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Has Uniworld Changed?


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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.

 

   

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I have noticed that Uniworld, despite their 'all-inclusive' claims, has always had more extra-cost excursions that some other lines [e.g. AMA].  On my AMA Rhine cruise there were zero extra-cost excursions.  Same on my AMA Rhone cruise.  In Africa, only the helicopter ride over Victoria Falls was extra.  I think this has always been the weak link in Uniworld's 'all-inclusive' claim.

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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.

 

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Interesting reading...….I am taking my first Uniworld  cruise in October and looking forward to it very much:classic_smile:....will see how much extra $ I end up spending. I am planning on having a wonderful cruise.:classic_biggrin:

 

Sorry this experience was not as enjoyable was your first cruise with them. I can post about my cruise

when I get back though.

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Interesting post.  I've sailed Uniworld 3 times, in 2015, 2017, and 2018.  All 3 times I didn't pay extra for any excursion, including the Jewish Heritage tours on my Rhine cruise last year.  In fact, the only onboard spending I had was for postage stamps for postcards, and a little extra I spent on some jewelry from the gift shop in order to use some OBC my agent gave me.  

 

Lois, I'll be interested in hearing about your experience and how it compares to the AMA cruise you took.

 

Roz

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6 minutes ago, Roz said:

Interesting post.  I've sailed Uniworld 3 times, in 2015, 2017, and 2018.  All 3 times I didn't pay extra for any excursion, including the Jewish Heritage tours on my Rhine cruise last year.  In fact, the only onboard spending I had was for postage stamps for postcards, and a little extra I spent on some jewelry from the gift shop in order to use some OBC my agent gave me.  

 

Roz

Just as an aside, AMA didn’t charge me for postage on my Mekong cruise. They didn’t even quibble when I sent 2 postcards to the same address so each of my great nephews would get one of his own. 

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Just now, gnome12 said:

Just as an aside, AMA didn’t charge me for postage on my Mekong cruise. They didn’t even quibble when I sent 2 postcards to the same address so each of my great nephews would get one of his own. 

 

Nice!  

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1 hour ago, dolllover said:

I’ll be following this as I’m booked on my first Uniworld cruise to Venice . 

Same cruise as I am doing:classic_biggrin:.....I see you are sailing in 2020? I sail in 3 months:classic_smile:

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7 hours ago, Lois R said:

Same cruise as I am doing:classic_biggrin:.....I see you are sailing in 2020? I sail in 3 months:classic_smile:

  

Have a great trip ! I have a Rhône cruise in a few months but my Uniworld one is the one that starts in Milan . 

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We just got back from our second Uniworld cruise - the Magnificent Moselle and Rhine. Last year we went on the Highlights of Eastern Europe. Neither tour was on a supership, but we loved both our boats -- River Princess last year and River Queen this year. I'd like to try a supership sometime in the future.

 

Both years there was only one extra tour offered for extra fee and we did both of them: Heidelberg this year and Hungarian Parliament last year.

 

I thought there were more possible daily tour options offered this year, sometimes there were 3 possibilities in the morning. Many more bicycling opportunities and also hiking options. It was harder to choose our daily tours this year because so many were offered. And definitely a "gentle walking" group for all the tours.

 

Hope to do another cruise next year with Uniworld!

 

 

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I am taking the SS Beatrice in September... this is my first Uniworld cruise.. I had gone back and forth between them and AMA.  Now I’m hoping I didn’t make the wrong choice!  

 

Can an you please tell me when you received information about the cruise?  Im so used to ocean cruises, and all the information being at my fingertips that I surprised that I know virtually nothing about this trip other then the stops.  I would love to know what excursions are offered, where exactly the ship is docked in Nuremberg, and what time should we board.  (we are doing Prague in our own, and need to figure out the best way to get to the ship). Please let me know if you have any suggestions for Prague! Thanks!

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SCmom, 

You will get your documents only a few weeks before your scheduled cruise.  The Uniworld website has a section 'already booked'   or something similar.  You may find more day to day information there.  If you are looking for advance information about  exact times for arrivals and departures, you're out of luck.  

The docking location in Nuremberg is in an industrial area on a canal, about a 20€ cab ride from the main central train station .  The logistics of travelling between and Prague and cruise ships   has been covered elsewhere in these boards.

You can board the Beatrice any time.  Just be aware you will not be able to get into your cabin until 2 or 3 in the afternoon.  Staff will store your suitcases until then, and you are welcome to explore the ship, have a meal and relax with a beverage...or two.

Prague is a wonderful city to explore.  I suggest you check out the 'Honest Guide' to Prague  on YouTube.  These young men are proud of their city and give very good recommendations on what to see and do and how to avoid getting ripped off.

I have been on 9 Uniworld cruises, always on the older ships and have toured a few of the SS sister ships when docked nearby.  There is a soft spot in my heart for the River Queen, and I,  too, feel that something has changed over the years, but because they have changed the sweets they put in my candy dish just doesn't warrant my complaining.

RB

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13 hours ago, scmom4kids said:

I am taking the SS Beatrice in September... this is my first Uniworld cruise.. I had gone back and forth between them and AMA.  Now I’m hoping I didn’t make the wrong choice!  

 

If your choice was between Uniworld and AMA it would be really hard to make the "wrong" choice as both consistently receive excellent reviews. Please, stop worrying. No cruise (or holiday, for that matter) is perfect but our four on Uniworld have come very close. We have friends who equally love AMA.

