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.