and one was always available. Disembarkation was very smooth. Even though it's a small ship, it still takes a lot of organization to get everyone off in a timely manner. We appreciated the arrangements made by the staff and their estimates of time allowances, taxi rates, etc. were accurate. In summary, we really enjoyed this cruise. We'll do a few things differently next time - upgrade the room and ask about alternative menus - but that next time will definitely be with Uniworld. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Pre-Cruise: Munich: With Munich only a one hour train ride away from Nuremberg, it was the obvious choice for our pre-cruise City. Christmas Market: Munich has several markets that blend together in the Marienplatz. We also found a ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: Munich: With Munich only a one hour train ride away from Nuremberg, it was the obvious choice for our pre-cruise City. Christmas Market: Munich has several markets that blend together in the Marienplatz. We also found a nice one near our Hotel at Weissenburgerplatz. The Munich Christmas Markets seemed to have the right mix of glitz, crafts, and coziness. It's sad to say, since it wasn't on the itinerary, but we probably liked Munich's Christmas market better than those on the Cruise. There is also a small Christmas Market at the Munich Airport. A lot of passenger's we later met on the Cruise also did a pre-cruise in Munich. We took the train from Munich to the Nuremberg Train Station, hopped on the U-Bahn to the Airport, and picked up the Uniworld bus for the transfer. Odd that Uniworld train station transfers were available for disembarking, but not for transfers to the Boat. The Boat Public Areas: Small but cozy. The River Duchess was decorated for Christmas and holiday cookies were available in each public room. The central atrium has the main desk, Cruise Manager desk, and sliding glass doors on either side for those wishing to take a picture or engage their smoking habit. The Cruise desk had maps of the each city available the night before. The exercise room had two treadmills and two elliptical machines. The internet was slow to non-existent on the two computers in the Library so both the internet and wi-fi was free for the entire cruise. There were some shows in the Lounge provided by local talent. The sun deck had wind protection, but due to the cold was rarely visited until the Rhine Valley. The passengers were almost all Americans with a few from England, Australia, and the Republic of Texas. Room: About average for a Cruise ship with a larger than normal shower. The bathroom was elegant with soap, body wash, conditioner, shampoo, plus complimentary vanity kit, Emory boards, shower caps, show polish kit, and sewing kit. Many fellow passenger mentioned that regardless of room location both the room floors and bathrooms were cold. Room noise was noticeable whenever going through the 41 locks on this voyage. Plenty of hangars in the closets. Food: A little above average. Breakfast (7:00am-9:00am) was the same every morning. A hot bar with scrambled eggs, bacon (plus crispy bacon), pancakes, sausage; cold cereal, yogurt, and fruit; breads; a custom Omelet/egg station, plus a "specialty" item-of-the-day. Lunch (1:00pm-2:30pm) was better than average, although there were less options then larger Cruise ships. Same set-up as at breakfast, with two hot courses; bread and salad areas, and carving/specialty station. Dinner (7:00pm-9:00pm) was open seating. 4-5 courses. Beer (Beck's) and wine (both red and white) was free at dinner and quickly refilled. Except for the two Captain's dinners, there were always three choices of a main dish: one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. There was always steak, chicken or salmon if none of the main courses suited you. Since this was the only option for dinner, it became my least favorite part of the cruise. If you are tired from a long day in port, you are not always eager to sit down for a two hour formal dinner. A "light dinner" option such as was available for breakfast and lunch would have been nice. The open seating reminded me of High School with everyone scrambling for seats and table pairings until friends were made and favorite waiters were discovered. Desserts and the Pastries provided during tea time were among the best I have had on a cruise in both variety and quality. Staff: The staff was equal to any 5-star resort. This was a welcome change from the diminishing service standards found lately on most large Cruise ships. The Ship's Crew was primarily Dutch, with the Hotel/Wait staff mostly from Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Mirella, the Cruise manager, was a joy and seemed to be everywhere including on the tours. Check-in: Quick and painless. Probably faster than many Hotels I've stayed at. Upon leaving the bus, ship's crewman were available to take our bags to the ship, (which was 12 feet away). Walking up the short gangplank takes you straight to the check-in desk. Two minutes later, one of the cabin attendants (all lined up smartly on the steps) took our bags to the room. A personal note: I always arrive at least a