Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
The majority of this line's 19 ships sail the rivers of Europe, with five based in Russia, Egypt, India, China, and Vietnam and Cambodia. Wherever you are, the ship's ornate decor is matched to the destination. So if you're cruising the Danube on S.S. Maria Theresa, expect Baroque splendor befitting a Hapsburg monarch; in India, Ganges Voyager II has colonial British decor, including hand-painted murals in the suites. Because Uniworld's parent company owns the five-star Red Carnation Hotel Collection (Ireland's Ashford Castle is among its properties), the ships' hotel operations are first-rate. Nearly everything is complimentary, including airport transfers, beverages (aside from some top-shelf brands), Wi-Fi, gratuities, and almost all shore excursions. Starting in 2016, the line's excellent butler program is being rolled out to suites on almost all European sailings.
What We Love
Wide Choice of Shore Excursions: There's almost always a selection of shore excursions — all in small groups — including one for "gentle walkers." There are also active choices, such as hikes and bike tours, along with "do as the locals do" options that might include visiting a village market or participating in a painting class.
Regional Foods and Wines: The culinary program showcases local dishes and wines. You'll enjoy options such as Wiener schnitzel while cruising Austria and sip lovely Bordeaux as you sail through France. Included wines are outstanding, and generously poured.
Best Known For
All-Inclusive: You could happily cruise on a Uniworld ship without spending an extra dime once aboard. That makes for a truly carefree experience.
Thoughtful, High-Quality Details: Expect touches such as heated bathroom floors and towel racks, L'Occitane and Hermès toiletries, and powerful hair dryers. Service is detail-oriented, too. Staff will quickly learn what you drink with breakfast and how you like your martini.
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Who It's Best For
Upscale Couples: The decor and service inspire intimate bliss.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Hard to Return to Reality: Especially if you opt for a suite with butler service, it won't be easy to revert to life on land.
Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.