this is my 8th river cruise w/uniworld. I was picked up at the airport and whisked to the ship in time for dinner.
I realize river Victoria was rented, but from experience I expected better experience. the dining room staff didn't speak English yet a server told me they were all students picked because of their English language skills then trained to serve. the dining room manager told me they were difficult to supervise because they were not a team. dinner usually took 3 hours due to the very slow service and complaining to the manager didn't help. it was also difficult to get needs met when no one but the manager spoke English. the food was ho-hum. the menu had one meat, one fish and one vegetarian whereas the cruises in Germany also had a 'healthy choice' and if you didn't like anything on the menu there were also steak, chicken, caeser salad etc. offerings. Uniworld had brought a senior chef from Germany, but that didn't help. still mediochre fare.
I always get a class 2 or 3 cabin and I was pleased to have a balcony, but when we cruised north from Moscow it was too cold and rainy to sit there. big disappointment since one of the pleasures of river cruising for me is having my morning espresso on the balcony and watching the sunrise. as well as the cold we sailed on two lakes in northern Russia where the wind blew so hard the shipped rocked. one of the reasons I river cruise is to avoid seasickness. it's the first time on any river cruise I had to take Dramamine.
the itinerary was too exhausting. the first day we left the ship at 8:30 and returned at 5 pm. unpleasant after a long plane ride and jetlag. besides the length half the day was spent in gum mall and Ararat shopping street. boring. on cruises in france or Germany uniworld only spent half day touring and then you could return to the town for the rest of the day or relax on the ship. besides the shopkeepers in the mall didn't speak English and souveneer stands had limited and standard items always offering nesting dolls, fridge magnets, postcards etc. the next day was just as long and since I do not believe 'more is better' I don't even remember what we did after the kremlin museum, I enjoy museums and art galleries, but over the yrs I have learned cramming too much into a day brings info overload and I don't retain what I saw in the museum.
when we cruised north the days were either too long or spent shopping. arriving in st. Petersburg there were morning tours w/ optional tours in the afternoon. the cruise manager pushed the options on me, but I don't push easily. I took one option, the peter and paul fort, because I chose not to attend the ballet in the evening.
the highlight for me was 'the hermitage w/ the option to return to the ship at 3 or 4 pm. i signed up for 4 and returned at 3 pm., tired but happy.
the cruise ended poorly for me. I had arranged my own transfer to stay in a hotel near the hermitage and half way there realized we had not received notification to pick up our passports so i had to return to the ship. up until then I found the front desk staff helpful.
part of my disappointment was cold and rainy Russia which is not uniworld's fault. the other half was I had come to expect excellence from uniworld (i've tried Viking) not exhausting itineraries and poor food/dining service. on the whole the front desk staff were helpful and courteous as was the dining room manager, the hotel manager and cruise manager. I cannot, however recommend this tour and it has soured my impression of uniworld. my eighth cruise may be my last.
large, roomy. lots of closet space. bathrobe and slippers provided. flat screen tv that uniworld offered 'tsars of russia' series(which I own) and a channel that allowed me to access the lecture series if I was too tired to attend in person. large balcony.