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River Empress Review

Find a River Empress Cruise from £2,199

River Empress
5.0 / 5.0
56 reviews

Pros
Impeccable service, sumptuous cabins and delicious cuisine are hallmarks of the ship
Cons
Limited facilities compared to more modern river ships
Bottom Line

About

Passengers
130

Crew
41

Passenger to Crew
3.17:1

Launched
2002

Shore Excursions
54
Sails To
Europe
Sails From
Uniworld Cruise Deals
Adam Coulter
Cruise Critic UK Managing Editor

River Empress Overview

River Empress is one of the older ships in Uniworld's fleet, dating back to 2002, and a one-off (not part of a "class"). Like its fleetmates, it goes through a regular series of refurbishments to keep it looking brand new, with the most recent taking place in 2013.

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The good news is that everything looks so fresh out of the box, it's hard to tell that this 130-passenger Grand Dame is deep into her teenage years.

Since the ship's launch, however, river cruising has come a long way, and some of Uniworld's more modern river boats have features such as (small) swimming pools, hot tubs, multiple lounges and alternative restaurants.

River Empress has none of these, harking back to an era of more simple river cruising, with one main dining room, an al fresco dining area (in good weather), two small lounges and a large, open top deck.

But there are three aspects of River Empress that make it exceptional, despite its age. The first is the ship's extraordinary attention to detail, giving you the feeling that you really are staying in a luxury, country house boutique hotel (run your hands along the walls of the corridor, they are all padded). The second is the astonishing level of service. True, river ships are small and the atmosphere is far more personal than large cruise ships, but the staff and crew go out of their way from the moment you step onboard to make you feel at home. After a day or two they know your seating, drinking and dining preferences.

The third is the dining, which is outstanding. Often locally sourced, and reflecting the region, meals are complemented by local wines. River Empress sails along the Danube, Main and Rhine, so expect Rieslings and local Alsatian and Bavarian foods to appear on the menu.

Another highlight is that the ship often sails during daylight hours during particularly scenic stretches of the river, so passengers can enjoy the view while lunching. Docking at night means you have the chance to stroll around in town after dinner. On River Empress, you'll have the best of both worlds.


Top River Empress Itineraries

River Empress
7 night castles along the rhine (2021)

Basel, Strasbourg, Speyer, Rudesheim, Koblenz, Cologne, Amsterdam

7 Night Castles Along The Rhine (2021)

River Empress

View All Uniworld River Empress Itineraries (5)

Fellow Passengers

Not so long ago, River Empress would fit neatly into the traditional river image of elderly (65+) American and Australian couples (and the odd Brit). While that has not fundamentally changed, what has happened in recent years is a younger demographic (mid to late 40s) are trying river cruising for the first time, and -- in the school summer holidays and on the Christmas Market cruises -- families, often multigenerational, will be onboard. This is no accident. Uniworld put out its first dedicated family brochure at the start of 2016 and River Empress has a number of family cruises in July and August, with activities and care specifically for children. There are activities on offer for children as young as three, but most children will be seven years old and above.

The vast majority of passengers are English speaking, all literature is in English, all staff speak English, all briefings are in English and all tours are in English. There are no announcements onboard.


Uniworld River Empress Dress Code

Passengers should go casual and comfortable during the day -- slacks and T-shirts are perfectly acceptable. Bring along good walking shoes, a raincoat and something warm during the shoulder seasons (March/April and September/October). A hat is recommended for July and August, due to the heat. Evenings are a little more "dressy", but this is not enforced, and no one will frown upon you if you're still wearing the same day clothes -- although the ship might draw the line at shorts and flip-flops at dinner. There is one semi-dressy evening, and that is the Captain's Dinner when a jacket for men and dress for women is recommended.


River Empress Inclusions

Uniworld is one of the most inclusive of all the river cruise lines, and upfront fares reflect that; it's considered a luxury river line. Everything except spa treatments, one or two shore excursions and a handful of premium alcohol brands is included -- gratuities, most excursions, wines and spirits, Internet and shuttles to town are all included in the price of your fare.

The only alcoholic beverages that are not included are the "Diamond Selection" of brands (which include Hennessy XO brandy, Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Chivas Regal and premium Champagnes). These are however available to suite guests at no charge.

Fares are inclusive of gratuities for onboard and onshore services.

The currency onboard is the U.S. dollar.


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River Empress Ratings

CategoryEditorMember
Cabins5.04.2
Dining5.04.6
Entertainment3.03.9
Public Rooms4.04.7
Fitness Recreation4.04
Family4.05
Enrichment2.04.3
Service5.04.8
Value For Money5.04.5

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More about Uniworld River Empress

Where does Uniworld River Empress sail from?

