My wife has always wanted to travel down the Danube so for her birthday I booked a suite on Uniworld's SS Maria Theresa departing from Passau. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and spent the first night in Munich at the airport Hilton, arranged by Uniworld. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of accommodations (for an airport hotel) and the breakfast buffet was among the best we have experienced anywhere.
The SS Maria Theresa is a stunning vessel. The decor is a bit like what might happen if Laura Ashley and Liberace had a love child but having said that, the detail is high end, inviting and comfortable. Our suite had two floor-to-ceiling picture windows, one at the foot of the bed and one fronting an adjacent sitting area that could be opened to waist level. When the ship was moving it was like having your personal travel video scrolling in front of you. If you book a suite, butler service is included, which we found to be a nice touch.
The Uniworld staff were clearly selected and trained to provide service excellence. They were adept at solving problems and were committed to making the trip memorable for everyone. I had heard that the food selection and quality was excellent on Uniworld but again our expectations were exceeded. Much of the food and wine were locally sourced and the attention to detail in terms of prep and presentation were what you would hope to experience in a fine dining restaurant. Wines were local and thoughtfully chosen to match the food. Liquor was top shelf. If you absolutely had to have Dom Perignon or a rare brandy not included in the main bars they had a "diamond collection" at an additional charge.
Shore excursions were selected for all levels of activity from "gentle" tours that featured slow paced walks and buses to more strenuous bike tours, hikes, and "do as the locals do" walks. My favorite was a 20 mile bike ride from Melk to Durnstein. The relatively flat course wound through forests, vineyards, and small towns, and then ran along the Danube into Durnstein. It was truly magical. The guides at each destination were local, knowledgeable, their love for their respective cities was contagious. Enrichment activities made each stop even more memorable - visiting with a gentleman trying establish Saffron as a crop in Durnstein; a family who runs a cider farm outside of Linz (who also make some of the best Schnaps I have tasted); an historical scholar from Vienna who gave a mesmerizing talk on Maria Theresa.
Bottom line - we are already planning our next cruise with Uniworld.