Jump to content

Tauck or Scenic vs Uniworld?


Caligirl58
 Share

Recommended Posts

We have done two Uniworld cruises - Castles Along the Rhine (2017) and Delightful Danube & Prague (2019).  The first was excellent in all respects; the second was enjoyable but seemed to lack some of the quality of the first (which I posted about afterward).  As we look forward to being able to cruise again, we are evaluating which cruise line to book.  Going back with Uniworld is still a consideration - in hopes that the issues we noticed in 2019 were a one-off.  But we're also looking at Scenic and Tauck.  (We'd also consider Crystal but are concerned about their financial stability.)  Would love to get thoughts/suggestions from those who have cruised  any or all of these lines.  (If it helps, we are early 60's and active.  Don't mind dressing up a bit for dinner but not interested in a stuffy/high-brow atmosphere.)  Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't speak to Tauck but we've sailed with Scenic and Uniworld. We thought both were outstanding but for us, Scenic's special excursions and events won us over. The other obvious difference is décor. Do you prefer the ultra clean contemporary of Scenic or the very fancy, fussy of Uniworld? Both are impressive, it's just which speaks to you. One final thought. We so enjoyed the fun casual atmosphere our Aussie shipmates brought to the party. 

Good luck with your decision. I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with any of the companies you listed. Let us know what you decide.

 

Paul

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wings55 - Thank you for your input -- very helpful!  We don't really have a preference in terms of decor - just the overall level of service and the feeling of value for our vacation dollar.  The excursions/events are important to us, and that is one area where we felt that our last Uniworld cruise fell a little short.  So that might be a good reason to try Scenic.  As well as the fun Aussie shipmates!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did three cruises with Uniworld.  2015 - 8 days Prague to Basel, 2017 8 days Lyon to Arles, and 2019 19 days Bucharest to Prague.  

 

2015 on River Ambassador (small older ship, now part of U program) was magnificent.  Cabins extremely small. but functional.  Passenger care and attention unparalleled.  Excursions well planned and guides professional.  CD top notch.  Fellow passengers engaging and gracious. Never more than 20 in an excursion group, including those requiring bus. Determined to book another river cruise with Uniworld at completion.

 

2017 on SS Catherine (new SS Class).  Cabin larger than River Ambassador (French Balcony on both ships) and comfortable.  Larger ship w/more passengers, but excursion groups and bus population similar.  excursion guides not equal to 2015 and excursions themselves rather "spontaneous".  CD less engaged and, unfortunately, overwhelmed by a large group.  Food quality inferior to previous cruise, servers again 1st class.  Notably, Maitre de absent and quality and availability of wines diminished.

 

2019 on SS Beatrice.  Horrible ship.  Rooms (again top deck French Balcony) reconfigured to accommodate rear "chef's kitchen", that was not used during the entire 19 day cruise.  Result, cabins with less actual useable floor space.  Had to ask to have table and chair removed from room to free up floor space.  Beginning of the new CEO era, many passengers products of the "deal of the month" new marketing programs.  Excursions double capacity we had previously experienced (2015, 2017).  Guides good from Bucharest to just before Hungary.  From Hungary-West, guides and excursions "iffy" at best.

Again, Maitre de absent, but re-designed dining room was a killer for servers and staff - limited access at mid room from port to starboard, creating (obviously frustrating) obstacle to efficient service.  Server staff non-present on sun deck on day-cruises.  Last two port excursions not delivered, no verifiable reason provided.  Post cruise in Prague a disaster.  We circled Prague for two hours on a packed bus (passed our hotel twice before stopping).  Hotel at least two stars below the one we stayed in just 4 years earlier with Uniworld.  So bad, we departed the next day and went to Dubrovnik.

 

To this day, we receive the "Great Deal", "Deal ending tomorrow" and "Deal Extended" email blast from Uniworld, as past passengers.  Uniworld has changed since 2015. We have booked elsewhere.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We had the same dilemma and Scenic & Tauck were our finalists.

We like having no added charges & casual dining.

We choose Scenic for some of the same reasons listed, although I fear the Aussies are going to be excluded from our September cruise.

