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Caligirl58

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Posts posted by Caligirl58

  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. 3 hours ago, JPH814 said:

    We have done 5 Uniworld cruises over the past 6 years or so .  We have also done three Seabourne cruises with a fourth planned.

     

    I have read similar threads about declining experience on both.  And probably other lines as well.

     

    I wonder if it is just perception.

     

    The first cruise on a line is eye popping.  “Look at all the options on the buffet!” “So many excursions-I don’t know what to pick”  “ I love the chocolate on my pillow”. “The staff knew my name by the second day”. “ Everything is so bright and shiny and clean”

     

    The  cruise exceeded your expectations.  You come home telling everyone how great it was and you write a glowing review on Cruise Critic.

     

    Then a year or so later you book another cruise with the same cruise line. Your expectations are understandably high - probably even higher than your first cruise.

     

    But this cruise does not wow you.  You raised the bar. And things that you might not have even noticed the first time jump out at you.

     

    Your experience was “good” - even “very good”. But “gee - service/food whatever- is not as exceptional as my first cruise.” “Does anybody really care about a chocolate on their pillow?”   “The carpets looked a little worn.” “No variety in the dinning room”.  

     

    “Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great time. Maybe a 7 or 8.  But that first one was a 10.  Is my cruise line slipping?”

     

    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. On 7/14/2019 at 9:23 PM, Got2Cruise said:

    Your post illustrates why it’s necessary to check the details of the offered itinerary when comparing different cruise lines. I would be very disappointed not to have the opportunity to visit Melk Abbey. 

    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. On 3/1/2019 at 11:58 PM, vada_9 said:

    I have not been on a Uniworld cruise, but was on a Christmas market cruise with Avalon and we disembarked in Nuremburg before being transfered by bus to Prague (as part of the cruise tour).  We disembarked at 8, had 1 toilet stop en route, and arrived at the hotel (The Intercontinental) at lunch time.  It was too early to check in, but we were able to go get lunch, then check in - and had the afternoon  and evening to ourselves. 

    Thank you - that's very helpful!

     

     

  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. 5 hours ago, Roland4 said:

    As an FYI, the moderators discourage discussion of river cruises on the regular Crystal board. Any threads on River generally get transferred to the River Cruise forum by them. While not Crystal-specific, you will find a wealth of good info there.

    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. On 2/21/2019 at 9:28 PM, Stickman1990 said:

    These are the Crystal Ocean forums - discussion on River cruises happens on the River Cruises forum - so that’s what people will expect to respond about here 

     

    That said the Rover Cruises do include most tours as inclusive  - some additional ones are available at additional cost 

    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. 19 hours ago, thrilled4time said:

    I stayed at the fabulous Aria Hotel after a Christmas Market river cruise in 2017. It was by far the most unique, gorgeous, friendly, special hotel I had ever experienced. Besides the cheerful themed rooms, it had wine/cheese and live music daily reception (free to guests) in the afternoon.  The bar upstairs had beautiful views. Just LOVED it and would stay again, if I am fortunate enough to return to Budapest . It is more of a boutique type hotel but to get the acknowledgement it deserves while still being relatively new, is saying something. The location is perfect for walking everywhere on the Pest side, which we did even though it was freezing cold. Can you tell that I highly recommend it (and I have experienced many beautiful hotels all over the world but this one just is the most special to me.)

    Thank you - that is one we will definitely look into!

  14. This is a little late, but I wanted to second what Bubbulz has said.  We did exactly the same thing two years ago after our Uniworld Castles Along the Rhine cruise.  It was extremely simple.  We stayed at the Cascada Boutique Hotel - which was directly across the street from the train station.  Very convenient, wonderful staff, great restaurant/buffet breakfast.  But it does not have the beautiful views that some people may be looking for.  

  15. I've read all of the posts on this thread but would love to see any updated/new recommendations, since some of the posts are now several years old.  We will be arriving in Budapest in late June and staying three nights before embarking on a Uniworld river cruise.  It will be our first trip to Budapest, and we are excited to have a few days to tour and experience the area.  We are making our own plans - not doing an extension through Uniworld.   Based on what I've read here, I think we would enjoy staying on the Pest side.  Most important to us would be a quiet, comfortable room with decent air conditioning (and maybe a nice view?), convenient location to sights and/or public transportation,  good breakfast, and helpful staff.   Thank you for your suggestions.