Uniworld River Empress departs from Amsterdam

Where does Uniworld River Empress sail to?

Uniworld River Empress cruises to Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz, Basel, Strasbourg, Speyer, Rudesheim, Rotterdam, Arnhem and Frankfurt

How much does it cost to go on Uniworld River Empress?

Cruises on Uniworld River Empress start from £2,199 per person.

Awards and Recognition

Uniworld River Empress Member Reviews

River Empress
Juliet De Souza
Sail Date: Sep 2018
Sal and i have just got back from a fabulous Rhine River Cruise on the River Empress. We enjoyed every minute on the elegant yet cozy ship.... Read More
River Empress
May B
Sail Date: Apr 2018
We were quite pleased with all of the meals aboard the River Empress.... Read More
River Empress
Chocs
Sail Date: Aug 2019
This was our first cruise and we were celebrating a special occasion. Everything was great - cabin layout quite adequate with lovely big comfy bed, lovely en suite with great shower, all sparkling clean. Food was... Read More
River Empress
WashingtonTraveler
Sail Date: Mar 2018
Very friendly welcome on this nice river boat. Cabin and bathroom small but very well decorated and efficiently furnished. All public areas are lovely.... Read More

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection Fleet

River Empress
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

56 reviews

River Empress is one of the older ships in Uniworld's fleet, dating back to 2002. It's also a one-off (not part of a "class").

Uniworld River Empress Cruises to Europe View All Uniworld River Empress Cruises
River Princess
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


River Princess' ambiance is different from that of sister ship River Empress, with starker and bolder decor, honey-colored woods, aluminum accents and a jewel-toned palette.

River Duchess

Uniworld's River Duchess features three passenger decks plus a sun deck. Unlike other ships in the fleet, staterooms have no windows that open.

River Queen

Uniworld's River Queen, launched in 1999, set the standard for the company's new-builds; it's the first to boast an elevator and launderette.

River Tosca
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Holding 82 passengers, River Tosca brings Uniworld's brand of luxury cruising to the Nile River, with experienced tour guides that show you the best of Egypt.

River Countess
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The most luxurious river cruise on Italy's Po, the 134-passenger River Countess surpasses any other river vessel based in Venice.

S.S. Antoinette

S.S. Antoinette launched in March 2011. The 164-passenger vessel offers a serious wow factor with its unique-to-river-cruising features, including suites with clever open-air balconies.

River Victoria

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises re-launched River Victoria in 2011 after an extensive refurb (it was built in 1982). The 206-passenger boat sails Russia's Volga River between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

S.S. Catherine

The 159-passenger S.S. Catherine is elegant, comfortable, colorful and whimsical, with some some staterooms having both private balconies and French verandahs.

Queen Isabel
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Built in Portugal, furnished with locally crafted furniture and staffed by Portuguese crew (with the exception of the Dutch chef), the ship is reassuringly authentic.

Century Legend (Uniworld)

Uniworld's chartered vessel carries 398 passengers and sails on China's Yangtze River.

S.S. Maria Theresa
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


One of Europe's most elegant river ships; onboard attractions include a cinema, fitness centre, spa, salon and swimming pool.

Joie de Vivre
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Uniworld's Joie de Vivre lives up to its name, bringing together the joys of life: fabulous food, wine, music, art, design and travel with family and friends.

Ganges Voyager II
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Since 2016, Uniworld has put the Ganges Voyager II under exclusive charter, offering two-week trips that combine a land tour of India's Golden Triangle cities -- Delhi, Agra and Jaipur -- with seven nights on the Ganges.

S.S. Bon Voyage
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The re-imagined River Royale joins the ranks of Uniworld's Super Ships, offering supreme comfort and luxury on Europe's waterways.

S.S. Sphinx

Nile river luxury cruiser S.S. Sphinx debuts January 2020, as one of the destination's more lavish luxury ships with 42 suites, an onboard swimming pool and interior decor reflecting the beauty and history of Egypt.

Mekong Jewel

Entering service in January 2020, Mekong Jewel will run Uniworld's river voyages through Vietnam and Cambodia, with the latest luxury touches and some of the region's most striking decor.

S.S. La Venezia

Debuting March 27, 2020, as a revamped ship, S.S. La Venezia returns to sail Italy's Po River, complete with new touches designed to better represent its Italian itineraries.

S.S. Sao Gabriel

Uniworld's new 100-passenger S.S. Sao Gabriel, which debuts in spring 2020, will offer larger and more lavish suites and introduce butler service for suite passengers for the first time on Uniworld's Douro river cruises.

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