‘Pampered’ on Rhine with Uniworld

This item appears on page 33 of the January 2012 issue.
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I’ve cruised rivers in Europe, China and northern India with several companies, but my April 3-10, 2011, Rhine River cruise on Uniworld’s River Empress surpassed them all for style and elegance in an intimate and relaxed setting. Most of all, I loved being pampered!

The price for the seven-day cruise from Frankfurt am Main to Amsterdam was $1,999 plus $625 for an upgrade. The single supplement was waived on this sailing!

Flying in business class with Lufthansa round trip from Los Angeles to Frankfurt via Munich cost $3,490. I booked through Henry Singh at Fare Buzz (New York, NY; 888/808-4123, ext. 193).

My 151-square-foot stateroom, No. 306, was luxurious. Unlike in most of the river ships I’ve experienced, on the River Empress the cabin climate could be individually controlled; the built-in closets were large; the twin mattresses when put together to make a double had padding so there wasn’t an uncomfortable gap; the flat-screen TV showed, besides movies, the daily menu and activities, and bottled water was provided daily.

Heavenly L’Occitane bath and body products, a cozy bathrobe and terrycloth slippers compensated for the small bathroom.

WiFi and laptops were available, and on board there were two computers, a library, a well-stocked bar, a masseur and a gym. A pianist played at afternoon tea.

On the first night, the lights dimmed and the captain and dining room staff sang as they walked to my table. I had not told anyone about my birthday, but they amazed me with a cake topped by a sparkler. That was the best birthday cake and surprise I’ve ever experienced during my many decades — indeed a fun beginning to a memorable cruise!

Uniworld’s exceptional cuisine was rated “Tops in Dining” in the 2010 Zagat Survey, the only river cruise company receiving such recognition. Dinners were open seating and accompanied by complimentary European wines as well as beer and soft drinks, and lunches included soft drinks. The wait staff was outstanding.

On the included tours at ports, Uniworld provided Quietvox headsets, so I didn’t miss any information from the knowledgeable and personable guides.

These were my favorite moments: walking and wine tasting in Bacharach; listening to Cruise Manager Rik’s narration about the castles as we cruised along the scenic Upper Middle Rhine Valley; visiting Arnhem’s Kröller-Müller Museum with its 91 paintings and 180-plus other works by van Gogh; seeing the acres of Volendam’s Keukenhof Gardens, bursting with blossoms of tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and narcissus, plus exploring the pavilion of rare, exotic orchids, and taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam.

The capacity of the River Empress is 134 guests; our sailing, with all cabins booked, had 116 (there were several singles on board). Everyone was treated like VIPs. I never saw or heard any frustrated, angry or demanding passengers. Thanks to the warm hospitality of the captain, managers, crew and staff, we all were relaxed and mellow.

I’m looking forward to another quiet “boutique” cruise with Uniworld. I love meeting people from many countries, listening to knowledgeable, interesting lecturers and tour guides, exploring new destinations and partaking of epicurean delights.

DOROTHY CHANG-VAN
HORN, Manhattan Beach, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I’ve cruised rivers in Europe, China and northern India with several companies, but my April 3-10, 2011, Rhine River cruise on Uniworld’s River Empress surpassed them all for style and elegance in an intimate and relaxed setting. Most of all, I loved being pampered!

The price for the seven-day cruise from Frankfurt am Main to Amsterdam was $1,999 plus $625 for an upgrade. The single supplement was waived on this sailing!

Flying in business class with Lufthansa round trip from Los Angeles to Frankfurt via Munich cost $3,490. I booked through Henry Singh at Fare Buzz (New York, NY; 888/808-4123, ext. 193).

My 151-square-foot stateroom, No. 306, was luxurious. Unlike in most of the river ships I’ve experienced, on the River Empress the cabin climate could be individually controlled; the built-in closets were large; the twin mattresses when put together to make a double had padding so there wasn’t an uncomfortable gap; the flat-screen TV showed, besides movies, the daily menu and activities, and bottled water was provided daily.

Heavenly L’Occitane bath and body products, a cozy bathrobe and terrycloth slippers compensated for the small bathroom.

WiFi and laptops were available, and on board there were two computers, a library, a well-stocked bar, a masseur and a gym. A pianist played at afternoon tea.

On the first night, the lights dimmed and the captain and dining room staff sang as they walked to my table. I had not told anyone about my birthday, but they amazed me with a cake topped by a sparkler. That was the best birthday cake and surprise I’ve ever experienced during my many decades — indeed a fun beginning to a memorable cruise!

Uniworld’s exceptional cuisine was rated “Tops in Dining” in the 2010 Zagat Survey, the only river cruise company receiving such recognition. Dinners were open seating and accompanied by complimentary European wines as well as beer and soft drinks, and lunches included soft drinks. The wait staff was outstanding.

On the included tours at ports, Uniworld provided Quietvox headsets, so I didn’t miss any information from the knowledgeable and personable guides.

These were my favorite moments: walking and wine tasting in Bacharach; listening to Cruise Manager Rik’s narration about the castles as we cruised along the scenic Upper Middle Rhine Valley; visiting Arnhem’s Kröller-Müller Museum with its 91 paintings and 180-plus other works by van Gogh; seeing the acres of Volendam’s Keukenhof Gardens, bursting with blossoms of tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and narcissus, plus exploring the pavilion of rare, exotic orchids, and taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam.

The capacity of the River Empress is 134 guests; our sailing, with all cabins booked, had 116 (there were several singles on board). Everyone was treated like VIPs. I never saw or heard any frustrated, angry or demanding passengers. Thanks to the warm hospitality of the captain, managers, crew and staff, we all were relaxed and mellow.

I’m looking forward to another quiet “boutique” cruise with Uniworld. I love meeting people from many countries, listening to knowledgeable, interesting lecturers and tour guides, exploring new destinations and partaking of epicurean delights.

DOROTHY CHANG-VAN
HORN, Manhattan Beach, CA