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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
This was my first "river" cruise (in quotes because we did not actually sail on a river, but instead around the Venice lagoon) and probably also the most "luxury" cruise I've taken. Next would probably have been ... Read More
This was my first "river" cruise (in quotes because we did not actually sail on a river, but instead around the Venice lagoon) and probably also the most "luxury" cruise I've taken. Next would probably have been my transatlantic cruise on Azamara a few years ago. I've done lots of ocean cruising, mostly on Celebrity but have also done Norwegian (next most frequent), Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America in addition to Azamara. This was by far the smallest ship I've been on. The cruise was a one-week Venice-based itinerary. It coincided with the highest "aqua alta" Venice has experienced in 10 years, which threw some curves at the cruise staff as they tried to adjust our itinerary around the high water. Luckily we had several days during the week where it didn't rain...much! I mostly sail solo, and this trip there were a large number of solos on board (so far as I know, all women) due to a no-single-supplement deal Uniworld offered. I thought Uniworld worked very well for solo travel. They did offer a singles meet-and-greet one day midweek, but I didn't attend so can't report on that. Because of the small number of passengers and the open seating at meals it was easy to meet others and find a congenial table for each meal. I felt like the price I paid was an excellent deal for the cruise, though my budget and skinflint tendencies mean I will need to really keep an eye out for bargains if I want to do another cruise like this! I purchased my air travel independently but because I was arriving/departing the day the cruise started and ended, during the hours Uniworld specified, my transfers from Venice airport were included. That turned out to be a very good thing on arrival day--many folks who were arriving at the ship independently had all sorts of problems. Apparently the ship was not where Uniworld said it would be (due to the high water) and passengers were not notified of the change. Plus, when folks called the number for the ship that we were given for situations like this, nobody answered the phone for several hours. Passengers told about taking expensive water taxis while they motored around Venice searching for the ship, being dropped off in the wrong place, having to walk through hip-deep water balancing suitcases on their heads, etc. Luckily these tales were told by the younger passengers--I can't imagine how some of the older folks on board would have coped with that! I will definitely plan to use the cruise line transfers again for any future Uniworld cruises--although I hate arriving the day of the cruise due to possible travel glitches, it seems like the advantages of having Uniworld handle the transfers outweighs that concern. For me, though, the trip was smooth through a rainy, windy Mestre and Venice, past the poor soaked Venice Marathon runners, to the riverboat. It amazed me how small it looked--but I found that it had everything I needed for a great cruise and I loved the small ship! Short walk to anywhere, the cabin was very well-designed, there was a dining room and a lounge and an outside deck (I was on that exactly once due to the rainy weather we had that week.) There was entertainment in the lounge each evening--sometimes just the onboard keyboardist/vocalist (who was just fine for a low-key evening of drinks and conversation) and sometimes special entertainers like a trio who sang opera accompanied by their keyboardist. The entertainment was much briefer and less flashy and less varied than on an ocean cruise, but I thought it fit well with the tour-focused and very small River Countess cruise. My cabin was 323, one short flight of steps down from the main lobby and at the far end of the hall. The shower was wonderful, the service was wonderful, I was not bothered by any noise or odd smells, the TV had lots of options and many excellent movies available (though I only used it to watch CNN.) The decor was interesting (onboard as a whole, not just the cabin) and though I wouldn't decorate that way at home I really enjoyed experiencing it for a week. I thought the food was just great. I can't remember a meal or, for that matter, a dish I had that I did not enjoy. I'm still detoxing myself from all the eating and drinking I did on vacation and trying to get back to a healthy diet! Many of the menu options focused on Venetian/Italian dishes, and included a lot of local seafood though they always had several non-seafood choices. The menus for dinner varied each day but there were some "always available" options--I didn't try those but heard from others that the salmon was good but the steak not so much. The breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent--at lunch they had many new options daily, but at breakfast it was mainly the same items each day. They were all excellent,though, so I thought it worked quite well giving one a chance to try everything on one day or another. They had a complimentary red and white wine at lunch and dinner, which they varied every day. I tried both wines every night and then drank the one I liked better. There were only a couple of them I did not care for, though I think that was more my preferences and not that the wines were poor quality, but I am far from a wine expert. They also varied the coffee and the menu had info on the coffee was being served each day, in addition to describing the wines. All alcoholic beverages were included unless you wanted to purchase the higher-end wine offerings, which I did not do. I'm not a huge drinker but I did enjoy wine with dinner, a coffee-and-Bailey's every night, and an occasional draft beer (Italian of course!) prosecco or bellini. And lots of San Pellegrino! I also had lots of excellent coffee, lattes and cappuccinos. All were served quickly, graciously, and with a smile. The croissants each morning except on disembarkation day were just fabulous--I was so disappointed the last morning when the croissants on offer at 6 AM In the lounge had obviously been baked the previous day--the single discordant note where food was concerned! I tried the latte/coffee/tea etc. machine in the coffee bar the first day to make a latte, and I did not like it at all! But there was never a problem getting one made by the staff, so it was not an issue. I noticed they had lots of syrups on hand in the lounge if one wanted a flavored latte--did not look closely to see which types though. Because of the high water, our Monday walking tour of Venice and visit to the Doge's Palace was cut short to just a shorter