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About Caligirl58

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  1. I don't have the wealth of experience that many do who have already posted. We have only done two river cruises so far - but our first (2017) was Uniworld's Castles Along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, and it was wonderful in every way. We enjoyed it so much that we did another Uniworld cruise (Delightful Danube and Prague) last summer and hope to do others when it is safer to travel. We like the fact that Uniworld is all-inclusive (except for a few extra excursions) -- no nickel/diming, no surprises at the end. Tips are not required/expected (although we did tip our housekeeper and a couple of waiters who had done an exceptional job). Alcohol is also included (unless you prefer top-shelf brands, then there is an additional charge) and is not limited to just beer/wine at meals. We aren't big drinkers, but we really enjoyed going up to the top deck after dinner each evening and having a cocktail as we sailed. I'm sure that's an option on other cruise lines - but the convenience of not having to sign a tab was nice. Some of the Uniworld decor is a little 'frou-frou' - but that was far out-weighed by the level of service we enjoyed. We are in our early 60's, active, and not interested in a pretentious, high-brow crowd. We felt very comfortable on Uniworld and made some great new friends. As another poster said - if you enjoy your first river cruise, you will be hard-pressed to try another cruise line. Also - we had planned to have over 24 hours in Amsterdam before embarking. But due to some flight delays, we did not arrive until two hours beforehand. Wish we'd had more time to explore. But we did do our own extension at the end and spent three days in Lucerne, which I highly recommend. Then took the train to the Zurich airport to return.
  2. I am the original poster. As to whether it is "just perception", I can only tell you (as I stated in my original post) that we visited with several other passengers who had cruised Uniworld in the past - some more than once- and all had the same "perception" that this cruise did not measure up to previous cruises. Coincidence? Maybe. But unlikely, in my opinion. I am very happy to see this thread active again. It is always helpful to hear all sides.
  3. Thanks to everyone who has taken time to respond. I've been out of town without internet access and wasn't able to view or respond to your posts until now. Got2Cruise - Thank you for that advice. We'll keep it in mind for future cruising. When we selected this cruise, it was based on recommendations from several passengers on our first cruise who had done the Budapest to Prague itinerary on Uniworld and enjoyed it. We didn't spend any significant time looking at the itinerary, since we had never been to any of the cities/towns on the itinerary and had no specific sites we wanted to visit. It wasn't until we had our short 5 hour stop in Melk that we learned about the Abbey and wished it could have been one of our excursion choices. From the responses here, it sounds like our experience may not have been indicative of an overall change in Uniworld's service. And I'm glad to know that. If I can convince my husband to try another Uniworld cruise, hopefully it will be more like our first one.
  4. Thank you, Jazzbeau. I remember that there some extra-cost excursions on our first Uniworld cruise. But there were more on this most recent cruise. We don't mind paying extra for a few excursions - but it seemed like Uniworld is putting more of their excursions in the extra-cost category. Which begins to erode their "all-inclusive" claim.
  5. I'd be interested in getting input from other Uniworld passengers. My husband and I just returned from our second Uniworld cruise - Delightful Danube & Prague (Budapest to Prague) – on the S.S. Beatrice. Our first Uniworld cruise was two years ago - Castles Along the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel) – on the S.S. Antoinette. We loved that entire experience and were very excited to do another Uniworld cruise. But this Danube cruise felt noticeably different - and not just to us, but to several other passengers we met who had also cruised Uniworld before. In the words of one woman who has cruised Uniworld multiple times (including this same cruise several years ago), "This one just feels 'off' somehow." It was not an issue with the kitchen/dining room/housekeeping staff - they were all outstanding. But it seemed to us that Uniworld has cut some corners here and there, and that made the overall experience feel a bit overpriced for what we received. This time, there seemed to be fewer excursions overall - and more that required an extra fee. (We might have found the Bavarian Farm visit interesting - but 56 euros/person was more than we wanted to pay to find out.) Also - the choice of excursions was sometimes puzzling. We were docked in Melk one day - but instead of an excursion to Melk Abbey or even a walking tour of the town, our excursion choices were either a wine reception at Artstetten Castle with a member of the Habsburg royal family or a tour of a small shipping museum in nearby Spitz followed by a wine and apricot tasting at the museum. As first-time visitors to that area, we would have preferred excursions that explored more of the area itself - or its more well-known attractions. We also would have appreciated some information about the towns/sights that we sailed past. As we sat on top deck, we often would see a town, castle, church, etc. but weren’t able to look up information about them because we had no idea exactly where we were. A map of each day's sail would have been very helpful - in the same way that they provided a walking map