Taking a Uniworld River Cruise is a very unique Cruising experience… and that’s saying something since this was our 32nd cruise… below is what we thought of our time onboard.
(As this is a Ship/Uniworld Cruiseline review we don’t talk much about the itinerary below but you can read our “Venice & Northern Italy River Cruise” itinerary review here)
Embarkation Day and Ship Benefits:
Once we landed by plane to our embarkation city, in Venice, we were greeted by a friendly Uniworld representative who escorted us to a motor coach that then “whisked” us off (no waiting for the bus to fill up like on a big-ship Cruise) to the ship for our Free transfer… which was included even though we didn’t buy our airfare through Uniworld, a unique benefit!
When the double doors opened to the lobby, we were immediately impressed by her sparkling elegance, the scent of the largest bouquet of lily’s we have ever seen and friendly staff waiting to greet us.
Check in was easy and fast. Of course it would be as the River Countess ship only holds 132 guests/66 staterooms, so there is no such thing as a line up or wait.
Our stateroom which we strategically picked, was a very good choice! It was the French Balcony, Category 1, which are all situated (on the River Countess) on the highest stateroom floor. Have a look here to see the videos we took for you of the staterooms options available.
If we had the opportunity, we would have booked the SUITE as its 50% bigger then the French Balcony (and only 20% more in cost) but you need to book early to get one of those 4 rooms!!
We knew beforehand that River Cruise lines rooms were more compact then the Ocean and Premium cruises we are used to, but when we first swiped our key card to see our room, we smiled… Ear to ear! Cozy and elegant are the first words that come to mind.
Uniworld truly goes all out to decorate their ships with top of the line furnishings, fine linens, a pillow menu, plush robes, slippers & super comfy hand-crafted beds for a good nights rest.
And OH… the marble lined bathrooms, we won’t spoil it for you… wait till you see those for yourself! 🙂
After our lovely room steward Ani showed us all the particulars of our room and patiently answered all our questions, we were anxious and excited to walk about the ship. A delicious light lunch was being served and the chef told us they were having Tea Time in the lounge shorty after that… Now who doesn’t like sweets and some fine tea. 🙂 We would be back!!
Looking about the boat didn’t take long honesty, as the ship is petite in size. But that’s what makes River Cruising irresistible… but we’ll talk more about that later. Back to our walk about and first impressions of the ship:
The top outside/sun deck is fully furnished with comfy loungers and chairs, and canopies if you would like to sit in the shade. Perfect for gazing 360 degrees from one side to the other as you float down the scenic river sipping your favorite cool drink. Up here, they also have a sliding glass covered dining area as well serving local cuisine and lighter fare if you would like to go casual or stay in your shorts any evening for dinner. Tip: the Pizza on their Italy itinerary is to die for!!
The dining room is on the top stateroom floor (which is the same deck as the French balcony staterooms and suites) and they ask not to wear shorts here, but otherwise you can dress as casual or as dressed up as you like. Of course, river cruising is not formal in nature, so resort casual is the way to dress, but for the Captains Welcome Dinner, we brought a little dressier clothes for that night & fit right in.
Speaking of dining, the lounge as well as the dining room both have wraparound windows, so no matter if you are dining or having a pre-dinner cocktail, you won’t miss a thing and you will enjoy amazing views of the picturesque scenery on the River as you gently float by.
The lounge and card room and self serve coffee bar are open 24 hours so you can read, play cards, have a cookie, or just sit back and relax ANYTIME!
The front desk is open 24 hours too, and the staff are always available for you and super friendly. We like that!
They also provide for your convenience:
- Fitness Center: which is a decent size considering
- Computer Room with Free Internet: if you don’t want to bring your laptop
- Complimentary Laundry Room: equipped with washer, dryer, detergent, iron/board
Our first evening, at the safety drill (all while having a laugh as the Captain made good fun while telling us about the rules and safety talk) we learned some interesting facts:
- No announcements would be made onboard- so not to disturb guests… you’ll never get that on a big-ship Cruise!
- Daily paper will be available for our leisure.
- Daily program would be delivered to our stateroom and on our TV, to stay informed.
- During Excursions a Quiet Vox audio/earpiece system is provided so you can stroll around comfortably and still listen to your guide without missing anything.
- During excursions, they would break up the groups comfortably into about 20 people or less.
- Provided, there would be one gentle walking group for those who have walking difficulties.
- FREE Internet is available 24/7 for the entire cruise. (It’s not as fast as home, but still better then no connection at all.)
- Wine and beer and soft drinks are available at lunch and dinner for no extra charge.
- Stateroom TV has many programs to view, including movies and much more.
End of our cruise review:
We are now at the end of our 8 nights onboard Uniworld’s “River Countess” ship and thought you would want to hear if we were still as enthusiastic as we were when we first got onboard, and the answer is Yes!
The highlights for us was that everything was thoroughly organized and everything was thought of… and the small ship size created an exclusivity that you just cannot get on the larger ships.
For example, one evening we decided to skip the dining room and sit up top as we sailed through the scenic Venice Lagoon and just had pizza. The picture below is us doing that… can you believe we had the entire top deck to ourselves! It turned out to be a romantic evening setting. So, be sure to skip dinner one night and sit up top. 🙂
Another example, Uniworld arranged for us a private evening tour of St. Marks Basilica in Venice and this simply would not have been possible if we were on a 3,000+ passenger ship. It was truly something special in itself, as during the daytime, spectators wait HOURS in line, in the blistering sun to see it, but only to be packed full of people as they enter…
Our Uniworld experience was completely the opposite. At sunset while the church was closed to the public, we were whisked into a private side door of this famous church, only to sit at dusk in silence until the lights, one by one, turned on to reveal what she looked like. It was spectacular! And that was just “one” of the special highlights of our Uniworld cruise.
What was even more special was that we were sailing with such a small group of like minded people- aka people who like to travel just like us- that we formed real friendships and had genuine belly laughs, as the faces of most of the passengers and staff became so familiar to us. It made for a truly memorable cruise… we had a blast! (That said, if you want to keep to yourselves, that’s real easy to do too and completely respected as well.)
It should be no surprise to you that Cruise #33 will be again onboard another Uniworld River Cruise coming up 4 weeks from now on The Mekong River in Vietnam & Cambodia…we will for sure write about our experience over there, so look out for that!
And when you’re ready to start planning your own Uniworld River Cruise contact Shawn as he’ll be Happy to share more of our experience with you and help you get that perfect Uniworld Cruise Vacation planned & booked.
Oh yes, we took lots of pictures & videos while on our Uniworld River Cruise for you to see… you can check them all out at our “Venice & Italy” Uniworld River Cruise photo & video gallery.
We appreciate you!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!