walking tour of the higher-ground areas of Venice. It was picturesque and interesting, and visiting the edge of St. Mark's Square to see the hordes of tourists wearing their see-through pastel plastic hip boots, the board walks being set up and the water start to cover the pavement was memorable. Normally there would have been a night-time visit to St. Mark's Basilica on Monday evening, but part of the basilica (and all of St. Mark's square outside) flooded so Uniworld scrambled to have it rescheduled for later in the week--absolutely the best part of the week tour-wise and I am SO thankful they were able to make it happen! We spent part of a day in Padua and part of a day with a choice of Ferrarra or Bologna (I chose Ferrarra because I had no wish to experience the pasta making demo). They were interesting, but I know if I had not visited Venice before I would have been disappointed that the high water and the days in other cities limited my opportunity to see Venice itself. Normally the ship would sail about 20 miles up the Po River, but due to the high water we did not do so--can't say that bothered me since I'd read it was not very scenic and its only advantage was to make the bus trips to these other cities a bit shorter. We spent another day visiting "the islands of the Venice lagoon"...and that was fantastic. We saw an ancient cathedral from almost 1000 years ago and other interesting stuff. I LOVE old buildings so this was probably my favorite tour after the St. Mark's Basilica visit. Another day we went to Chioggia, yet another island in the Venice lagoon where we visited a fish market and got to see the flood gates closing on their canals to protect the town from another round of aqua alta. We also had a couple of afternoons of "scenic sailing" around the lagoon with a guide to point out what we were seeing and give some of the history of the area. I missed the second of those (and the glass-blowing demo on Saturday afternoon) because I had fallen into a habit of taking an afternoon nap. Not sure why I slept so much, except that the whole week was so relaxing--there was no late-night entertainment keeping me up late. Maybe I was just catching up from the sleep deficit I usually run during my working life. Maybe it was just the big meals, but every afternoon my eyes got very heavy and most days I slept for a couple of hours. The bed was VERY comfortable! On Saturday we finally were back in Venice and the water was down to allow touring of the whole city, but that had to be done on one's own. The included tours were a choice of two, and I chose the tour of the Accademia with Susan, the art historian and guide who had taken us through the Basilica and the ancient cathedral (and who was also the guide of my group for the abbreviated Venice walking tour on Monday, because I recognized her name from reviews I'd read of the cruise and made sure I was in her group!) I know a couple of passengers who were art historians themselves found her to be a little over-dramatic, but honestly I think for the general public like me she was perfect and covered things at just the right level to keep us all fascinated. In the afternoon there was a glass-blowing demo and shopping for Murano glass, but I didn't attend that. I think a lot of passengers chose to use that time to walk around Venice on their own--I just slept! The best part was at the end of the cruise, I had no bill to pay. Everything had been included. All in all, especially considering the luxury level of food/beverage/amenities offered, I think it was an excellent value. I had a great time and I think the staff did the best job possible coping with the weather conditions.  Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Had been on a number of Uniworld River Cruises and really enjoyed them but this was definitely not a cruise. The boat only moved about 4 times, and twice everyone had to be off the boat. Most of the time the boat was docked and sitting in ... Read More
Had been on a number of Uniworld River Cruises and really enjoyed them but this was definitely not a cruise. The boat only moved about 4 times, and twice everyone had to be off the boat. Most of the time the boat was docked and sitting in the swells provided by other traffic so the boat rocked around a lot which is not what happens on actual river cruises. Some of the shore trips were OK but most were not. They started early and there was no plan B for the extreme heat or if it rained. Two of the shore trips were on buses for at hour to hour and a half and we were shown a market and a church and then given "free time" for between 1.5 to 2.5 hours in 40 degree heat and no help in finding shelter. On one occasion people were told if it was too hot to walk the 20 minutes back to the bus they would get them a taxi which would cost them. It is quite usual for these cruises to have bus trips but our experience has been that the guides stay with the group unless people choose to "do their own thing" and that lunch has in the past been included. In this case it was "come back to this point after lunch" with no idea where was a good place to eat and if there were any air-conditioned cafes. I am sure some people want to shop all the time but most of us did not so the long free time was annoying. In the advertising nobody tell you that you will have to get off the boat twice while they move the boat. This occurs when the boat moves from the Venice Lagoon to the Po River and you then rejoin the boat at an isolated dock and proceed up the river for a couple of hours and dock at another isolated dock in an area full of mosquitos. The area you cruise is basically swamp with nothing much to see but river is apparently navigable for 100 miles up to a town called Polesella. It could have been that the river was too low for us to go too far but nothing was said at the time. I believe we only went to the end of the Po so they could call it a river cruise. The rest of the time the cruise involved moving from one wharf to another which took half an hour, sitting at the dock, a nice cruise up the lagoon for a couple of hours and then back to the wharf and then the short cruise up the Po. The rest of the time the ship did not move and we were transported by water taxis and a hired launch. Three of the tours were worthwhile. The two trips to St Marco, particularly the evening tour of the basilica and the optional tour of the Galleria and the launch trip to the island of Burano although the latter involved 2.5 hours in 40 degree heat and find your own lunch and no instructions of which cafes were good. We would definitely not go again and would advise people that if they wanted to see Venice they would be better off taking a tour which was based at a hotel and taking water taxis and the like to get around the lagoon. Give the mosquito infested Po a miss. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I am just back from a fantastic holiday in Italy, and loved my experience with Uniworld and the River Countess. We started with the pre-cruise add-on in Milan, which was a great start to our vacation. The hotel was well located and ... Read More
