Food Comparison? -- Viking to Uniworld

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#1
Lancaster, PA
490 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
I know this is a tall order and the replies could be subjective, but if some detail is given, they don't have to be subjective. I am a "foodie" and appreciate taste & textural contrasts in good cooking along with bold flavors using fresh spices & herbs. I don't care about quantity, just quality.

I'll give you an example of the kind of detail I'm looking for in a response to this question... Whenever I cook salmon I always make a peach or mango salsa with fresh fruit, red onion, fresh lime juice, cilantro & fresh grated ginger. The salmon alone is good but boring, but with the condiment it's great! With a pork chop I make an apple chutney with fresh Granny Smiths, grated fresh ginger, cider vinegar, onion, red pepper, currants, brown sugar, garlic, nutmeg, allspice. Again, the pork alone would be boring but "good." Why am I telling you this? Because this is the kind of difference and quality I'm looking for between Uniworld and Viking cuisine so I can better determine which line to book later this month. Do they have fresh, contrasting taste, bold flavor interesting food? A good steak is a good steak and greatly to be admired, but I'm looking for more of a culinary adventure at "river."

I've narrowed a Danube Budapest to Passau trip to either of these two lines. I know a river cruise is "not just about the food," but it sure makes a big difference to me, so I'd like to hear from people who have cruised both lines as to what they think about the different cuisines, to help me make the final decision. There is a definite price difference with Uniworld being more expensive (at least that's what I've found so far) so maybe that means Uniworld has better food, but I'd like to hear from folks who have put fork to mouth.

I know this is a matter of personal taste. So to help calibrate: If you think the Olive Garden and Carrabba's have good Italian food then please do not respond to this inquiry. Their food is very bland and there's nothing fresh or boldly seasoned about their dishes. Sauces taste like out of a can. Sorry, but it's true if you're truly knowledgeable about cuisine. As another calibrator: I was on a Costa cruise and had the worst food of the eight different lines I've been on... Chef Boy Ar Dee quality... and many on board "loved it." Arf!

Celebrity Eclipse had the best food so far. So please respond if you've had any comparative experience with these two lines (Uniworld and Viking) and if you are truly discriminating, and descriptive enough in your review beyond just "good" and "bad."

Thanks for reading about this "tall order." I hope to get some response.
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Baybear
HAL Voldendam - 1983 (Bermuda), Carnival Tropicale - 1986 (Mexico/Pacific)
Carnival Jubilee - 1987 (Caribbean), Cunard QE2 - 1987 (Bermuda)
Homeric -- 1989 (Caribbean), Sun Princess -- 1997 (Alaska)
QE2 -- 2004 (Northern Europe), Carnival Liberty -- 2006 (Caribbean)
Caribbean Princess -- 2008 (Caribbean), NCL Majesty -- October 2008 (Bermuda)
NCL Majesty -- June 7 2009 (Bermuda), Costa Atlantica -- Feb 6 2010 (Caribbean)
Carnival Pride -- June 6 2010 (Eastern Caribbean), Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2011 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2012 (Caribbean), Celebrity Silhouette -- February 2013 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Summit -- February 2014 (Caribbean), Oceana Riviera -- February 2015 (Caribbean)
Oceania Riviera -- September 2015 (Greek Isles)
#2
2,499 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Baybear, we have travelled on both lines and found the food on Uniworld to be better than Viking. We cruised the inaugral season on the Royale on the Rhone with U. Had a dinner with Paul Bocuse and a chocolate tasting at Valhrona. These were a first season offering. Also they tend to serve regional food. On both lines breakfast and lunches are buffet...there are always items that can be ordered from the kitchen. Dinner is plated and seconds are usually offered on both lines. The cheese board on U. after dinner is spectacular, great selections. Have not been on any of the ocean lines as you, so can't compare...we've on;y cruised on Oceania--leave in 3 weeks for the Marina on a Jacques Pepin cruise--yes, he'll be on board. This Dec. we take our 15th river cruise and next year, go to China. Pat
#3
florida
3,654 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
will NOT be found on river cruises,,,I ve been on 8 or so,,and while "good" not great,,,compared in past to "cracker barrel" and got many responses that I was so wrong,,so how about agreeing "Carrabas"...certainly not like luxury cruise ships..have been on Avalon,Uniworld ,Viking,Gate 1 and now AMA next June,,,do NOT go for food,but really enjoy all the rest..like ports,scenic views,overnite in ports on occasion,,etc....many,,just not food...give it a try,,go by dates,itineraries,ship specifics,,Ie,,going on new AMA with 2 balconies and 2 restuarants..PS..I m half Italian and KNOW great food,,esp..use of fresh herbs and spice,,of course,,other half i s Scottish,hahaha
#4
41 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
A foodie after my own heart (stomach). I normally cruise on the luxury cruise lines because food is an important part of my travels. I have traveled on two river cruises - Uniworld and AMA. I was disappointed with the food on AMA - very bland, and the meat was frequently either overcooked or undercooked. One dish I remember was a warm oozing chocolate cake that was overcooked and the cake was dry with no liquid center. I was anticipating a similar dismal food experience on our second river cruise on Uniworld and was planning on eating as many meals as possible off the boat. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the meals on Uniworld. Most of the dishes were flavorful and the chef used herbs and spices. I remember one salad dish utilizing celery roots that was very good. Like a previous poster, the Uniworld trip was on the River Royale through the Provence region. We found out the chef was Cordon Bleu trained. I will be going on a second Uniworld cruise later this year that is billed as an Epicurean Adventurer Program. The program includes a wine tasting, desert-making demonstration and tasting, and a special wine and food pairing. Hopefully, my second Uniworld cruise will be as good as the first one. According to Uniworld promo materials, it is the only river cruise line with a Zagat rating.
#5
Lancaster, PA
490 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Thanks for your inputs! I really appreciate them. Sounds like since these river cruise ships tend to have local dishes, and I'll be in Eastern Europe on the Danube (Budapest to Passau) that paying a lot more for "better food" probably doesn't make much sense unless you're Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates. So I'll probably go with Viking and see how I do. This will be the first time we've gone on a river cruise.

