Uniworld does a great job of bringing aboard historians and lecturers who can share ideas and knowledge about the local area. Among the talks are details about the World War II history of the area, including a visit to local bunkers, and in-depth explanations about wine tasting and varietals of the region.
Uniworld is seeing interest in more active excursions and has stocked more bikes aboard its ships for passengers to borrow. Since the ship cruises only the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, excursions stick to a solid mix of vineyard tours, visits to beautiful villages and optional opportunities to visit special sites for sunrise dune photos or painting on the river shores with wine.
All shore excursions are included, except a few special experiences that can be tacked on for extra fun. Dubbed Masterpiece Collection excursions, these are unique activities, such as cooking classes and sunrise hikes, which can be prebooked before arriving onboard.
Tours are typically only a few hours to allow passengers to pick and choose between wandering on their own or joining one of the group tours. Options vary for different interests, including the ability to experience more active tours, like hikes, or something more leisurely, like a stroll through a vineyard. Most involve short coach drives to the destination, but none is very far given the smaller scope of the ship's itinerary. Those with mobility issues are usually well-informed about which tours are most suitable for them in advance by the always-accessible cruise director.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Each evening, performers keep the mood lively and entertaining in the lounge. Expect everything from musicians to local cancan dancers that are sure to get any party started. Depending upon the port, activities can vary.
Even if you think you know everything, the onboard lectures do a solid job of adding context and detailed local description. Cabins add their own lengthy list of onscreen entertainment and documentaries available through the wall-mounted flat-screen TVs.
Le Salon Champagne (Deck 3): Inspired by Yves Saint Laurent's home, the decor here brings together Art Deco accents with period French style. Brass architectural pieces, 14-year-old palm trees, plush conversation seating and a small space for entertainment fill the room. At the center, the main bar is always staffed when passengers are in the lounge. During the day, this is a popular place to lounge with a book or to use the free wireless internet.
The top Soleil Deck wows with its infinity-edge, heated plunge pool at the rear of the ship; Uniworld says this is the first of its kind for a river ship. It features attractive blue and white mosaic tiles that were brought in from South Africa. Cafe seating around the small pool is popular on sunny days and shaded lounge chairs with plump cushions in quintessentially French white and blue patterns line the top deck. Made from Sunbrella outdoor fabric, they feature images of a playful Indian tiger.
Laps around the ship are a great way to get in your steps for the day. This is also where the ship stores its fleet of bikes that passengers can borrow for self-guided tours in each stop or for dedicated shore excursions.
Jars of various kinds of candy at reception draw passengers and help keep the 24-hour staff engaged with everyone (the gummy bears seem to be the most popular, by the way). Wireless internet throughout the ship is free and an upgraded system was installed to boost speed and accessibility during the remodel. It works well but is best in the main lounge and near reception. The former library -- rarely used -- has been transformed into a small passenger workstation with internet-equipped computer.
An elevator in the center of the lobby reaches all decks, except the alfresco top floor, which makes most of the ship fully accessible. When passengers disembark, they must remember to bring not only their keycard, but also the barcoded card to swipe at the kiosk. Many ports also use a gated system as a second layer of security, which locks at a certain time. Ask for the key code in advance if you plan to stay out late.
The ship is nonsmoking with the exception of a dedicated area on the top deck. Sustainability efforts are strong with Uniworld. Passengers will find carafes of filtered water in each cabin with metal bottles that they can refill at the coffee stations any time during the cruise. This cuts down on plastic usage, and plastic straws and other materials have been eliminated from inventory.
A fitness center in the back of the ship has modern equipment positioned toward the windows for maximum views. Wellness coaches are part of the line's programming to lead fitness and yoga classes (sometimes in memorable locations on shore), plus special excursions like biking and hiking. You'll also find healthier "Traveling Lite" options designated on all shipboard menus.
Massage and beauty appointments using French toiletries are available to book via reception.
The minimum age to sail is 4, which might surprise many travelers, although this is only a common experience during holiday periods. Still, the line does makes extra effort to cater to families with connecting cabins aboard this ship and special menu touches for kids.