I am just back from a fantastic holiday in Italy, and loved my experience with Uniworld and the River Countess. We started with the pre-cruise add-on in Milan, which was a great start to our vacation. The hotel was well located and comfortable, and the walking tour gave a nice introduction to the city. The transfer to Venice was excellent, with Verona being a hidden gem that ended up being our highlight of the trip - it is a beautiful town I would love to return to. Arriving in Venice, embarkation was smooth. The River Countess is a good looking ship for its type, and it has all the advertised features. It doesn't have the range of on-board options we've experienced in sea-based cruises, but I wasn't expecting it to. Food was uniformly good, with some meals being excellent - I am fussy with food and was very pleased with what we received. The best part of the River Countess experience was the staff - they were all consistently friendly and helpful. It truly seemed that nothing was ever too much trouble, and the small size of the ship (just over 100 guests the week we cruised) meant they started to get to know us and our preferences as the cruise progressed. I was particularly impressed by the mid-cruise request for feedback, as my feedback was acknowledged and implemented by the next day. The excursions were good, although some of the guides shared more information than I personally needed. This is a hard balance, as others seemed to love the stories about the art and churches etc. Having individual ear-pieces was great as it allowed me to wander away briefly and look at things of interest to me while others stayed with the guide. My only reservation about the experience was the 'river cruise" component. Cruising on the Po was unexciting, as there was little to see on either side of the river much of the time. Spending two days on the river felt forced, and the excursions were based on where we were rather than any particular tourist merit (not that all weren't charming in their own ways). For myself, I'd have been just as happy spending that time in Venice. Lastly, a note on my fellow cruisers. The week I cruised it was a family cruise, so there were a mix of ages. I liked that. I got the impression that other weeks the age profile for the average cruiser will be heavily 60 (if not 70)+. Passengers came from USA, Canada, UK, and a range of other countries. All were friendly. The small size of the ship meant you saw most people around the ship or on the included tours, and dining was communal (there were only two tables for two), so it was hard to stay anonymous. That will suit some people but not others. Overall, I gave this cruise 4 stars. It didn't get five because of my reservations about the river aspect, and because River Countess is a small ship with limited facilities. Other than those, it was a 5 star experience and something I would happily do again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I chose the cruise because it was a decent price and I had never visited Venice before. I wasn't overly excited for the cruise before leaving, as I love cruising on the rivers and this was not on a river. From the moment we ... Read More
I chose the cruise because it was a decent price and I had never visited Venice before. I wasn't overly excited for the cruise before leaving, as I love cruising on the rivers and this was not on a river. From the moment we boarded though, we were totally pampered. The ship was beautifully decorated and even though we were on the bottom level, we never felt like we were less than the passengers in the suites. The drinks were free flowing and the bartender was always willing to try a new concoction. Our chef Bogdon was brilliant and made every meal special and delicious. When I saw him buying the fresh octopus at the local fish market, I thought to myself "Not eating that". Well I did eat it and it was so delicious, I had seconds. Our waiter Dan made every meal a fun experience. Always had a great smile and a little joke for us. It's little things like that that make a cruise special. The excursions that Uniworld arranged were great. We had wonderful and knowledgeable guides giving us so much information on the history of everywhere that we went. One thing that I was disappointed in was Uniworld's decision to discontinue the "Easy walking tours". I have a very bad knee and had some rib bruising and could no way keep up with the group. We also had people well into their 80's (87 yrs.) that had health issues and had a hard time keeping up. Take note Uniworld, most of your passengers are 60+ and some have health/physical problems. They should beable to be comfortable taking the tours and not have to struggle to keep up. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Venice and a canal boat experience was on our bucket list therefore choosing Italy gem tour fitted these two points. Having a trip with all inclusive costs was appealing especially when considering budget. All of the staff on board were ... Read More
Venice and a canal boat experience was on our bucket list therefore choosing Italy gem tour fitted these two points. Having a trip with all inclusive costs was appealing especially when considering budget. All of the staff on board were amazing, exuded professional service and interactions at all times. They were happy to meet our needs and some went over and above to provide a specific and thoughtful service. There were interesting and a variety of excursion options offered. The guides provided by Uniworld were professional, knowledgable and aware of their group. It was appreciated that there was always a person at the end of the group ensuring no one was lost or left behind. However this was not always the case with the local guides. Dining on board was a pleasant experience, good food and drink, great service and helpful and friendly staff. We met people from different walks of life and enjoyed their company. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We are so glad we did this cruise. This is a wonderful way to see Venice. The tours we took during this cruise were outstanding. We started the cruise with a land tour in Milan where Uniworld put us up in a nice hotel right downtown ... Read More
