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1 Uniworld Paris Cruise Reviews

It has taken me more than 12 months to compose this review, mainly due to my bitter disappointment with Uniworld.My husband and I  did the Grand France river cruise and before that had been big fans of Uniworld. We had previously done the ... Read More
It has taken me more than 12 months to compose this review, mainly due to my bitter disappointment with Uniworld.My husband and I  did the Grand France river cruise and before that had been big fans of Uniworld. We had previously done the Christmas markets from Vienna to Nuremberg on the SS Maria Theresa, but after our Grand France tour would not recommend Uniworld and we are planning an Amsterdam to Budapest with another cruise line.Admittedly the Maria Theresa is a hard act to follow, but the first half of the Grand France cruise from Avignon to Lyon on the SS Catherine was wonderful and all that we expected. Service was great,food was delicious and staff were attentive and responsive.However that all changed when we boarded the SS Joie de Vivre from Paris to Normandy.I will deal with the boat first and how the layout and omissions have affected the quality of the experience.. We had a French Balcony cabin on the Balzac deck. No complaints with that,the usual high quality linens and cabin we had come to expect from Uniworld. The bathroom layout was a little cramped and not as comfortable as the Catherine and Maria Theresa but I acknowledge that is trivial and hardly worth mentioning! Uniworld promotes this boat as a luxury ship and that description beggars belief! Uniworld have tinkered with the design of the ships in an effort to squeeze more dollars from cruisers and that was quite obvious on the ship.On both the SS Maria Theresa and the SS Catherine the Bar du Leopard was located at the rear of the ship with a 24 horu tea and coffee station and swimming pool. For the Joie de Vivre Uniworld has dumped the Bar du Leopard and instead has Club L'Esprit and Claude's and a swimming pool instead,as well as an ambitiously named 24 hour coffee station (cupboard would have been a more accurate description) The layout suffered from an alternate drinking and lounging place like the Bar du Leopard. Both the Maria Theresa and Catherine and a coffee "shop" or room where one could partake of a hot drink and cookie. This was absent in the layout of the Joie de Vivre where the La Cave des Vins replaced the coffee shop. The cover charge for eating in that venue was 90 Euros and a cynical interpretion is that Uniworld were hoping to gouge an extra fee from their cruisers.I will deal with the tea and coffee stations.The deck plans of the Joie de Vivre show a 24 hour tea and coffee station on the Victor Hugo deck in Salon Toulouse (the main salon). I could not find the 24 hour tea and coffee station. In the rare event that a waiter did serve us when we sat in the salon we  were brought a coffee or tea with a tiny cookie resting on the saucer.Otherwise we would approach the bar and ask for tea and coffee only to be told that the waiter would serve us,so we scurried back to our seats for the waiter to appear. Our other alternative was to hit the self serve tea and coffee station/cupboard at the rear of the ship next to Club L'Esprit. A complaint I have is that there were no cookies at the self serve cupboard. There were  cookies on both the Maria Theresa and Catherine tea and coffee "shops." This sounds trivial but when  you awaken at five am and want a coffee and one plain cookie  it would be nice to have access to them, and quite frankly for the  money uniworld charges passengers it is not too much to askfor a cookie to be provided. I completed the mid cruise review and suggested cookies could be placed in the 24 tea and coffee station and the crew responded by placing a  jar of homemade cookies in our cabin. I know this will come across as fussy  but the response missed the point. I wanted everyone to have access to the cookies (delicious by the way) by having them available at the 24 hour tea and coffee station. Cheap penny pinching by Uniworld. I will deal with Le Bistrot. We were looking forward to eating at Le Bistrot as it is promoted by Uniworld as an alternate eating venue and we had read a rather complimentary review in our city's newspaper of Le Bistrot. Also we had met some cruisers who raved about Le Bistrot and told us they had eaten in there almost every night. Sadly Le Bistrot was closed for the Paris- Normandy cruise and only opened on one night for a special dining night. When I tried to register for this I was told my name would be placed on the waiting list...so I asked if there were  many people on the waiting list could they not open Le Bistrot for a second night. This was not possible. I can only assume it was cost cutting on Uniworld's part that led to the closure of Le Bistrot for the entire journey. Service The service in the main dining room Le Pigalle was appalling and not up to the standard I expected from Uniworld. It was a struggle to get the waiters' attention, much less a tea or coffee at breakfast and forget about the a la carte menu at that meal.At lunch and dinner, my water glass was not refilled and I had to leave the table to approach waiters to ask for this to be done( which I don't mind) only to have the request forgotten. I am not a big drinker but would drink more than one wine with dinner and it was a struggle to have my wineglass refilled. I don't think that was pennypinching but merely staff who did not act as team or care about serving people.Penny pinching  One incident that highlights the lack of staff and thus cost cutting was one afternoon my husband and I were seated in salon Toulouse optimistically hoping for a coffee. A fellow passenger approached the bar and asked the attendant if she could have five champagne flutes and a bottle of champagne as she and her friends were seated at Club L'Esprit and would like some champagne and there was no one serving at ClubL'Esprit. A not unreasonable request at 4.40 pm and furthermore, one that was delivered with courtesy and charm. The bar attendant apologised and told her she could not give her the bottle and glasses (okay there are rules and we all abide by them) and asked if the woman could wait until 5 pm as the Bar attendant would be at Club L'Esprit then. My beef is not the rules but that there was not another person on duty. I cannot exaggerate how disappointing the lack of wait staff and how poor the customer service was on the Joie de Vivre. Overall I was bitterly disappointed with this ship. We had had a wonderful experience on both the Maria Theresa and Catherine and had been loyal to Uniworld in our discussions with family and friends.In discussions with fellow Aussies on the cruise it became apparent they felt the same.  Before you dismiss me as a petulant diva, remember that Uniworld markets itself as five star and the cruise cost  us approximately $700 Australian dollars per person per night. I expected more for that amount of money and truly believe that Uniworld's penny pinching and cost cutting impacted on our experience. For Aussies, a good friend travelled on APT Amsterdam- Budapest and that is what we will try. In the time since we have cruised on the Joie de Vivre I have read reviews on this forum and have been incredulous and envious of other people's experience with this cruise ship. My complaints may seem trivial but did impact on our enjoyment of the cruise.On a side note I have seen Scenic's Avignon to Lyon cruise that features a dinner in the papal palace in Avignon. I would love to have done that but Uniworld did not offer that option.My recommendation is avoid Uniworld. I certainly will. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
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