day early and take the opportunity for a pre-cruise tour. On the first day of this Cruise, all flights from Frankfurt were canceled due to snow, and 35 passengers straggled to the ship over the next two days, most without their bags. As of day 5, at least two parties still hadn't received their bags. Scheduling your arrival on the day of departure and risk missing your ship or ruining your vacation is not an itinerary I would ever recommend. Nuremberg: Docking location: About a 20 minute drive from town at the Nuremberg Port. Bus tour and pickup: Bus pickup was next to the boat. The day started with a 90 minute bus tour at 9:00am, with a 10 minute stop at the Nazi Rally grounds and a 30 minute stop at Nuremberg Castle (Kaiserburg), ending at the Christmas Market. With few exceptions the tour buses ALWAYS left on time, as did the boat. This was not a cruise for those that amble out a few minutes late expecting the buses or boat to wait. Christmas Market: The main market is in front of the Cathedral on the Main Square. However, there were stands spread out along several connecting streets. The buses picked us up two blocks from the "Beautiful Fountain" and the "Nuremberg Ring". For those interested in returning to the ship for lunch, buses picked up at 12:30 with hourly returns to the market area. The Nuremberg Christmas Market is famous for the Lebkuchen (gingerbread). There was "Nuremberg Gingerbread" available at several of the subsequent markets, but by the time we left Bavaria it was getting hard to find. Prices here were cheaper than average so if something catches your eye, don't expect a significantly better price at other markets. There was no x-ray or security when returning to the boat. The only requirement upon returning was to drop off your boarding card. Bamberg: (half day) Docking location: In a light industrial area, with a 5 minute walk to the bus pickup. Bus tour and pickup: 9:00am bus pickup and about 15 minutes to town. We met our guides in town and followed them through a 90 minute walking tour of Bamberg, the Town Hall, and the Kaiserdom. Since this was a half day, with the bus leaving at 12:30, I could have passed on the tour, which left us less than two hours to explore the Christmas Market and town. Christmas Market: The Christmas Market was smaller but nice, with a mix of crafts and typical commercial items. There was a higher percentage of craft items here and for a better price than I found elsewhere. The Schlenkerla Brewery, famous for its smoked beer, was a nice stop for those looking for a real German beer Hall. They literally rolled out the wooden beer barrels into the beer hall when it was time to change the keg. Rothenburg: Docking location: Docked in Wurzburg with a nice view of the Marienberg Citadel. There was a Multiplex theater next to the ship for anyone that felt the need to go for a Movie after dinner. Bus Tour and Pickup: 9:00am departure. Short walk to the bus pickup and about a 45 minute drive partly on the A-7 Autobahn to Rothenburg. The bus parked outside the city walls, where we met our guides for a 45 minute tour of the City. Pickup was 4:30pm with an hour drive back. Christmas Market: Rothenburg is a walled City with good shopping and a small Christmas Market. The Meter-long Hot Dogs were a favorite of many here, as well as the all-year-long Christmas shops like Käthe Wohlfahrt. Wurzburg: (Half Day) Docking location: Same as Rothenburg. Bus Tour and Pickup: 9:00 departure. The buses dropped us off downtown right in front of the Wurzburg Residenz and we met our guides for a 45 minute tour of the Palace followed by a guided walk to the Main Square and Christmas Market. The Residenz was worthwhile, but once again, it gave us less than two hours to explore the town and Markets. Christmas Market: A nice but not spectacular Market with about average prices. Wertheim: (Half Day) Docking location: Right in town along the River. Bus Tour and Pickup: None. Some Passengers left the Boat early since we were docked overnight and everything was right across the street. Christmas Market: None. It wouldn't open until Dec 12th. This was a Sunday, so very few shops were open. The Fortress could be walked to from town and gave a great opportunity for pictures from the walls. This was a nice town and it's unfortunate it was a Sunday. The older part of town was easily walkable from the boat. Luckily the bakeries and bars were open before our 1:00pm departure! Frankfurt/Heidelberg: Docking location: Next to the Lower Main bridge Bus Tour and Pickup: We opted for the Heidelberg tour for 43 Euros pp. The buses picked up at the Boat and left promptly at 8:30am for the 60 minute drive to Heidelberg. The guide narrated a quick tour of Frankfurt as the bus made its way to the Autobahn. In Heidelberg we began with a 45 minute tour of the Castle and then the bus dropped us off downtown near the Tourist Office. The bus back left at 4:30pm and arrived at the ship at 5:30pm. Christmas Market (Heidelberg) There were some small markets in some of the squares, but nothing memorable. The market at Karlsplatz had an ice skating rink with a few stalls and a view of the Castle. The pedestrian shopping street