We are so glad we did this cruise. This is a wonderful way to see Venice. The tours we took during this cruise were outstanding. We started the cruise with a land tour in Milan where Uniworld put us up in a nice hotel right downtown in the middle of the action. They took us to see the "Last Supper", the Duomo, and a castle/fort. After 2 days in Milan we were loaded onto buses and transported to Venice and the River Countess with a walking tour and lunch at a winery on the way. The River Countess was very clean and in good shape for its age. Have to admit that our french balcony room was a lot smaller than what we expected but we made the most of it. The staff overall was friendly and service was good. Food overall was also good, with their soups some of the best I have ever eaten. Tours from the boat were good and we appreciated the grouping by physical ability for the tours. The only thing we did not particularly like was have to be off the boat for such a long time while cruised to and from the Po River. Other than that, Uniworld is very well organized with excellent tour guides. Because of this tour/cruise, we are now looking at Uniworld as another option in a Budapest to Amsterdam river cruise. Highly recommend this as a way to see Venice and surrounding areas. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
My husband and I just returned from Italy with Uniworld on the "River Countess", 15 day tour called the "Splendors of Italy". The hotel in Milan, Florence, and Rome were very,very nice and the location in Milan and ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from Italy with Uniworld on the "River Countess", 15 day tour called the "Splendors of Italy". The hotel in Milan, Florence, and Rome were very,very nice and the location in Milan and Florence were fantastic. The ship was also very nice; the cabin size is average for a river cruise but very comfortable, (we loved having a candy dish full of chocolates in our room); the food was good, but not great; the entertainment was what I expected from a river cruise - a pianist/singer who was good; the service was exceptional and the staff was very friendly and accomodating; the ports were wonderful, the shore excursions were great, and the local guides were fantastic. Our cruise director, Agnes, was wonderful. Our biggest complaint was that the trip wasn't a few days longer, especially in Venice and Rome. In Venice it would have been nice to have an extra free day and in Rome, you really need at least two more days to see it all. Plus, since the hotel in Rome was not in the heart of the city, we would have liked to be given the opportunity to stay in town for the day or an afternoon and then to be picked up by the bus to retun to our hotel instead of finding transportation on our own. But we loved this trip and would recomend it to everyone. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
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
18 Helpful Votes
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Was billed as a 7 day river cruise, but we really did not much cruising. 5 of the 7 nights we were docked at the cruise port in Venice. From the ship there several shore excursions offered in Venice, all of which were excellent, with ... Read More
Was billed as a 7 day river cruise, but we really did not much cruising. 5 of the 7 nights we were docked at the cruise port in Venice. From the ship there several shore excursions offered in Venice, all of which were excellent, with excellent guides. The ship itself was elegant and always very clean. Our cabin was in a good location, just a few steps from the dining room. The bed was probably the most comfortable one we have ever slept in away from home. The food in the dining was OK, but dinners were very disappointing. Breakfast and lunch were satisfactory, although the lunch selections could have had an egg salad or tuna salad offering. Most entrees were overcooked. Simple things like chocolate and oatmeal raisin cookies would have been nice at lunch.The crew was friendly and accommodating, in particular the hotel manager and the cruise director. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was our third Uniworld cruise so we had two others to compare. As with the others, we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. That is not to say there weren't a few negatives which I will get to later. My comments are intended to be ... Read More
This was our third Uniworld cruise so we had two others to compare. As with the others, we thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. That is not to say there weren't a few negatives which I will get to later. My comments are intended to be constructive and I would not want to let them dissuade you from taking this cruise. First though, I need to acknowledge the exemplary crew. They were always at the ready to happily do whatever was requested. They are very personable and go out of their way to make sure you aren't lacking for anything. Even up to the Captain who joined us for a drink and a bike ride (on separate occasions). Nobody knew each other before the cruise but we soon formed a group of ten. Being part of such a group goes a long way to making the cruise that much more fun and enjoyable. I would encourage anyone to quickly make some friendships rather than go it alone as a couple. Food was always very good. Presentation and service was excellent unless, of course, you opted for the buffet (breakfast and lunch) then you know who to blame. There is a fixed menu for the Captain's Welcome and Farewell dinners. We can't agree with the few criticisms regarding lack of choice as the meals were top notch. Maybe those with a food restriction of some sort could possibly find it less than ideal. Even though the Po River had dried out and we were 'confined' to the Venetian Lagoon, we did not feel we missed out on too much. Only one day was impacted when we had a longer bus ride to Bologna than what would have otherwise been the case. Being all inclusive is the way to go. You are not forever signing charge slips, paying for tours and/or handing out tips as on an ocean cruise. The decision becomes which tour shall we go on rather than how much is it going to cost us. "Front of the line" and/or exclusive openings is terrific - no mobs and long lines to have to tolerate. The local tour guides were impressively knowledgeable, maybe to a fault. Sometimes we felt a little overwhelmed by long history lessons - but there is so more than what we have in North America. It may well be a case of what is too much for some is too little for others - damned if you do and damned if you don't. The guides' English vocabulary was really good and I was often surprised at some of the words I wouldn't have expected from someone using a foreign language. But they all seemed to have been trained at the same school where they learned our words properly should have an extra vowel tacked on the end. Something like "Nowa, let'sa walka this waya" or "Crossa over the bridgea". I'm not being critical as it got to be somewhat humorous at times. I guess it's a part of the Italian