Thanks again!
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Baybear
HAL Voldendam - 1983 (Bermuda), Carnival Tropicale - 1986 (Mexico/Pacific)
Carnival Jubilee - 1987 (Caribbean), Cunard QE2 - 1987 (Bermuda)
Homeric -- 1989 (Caribbean), Sun Princess -- 1997 (Alaska)
QE2 -- 2004 (Northern Europe), Carnival Liberty -- 2006 (Caribbean)
Caribbean Princess -- 2008 (Caribbean), NCL Majesty -- October 2008 (Bermuda)
NCL Majesty -- June 7 2009 (Bermuda), Costa Atlantica -- Feb 6 2010 (Caribbean)
Carnival Pride -- June 6 2010 (Eastern Caribbean), Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2011 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2012 (Caribbean), Celebrity Silhouette -- February 2013 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Summit -- February 2014 (Caribbean), Oceana Riviera -- February 2015 (Caribbean)
Oceania Riviera -- September 2015 (Greek Isles)
#6
2,499 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Would not consider Budapest to Passau eastern Europe especially for food...Hungarian and Austrian food are great as is German. Careful with Viking...no elevators on their boats and some of them carry 200 pax....makes for very slow service in the dining room. Have cruised from Bucharest-Amesterdam with Uniworld and Antwerp-Basel on a 200 pax Viking ship-----no comparison. U. has those extra touches of welcome back drinks and cold or hot towels depending on the weather. Would highly recommend Viking on the Elbe--fantastic trip. Pat
#7
Orangeville Ontario
1,731 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by pacmom
Would not consider Budapest to Passau eastern Europe especially for food...Hungarian and Austrian food are great as is German. Careful with Viking...no elevators on their boats and some of them carry 200 pax....makes for very slow service in the dining room. Have cruised from Bucharest-Amesterdam with Uniworld and Antwerp-Basel on a 200 pax Viking ship-----no comparison. U. has those extra touches of welcome back drinks and cold or hot towels depending on the weather. Would highly recommend Viking on the Elbe--fantastic trip. Pat
Pat:

Any comments, in general, about Uniworld's ability to deal with specific dietary issues such as lactose intolerance or spicy foods.