had more to offer for shoppers. The town itself was the main attraction. Christmas Market (Frankfurt): The Christmas Market at Römerplatz was 15 minute walk from the ship. If the previous Christmas Markets resembled a County Fair, Frankfurt's' resembled Las Vegas with lights, rides, and what seemed like a 50/50 mix of food stalls to craft vendors. It was also packed shoulder-to-shoulder with locals (Frankfurters?) We never regretted skipping dinner on the boat and eating here. There were street performers, Carousels, and plenty to see and do. Prices in the stalls were slightly higher typical of a large city, but there were no special items here that we hadn't seen elsewhere. Rudesheim: (Half Day) Docking location: In town about a 5 minute walk from the Christmas Market and Shops. Bus Tour and Pickup: No bus. We took the "mini-train" to the Musical Museum for an hour tour of antique self-playing musical machines. Christmas Market: Rudesheim is a tourist town and the shops near the boat were a good place for cheaper souvenirs. There was nothing spectacular about the Christmas market which wound around downtown with additional stalls along the edge of town near the river. Some of the stalls substituted Rudesheim coffee for Gluhwein. After leaving at 1:00pm we cruised along the Rhine River Valley. The Castles appeared quickly on both the left and right as soon as we shoved off. These would be worth seeing again during the summer. Unfortunately it was dark after we passed Lorelei Rock and we missed several of the remaining Castles, Koblenz, and the former location of the Remagan bridge. Cologne: Docking location: On the other side of the river from the Chocolate Museum, although the provided City map listed alternate docking locations nearer town. Bus Tour and Pickup: Buses picked up at three different locations while we were here, but all were no more than 10 minutes from the boat. Bus transfer was about 15 minutes, with a drop off next to the Tourism office, which is two blocks from the Cologne Cathedral. This was followed by an uninspired 60 minute tour of the outside of the Cathedral and the surrounding area. Christmas Market: There are three Markets within easy walking distance. After the quaint markets we had seen up until then, the Cologne markets were more polished. The stalls were more permanent, and the items for sale were more commercially available type goodies you could pick up in the local stores. The market at Rudolphplatz had a Fairy Tale-inspired theme more reminiscent of Disney World. The Medieval Market was in front of the Lindt Chocolate Factory, and was 3 euros for entry to about 20 stalls. There were some renaissance acts every hour or two. We decided to pass. There was also a Christmas Market Train that drove between all five Markets for 5 Euros Disembarking: Bags were left outside our room at least 30 minutes prior to the bus pickup time. Ship's crew picked up the bags and took them to the bus where each Passenger was asked to identify their bags prior to loading. On our transfer, the crew underestimated the number of bags and we took a 30 minute delay while bags were loaded. Overall: The commitment to Customer Service was impressive and I would absolutely do another Uniworld cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2010
My husband and I, with a great deal of luck and a little bit of juggling, managed to make it to Basel on December 21st to begin our Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise, which because of the timing did not include any German Markets. It ... Read More
My husband and I, with a great deal of luck and a little bit of juggling, managed to make it to Basel on December 21st to begin our Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise, which because of the timing did not include any German Markets. It wasn't a huge loss because we did shop at the Basel, Lucerne, and Strasbourg Christmas Markets and hit the "Mother of all Markets" on the Champs-Elysees when we arrived in Paris, for our Part II Vacation. What follows is our reflections on the river cruise part of our holiday and is an attempt to provide an honest and balanced account of our experience aboard the River Queen. THE GOOD The River Queen is a well appointed boat with very nice spaces, including a comfortable lounge with a cozy fireplace. Compared to cruise ships, it is very compact which means the distance from your cabin to the dining room can be all of 70 feet. The cabins are attractive and the floor to ceiling windows in ours were great for viewing the lovely scenery rolling by. The bed was really comfortable, the towels plush and the bathrobe generously cut. The food, for the most part, was good and on a few occasions very good. Lunches were more appealing than the dinners, which tended to be very drawn out affairs, reflective perhaps of a wait staff which was stretched too thinly. I would recommend the soups and the vegetarian entrees, including the stuffed crepe, the onion tart and the rosti. I especially appreciated the fact that the menus reflected the cuisine of the region. Tour guides for the included excursions were enthusiastic in sharing their knowledge of the various cities