I blame Uniworld for the dent in my bank balance when I got home from my recent river cruise. Within 24 hours of my return, I was in House of Fraser buying new pillows and bed linen…
My handcrafted Savoir of England bed on Uniworld’s SS Antoinette was the most comfortable I have ever slept in. I’m not a great sleeper generally, but once my head hit those pillows and the 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, I was out like a light. This is typical of the attention to detail and high standard I received throughout my river cruise on Uniworld’s SS Antoinette. Nothing is left to chance, 57 staff cater for 154 guests, there is always someone ready to assist you. “No request too large, no detail too small” is the motto of the Uniworld staff. This ethos, along with your own personal butler, are some of the reasons why Uniworld have won numerous awards, such as the best luxury cruise line, for the past seven years.
Furnishings are old world style but with a modern twist. Cabins are compact but with an excellent use of space. They are fitted with two flat screen TV’s including one on the French balcony. I loved the balcony, you can sit back read a book or watch TV, while taking in the scenery outside – regardless of weather! The bathrooms are stocked with l’Occitane products and even the sockets cater for all plugs, so there is no need to bring adapters!
When checking-in I couldn’t help but notice the ornate chandelier in the reception area. When I remarked on its beauty, I was informed that the 10 foot blue Strauss Baccarat chandelier, once hung in New York’s Tavern on the Green! This is just a sample of the lavish decor you can expect on board. Speaking of checking-in, this is a dream. Unlike ocean cruises, Uniworld river cruises carry on average of 130 people, so there are never long queues to check-in or when disembarking in ports. And when you arrive at a new port, there are no bus journeys to get to your destination, you are already in the heart of the city.
Excursions on ocean cruises can work out expensive. With Uniworld, excursions are included in the price of your cruise and there are excellent choices available. A day in the medieval town of Regensburg is a typical example of the excursions you can expect with Uniworld. Some might like a gentle walking tour of the town, others will enjoy a full tour with Jewish History. Car enthusiasts can take a trip to the BMW factory! There are also bicycles on board for use at any port so if you chose to do your own thing, that’s fine too. After a day’s sightseeing, you can take a dip in the indoor pool or enjoy a treatment in their luxury spa. I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were in the spa. €65 for an hour long massage, not bad for a five star luxury cruise.
During the day there was a cookery demonstration, wine tasting and a cocktail making masterclass. Activities, wines and menus are themed with the region you are cruising through. If you want to relax you can take in a movie in their cinema or enjoy a drink in one of the luxurious bars or lounges. With Uniworld ALL drinks are included in the price, even champagne! The food on board was excellent. Breakfast and lunch is buffet style although there are menus where you can order a lá carte. I tried the eggs benedict for breakfast and it was excellent! At dinner time there is a set menu with great choice. On the gala nights (there are on average 2 per cruise) the level steps up a notch. Fine dining at its best, we had appetisers a pre desert and the beef wellington was one of the best I have tasted.
Evening time is low key, with a pianist for entertainment. I was on a two night cruise from Amsterdam to Cologne at the Irish Travel Agents Association conference and we were the only passengers on board. The pianist duly obliged when we decided to take over the microphone and sing Abba songs, but somehow I doubt this would happen on a regular itinerary! In fact I am told that as well as the resident musician, performers board the ship in various ports. You may have opera singers one evening, broadway singers the next, entertainment is also local to the area where the ship is cruising. Overall relaxed nights are the norm, but it is always nice to get dressed up for gala nights!
Thinking of a Christmas market break? Why not see five cities instead of one. Want to go wine tasting in France? Cruise three rivers to see the Chateaux and vineyards of Bordeaux, Bergerac and Medoc. These are just a sample of the itineraries available on Uniworld’s Boutique river cruises, with intimate excursions in each town included in the price. If you want lively cruise ships, with non stop entertainment and sports facilities then these are not for you. For a personal experience with fine dining and relaxed surroundings, check out Uniworld Boutique River Cruises