Uniworld Cruise Reviews
Uniworld has a winning formula for success that should be envied by the entire cruise industry.,2/2/2011
I don’t think a lot about soap. The cosmetic industry reports tens of billions of dollars in revenue, annually, and quite frankly, it is lost on me. Give me a bar of zest, splash on a little Old Spice, and I am good to go. This explains why I didn’t really get all that excited when my colleagues went on and on about how pampered I was going to be when embarking on my upcoming Uniworld River Cruise. The company uses the L’Occitane product line of toiletries on their river boats. Because of an arduous journey getting ... to the beautiful River Beatrice river boat, I really wanted nothing more than to get something to eat, and then crash. Long airline delays and near cancellations of flights had left me frazzled. After enjoying a sumptuous dinner, I made my way to my stateroom. Figuring a nice hot shower would help wash the day’s tension and frustrations away, I unwrapped a bar of soap, and waited for the water to cascade over me. I had no sooner disposed of the soap’s paper, when I noticed an unusual and pleasant aroma. Could a bar of soap smell this good? Perhaps it was the extra virgin lotus petals, (or whatever they use in their soap), that had the calming influence I needed to get a good night’s sleep. The following morning, as I was about to make my way to breakfast, I met my stewardess, Stefania. I introduced myself, thanked her for making my stateroom so comfortable prior to my arrival the night before, and in passing mentioned how nice the soap smelled. Stafania flashed a huge, bright smile and said she would try to make me as comfortable as possible during my stay on the River Beatrice. Who’s not going to be comfortable, I thought? Egyptian cotton linens and towels, a bed so comfortable, you could do nothing more than sink into a sublime bliss for 7 days? I thanked Stafania again and went on my merry way. Upon my return to the River Beatrice after a day of exploring Budapest, I couldn’t help but notice the same inviting aroma I had experienced the night before. It took me a few moments to realize that it was the soap. Geez…this stuff could double as a nice room freshenerl! I turned on the light to the bathroom, and instantly noticed three bars of the L’Occitane soap on the vanity. I didn’t readily make the connection, and thought my first impression with my stewardess hadn’t gone as well as I thought. Did she really think I needed three bars of soap to get clean? No matter. Perhaps she had left a week’s supply of soap behind as a time saving measure during her daily routine. While dining with my companions that evening, I casually introduced the fact that I had enjoyed the soap. Instantly, one of the guests informed me that indeed it was not soap, but rather a “cleansing bar”. They didn’t use lotus petals, they use verbena. You can’t call it soap, because it is made with extra pure vegetable oil. Okay, Okay, I get it! I made a mental note not to bring THAT subject up again, and bid my dining companions good night. Upon returning to my stateroom, I passed Stefania. We exchanged pleasantries on the way to my stateroom. My bed had been turned down, the lights were low, and on my pillow were two more bars or soap! Some people get chocolates, I get soap. Stefania greeted me the next morning, and I could contain my curiosity no longer. I asked my stewardess why she was leaving me so much soap. I will never forget the look of concern on her face. Stafania asked if there was something wrong with the soap. Of course not, I assured her. It’s just that how much soap can one person use during the course of a week’s cruise? She advised me that it was her responsibility to ensure my comfort while sailing on the River Beatrice. She was part of a team whose job it was to make sure this cruise would be an unforgettable experience. My stewardess listened to my saying something as innocent, as liking a bar of soap, and took it upon herself to guarantee my supply would not run out. Stafania went on to explain, that her intent was for me to take some of this soap home after the cruise, so the memory of my time on the River Beatrice would not end at disembarkation. It finally hit me. And it wasn’t only Stefania who felt this responsibility. What about the waiter, who after hearing me lament at breakfast, the fact that while in Brataslava, there was no Slovak staples on the menu at lunch, or dinner? Surely they should offer Haluski, a cabbage and noodle dish, and pierogi. Imagine my surprise at dinner, when my waiter brought me tastings of both dishes. I told my waiter that the chef didn’t have to make those dishes just for me. The waiter let me in on a secret. The chef hadn’t prepared those dishes for me. After finding out about our discussion, the chef sent a staff member to the Christmas market, purchased the dishes, and brought them back to serve, so I didn’t have to venture out at night. Wow. I was speechless. My time on the River Beatrice was such a rich learning experience. There is a lot to be said for docking in a town or city, walking off the boat, and instantly becoming a part of the charm each destination has to offer. No need to travel hours at a time on a motor coach for some shore excursion that will likely be over in twenty minutes. The ability to go on and off the boat at my leisure, afforded me a convenience not found on a conventional ocean liner. Nothing however, can compare to the service given on the River Beatrice. Uniworld has a winning formula for success that should be envied by the entire cruise industry. This morning I picked up a bar of the L’Occitane soap, (or cleansing bar or whatever you wish to call it). Instantly, I was transported in thought back to my stay on the River Beatrice. Stefania, et al, you succeeded. Indeed, my memories of being in your company stay with me even today. For that, I am eternally grateful.Read More...
Converts to Cruising,1/11/2011
A wonderful white Christmas,1/3/2011
Our trip was not smooth "sailing" all the way, it was a winter of record snow falls in Europe. One of my luggages was sent to Finland instead and luckily we got it back the next day before the ship set sails.
Our Ship the River Countess could not arrive on time on the 1st day due to the high water ... level and a broke-down ship blocked part of the Main canal. We were put up at the Intercontinental Hotel instead for the first night. On the last day , our ship could not reach Nuremberg due to frozen ice on the canal and we had to get there by bus.
However , throughout this challenging period, all Uniworld staffs on the ship , especially our cruise manager Christine Bremberger and Captain Jord Zwaal tried their best to provide alternate solutions to each situations, not only we accomplished all the itinerary and activities, we none the less enjoyed the white Christmas Wonderland very much.
A special word must be said about Christine Bremberger, whom with meticulous detail went out of her way to assist everyone, from missing luggages, waiting at the bus stop under heavy snowfalls , well organised walking tours, seamlessly arranged all the departure connections for the passengers and the list goes on…and the smile is always on her face.
We do not need to repeat all the good things that have been mentioned by fellow travellers about Uniworld, but just one more: We will definitely book our next river cruise with Uniworld , Again.
ST Koay, Malaysia. Jan 2011
Beautiful Trip -- Paris & Normandy,1/2/2011
(PS -- I plan to visit the Duoro region end of August, 2011 -- how about transferring Chef Sousa to that new vessel?)