DNA. Admittedly, we didn't get the book out and compare square footage. But the cabin gave us a sense that it was smaller than, for instance, the same cabin on the River Princess. Maybe, the positioning of the bathroom door was a factor. Someone could easily lose a knee cap if s/he was sitting on the edge of the bed and the other person unknowingly came out of the bathroom too quickly. Having said that, the cabins are very well appointed and clean. The fairies who come into your cabin when you aren't there to make your bed, etc., do an excellent job. The big negative? The horrible internet service (and I use the term 'service' loosely). More often than not there was intermittent service or none at all - even if the ship had been tied up all day. Then, if and when you could get access, it was very slow - reminiscent of the old dial-up days. More than once I encountered a service drop in the middle of my trying to do something. A relatively minor point: I'm not sure if it was the particular driver at fault or the schedule. The long drive from Milan to Venice was very slow. It was very unusual for us pass another vehicle - they all passed us. The other bus with us had long disappeared out of sight. If it was a scheduling matter, I don't think it is necessary to leave Milan quite so early. We opted to not do the Rome extension. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose a River Cruise as it was recommended to us by our Travel Agent. In addition to the river cruise, part of our vacation was a Land Tour before and after the cruise. Staying on the River Countess was the best part of the trip ... Read More
We chose a River Cruise as it was recommended to us by our Travel Agent. In addition to the river cruise, part of our vacation was a Land Tour before and after the cruise. Staying on the River Countess was the best part of the trip although we were unable to sail on the Po River due to low water levels. We actually only sailed the Venice Lagoon twice. The service by the staff was excellent namely Andreea, Crisitan and Tibor. On one of the sailing days, one of our tour guides, Tamara, described the lagoon and islands as we sailed. She also provided us with an educational wine tasting afterwards in the lounge. We were able to select and participate in many excursions based on our interest level. One of my favorite days was visiting Torcello, Burano and the Venissa Winery! The four hour round trip to Bologna was difficult for the short amount of time spent there. I did enjoy the pasta making workshop and appreciated the opportunity to participate in the making of the tortelloni. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly~the crew is well organized and professional. I would definitely book another River Cruise in the future! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My husband and I booked the Splendors of Italy cruise which has pre and post-cruise extensions in Milan, Florence, and Rome. We made the choice based on the exceptional/very good reviews of others and the itinerary. We are experienced ... Read More
My husband and I booked the Splendors of Italy cruise which has pre and post-cruise extensions in Milan, Florence, and Rome. We made the choice based on the exceptional/very good reviews of others and the itinerary. We are experienced with ocean cruises, but this was our first river cruise. We are not wealthy, but we splurged for a suite (#411 which was 1 of only 4). Overall, while the experience was very good as far as cuisine and drinks, it fell short on basic expectations. Would I recommend? If the itinerary and excursions are your #1 priority, there are better and far less expensive options to consider. For others for whom cuisine and liquor are priorities and who are impressed by a beautiful boat, and do not care where they are cruising, I would say "go for it." What do I mean by basic expectations not being met? The cabin had no working telephone for all 7 nights of the cruise. Suites include the services of a butler, but it is hard to utilize that benefit when there is no way to communicate. I can understand a technical problem for a day or two, but an entire week? More importantly, the issue was met with shrugs as if "it is what it is." No apologies. The sign up process for shore excursions was a one-time "dump" of details and first-come, first-served. There were typically 2 options per day; however, there was often a capacity of 25-30 people per excursion. There were about 110 people aboard. The math speaks for itself. If Plan A and Plan B were booked, you were on your own. I understand when a minimum number of people do not sign up that an excursion would be cancelled; this is about having too small capacity. Tip: Be prepared to elbow your way to the front of the line. Overall, a poor process. Excursions also can differ in reality from the on-line description and final documents. Details come late which is a big problem if planning private excursions during what you believe to be "free time." Many of the popular museums such as the Uffizi in Florence and Borghese in Rome require reservations at least weeks in advance. I even confirmed details with the Uniworld office before leaving home so I booked several private excursions with confidence only to be surprised with major changes that made our plans impossible. What they list as a 1/2-day tour is often only a 1.5 hr. walking tour with pointing at major sites. Many of the older, less mobile passengers were caught offguard when dropped at the center of town by bus or water taxi and not returned to the ship or hotel, requiring a walk of up to 3/4 mile. Not a problem for us, but hard for some in heat. Because the tour guide in Rome was not licensed in that city, she could only walk with the group and could not raise a flag or communicate by voice box, making it hard to hear and follow her in a crowd. Giving credit to the excellent food, I feel it important to point out that variety and choice are limited, especially at the Welcome and Farewell dinners when there is a set menu and no alternatives are printed on the menu. If asked, they will reluctantly provide alternatives, although they acted clearly unhappy about making accommodation even though a food allergy was documented at booking. In summary, Uniworld is excellent at some things, but not some of the things that are important to us. It was an expensive learning experience. Ratings do not always paint the entire picture. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2017
I have been on many, many cruises before, but this surpassed them all. We went to Milan as a pre-cruise program. We were met at the airport by a Mercedes which took us to the Hotel Rosa, situated a stone's throw from the Duomo, ... Read More