and the rich history behind each. You could partake of these guided tours or go off on your own. They did not seem to offer different tours for those passengers with mobility concerns. All of the included tours seemed to move at a fairly brisk pace. The extra cost excursions reflected good value for the price charged. They were really enjoyable, especially the trip to Lucerne and the tour of Marksburg Castle. We participated in all of the extra tours and we were glad we did. Onboard entertainment was surprisingly good. We were told not to expect much on a small boat but the performers, who we had the pleasure to experience, were marvellous. They ranged from a lovely woman who lectured about German Christmas traditions, an Edith Piaf type singer accompanied by an accordion player, a trio consisting of two violins and a guitar who performed folk music and classical music and finally, this wonderful woman who, accompanied by her husband on the keyboard, sang everything from country music to polkas to opera to swing - just fantastic. THE BAD The storage in the cabins left a lot to be desired. There was no long section in the wardrobe to hang dresses or suits and the shelves were awkwardly placed. I would strongly suggest that future passengers buy a few over the door hangers. It would alleviate some of the problems we encountered. When we called to confirm the docking location of the boat on the day of our departure, we were advised that the location had changed and we were given a different address by the Uniworld agent. We arrived at this spot along the river with a cab driver who was quite eager to unload us and our luggage on a deserted road with no boat in sight. We can laugh about it now. We gave him the original address in our cruise documents and the ship was there. Sixty francs later we were schlepping our luggage down a winding ramp and up to a boat that looked empty of passengers and crew. Not a soul was in sight, in the lobby or behind the reception counter. We pressed a button which opened the door to the ship, lugged our bags in and called out, "Hellllll-oooo-oooo!" A crew member did appear within a few seconds of our call and we marvelled at the difference between security onboard cruise ships and river boats. Anyone could have boarded the boat and stowed away in a number of places. It was all very strange and somewhat unsettling. One of the things that I found most disappointing on my River Queen cruise was the inconsistent service I encountered. Some of the crew were outstanding and seemed to really enjoy their jobs. Gabor, the bartender was a delight, always smiling and pleasant, greeting passengers by name and remembering their favourite drinks. Any request, and my requests are always politely made, would be met cheerfully. Sabina, our cabin attendant, was always cordial when we met and kept the cabin spotlessly clean. There was only one female member of the wait staff in the dining room and I can't recall her name, but she reflected this same level of professionalism and efficiency and was so good at her job. Unfortunately, this was not the case with all of the wait staff who managed to straddle that thin line between aloof and downright surly. One night, I decided to try an alternate dining option which included fish or chicken. When I asked the waiter how the chicken was prepared he looked at me with great impatience and said, "I don't know." Isn't that the job of a waiter, to know? Wouldn't the correct response be to say, " If you give me a moment I'll go and check with the chef to see how it is prepared." When you would ask questions, this league of waiters, and there were about half a dozen of them, would either nod or shake their heads as though uttering an answer would be a terrible waste of their energy. I was puzzled as to how the dining room manager could not see this and correct it. THE UGLY When we have cruised on ships in the past, we have had few occasions to deal with officers or management and on the odd occasion when we have had a concern it has been dealt with quickly and competently. I am very sorry to say that this was not the case on the River Queen. The first incident had to do with the hotel mangager. On the second day we had no hot water from our shower. We reported it and the officer at reception said she would look into it. The next day it was fine and we asked another passenger if they had the problem with hot water and the person said that he, too, was without hot water on the second day. A few days later, I was without hot water again. This time the hotel manager told me I didn't know how to operate the nozzle. I explained that this was not the case and I felt it might be a hot water shortage in certain cabins at peak hours. I left frustrated and when it happened the next day again, my husband insisted that the hotel manager come to room and see for himself. He arrived with the boat's engineer and they insisted it was still a problem with the faucet in the shower. When my husband turned on the faucet in the sink where there was no hot water either, they simply gave him this blank stare and shrugged. I fully expected a bottle of wine with a letter apologizing for the