 

13 hours ago, scmom4kids said:

Can an you please tell me when you received information about the cruise?  Im so used to ocean cruises, and all the information being at my fingertips that I surprised that I know virtually nothing about this trip other then the stops.  I would love to know what excursions are offered, where exactly the ship is docked in Nuremberg, and what time should we board.  (we are doing Prague in our own, and need to figure out the best way to get to the ship). Please let me know if you have any suggestions for Prague! Thanks!

 

The cruise booklet should be available for download in the "already booked" section of the Uniworld website, as Ritabob has mentioned. Go have a look; it will answer most of your questions.

 

Prague is great but because it is so great, it's crowded. We went on our own for 3 days, 2 years ago. I did not blog about the trip but I have some pictures in SmugMug here: https://jpalbny.smugmug.com/Europe-201705/ The pictures are from the first few days (the rest of that trip is elsewhere).

 

If you have any specific questions about Prague, ask away, though it may be best to start a new thread because this one isn't about Prague and you may not get many replies here.

 

 

 

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We cruised on Uniworld on the Seine and the Rhone in May.  These were our first Uniworld cruises, so I cannot compare to previous Uniworld experiences, however the great majority of fellow passengers were Uniworld veterans, and did not seem to think that there has been any degradation of the quality of their experience.  Only one exception- one person was very put off about having to pay extra for Hendricks gin 🙄.  Only complaint that I heard.

I would say, however, that one of our cruise directors gave great info on our ports, and one of them....not so much.  I was a bit disappointed in the amount of info provided by Uniworld about our visited ports.

 

I have not cruised on AMA, but have on Tauck, and to me Tauck offers much that Uniworld does not.  

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17 hours ago, scmom4kids said:

I am taking the SS Beatrice in September... this is my first Uniworld cruise.. I had gone back and forth between them and AMA.  Now I’m hoping I didn’t make the wrong choice!  

 

Can an you please tell me when you received information about the cruise?  Im so used to ocean cruises, and all the information being at my fingertips that I surprised that I know virtually nothing about this trip other then the stops.  I would love to know what excursions are offered, where exactly the ship is docked in Nuremberg, and what time should we board.  (we are doing Prague in our own, and need to figure out the best way to get to the ship). Please let me know if you have any suggestions for Prague! Thanks!

Scmom - Which sailing will you be on in September?  We will be on the SS Beatrice for the September 25th sailing!

 

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3 hours ago, Inspirazione said:

Scmom - Which sailing will you be on in September?  We will be on the SS Beatrice for the September 25th sailing!

 

The same one!! Yay!  Do you know if there is a roll call for this cruise? I had looked a few months ago but didn’t see one.  My husband and I along with another couple will be traveling, from South Carolina.

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21 minutes ago, scmom4kids said:

The same one!! Yay!  Do you know if there is a roll call for this cruise? I had looked a few months ago but didn’t see one.  My husband and I along with another couple will be traveling, from South Carolina.

Oh yay!  There is not a roll call.  From what I understand there are very few roll calls since there are so few passengers compared to the regular ocean cruises. I would love to talk with you more.  email me?   kristi dot lell @ gmail dot com. 

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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. 

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  • 2 months later...

My wife and I just returned from a cruise with Uniworld.  The cruise, Portraits of Eastern Europe (August 26 to September 13) was our fourth with Uniworld since 2015.  The Uniworld product has declined in quality with each successive experience, so much so, that we probably will no longer consider Uniworld as the front-runner as we seek cruise lines for our next river cruise.

 

The three specific "cruise experience" areas we see a decline in quality are Staffing (not quality of the staff, but number of staff necessary to deliver a quality experience), Food and Beverage (quality, not quantity or preparation and presentation) and excursions.

 

Though we have no experience with the Beatrice before conversion to super ship status, our experience with the super ship iteration was not good.  The dining area designated as Max's (an an added-fees revenue center) is a wasted space.  During our fourteen days on the ship, I am only aware of it being utilize on two separate evenings - otherwise it sat empty while the regular dining room (Mozart's) was overcrowded and understaffed. Then there is Schubert's, a dining area at the front of Wolfgang's, the fourth deck bar and general assembly area (one deck above the normal dining room and kitchen deck), with terribly uncomfortable seating for dining and a drain on the already under-staffed wait staff that has to hike all meals up a stair case.  Speaking of Schubert's, it is an isolated area at the front of the upper deck that robs from the already inadequate Wolfgang's which is used for cruise briefings and presentations.  Coupled with the obvious understaffing, the poor traffic flow designs of the utilized dining areas made it impossible for the excellent wait staff to provide the dining experience they clearly wished they could. 

 

As to excursions, they were not well thought out and, in some cases, an insult.  Emphasis regarding excursions is clearly on added fee "optional" excursions.

 

We have always encouraged our friends to choose Uniworld when considering a first time river cruise, but unfortunately we will no longer do so.

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Farring ,Wow that's worrisome. I hate that feeling of being understaffed on my cruise. We had that with Avalon and I felt badly for our servers on that trip.We will be using Uniworld for the first time next Oct. We never felt understaffed with Viking. That's a shame the excursions you were on were not up to par. Hopefully this isn't a current fleet wide issue. 

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Farring, so sorry to hear about your experience. We’ve been with Uniworld for 7 wonderful cruises and are thinking about the Bucharest to Budapest route. Our first cruise was on the original Beatrice so we were looking forward to the new version, but what you have described of course is discouraging. We are also looking at AMA for the same route, which now seems more enticing.

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