I am a three-time Uniworld cruiser and have been on about a dozen river/ocean cruises and never have I had a more terrible experience than this one.
On the first day, my cabin smelled like something had died in there. The crew confirmed this to be true. The terrible hotel director Andre (who seems to have a chip on his shoulder that he isn’t using his law degree) refused to acknowledge or confirm there were any issues on the ship.
For the first night they had to put me up in a hotel the smell was so bad. My dad went in my place as he didn’t like the idea of me in a random hotel by myself. The next day the smell was gone because they masked it with a heavy floral perfume scent. No other cabins had this scent. The hotel director offered to put me in a crew cabin instead but the crew member pulled me into her cabin to show me her room smelled too.
Although frustrated I didn’t want to spoil my trip so resolved to stay out of my room as much as possible. Unfortunately, there was an Australian couple who told me “they weren’t racist”, but they were inclined to think poorly of my family and friends because we were all Asian. The couple, explained that there were a lot of Chinese people in Sydney, where they were from, who were so rude so they expected us to be the same. Later on, while on tour, the husband got in my face and screamed at me to “go away” and then shoved me. I can only surmise what I did that enraged him but I was speaking to his wife and I think he somehow interpreted it as a threat.
Uniworld’s response was ambivalence. So here I was, unable to go into my cabin because of the horrid smell and unable to leave because of fear that this violent racist man (who was located on the same floor as me) would do me further harm.
Both during the trip and after, Uniworld corporate lied to our travel agent about what was happening on the ship (they said everything was fine and indicated concessions (a bottle of win, chocolate) were made that only materialized after we showed the email stating they had done so to the hotel director.
Additionally when our travel agent told Uniworld to reach out to us directly by phone after the trip they told her they would not. Instead they sent us a form letter apologizing for the lack of A/C . (The A/C was never at issue) and a $250 future cruise credit and $400 check for the inconvenience.
I have no desire to spend luxury dollars on a uninhabitable living space only to be shoved by violent racist guests. I understand Uniworld has no choice in their guests but that doesn’t mean I should have to put up with them either.
For those who feel inclined, especially if you are a POC, avoid, avoid, avoid. This cruise line doesn’t deserve your business.
-I did explore Porto before the cruise. It’s a lovely city and deserves plenty of time.
-embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly
-dining: food was average but service was excellent. All the waiters attempt to outdo each other in service.
-entertainment and activities: it’s a small ship and short cruise so there’s not much in the way of activities outside a general pianist/entertainer who plays retro hits after mealtimes. There’s a performance by a “tuna” (Portuguese a capella band) and a pair of singers one other night.
-ports and shore excursions are subject to last minute changes but that is the nature of cruising so as long as you aren’t 100% set on the itinerary posted you will enjoy yourself. Our cruise director was thoughtful, well-spoken and kind. The excursions are a nice mix of free time and information making for an overall relaxing experience.
-I did not travel with any children
-given the other issues mentioned in the bulk of the review, I would not go again.
Smells like something died, which they cover up with heavy perfume. Information book is falling apart. Generally subpar compared to the Uniworld owned ships (this is a Douro Azul ship).
We did this on our own and highly recommend.
Ana, the maitre’d, had her friend drive us around and it was inexpensive and convenient.