inconvenience, to be waiting for us in our cabin when returned from sight-seeing that day, but there was nothing. There was no follow-up to any of the three complaints of no hot water at any time, during the cruise. They never apologized for the inconvenience. The second incident had to do with the cruise director. During one excursion my voxbox, a device that transmits the voice of the tour guide to your earphones, was not working. Again, the cruise director, after trying an alternate set of earphones, just shrugged and told me to stay close to the guide so that I could hear. When I suggested that he should test the voxboxes before the bus leaves the area of the boat so that he could get replacements if they malfunctioned, he was pretty nonresponsive. Again, no apology. On another excursion, when he lost part of the group, I urged him to follow from the back and send someone ahead with the directions, he pretty much ignored me and my advice. He set a pace and never looked back to see if the passengers were with him. He just seemed unaware or indifferent. His job was to introduce the talent in the evenings and he did so. However, I don't ever remember him coming up to the front of the lounge after the performance was over to thank them and lead a round of applause. This was an individual who really lacked polish and style, as well as some basic organizational skills. THE VERDICT I enjoyed many aspects of this river cruise. I liked the itinerary and the intimacy of a ship of this small size. The passengers were friendly and there was a casual feel to the whole experience. You could dress up for dinner if you wanted to or you could wear a nice pair of pants and a sweater and you'd be good to go. However, the inconsistent service and the issues involving the cruise director and hotel manager left a bad taste in my mouth. My husband is not opposed to going on another Uniworld cruise and thinks that perhaps any of the negatives we encountered could very well be unique to the particular ship and the crew. I, on the other hand, think that there are so many other lines out there, why not try them. After this cruise, I would be hard pressed to recommend Uniworld to friends or family. River cruises I would recommend to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Christmas Markets. Uniworld Basel to Cologne. Uniworld's River Queen has recently been refurbished in an over-the-top Royal motif that is intentionally gaudy attaining a certain flamboyant charm. Fastidiously clean, common areas ... Read More
Christmas Markets. Uniworld Basel to Cologne. Uniworld's River Queen has recently been refurbished in an over-the-top Royal motif that is intentionally gaudy attaining a certain flamboyant charm. Fastidiously clean, common areas and rooms were bright and mirror-lined for a feeling of space. The food was tasty, simple, plentiful and, thankfully, not "fake fine dining". Internet (via WiFi and the onboard computers) was priced at 15E for the trip. The connection, however, was mostly slow and frustrating - even more so than big ships. Staff were friendly, helpful and really seemed to care about service. The Tour Manager, Wauter, was efficient and prompt with little time for guests who wanted to delay others. He got things done without fuss. On Christmas Eve, he was a willing and enthusiastic Santa. during the trip, he seemed to be everywhere at once. Great job! Entertainment was local, unpretentious, lively and diverse. But if you expect Vegas Acts, River Ships are not for you. Mario, the hotel Manager, ran a tight operation with a strong team and excellent service. Restaurant was similar with an attentive and helpful team led by Stanislaw. Onboard laundry, while slow, was an unexpected and prized bonus for light travelers. All in all, a delightful Christmas Cruise with an interesting itinerary of larger cities. Not for those who want to see quaint villages. Good value. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
Pre-Cruise: We arraigned our own pre-cruise in Munich as we have stayed there many times, but never for the Christmas Markets. It was a wonderful market spreading out many directions from the Marienplatz. The variety of goods was very nice ... Read More
Pre-Cruise: We arraigned our own pre-cruise in Munich as we have stayed there many times, but never for the Christmas Markets. It was a wonderful market spreading out many directions from the Marienplatz. The variety of goods was very nice and there was an abundance of places to eat or drink the Gluhwein. (try it with rum added) On the morning of the cruise, we took the train from Munich to Nuremburg. Once in Nuremburg , we took a taxi to the boat (about a 15-20 minute drive (20 Euros) from town) and boarded at about 11:AM. Check-in: Quick and painless. As we exited the taxi at the ship, crewmen were right there to take our bags to the ship. Walking up the short gangplank takes you straight to the check-in desk. A minute later, one of the cabin attendants (all lined up smartly on the steps) took our bags to our room. The Boat Public Areas: Small but cozy. The River Duchess was decorated for Christmas and holiday cookies were available in each public room. The central lobby has the main desk, Cruise Managers desk, and sliding glass doors on either side for those wishing to take a picture. Smoking is allowed outside on one side (away from the ventilation intake). There is a large lounge in the front of the ship and the dinning room was at the aft end. The little exercise room downstairs had two treadmills and two elliptical machines. There was a massage room about the size of a closet, but it was big enough for an excellent massage. There was also a small gift shop that had some nice Christmas items at a reasonable price.