 

I like that Tauck also offers some really good land excursion tours as well.  Their Scotland trip may be our next visit to Europe!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have river cruised with Scenic 8 times they have never failed to produce an absolutely superb product. Before anyone asks we would use another company if they came up with an itinerary we wanted to pursue. The crews are amazing and you can get away without opening your purse or wallet. Your right at the moment I would miss the Aussies but it’s not possible to go at the moment next year here we come. We are off to our place in Scotland in September looking forward to that.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have sailed with Uni and Tauck, both very good but different.  I felt the quality of the tours with Tauck was the biggest difference.  There are three tour managers onboard and smaller groups with more options within each excursion.  Fast walkers, slower walkers, more in-depth tour or quick overview tour with more free time. Some days there are choices of tour.  Also with Tauck quite often there will be a special onshore dinner once in the cruise.  The entertainment on Tauck was much more interesting and frequent.  The cabins on Tauck seemed to be laid out better, especially the bathroom.  There are two dining venues on many Tauck ships - not sure about Uniworld. I also think the Tauck passenger  count tends to be lower than Uni.  If itinerary is the same I would choose Tauck and in fact that’s just what I did on an upcoming Douro cruise. Both lines have brand new especially built ships and I’m happy to sail with Tauck again.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for taking time to respond.  I value and appreciate your thoughts very much.  After our 2019 cruise (SS Beatrice), I posted about the decline in quality.  At least one responder suggested that maybe it was just our perception.  So I'm thankful for the validation that at least some others have noticed the same thing.  Very sad, because our first experience with Uniworld was exceptional.  We will spend some time looking over the Tauck and Scenic itineraries, as it sounds like either one would be worth a try for our next cruise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not done Scenic, but  have done 2 cruises on both Tauck and Uniworld.  I think that both of these lines offer an excellent product, but for me , Tauck is a cut above.

This is from the summary of my Uniworld trip report:

 

Finally, as much as enjoyed this trip and was impressed with the Uniworld product, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I think I would have been a lot more blown away had I never cruised on Tauck.  I say this not to demean Uniworld, but it is difficult for me to not compare.  There are quite a few things that Tauck does, that Uniworld does not , here are some of the most notable:

·   Uniworld had one person who is Cruise Manager, responsible for the organization of onboard activities and tours.  Tauck has a Cruise Director for onboard activities and three(!) Tour Directors.  As good as A.J. was, there is no way that one person can do the job compared  to 4. The Tour Directors are all very knowledgeable, but  each have their own areas of special expertise.  This is very helpful in daily briefings, and in having lectures and presentations during the cruise.

·   Gala evenings, such as a dinner in a castle with opera singers and classical music

·   Special tours such as a tour of an opera house when it is closed to the public.  Including a surprise performance by opera singers.

·   Evening onboard cultural events, such as a string quartet in Prague, local dancers in Strasbourg, Alpine Horn player in Basel. They have other evening events such as Name That Tune and trivia.  On one of our cruises, the crew put on a show.  At the very least, there is a piano player in the evening.

 

Having said that, given the fact that Uniworld's portfolio of itineraries is far more extensive than that of Tauck, there is little doubt in my mind that we will cruise with Uniworld again.  And when we do, we will do so with eager anticipation and high expectations.

 

Bob

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Bob for this comparison.  It sums up what I have concluded based on my research:  Tauck is great, but the itineraries are very limited.  [I can't get past the Uniworld decor, and after viewing their new ships for the Douro and especially Venice it is clear that over-the-top is their style.]  Crystal is another line with great reviews but limited itineraries.  So I will be paying close attention this spring with back-to-back AMA and Scenic cruises, both lines with extensive itineraries and great reviews.  [I have already cruised three times on AMA, always very good – the question is whether Scenic can surpass them.  I already like the design of the Scenic ships and the itineraries/excursions as described.]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just received a brochure from Scenic and decided to compare it with our Crystal itinerary.  It is almost sold out for a Rhine cruise next July or August.  Be sure to check availability as well as comparisons.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@boblerm, your post is making me look forward to my first Tauck cruise even more.  I received an email from Tauck saying it's a go.  We shall see.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Roz said:

@boblerm, your post is making me look forward to my first Tauck cruise even more.  I received an email from Tauck saying it's a go.  We shall see.  

Great Roz. When and where are you going?

My next cruise is Tauck's Duoro River in October.

Fingers crossed! 🤞

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@boblerm, my cruise is Yuletide Spirit: Amsterdam to Brussels leaving Amsterdam on December 6.  I'm sailing on ms Grace.  

 

Honestly, what attracted me to this cruise was NO single supplement, visiting The Netherlands and Belgium, and it's easy for me to get time off between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Christmas markets are an added bonus and it will be nice to see the cities all lit up and decorated, but that wasn't the main attraction.  I think Tauck may be the only river cruise line that does the Dutch and Belgian Christmas markets.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, boblerm said:

I have not done Scenic, but  have done 2 cruises on both Tauck and Uniworld.  I think that both of these lines offer an excellent product, but for me , Tauck is a cut above.

