My husband and I took a risk this year and booked a river cruise. Being in our 30's, we expected to be among the youngest on the ship. As it turns out, I was the youngest by at least 15 years (if you don't consider my husband). ... Read More
My husband and I took a risk this year and booked a river cruise. Being in our 30's, we expected to be among the youngest on the ship. As it turns out, I was the youngest by at least 15 years (if you don't consider my husband). Age difference aside, we loved every minute of our cruise and are already considering our next vacation with Uniworld.
We arrived in Vienna for embarkation extremely early—we made it to the ship before 9:00 a.m. Many of the previous week's passengers had not yet left the ship. The cruise manager, Claudia, welcomed us and offered us spaces in the lounge where breakfast was provided. Knowing that our rooms likely wouldn't be ready for hours (standard check-in time is 3:00 p.m., we conferred with her briefly over a map of Vienna and set out to explore the city. When we returned around 2:30 p.m., our room was ready and our luggage had been delivered.
We consider ourselves foodies, and we were extremely impressed with all of the food served on-board, particularly the local specialties. We tried to eat these at lunch and dinner every day. The servers and restaurant manager (Stefan) were quick to remember our preferences (like my husband wanting a local beer with every meal—even breakfast), and everything was presented as it is in fine restaurants. Although we had planned on eating onshore often before we boarded, we only skipped one meal on the River Ambassador.
Our room (129), while small, was extremely comfortable and had everything we needed, with more than ample storage space. We brought a cosmetics organizer that could hang on the back of the bathroom door for our toiletries, and that worked well (there is not much counter space in the bathroom). Noise was a bit of an issue, but I was somewhat prepared for that, knowing we had booked the lowest category cabin (the noise was from the engine and from water hitting the ship both while docked and while sailing).
The excursions were excellent. My favorites were Vienna As The Viennese Do and the Danube Bike Trip. Both of these were "choice" tours, which differed from the day's standard tour but were included in the cruise price. The QuiteVox system made it easy to hear our guides even as we broke away from the group, and they all provided excellent information (and were fluent English speakers).
As big fans of German culture, particularly Bavaria, we loved this itinerary. Each city was unique and offered something new to do. We were particularly interested in WWII history, but ended up learning a fair bit of medieval history as well.
The staff onboard were excellent. I can't name them all here, but I must say that the cruise manager, Claudia, made our trip extremely enjoyable. She knew we were wiling to venture out on our own and would give us tips and maps to get out and about while returning to the ship on time. She even talked through future travel plans in Germany with us! It was clear she had all of the guests best interests in mind.
I also took advantage of the spa service (60-minute full-body massage for $85), and was very pleased with the experience—it was my first massage! When we disembarked, the spa charge was all we owed. While the initial price of the cruise may seem a bit steep, you could truly get by without owing anything else to Uniworld at the end of the trip. We only spent a few hundred dollars on-shore during our seven-night cruise, and that included a fairly expensive, well-made hat we purchased in Regensburg.
After the cruise we were bussed to Prague for two nights in the Boscolo hotel. The accommodations were wonderful, and the location was good—a quick 7-minute walk to Old Town, but far enough out that you're not surrounded with drunken tourists and solicitors in the streets. If you want to explore Prague a bit more, it's just a block from a tram stop, metro station, and the main train station.
You can find more information about this trip on my blog: www.grosstravelchronicles.blogspot.com Read Less