(some we never saw in any of the markets) The internet connection was rather slow so the two computers in the library and the wi-fi was free for the entire cruise. There was some entertainment in the lounge provided by local talent. There was an excellent piano player every day (husband of a crew member) in the lounge. Stateroom: The room was about average for a river cruise boat with a small, but well appointed tiled bathroom. There was plenty of storage and closet space. The bed was very comfortable - the best of and ships we have been on. The room was quiet except when passengers would be talking loudly while walking down the hall towards the dinning area. (We never set our alarm in the morning) Food: Overall food was very-good to excellent. The "Pasta alla Carbonara" was the best I have ever eaten anywhere. Breakfast included a hot bar with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, pancakes, sausage; cold cereal, yogurt, fruit and breads. There was also an Omelet/egg station where they made excellent omelets. Lunch was usually our favorite. It was a similar set-up to breakfast, with two hot courses; bread, an excellent salad bar, and a carving/specialty station. Dinner was open seating and include beer and wine (both red and white). Service the first night was slow, but improved to excellent. Except for the two Captain's dinners, (fixed menu) there were always three choices of a main dish: one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. There were always "alternate" choices of steak, chicken or salmon if none of the main courses suited you. Dinner was fairly formal (but you never had to dress up!) and as such could take a long time. My wife and I often skipped desert as we were getting tired of sitting. Service: This was our fourth Uniworld cruise and it has been the excellent staff that keeps us coming back. This cruise was no exception. The ship's crew was primarily Dutch, with the Hotel/Wait staff mostly from Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Mirella, the Cruise manager, was a joy and was very visible on the ship and the tours. Nuremberg: We skipped the bus tour since we had done it 3 times before. The front desk called a taxi for us and it picked us up right at the gang plank. The Nuremburg Christmas Market is the largest and most popular in Europe. As such, it can also be the most crowded. We were lucky in that we were visiting on a weekday and it was the least crowded we have ever seen. Prices in Nuremburg are usually pretty good and the selection is wonderful, so if you see it and want it, buy it. Bamberg: (half day) The Christmas Market was small with a mix of crafts and typical commercial items. There were more craft items available than in most markets. Rothenburg: Rothenburg is a wonderful little walled city that seems to be Christmas Central. It is the headquarters of Käthe Wohlfahrt, who is like the Martha Stewart of Christmas. There are a number of excellent shops in this little picturesque town. Unfortunately it is not on the river and requires a 45 minute bus ride to and from the ship. We ate lunch at an excellent restaurant (that used to be included with the cruise). Wurzburg: (Half Day) The buses dropped us off downtown right in front of the Wurzburg Residenz and we had an excellent 45 minute tour of the Palace followed by a guided walk to the Main Square and Christmas Market. We split from the tour before it was over so that we could spend more time in the Christmas Market. It was a nice Christmas Market, but nothing outstanding. Wertheim: (Half Day) Since it was Sunday, the stores were not normally open. Our Cruise Manager arraigned for two stores (both owned by the glass blower who had done a demonstration on the ship). We did find a few wonderful items in these stores. I also found a fabulous bakery in town. Frankfurt: We love the Frankfurt Christmas Market and so we did not take the optional Heidelberg tour. We took a short bus and walking tour, prior to leaving the group and exploring on our own. The Frankfurt Christmas Market has grown a lot over the last 5 years. The boat docked next to the Lower Main Bridge and it was about a half mile walk to the Christmas Market. This is a very busy Christmas market and is fun to see in both the day and night. My wife found some great buys on linen and lace as well as some miniatures. I found some outstanding huge chocolate covered pretzels. Our favorite little restaurant had been torn down as part of a new development so we just ate at the outside stalls. Rudesheim: (Half Day) We rode the "mini-train" to the Musical Museum for an hour tour of antique