This is from the summary of my Uniworld trip report:

 

Finally, as much as enjoyed this trip and was impressed with the Uniworld product, I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I think I would have been a lot more blown away had I never cruised on Tauck.  I say this not to demean Uniworld, but it is difficult for me to not compare.  There are quite a few things that Tauck does, that Uniworld does not , here are some of the most notable:

·   Uniworld had one person who is Cruise Manager, responsible for the organization of onboard activities and tours.  Tauck has a Cruise Director for onboard activities and three(!) Tour Directors.  As good as A.J. was, there is no way that one person can do the job compared  to 4. The Tour Directors are all very knowledgeable, but  each have their own areas of special expertise.  This is very helpful in daily briefings, and in having lectures and presentations during the cruise.

·   Gala evenings, such as a dinner in a castle with opera singers and classical music

·   Special tours such as a tour of an opera house when it is closed to the public.  Including a surprise performance by opera singers.

·   Evening onboard cultural events, such as a string quartet in Prague, local dancers in Strasbourg, Alpine Horn player in Basel. They have other evening events such as Name That Tune and trivia.  On one of our cruises, the crew put on a show.  At the very least, there is a piano player in the evening.

 

Having said that, given the fact that Uniworld's portfolio of itineraries is far more extensive than that of Tauck, there is little doubt in my mind that we will cruise with Uniworld again.  And when we do, we will do so with eager anticipation and high expectations.

 

Bob

Thank you, Bob.  Very helpful!  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/18/2021 at 8:56 AM, sharkster77 said:

Have never traveled with Uniworld, but there have been lots of comments on these boards about the deterioration in overall quality with Uniworld.

I sailed with Uniworld in Oct 2019 and found the entire experience fabulous😃.......no deterioration in my view.....I am trying to figure out another river cruise for next year and Uniworld is definitely on my list.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi boblerm,

I second Roz when I say that your post is making me look forward to our first Tauck cruise even more.  Sadly, it's not until Summer '22 as our sailing was canceled for this Summer.  We've done four Uniworld trips (and will sail with them again for sure) but thought we'd branch out & try Tauck.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've done two with Tauck, with my third booked for this November.  So I can't compare, but can say I've been very impressed with Tauck.  We've made continuing friendships on both cruises, so from that perspective, I find the other passengers interesting and fun.  The excursions always seem to have a little extra to them, that I'm not sure you get with other companies.  We did the Rhine river cruise that ended at Oktoberfest in Munich and it was unbelievable all they had done to make that an amazing experience.  Right down to a full phone consultation ahead of time about our sizing, so that we arrived to perfectly fitting outfits that had been rented for us to wear to the fest.  We've had bartenders go looking for local craft beers for my husband while we are stopped in a town, just based on casual conversations at the bar.  Guides have used their free time to show us their favorite out of the way spots or to help us order in a restaurant for meals on our own.  Food has been outstanding, and the lectures and entertainment on board have been great.  Again, I have nothing to compare it to, but you certainly wouldn't be disappointed with Tauck.  

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Fa-Li said:

I've done two with Tauck, with my third booked for this November.  So I can't compare, but can say I've been very impressed with Tauck.  We've made continuing friendships on both cruises, so from that perspective, I find the other passengers interesting and fun.  

Would like to second that we met much friendlier, engaging and just interesting people on Truck than Uniworld.  Honestly don’t know why that would be but there was a definite difference. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Would like to second that we met much friendlier, engaging and just interesting people on Truck than Uniworld.  Honestly don’t know why that would be but there was a definite difference. 

That's great to hear!  We've done 4 Uniworld's & have met some nice people but they've been more of the idle chitchat while waiting for the bus type of thing.  We've done 9 land tours with Tauck & have met fun people on every one.  We were even in on a wedding proposal at the top of Blarney Castle in Ireland on one trip.  I always just thought that since a river cruise has a lot more people on it than a bus tour maybe that was why people weren't quite as chatty.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just realized my “Truck” typo!  Whoops.  I’m sure it’s possible to meet like-minded people anywhere but I noticed a difference on the cruises I was on.  I think with the cocktail hour, seating in the restaurants and small tour groups you end up being pretty social on river cruises in general.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Would like to second that we met much friendlier, engaging and just interesting people on Truck than Uniworld.  Honestly don’t know why that would be but there was a definite difference. 

My experience has been that the people that I met on Tauck and Uniworld both were equally friendly, well traveled and interesting.  I would not use this as a factor to be considered in choosing a cruise.

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: PONANT Cruises & Expeditions
      • Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Q&A with American Queen Voyages
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...