We had a challenging experience with them, but it may have been an isolated overzealous MaitreD'. It's been difficult to get my wife to cruise with them again.
#8
2,499 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Nordski, just wrote a very nice reply and sent it into cyberspace. Initially, I would let the home office know about your experience, directly and through your TA. Am not fond of highly spiced foods--always think the chef is showing his inability for really cook. If not familiar with something on the menu, would go for the chicken or salmon. We have tavelled with friends. she has a severe allergy to mushrooms---carries an index card with the allery written on it--only once inOberammagau (sp.) in a meal contrated by the tour was she served mushrooms. Fortunately my husband spotted one and preented a real medical emergency. I think some of these maitre'd's don't realize how uncomfortable we become if our allergies are activated. Good luck. Pat
#9
florida
3,654 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
you WILL be able to get many lunches or dinners onshore in ports,,,so can get "gourmet" food on own,,rather than always onboard,,we did that as often as possible since in port for long periods on many occasions...
Although I liked Viking,,do NOT like new policy of having to pay BALANCE when booking..check the small print on brochure for the "2 for 1 " price...its been discussed in other threads here...
#10
Lancaster, PA
490 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Originally posted by pacmom
Would not consider Budapest to Passau eastern Europe especially for food...Hungarian and Austrian food are great as is German. Pat
Thanks for the Geography lesson! I'm an Engineer and always got Cs in History and Geography! As in Math & Science. So I needed a correction. What is that area called? Just "Europe?"
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Baybear
HAL Voldendam - 1983 (Bermuda), Carnival Tropicale - 1986 (Mexico/Pacific)
Carnival Jubilee - 1987 (Caribbean), Cunard QE2 - 1987 (Bermuda)
Homeric -- 1989 (Caribbean), Sun Princess -- 1997 (Alaska)
QE2 -- 2004 (Northern Europe), Carnival Liberty -- 2006 (Caribbean)
Caribbean Princess -- 2008 (Caribbean), NCL Majesty -- October 2008 (Bermuda)
NCL Majesty -- June 7 2009 (Bermuda), Costa Atlantica -- Feb 6 2010 (Caribbean)
Carnival Pride -- June 6 2010 (Eastern Caribbean), Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2011 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2012 (Caribbean), Celebrity Silhouette -- February 2013 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Summit -- February 2014 (Caribbean), Oceana Riviera -- February 2015 (Caribbean)
Oceania Riviera -- September 2015 (Greek Isles)
#11
Lancaster, PA
490 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Originally posted by alexandra cruiser
Although I liked Viking,,do NOT like new policy of having to pay BALANCE when booking..check the small print on brochure for the "2 for 1 " price...its been discussed in other threads here...
A few years ago I would not like to pay balance when booking, since they would be getting the interest on that money for a year! But since I'm getting a terrific 0.75% on my CDs and other investments now, it really doesn't make much difference. I'm missing out on $37.50 for the year. And besides, you don't have to worry about "saving for the trip."
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Baybear
HAL Voldendam - 1983 (Bermuda), Carnival Tropicale - 1986 (Mexico/Pacific)
Carnival Jubilee - 1987 (Caribbean), Cunard QE2 - 1987 (Bermuda)
Homeric -- 1989 (Caribbean), Sun Princess -- 1997 (Alaska)
QE2 -- 2004 (Northern Europe), Carnival Liberty -- 2006 (Caribbean)
Caribbean Princess -- 2008 (Caribbean), NCL Majesty -- October 2008 (Bermuda)
NCL Majesty -- June 7 2009 (Bermuda), Costa Atlantica -- Feb 6 2010 (Caribbean)
Carnival Pride -- June 6 2010 (Eastern Caribbean), Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2011 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Eclipse -- January 2012 (Caribbean), Celebrity Silhouette -- February 2013 (Caribbean)
Celebrity Summit -- February 2014 (Caribbean), Oceana Riviera -- February 2015 (Caribbean)
Oceania Riviera -- September 2015 (Greek Isles)
#12
2,499 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Baybear,
The countries you will visit are in Central Europe. Eastern Europe is mainly former Communist countries which also have a rich culinary history. Still would pick U. over Viking, if you are a true foodie. Pat
#13
Orangeville Ontario
1,731 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by pacmom
Nordski, just wrote a very nice reply and sent it into cyberspace. Initially, I would let the home office know about your experience, directly and through your TA. Am not fond of highly spiced foods--always think the chef is showing his inability for really cook. If not familiar with something on the menu, would go for the chicken or salmon. We have tavelled with friends. she has a severe allergy to mushrooms---carries an index card with the allery written on it--only once inOberammagau (sp.) in a meal contrated by the tour was she served mushrooms. Fortunately my husband spotted one and preented a real medical emergency. I think some of these maitre'd's don't realize how uncomfortable we become if our allergies are activated. Good luck. Pat
Thanks for the reply.