self-playing musical machines. Rudesheim is a tourist town and the shops near the boat were a good place for cheaper souvenirs. There was nothing spectacular about the Christmas market which wound around downtown with additional stalls along the edge of town near the river. After leaving Rudesheim we cruised along the Rhine River Valley. This is Castle central and we quickly saw them on both sides of the river. At first the weather was clear (but very cold) and there were great opportunities for pictures. The weather turned quickly and it started snowing so we had a hard time seeing 100 yards. Cologne: There was a large convention in town and many river boats were rented out as hotels and so they were docked closest to town. This required us to take a 15 minute bus ride to get to the Christmas Markets. There are three Markets within easy walking distance from where we were dropped off. The Cologne markets appeared more polished with more permanent stalls than in the smaller town. We noted that these stalls sold more items that were not made in Germany. Disembarking: Bags were left outside our room at least 30 minutes prior to our taxi pick-up time. (we did not use the ship transfer as we were taking a train back to Frankfurt). The bags were held in the lobby until we were ready to leave. We then identified our luggage and it was loaded into the taxi by a crew member. Overall: The Uniworld ships are very nice. Their commitment to Customer Service continues to be impressive and we will take another Uniworld cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2010
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: April 2010
A friend and I went on our first river cruise in April 2010. We took Uniworld's "Tulips and Windmills" cruise of Belgium and Holland on the River Dutchess. We did not know what to expect and were totally pleased with our ... Read More
A friend and I went on our first river cruise in April 2010. We took Uniworld's "Tulips and Windmills" cruise of Belgium and Holland on the River Dutchess. We did not know what to expect and were totally pleased with our choice. The only thing wrong was that the weather was a bit colder than usual and prevented us from enjoying the upper deck. Also the tulips were not at their peak, although still lovely. The cabin was not large but adequate with very comfortable beds. The meals were fantastic. Huge buffets for breakfast and lunch with a set menu for dinner with 2 choices of appetizer, soup and dessert and 3 choices of main dish--one meat, one fish and one vegetarian. If none of these suited, you could have steak, chicken or salmon. Meals were at a set time and open seating with tables for 6. Wine was included. At 4 in the afternoon one could have "tea" in the lounge with your choice of type of tea and several little canapes. There was also an area with 24 hour self-service of all types of coffee, tea, iced tea, and ice water. There was entertainment every evening, nothing elaborate but fun. The staff were nearly all Eastern European, spoke excellent English, and were friendly and helpful. The shore excursion were all very interesting with the Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam being the highlight. I have mobility problems and was concerned that I would have difficulty with the shore excursions but found them not too difficult and twice our Cruise Manager established a "gentle walking" group. There were actually 8 of us with canes and 2 with walkers. Some excursions were "optional excursions" which required an additional charge, others were included. The places we visited were established along the rivers and so the centers of town were not too far. If you did not want to participate in the organized activity it was easy to go into the town on your own. The Cruise Manager had maps at every port and was happy to give you instructions. Our Cruise Director was Tony and he was absolutely wonderful. There was nothing we did not like about this river cruise and we intend to do another with Uniworld next year. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
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: May 2009
My wife and I took the European Jewels cruise May 9th 2009 aboard the River Empress. I will say that the entire experience, from the time we boarded the ship in Budapest and were checked in, to the day we disembarked in Amsterdam, was far ... Read More
My wife and I took the European Jewels cruise May 9th 2009 aboard the River Empress. I will say that the entire experience, from the time we boarded the ship in Budapest and were checked in, to the day we disembarked in Amsterdam, was far beyond our expectations. The food was remarkable and the wait staff was exceptional. I have eaten in five star restaurants that didn't do as good a job as the restaurant staff on the River Empress. Almost without exception, the shore excursions and local guides were easy to navigate and understand. The ports selected were a wonderful cross section of the area and represented big cities to small villages and everything in between. The Cruise Director became the "Go To" person for questions large and small and handled each one with humor and grace that had my wife and me shaking our heads in wonderment. Bravo to Bart. At the end of a long day of sightseeing ancient towns and villages, eating great food and drinking wonderful wines and beers, if was a pleasure to retreat to our cabin and climb into the best "Hotel Bedding" we have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I would recommend this cruise and Uniworld to anyone who would like to experience Europe in comfort and style. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