I have been on many, many cruises before, but this surpassed them all. We went to Milan as a pre-cruise program. We were met at the airport by a Mercedes which took us to the Hotel Rosa, situated a stone's throw from the Duomo, perfect location. A Uniworld desk was located in the lobby with announcements, suggestions for lunch and dinner and the activities of the day. We had an orientation walk to show just what an ideal location our hotel was. A recommendation for dinner was superb: family-owned, fresh food, excellent, friendly staff. We were on a walking tour the next day which included an early visit to the Last Supper. I am a slow walker and use a cane. Never was I left alone; there was always a Uniworld staff member in front and behind the group. In the afternoon, we visited La Scala at our own expense, and then we were treated to bellinis afterwards in a local cafe--splendid. Again, another excellent recommendation for dinner. On Sunday, we were on the move to Verona for a walking tour. Next, we visited a winery owned by Dante's family which paired our delicious lunch with various wines. It was here where I purchased excellent olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We arrived to the Countess in Venice. Orientation by Damiano who provided an overall discussion of what to expect on these next 7 days. Everything you see on the Uniworld promotional material is seen on the Countess: beautiful lobby, fresh flowers all over, good-size bar, friendly staff. My only complaint was how small the room, especially the bathroom. Meals were gourmet, wine and spirits flowed. Our waitstaff were friendly and very knowledgeable about all the items on the menu. They were very eager to please. On the evening when we went to St. Mark's, we returned to the ship and were treated to a magnificent buffet--lots of good, filling choices. Our tours were excellent, all conducted by experts in their field: Susan, an art historian, a woman who knew all about wine, and a woman who specialized in the outer islands from Venice. I had never been to Padua and Bologna so this was eye-opening for me. Chioggia is a gem: mussel harvesting up close and personal, followed by an outstanding lunch of these succulent, sweet mussels. On board, we had a tiramisu making workshop, an Italian singer and two opera singers. I can't wait to travel again on Uniworld; they are the BEST. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We did a 2 night pre-cruise stay in Milan with included excursion to see the last supper, the excursion was excellent one of the best I have ever done and I have done quite a few, the guide was very entertaining. The hotel Rosa Grand was ... Read More
We did a 2 night pre-cruise stay in Milan with included excursion to see the last supper, the excursion was excellent one of the best I have ever done and I have done quite a few, the guide was very entertaining. The hotel Rosa Grand was in a fab location right in the centre of the city within sight of the beautiful Cathedral. I recommend a visit to Flash Restaurant around the corner from the hotel, where they do fantastic pizzas and pasta. The hotel was adequate if a bit large and impersonal but served a purpose. The ship was nice and so were the cabins just a little small. After reading all the previous reviews I think I was expecting a lot more with regards to the service, unfortunately for us the ship was full and so the service fell short, there was a couple of grumpy staff and not many of them had the 'nothing is too much trouble attitude' probably because they were overworked, but considering the cost of this cruise this should not happen. The temperature in the bar was at times freezing, we complained to the bar staff and didn't notice a difference we complained to the cruise manager who said I know I keep telling him to turn it down but you try and see if you have more luck than me, one evening we fetched blankets from the pizza restaurant to put over our knees in the bar. With regards to the dress code I found a lot of people very casual even on the gala dinner night, some men in jackets but not all and with regards to jeans someone on a previous review said "you will stand out if you wear jeans on an evening" this was not the case, some people were in tracksuit bottoms on an evening. The ship does a small amount of cruising on the river Po but not much, it mainly sits in different areas of the venice Lagoon. Also there are 2 occasions where the ship has to sail on the ocean to move location and on these occasions everyone must disembark for the day due to maritime law, so if you were tired or feeling ill no choice but to choose one of the included excursions. Food - the food was good but very little selection, one meat dish, one fish dish, one veggie option and one healthy eating option, so if like my husband you don't like fish you had no choice, breakfasts were good with a nice choice and nice quality. Drinks - Although they claim to offer fine wines you are only ever offered 1 red and 1 white, unless you ask for the wine list where there are other option free of charge, no one tells you about this though we were alerted to it by another passenger, also they only have 1 rose and this is not on the wine list, when you ask for rose they always have to go and look for it. During the cruise they ran out of peach for the bellinis and they ran out of baileys. Excursions were good but the transfer to Bologna was too long, nearly 2 hours each way So the above reasons are why I don't think its worth the high price tag. Think I may have been spoilt as have stayed in some very nice hotels where the customer service has far exceeded the service on the Countess. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
This was our second Uniworld Cruise and we would definitely travel with them again. The staff were friendly & professional, the service was exceptional as was the food and the boat itself. The itinerary was well thought out & ... Read More
This was our second Uniworld Cruise and we would definitely travel with them again. The staff were friendly & professional, the service was exceptional as was the food and the boat itself. The itinerary was well thought out & executed and covered all highlights relevant to the areas visited. The cabins were well appointed as were the public areas of the boat. All excursions were well organised and the guides were excellent. We managed to gain access to St Mark's Basilica without the crowds which was highlight of the trip. The staff could not have been helpful or professional and we enjoyed our entire time on the cruise. There is no doubt that we would choose Uniworld if we were to indulge in another river cruise in the future as we have tried other providers and Uniworld definitely comes out on top. We would recommend Uniworld to anyone thinking about a river cruise in Europe. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
