This was our first river cruise and we worried it would be too small and slow for us. And it was.
We're very active, independent, well-traveled cruisers. We chose Uniworld based on its ratings and claims, and because we liked this itinerary plus the all-inclusive package. While we had some lovely experiences, saw some darling towns and met some special people (most from Down Under), we were disappointed by too much.
--Our category 2 room was appallingly small. The kind where two people cannot pass at the same time and one person could get hurt in the bathroom.
--We thought we would just pull up into nice towns and walk, but that happened only in Amsterdam, Rudesheim, Scheinfurt and Regensburg. Presumably we would have docked in Budapest (see below!).
--Five days into the 16 day voyage, we were informed the sun deck would be closed from Wertheim to Passau due to low bridges: that’s 8 days, half the journey! Since we did not have a balcony, that deck is the only place to enjoy the outdoors on board. I learned near the end you could actually go up there when the barricade was down. But that was not communicated. This is important info I wish I knew before I signed up.
--The food was was good but not great. The menu appeared to be spa-focused--healthy with smaller portions. That's a great premise and some of it was tasty. But more options would have been preferred, especially for dinner. (Really nice breakfast buffets).
-- Passengers tend to be more sedentary so there were less options for the more active. In response, Peter the fitness director took a small group out a couple of times including biking. The boat's bikes were OK and easy to check out and use.
--Finally, the communication was haphazard, relying on a debriefing each night before dinner by Agnes the cruise director. When things changed, we did not know and received contradictory info.
The biggest disappointment was going through the Middle Rhine, one of the highlights with its castles along the banks. We were told to go to the sun deck at 8 a.m. but around 7:25, we saw castles passing by our room and realized we had already missed at least 10 km of the gorge.
One day I was ready to go out for a walk before someone caught me to explain that plans had changed and we were in a different port and would be departing soon. I might have been stranded!
I suggested Agnes simply put a notice at the central reception area with any major changes. She said she wasn't allowed to.
On the plus side, Todol, the head of the dining room, was terrific and wrangled diet 7-up for me after I asked. There is self-service laundry for free (and for a fee), and a nice self-serve coffee machine down the hall (though it was busted for 3 days). Excursions were mostly good (whisper headsets were provided in your rooms). Some repeat travelers love Uniworld and felt very pampered.
The Danube was so low (no major rains since April) we became stuck (something you never think about!) and could not finish out the cruise. We ended up bussed to two hotel nights in Vienna and one in Budapest, which were lovely and obviously an unexpected expense for Uniworld.
That was a happy ending for us.
Nice but appallingly small.
A curator from the Van Gogh (pronounce it Van GAWK) museum came on board to give us an introduction. Then we got into the museum about 30 minutes before regular hours, which was just lovely. Next was a short canal cruise, which dropped us off at our dock by our boat.
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Bus ride was about 90 minutes to Heidelberg Castle on a very hot day. Lovely ruins with interesting architecture and shapes and views. The tour guide gave excruciating details, and was aghast when two of us decided to walk down to town. It only took about 15 minutes.