The Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy river cruise is as close to perfect as you can get. The journey began when we were picked up at the airport by Uniworld and whisked off to the ship for a delicious lunch while waiting a very short while for our rooms to be ready. Throughout the week, the staff was courteous and helpful going above and beyond our expectations. The rooms, though small, were beautifully decorated and very comfortable. There was always a full jar of candies welcoming us back from our shore excursions. The shore excursions were varied and interesting. The guides were great, especially Susan whose knowledge and delivery were outstanding. Venice is beautiful and we were able to experience her treasures while docked at her doorstep. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were culinary delights. We eagerly awaited each meal! Breakfast was served buffet style with an omelette station. The choices included fruits, pastries, cereals, juices, eggs, meats, pancakes and the most delicious French toast! Lunch, also served buffet style, consisted of a fresh made pasta station, carving station and an abundant variety of hot and cold choices native to the region. Desserts were great - tiramisu, gelato, pastries and every variety of mousse completed the meal. Dinner was a five-star dining delight. Fresh seafood and locally grown produce were especially delicious. Meats and vegetarian choices consisted of Italian favorites like osso bucco and lasagna a la Bolognese.
The hotel manager, Damiano, was helpful and ever present. The head chef was so friendly and frequently came to the table to ask how we enjoyed the meal. He seemed to take great pride in our compliments which were effusive. The wait staff were all so friendly and made sure that we dining experience was enjoyable. One waitress, Timea, was particularly friendly - never without a smile.
A special highlight of our trip was a visit to the markets at Chioggia with lunch on a mussel harvesting dock in the middle of the sea. The market stalls lined the streets and seemed to go on forever. The mussel and seafood lunch was freshly harvested and delicious.
The cabin was a standard cabin with a French balcony. The decor and bead linens were beautiful. The marble bathroom was small but lovely.