Cruising the Danube is one of life’s great pleasures. And it was indeed a pleasure to experience Uniworld’s Boutique River Cruise Collection, which stands out among the many cruise ships on the Danube, particularly because of its enviable luxury options.
On Uniworld’s River Princess—from Prague to Budapest—we selected a suite. Although all guests are treated with kid gloves, guests who book a suite are treated like royalty. From the moment your butler—dressed in tails and white gloves—escorts you to your suite, you know you are in for the royal treatment.
Shandor, our butler and a native of Hungary, proudly familiarized us with our suite, spacious by river cruise standards—complete with premium spirits, a fully stocked mini bar, Nespresso coffee machine, premium water selection (including Voss), Valrhona Chocolates, Hermes and L’Occitane bath amenities and two walk in closets.
In addition to the suite’s luxury appointments, it included complimentary laundry, dry cleaning, shoe shine, unpacking (the list goes on), in room appetizer and meals on request, all graciously granted.
The décor on each Uniworld ship is unique and designed by the owner, Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, along with her team. River Princess’s interior combines bold black and white patterns with contemporary art, mirrors and comfortable lounging areas to create a chic, sophisticated, yet inviting ambience. The complimentary WiFi onboard worked better than on most ships, and the twenty four hour coffee and refreshment area was always a hub of activity.
The staff on River Princess is attentive and eager to please. They greet you by name and quickly remember your preferences. The dining room offers cuisine of the region—in this case, Wiener Schnitzel and Sacher-Torte, among many other local specialties. The dining room also offers light and vegetarian dishes, and additional dietary options were honored upon request. The all-inclusive beverage list seemed endless, including many complimentary choices that would be classified as premium and charged extra on other lines. Grey Goose Vodka, premium French Champagne, and single malt Scotches are examples.
The cruise director sparkled with personality and offered information, suggestions and assistance whenever asked. Every custom request was quickly addressed to ensure the highest level of guest satisfaction. Uniworld not only offers the typical city orientation tours in every port, but also offers their “Go Active Program” and exclusive tours. In Vienna, we were offered an exclusive Mozart and Strauss concert in the Abby at Klosterneuburg.
We also took an in depth “City of Arts Tour” that included access to museums with knowledgeable art historians—who guided us to the most important treasures for in depth discussion. In Budapest, we took the exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour to get an intimate view of life from a denizen who shared his most favorite haunts in this vibrant city.
The “Go Active Program” also included bicycle rides guided by a professional tour company. Guests who were serious riders classified these as superb. In addition, the ship has a well-fitted fitness area and a Well-Being Coach, who scheduled daily activities, including yoga, stretch classes and Nordic walks to keep us all in shape.
Nightly entertainment was provided by the onboard pianist and several local groups who came onboard when we were docked. One of the cruise’s highlight, a Uniworld exclusive, was an evening with Elisabeth von Trapp, who wove music into her legendary family’s story of how they escaped Hitler’s Austrian occupation during WWII. Her charm, talent and warmth made for a magical evening. She was the proverbial cherry on our Bavarian Black Forest Cake.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s River Princess pulled out all the stops to make our waltz on the Danube a delight—and it was.
By Diane Sukiennik and Michael Reiss Courtesy www.foodandwineaccess.com “Photos by Michael Reiss”