This was my fifth European river cruise (first on Uniworld, the others on Avalon). Uniworld is marketed as a Six Star Luxury river cruise line. We decided to give them a try. Portugal was a destination on our list so we booked the only Uniworld itinerary offered, roundtrip Porto on the Queen Isabel. Our first surprise (of many to come) was the arrival of our cruise documents. This consisted of a piece of paper with the name of the ship, name of the itinerary, sailing date, and two luggage tags. No detailed itinerary or instruction. We were told we had to go on their website, download (which required cut and paste) and print.
Three days before sailing my wife received an email from Uniworld that advised us the ship would not be departing from Porto because of high water on the river. Instructions were sparse – go to the Porto port the day of sailing, look for the Uniworld representative, and she would direct us to a bus for us to be driven to the next port to board the Queen Isabel. There was no mention of the location of where the rep would be or the time to meet her.
Instructions in the email also recommended we call the boat the day of sailing if we needed assistance. Wanting more details, my wife called the Uniworld sales office in LA the day before sailing, and was given the same information. No additional details were provided. The morning of sailing, my wife called the sales office again, only to be told the boat was departing from Porto, and to go to the pier to board the ship. Wrong information. Each time my wife called, she was placed on hold, so the agent could talk to a supervisor to try and find out more information.
The only information given was for us to go to the port and a Uniworld representative would be there all day to meet us. There was no one there when we got to the port and after three phone calls to the boat, we were told the rep was on another boat, at the end of the port, the third one out .We had to walk through these two to get to her. All the while dragging luggage from one end of the port to the other.
The next surprise was the ship. The toilets weren’t working right, and hot water was intermittent. Movies were not available. When they got the toilets working that same day, we had to endure a high pressure flush that I’m sure woke up the surrounding rooms (because I certainly heard them) as it ended with a boom! This was never fixed.
Due to high waters, the ship only moved across the river to a refueling point the first five days. In the meanwhile, we were bussed daily to different destinations (Porto twice). We finally sailed to Porto on day 6 and the plan was more excursions to Porto for the remaining two days.
The food on this ship was not up to advertised luxury cruise standards.
The crew was very professional. It appeared the operational decisions on our daily routines were made late the night before.
The actions by Uniworld on this cruise were not worthy of a “Six Star” luxury cruise line. I would think twice before going on this Uniworld cruise.
The cabin was adequate and the wifi connection worked. We cringed everytime we had to flush the toilet as it sounded like a freight train coming through a tunnel with a boom at the end.