The River Duchess is a nice ship,though I found the room to be a bit small.  We were at the water level with a long small window.  The bathroom is the smallest I have ever seen.  The shower was comfortable for me, but I cannot imagine ... Read More
The River Duchess is a nice ship,though I found the room to be a bit small.  We were at the water level with a long small window.  The bathroom is the smallest I have ever seen.  The shower was comfortable for me, but I cannot imagine how a large person would fit!The ship staff was very pleasant, a mix of European and Indonesian men and women.  I never had a problem with any of the staff.  A person who is not patient may have a problem with communication, but in todays world there are many languages to contend with.The food was good to very bad.  I had what was described as a quiche Lorraine one evening.  It was a quiche with more vegetable than I have ever seen in this type of food.  I could see before I bit into it that it had been overcooked, but thought I might find a palatable portion in the inside, but unfortunately it was dry all the way through.  I could not understand how this could have made it out of the kitchen.I found the wine, red or white and different vintners, included at night with the meal, to be pleasant.  My travel companion was much more critical.  Wine is a very personal thing so cannot comment for others.The breakfast buffet was the best meal of the day.  Lunch was a buffet and alright.We heard from other passengers that there were a number of people sick from stomach problems.  We heard numbers from 5 to 50.  Considering that the cruise had about 90 people that is a large number.  We could not confirm the exact count, depending on the word of two couples.The big plus of a river cruise is that people subject to motion sickness will be very comfortable.  I never had a problem with it on this trip. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
From beginning to end, Uniworld was top quality all the way. I arrived early on the first day and was greeted with a lunch buffet, that was not on the itinerary, but was a pleasant surprise. My travelling companion had not arrived but I ... Read More
From beginning to end, Uniworld was top quality all the way. I arrived early on the first day and was greeted with a lunch buffet, that was not on the itinerary, but was a pleasant surprise. My travelling companion had not arrived but I felt comfortable with the other guests and staff while I waited. Ship: The ship was small and intimate. It was very clean and well kept. People: Everyone felt like old friends, it was a good environment for people travelling alone or in a small group. There were seasoned and new travellers. Staff: A terrific staff, very knowledgeable, helpful and accommodating. You didn't need to ask for anything, they could almost read your mind! The tour manager, Marcus on this one, was very organized and knowledgeable. The staff worked well as a team and you could tell they got along well. I was on this cruise over Christmas, they made so many efforts to make sure we had a great Christmas, even though they were the ones away from their families. Food: Phenomenal. Breakfast and Lunch were buffets which were always fresh with a wide variety of western and European foods. Dinner was a 5-7 course meal every night. I am a fussy eater and I tried and loved foods I had never dreamed of! Wine was included with every meal as well. Bar: The prices were reasonable, the staff was attentive but not pushy, the selection was vast. Entertainment: There was a regular performer who was played a variety of instruments, the only thing I wasn't crazy about was the songs were the usual wedding type songs, but then I realized after a few nights off the ship that this was the case in other bars too, must be a Europe thing! There were a few entertainers brought in that were interesting and very talented. I enjoyed the nights that we were able to go out to places off the ship too. The staff on the ship were able to direct us to great places! Destinations: I think it goes without saying but they were terrific. Tour guides: There were a variety of guides used, some were great, some were ok, but I definitely recommend going on the tours to get your historical background and to get a bit on inside information on the cities you visit. Overall, a wonderful experience that I would recommend to a first time traveller and a seasoned traveller. This is a fabulous way to travel, unpack once but you get to visit a variety of countries. Uniworld is a top rate company who hires dedicated staff. I can't wait until my next trip! Read Less
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