We did notify head office of the uncomfortable position(s) in which she found herself. We have never encountered that difficulty before, but perhaps it was just a one-off problem. Always appreciate your input.
#14
3,805 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Riverboat food is good, but not great. You won't starve, but it is nothing like luxury ocean cruises. Selections are limited, no room service or buffet, late night is not for foodies. If food is really an important part of your trip, a riverboat isn't the cruise for you. I like fine dining.. I did my best dining before and after my last riverboat cruise. when I was staying on land. I liked the riverboat cruise for the scenery and where it went rather than the food.
#15
New Albany, Ohio
556 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Baybear - could not find if you said when you plan on going but if it's next year take a look at Vikings four new boats that will introduced in 2012. They are introducing outdoor, upscale dinning (subject to your taste buds) and concierge serve to help book restaurants which might appeal to you. They also will have a large selection of various rooms to select from.
#16
Las Vegas, NV
252 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Hello All,

DW and I have traveled twice with Uniworld, once in the Southern France Epicurean Adventurer Program on the Royale, and once on the Countess for a Christmas market cruise. (No Viking trips so no chance to compare)

We found the food (and we are fond of eating well) quite good without being over the top. The "shop local" tendency on U. pleased us and we enjoyed the local specialties.

Reference food allergy problems, my lady has some rather significant diet restrictions. On both Uniworld cruises the head waiter/Matre'd (sp) came and found us daily and went over the menu for that evening with us saying "You could have this or this but not that. If you wish we can make this with (fill in the blank ingredient) left out." We found this attention quite satisfying and had no difficulty or fears of a bad occurrence.

Enjoy your trip!
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#17
Southern California
92 Posts
Joined May 2009
We just returned from Uniworld's Passau to Budapest trip, and while I cannot compare it to Viking, my travelings companions were truly more than pleased with the food selections and the excellent dining room service on the River Beatrice. Was it over the top excellent, no, but we would rate it very, very good. The breakfast buffet was extensive, there was always a special, and I can never complain about having smoked salmon at my pleasure every morning of my trip. They paid great attention to the regions we were cruising through and we had some excellent regional meals from Czech, Austria and Hungary. As I said, the service was excellent - one evening on of my group was not well, and they sent a tray of soup and toast to the cabin. We will sail with Uniworld again, I look forward already to another cruise.
#18
Deep South Texas
5,300 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Originally posted by Baybear
Thanks for your inputs! I really appreciate them. Sounds like since these river cruise ships tend to have local dishes, and I'll be in Eastern Europe on the Danube (Budapest to Passau) that paying a lot more for "better food" probably doesn't make much sense unless you're Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates. So I'll probably go with Viking and see how I do. This will be the first time we've gone on a river cruise.

Thanks again!
If you can eat NCL food, you won't be disappointed by any river cruise.

Just my humble opinion
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Janet
Mexico, Texas
Number of Cruises: never enough
Loyalty program status: Does it really matter?





#20
345 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
We just returned from the River Antoinette. I have to tell you that all the meals were delicious! Each cabin was given a copy of the weeks menus. Here is an example:

Dinner

Starters

Kiwi fruit soaked in brandy and dusted with coffee

Rhine Trilogy: Floens roasted back sausage with apple-potato mash
Leek quiche with creme fraiche
Matjes herring with apple and gherkin

Crudites of market vegetables with egg mayonnaise and melba toast



From the soup tureen

Beef and barlet consummee with root vegetables amd chives

Creamy green peas soup with carrot cubes

Entrees

Grilled free range chicken breast Chasseur stuffed with mushrooms presented on pistachip arborio risotto surrounded with a light saffron sauce and your tender broccoli roses

Seared fillet of rainbow trout served with a caper a;,ond butter on a bed of spinach leafs, carrot and buttered new potatoes

Breaded deep fried mushrooms served with sauce aiolo, summer spring salad with free range egg wedges and drizzled with Mrs. T's favorite dressing

Desserts Collection

Baseler Karamelkopfli regional swiss style creame carmel accomplished with fresh fruits

Ice Cup Advocat strawbetty ice cream with egg nog liquer


If selection is not to your liking, then they offer beef stip loin, grilled chicken breast or salmon

If you want a copy of the menu's email me and I will snail mail them.
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