The Uniworld cruise in the lagoon of Venice turned upside down any preconceptions we had of the region. The number of islands, the extent of the waterway and it's environment was a revelation. The cruise itinerary was excellent ... Read More
The Uniworld cruise in the lagoon of Venice turned upside down any preconceptions we had of the region. The number of islands, the extent of the waterway and it's environment was a revelation. The cruise itinerary was excellent allowing us time to visit the historical sites around the Grand Canal (including some out of hours special tours) and to explore several of the islands and wetland areas that provide much of the history, culture, food and colour of Venice. The River Countess proved an excellent " home away from Home" with comfortable cabins, an excellent dining room, bar and lounge. Meals were excellent and there was a good choice of wines with each meal. The staff ensured all passengers needs were met and we had a Tour Manager well versed in the history and contemporary features of the region. As we have found with Uniworld cruises of the past they ensured that our local guides were well informed. Some of our on shore visits started reasonably early in the morning and occasionally out of hours when all other tourists had had left for the day. This was a bonus because even though our visit was out of peak season the crowds at the key sites were large. A visit to Venice is highly recommended and the best way surely is to stay on board a comfortable river cruiser. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
My wife and I chose this cruise because we had been to Venice in the past and we wanted to spend more time there and because we traveled on a Uniworld boat once before and found Uniworld to be so much better than their competition. ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise because we had been to Venice in the past and we wanted to spend more time there and because we traveled on a Uniworld boat once before and found Uniworld to be so much better than their competition. Just as our past experience, the staff was simply excellent. As a passenger, you never want for anything and never feel neglected. Everyone on the staff bends over backward to try to make your experience as good as it can be. The boat was beautiful and immaculate, just as before. The decor and the ambiance on the boat is incredible. I've never been any other boat that looks so good and is so well maintained. The excursions on the trip were very nice but didn't leave us much free time on this trip. My wife and I actually skipped one of the activities to spend some time just exploring Venice on our own. Uniworld seems to get very good, knowledgeable guides that make the excursions more enjoyable. Dining on a Uniworld boat is also a wonderful experience. No special times or seating requirements and every meal feels like you're in a 5 star restaurant. I really like their "all in" pricing. Everyone enjoys the experience without worrying about getting stuck with the bar tab. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Trip of a lifetime. Uniworld does everything first class. I can't wait to book my next river cruise with them! The cabin was elegantly furnished, the food was local and gourmet. The shore excursions were led by the most ... Read More
Trip of a lifetime. Uniworld does everything first class. I can't wait to book my next river cruise with them! The cabin was elegantly furnished, the food was local and gourmet. The shore excursions were led by the most knowledgeable local tour guides available. From the moment you step onboard, the company's signature style of fabulous elegance is presented in full force. A large chandelier and leopard-skin circular sofa dominate the lobby, and natural light, fresh flowers and two parallel staircases combine to give passengers a warm welcome. River Countess might be elegant in style, but the dress code is resort casual. It caters to a predominantly English-speaking, retired clientele. After 10 years of service, River Countess underwent a total transformation in 2012, with more than $5 million worth of refurbishments. Immediately prior to its Italian debut, the ship received a few extra touches, including a pizza oven and a new tapestry behind the reception area. One of the most impressive spaces is the Sienna Salon Sky Lounge, a glass-walled conservatory-like cafe decked out with plants and outdoor furniture. On a blue-sky day, the cozy room lights up with sunshine. The main restaurant is also a sight to behold, with white leather booths, white tablecloths and white-tuxedoed waiters. Seven-night sailings are offered between April and November, with four nights spent in Venice, using the ship as a base. Other shore excursions -- to the historic and cultural delights of Verona, Bologna, Padua and Ravenna -- require coach trips of one to two hours. For these reasons, the itinerary may suit couples who can't decide whether to see Italy by road or river, as there is less sailing time than on the average cruise. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
The Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy river cruise is as close to perfect as you can get. The journey began when we were picked up at the airport by Uniworld and whisked off to the ship for a delicious lunch while waiting a very short ... Read More
The Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy river cruise is as close to perfect as you can get. The journey began when we were picked up at the airport by Uniworld and whisked off to the ship for a delicious lunch while waiting a very short while for our rooms to be ready. Throughout the week, the staff was courteous and helpful going above and beyond our expectations. The rooms, though small, were beautifully decorated and very comfortable. There was always a full jar of candies welcoming us back from our shore excursions. The shore excursions were varied and interesting. The guides were great, especially Susan whose knowledge and delivery were outstanding. Venice is beautiful and we were able to experience her treasures while docked at her doorstep. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were culinary delights. We eagerly awaited each meal! Breakfast was served buffet style with an omelette station. The choices included fruits, pastries, cereals, juices, eggs, meats, pancakes and the most delicious French toast! Lunch, also served buffet style, consisted of a fresh made pasta station, carving station and an abundant variety of hot and cold choices native to the region. Desserts were great - tiramisu, gelato, pastries and every variety of mousse completed the meal. Dinner was a five-star dining delight. Fresh seafood and locally grown produce were especially delicious. Meats and vegetarian choices consisted of Italian favorites like osso bucco and lasagna a la Bolognese. The hotel manager, Damiano, was helpful and ever present. The head chef was so friendly and frequently came to the table to ask how we enjoyed the meal. He seemed to take great pride in our compliments which were effusive. The wait staff were all so friendly and made sure that we dining experience was enjoyable. One waitress, Timea, was particularly friendly - never without a smile. A special highlight of our trip was a visit to the markets at Chioggia with lunch on a mussel harvesting dock in the middle of the sea. The market stalls lined the streets and seemed to go on forever. The mussel and seafood lunch was freshly harvested and delicious. If I were to describe the Uniworld Venice cruise it would be Perfect - simply Perfect! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
