I had never taken a Uniworld European River Cruise before, but when I was presented with the opportunity to take a voyage upon the River Beatrice this March I jumped on the occasion.
The ship was built in 2009 and is very clean and brightly lit. She was voted #3 on Conde Nast Readers Poll for 2012 and has an 80% return of staff from last year.
I was in category 1 cabin 419 with a French balcony, which was roughly 150 square feet – somewhat smaller than the cabins on other river cruises I had been on. However once you got unpacked and were able to store your suitcase under the bed it was somewhat roomier than I had initially expected. The only noticeable downside was when my husband and I were changing there was not a lot of room for both of us to manoeuvre.
The bathroom on the other hand had plenty of storage space – under the sink – with a hairdryer, shampoo and body wash provided for the guests. There was even a North American style plug so we could charge our electrical devices, such as digital cameras.
The ship itself was great, with lovely chaise lounges on the sun deck, with the standard tables and chairs, a large chess game and a shuffle board game. There was also a designated smoking area at the back of the sun deck with ashtrays provided. Additionally on the sun deck blankets were provided for colder days.
The Captains lounge at the very back of the ship provides comfy chairs and tables and there is a coffee and beverage station located here. Continental breakfast is also served here in the early morning and late morning. The library is also located in this area with 2 computers, books and games. There are also 2 lap top computers that can be loaned out with free Internet service is offered. Though be warned the Internet is very sporadic and can be very slow.
This was the first cruise of the season and the executive chef for Uniworld was on board overseeing the food services on this departure. The food was very good and well presented, with buffet breakfast and lunch with a station for soup and a featured entre. Unfortunately we did not realize until the fourth day that eggs benedict was available via request from our waiter.
We also did the new fine dining option that is offered twice on the 7 day itineary in the Captains Lounge with wine pairing. There was also 1 dinner in the main dining room for the Epicurean Adventure Program. Wine and beer and soft drinks were included with lunch and dinner. There was afternoon tea service and you could always get coffee, tea, and juice from the 2 stations on board.
All of the shore excursions were well organized and easy to walk. Each person is provided with a whisper device that allows you to hear your guide easily through out the tour. We did one optional tour to Bratislava Slovakia and it was well worth the $75.00 euros and there was a traditional dinner included at a very well known restaurant called Marchfelderhof.
We also asked about seeing the Lipizzon Stallions in Vienna and the cruise manager was able to arrange for a tour of the facility and see the horses being exercised, though there was an additional 14euro fee for this special excursion.
Information was provided on each port with maps and how to use the local transportation, which we did, in also every city. There are 6 bicyles that can be signed out to use and the cruise director was also able to arrange more bicyles in other ports if there was a demand for them. They also arranged some gentle walkers tours for clients that were not able to do much walking.
We boarded in Budapest and found the ship was always within easy walking distance to the city and sights. Our very first lock experience was really amazing and the river was very quiet for this time of the year. We enjoyed the excursion to Bratislava and were able to then say we visited 4 countries on this trip. We spent 1 extra day in Munich after disembarking in Passau and enjoyed visiting the sights here as well.
All in all Uniworld treated us very well. Right from the very beginning we were met at the airport for our transfer and then met at the top of the ramp to board the ship. The staff and crew made us feel very much at home and very comfortable. The captain was always very approachable even during the process of going through the locks. I would definitely recommend this cruise for anyone interested in a European river cruise.