for each new town we visited. Because we enjoy spending time on the top deck when the ship is sailing, we also noticed differences between this cruise and our Rhine cruise in terms of top deck beverage service. There were fewer servers assigned to top deck on this cruise, and they came around less frequently. We had unusually hot weather for most of the cruise, and even passengers who weren’t drinking alcoholic beverages were thirsty for cold beverages. More than once, we had to walk downstairs to the lounge to get our beverages because no servers had come up to take orders. We might not have thought that this was unusual if we hadn’t had the opposite experience on the Antoinette. The 24 hour coffee station on the S.S. Beatrice was much smaller than the one on the S.S. Antoinette, and as a result, it occasionally ran out of coffee/other items. The snacks/pastries and candy selection was also more limited and never changed during the cruise. Clearly, these are not big issues – just less impressive than our first Uniworld experience. The cruise was scheduled to sail to Nuremberg, then continue by motorcoach to Prague. Unfortunately, due to lock damage near Regensberg, the cruise portion ended there, and we had to travel to/from Nuremberg by motorcoach. It was disappointing, but such is the nature of river cruising. Uniworld handled it well, giving each passenger 30 euros to purchase lunch, since they would not be able to return to the ship for the lunch buffet. More disappointing though, was that the cruise manager did not seem completely familiar with what we would be doing on the Prague extension. He had told us that Uniworld would provide a short introductory tour of the Old Town area after we’d arrived in Prague and had our meeting with Uniworld’s Prague staff/guides. So we canceled the private tour that we had previously scheduled for that afternoon. But when we arrived, we found out that Uniworld did not have any tours or activities at all planned for that first afternoon/evening. By that time, it was too late to re-book private tour – so we attempted to explore the area on our own. It was frustrating that we were given incorrect information, and it seemed to us that the cruise manager should have been more knowledgeable about the itinerary for the Prague portion of the cruise. We also witnessed on our last morning in Prague that several passengers had not been booked for their airport transfers. There was some scrambling by the hotel staff to find a shuttle to get them to the airport in time for their flights. I don’t know who at Uniworld was responsible for booking those – but someone clearly dropped the ball. Fortunately, we had arranged our own transfer, so we were not affected. So – on a scale of 1-10 - we would rate our Rhine cruise a 9 but this Danube cruise only a 6.5. My husband isn’t sure he wants to do another Uniworld cruise, because he doesn’t feel that this one was worth what we paid. I’m on the fence, as I loved the first cruise and don’t know if this experience is an anomaly or is typical of what Uniworld is now providing. I’d love to hear what other Uniworld passengers think.
  6. We are scheduled to cruise Budapest to Passau on Uniworld at the end of June. What is the best way to stay informed about weather/river levels over the next few weeks? Websites to follow? Thank you.
  7. I'm hoping that someone who has taken Uniworld's Delightful Danube & Prague cruise can answer this question. We will be taking this cruise in June - going Budapest to Nuremberg, then transferring to Prague via motorcoach. We would like to book a private tour on the day that we arrive in Prague, as Uniworld has no scheduled activities for us. But we have no idea what time we might be arriving in Prague. When I contacted Uniworld, the representative could only say that we would disembark the cruise ship sometime in the morning and that the motorcoach ride to Prague would take around 3.5 hours. She estimated that we would arrive in Prague sometime "early afternoon, subject to changes." Can anyone give me a better estimate than that? Thank you!
  8. Thank you. I have spent quite a bit of time on the River Cruise forum. I just didn't realize that this board was only for the Crystal ocean cruises when I 'clicked' on it. Will return to the River Cruise forum where I belong :)
  9. Thank you for clarifying. I am interested in Crystal river cruises and had apparently wandered onto the wrong forum....
  10. Thank you for posting this question - we will be in Budapest in June and are also interested in private tour guide recommendations, so I am following the responses. We will end our trip in Prague and will be looking for tour guide recommendations there, also. I will post that question separately.
  11. We did a post-cruise stay in Lucerne two years ago. You will love it there! We stayed at the Hotel Cascada - which is across the street from the train station. Very convenient when we had to catch a very early train to the Zurich airport - literally just walked across the street and a couple of blocks down to the station entrance. Hotel is clean and comfortable, restaurant has delicious buffet breakfast (included), and staff are very helpful. Easy walk to the lake/shopping district. We would definitely stay there again.
  12. We had been thinking about the Intercontinental or Sofitel, but it definitely sounds like we should look into the Aria. I appreciate the input! I read several recommendations to book hotels at the refundable rate in case prices decreased later. Did any of you find that the Aria's prices decreased after you booked? Also - what type of room did you stay in? Are some larger than others? Have better views? Etc....
  13. Thank you - that is one we will definitely look into!
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