My 3cousins and I booked a Po River cruise on the Uniworld River Countess. It was my first river cruise but 1 cousin had booked with Uniworld in the past. She was given a room upgrade because she was a past passenger and there was an ... Read More
My 3cousins and I booked a Po River cruise on the Uniworld River Countess. It was my first river cruise but 1 cousin had booked with Uniworld in the past. She was given a room upgrade because she was a past passenger and there was an extra room available. Our cabin was immaculate and had all the amenities one would need. I can't say enough about this cruise! Down to the smallest detail, they thought of everything to make our trip very enjoyable. The staff and service were excellent. As was the food and excursions. Tours guides were personable and knowledgeable and spoke in English. As were the front desk staff. There was even accomodation for those who had difficulty walking with their "gentle walkers" group. I was pleasantly surprised to have entertainment scheduled at night and drinks were plentiful. The other passengers were very friendly. I would definitely recommend Uniworld and would like to try another of their cruises in the future. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was my 7th cruise with Uniworld and was by far the best -- and I did not think it was possible to get any better than my recent one in Bordeaux on the River Royale. Once you have sailed Uniworld, the other river lines pale in ... Read More
This was my 7th cruise with Uniworld and was by far the best -- and I did not think it was possible to get any better than my recent one in Bordeaux on the River Royale. Once you have sailed Uniworld, the other river lines pale in comparison, and I doubt I will do another with Viking, et al. Too mass market for me. We opted for the cruise which had a pre-extension tour to Milan and a drive to the boat via Verona and a stop for a delicious lunch at a winery on our way to the ship. The hotel was excellent and very central. We had an excellent walking tour of the city and a moving visit to the Last Supper. We paid for an optional tour to La Scala and it was terrific -- our guide knew a lot about music and her enthusiasm was infectious. Afterwards we stopped for a Bellini and some snacks. Befitting the sunny region, the ship colour scheme is attractive. As awals the quality of the Uniworld fittings was superb. I had sailed with many staff on previous cruises and I received a warm welcome. The food was uniformly excellent, esp. the marvellous soups and the wonderful array of salads at lunch. The excursions were all outstanding with the exception of oe to Padua which seemed ill-timed. It took place when mmost places were closed for a long lunch and many were frustrated at having to spend precious time just sitting at a café. I however wanted to arrange private itimerary and the tour director and local guide were terrific in sorting this out. I am booked for another cruise next April, but will repeat this same itinerary next fall Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was great. Everything was as advertised. The hotel in Milan, the Star, was excellent. The ground tours, included in the price, could not be bettered. We had excellent guides. They knew the geography and the history of the areas we ... Read More
This was great. Everything was as advertised. The hotel in Milan, the Star, was excellent. The ground tours, included in the price, could not be bettered. We had excellent guides. They knew the geography and the history of the areas we were in. We went to places we would not have seen but for this trip, e.g. Padua, Ravenna. The sights they took us too were top notch, e.g. Dante's tomb in Ravenna. The mosaics in Ravenna and elsewhere were startling. Again, but for this trip we would not have seen them. The ship was excellent. It was clean. The air conditioning worked, not a small consideration when the temperature was 30+C. The food was excellent as was the complementary wine. We have been on other cruises with "complementary" wine not as good as the wine we had on the Countess. The staff were excellent as well. Uniformly helpful. The trip included a transfer to the airport in Venice. As it is under construction the transfer was helpful. The guide took us to check-in and then to security. Cannot beat that sort of service. Uniworld is the best. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was our second cruise on Uniworld. We loved the first one up the Rhine so much, we brought four more people with us this time! This cruise was as great if not better. Our room, which was kept nice and clean, was lovely, even ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Uniworld. We loved the first one up the Rhine so much, we brought four more people with us this time! This cruise was as great if not better. Our room, which was kept nice and clean, was lovely, even spacious. The service far exceeds anywhere we've ever been. Everyone on board from the room attendants through to the Captain, bent over backwards to fill every want and need, even, it seemed at times, the unspoken ones. The food had variety, and was delicious, the waiters were attentive and friendly, sometimes funny....We laughed and had fun every time we went to the dining room. Although we usually don't do the "bar science", we enjoyed the entertainment provided in the evening. I especially liked the opera singers (they sang some of my favorite arias) and the young lady who sang was very entertaining. The shore excursions were great. Loved every one, liked that we had choices, but also enjoyed some free time on our own and we had massages which were heavenly! The outdoor movie was a great idea and new to us...keep that! Lots of fun and so many good memories. Thanks to all on the River Countess, Sabine, Heidicha, Valentin, Gerry, and so many more for making our 50th wedding anniversary trip one we'll remember forever! Read Less
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