  16. We have cruised both Uniworld and Crystal. We found the age of passengers to be mainly in the 65-85 range with some younger depending on the timing of the cruise. For unknown reasons all of our Uniworld trips have had passengers with assisted devices such as wheel chairs, and walkers, not so on the Crystal cruise. We have cruised with multi-generational families , singles and couples.

     

    Shoeman - that's interesting. Our Uniworld cruise had a younger/more mobile demographic. Can only remember one passenger in a wheel chair and none with walkers. And although I'm not the best judge of age, I would guess very few were over 75.

  17. Do you wear a sports jacket on Uniworld dress-up nights? What was the percentage, since I understand many men don't wear one. Thanks.

     

    It probably depends on the mix of passengers on your cruise, but when we did Castles Along the Rhine in June, 2017, my husband estimates that 50% of the men wore sportcoats at the welcome dinner, 25% at the farewell dinner, and only very few on the remaining nights.

  18. We've only done one Uniworld cruise, but our experience was right in line with the others who have posted. We were 59 at the time, and it seemed like most of the other passengers were in our same demographic. A few were older (although still active and without any significant mobility issues) and a few were younger (including some honeymooners). To us, it was a perfect mix.

  19. Caligirl, we are also looking for a Danube/Prague cruise, possibly Spring 2020. Did you run across any other cruiselines with this itinerary as a possibility? We were very impressed with our Uniworld Castles Along the Rhine tour but would consider others if there were any advantages. BTW were you on the 6/3 Castles tour? We had a fantastic experience.

     

    Jerry -

    We must have been on the cruise after you - June 11-18. Ours was fantastic, too. We ended up booking Uniworld Delightful Danube/Prague for next June. After such a great first river cruise experience with Uniworld, we were hesitant to book with another cruise line. That said - we were very tempted to try AMA Waterways. Some friends took a Castles Along the Rhine Cruise with AMA in June and loved it. Although AMA is not all-inclusive, I think we will book with them next time and see what we think.

  20. Once you have researched the schedules and fares, and know exactly what suits you, do call up the cruise company and see if they can do better. They don't always have the same flights available from their discounters (or whatever you call their sources), but sometimes they can help.

    Have fun planning!

    RB

     

    Thank you. I looked on Uniworld's website, and they have something called Custom Air Service. But it costs $95/person to have them book your reservations. I'm not sure if that is the same thing as Roz was talking about. I'm sure our TA would know - but she is out of town for the next week. So I'll probably call Uniworld myself and see what I can find out.

  21. My first river cruise was on Uniworld, Budapest to Passau. My TA put together a pre-cruise pkg. for me in Budapest. Like Texasstar, I stayed at the Sofitel Chain Bridge, and highly recommend it. Nice breakfast buffet so you fill up before setting out on foot. The day I arrived my TA arranged a tour for me which was helpful in terms of getting the lay of the city and hitting the highlights. The next day I went back to some of the places that interested me, then headed to the ship later in the afternoon. We overnighted in Budapest, and the next day I took a walking tour of Budapest thru Uniworld. I felt I got a good feel for the city. My TA's pre-cruise pkg. was much less than Uniworld's.

     

    To the OP, are you booking your flights thru the cruise line? I know the conventional wisdom here at Cruise Critic is to avoid cruise air, but I've found Uniworld's airfare to be so competitive I can't come close on my own. For example, this fall I'm flying Nashville to Basel and then Amsterdam back to Nashville - $661. Quelle bargain!

     

    Roz

     

    Thank you for sharing your pre-cruise itinerary. The time you spent there and the touring you did are very similar to what we had in mind. We will also look at the Sofitel - a nice breakfast is always a bonus.

     

    We have not yet booked our flights. The airlines just released their tickets this week for our travel dates, so we have just started to look at fares/schedules. We had just assumed that we would do better by booking ourselves, but based on your experience, we will first find out what Uniworld might be able to offer us. Thank you for that suggestion!

  22. I would suggest a couple of days pre-cruise in Budapest. Make sure you get tickets for a tour of the Parliament building online before you go. It is amazing. In Budapest we stayed at the Sofitel, which was nice and located near the Chain Bridge.

    In Prague, we stayed at the Old Town Hilton. The rooms were huge and the location could not have been better. Enjoy your cruise. We were on AmaWaterways and it was one of our favorites.

     

    Thank you! I just received our Rick Steve's guidebooks for Budapest and Prague but haven't had time to start researching what we might want to see and do. I did not know that you could get Parliament tour tickets ahead of time - we will definitely do that.

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