Intimate and proudly Parisian, the 116-passenger River Baroness — one of Uniworld’s smallest and oldest ships — cruises the Seine River from Paris to Normandy. Launched in 1994 and renovated in 2011, this ship channels the fin de siècle ambiance of a pied-à-terre owned by a mildly eccentric French grandmother obsessed with the color pink. The décor, like all Uniworld vessels, is unique and includes an eclectic collection of art and antiques in its public spaces.
What We Love
Scenic Itinerary: The Normandy countryside is the star as River Baroness meanders more than 200 miles up the serpentine Seine River from Paris and back again, passing centuries-old chateaux and pastoral farmland. The route, which includes Giverny, Rouen, Auvers-sur-Oise, and Honfleur, also celebrates the subjects of landscape painters like Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh.
The Quiet Factor: Uniworld has done away with all those pesky PA announcements. The cruise director instead explains the next day's excursions during pre-dinner cocktails each night, and a printed schedule is left on your bed as part of turndown service.
Best Known For
"Bon Appétit" Voyages: Uniworld’s chefs prepare rich and flavorful multicourse dinners — the two gala nights are particularly superb — along with bountiful breakfast and lunch buffets. There’s an emphasis on regional ingredients and dishes (mussels, escargot, foie gras, duck confit), but also enough variety that vegetarians and those who prefer lighter preparations won’t go hungry. All guests receive more than a dozen recipe cards to take home.
All-Inclusive Ease: There’s no need to sign for anything while on board River Baroness: cocktails, wine (mostly French), gratuities, and most shore excursions are covered. Though keep in mind that popular optional tours to Versailles, Mont Saint-Michel, and Le Moulin Rouge all incur a fee.
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Who It's Best For
Fans of Impressionism: From the Musée d’Orsay and L’Orangerie in Paris to Monet’s gardens at Giverny and the cobblestone streets of Auvers-sur-Oise (where Van Gogh died and is buried), this itinerary delivers almost daily delights to anyone who adores 19th-century art.
Social Couples: The mostly retired Americans and Canadians (with a handful of Brits and Australians) are there to socialize with their fellow passengers on board and on land.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Décor is Distinct: The Monet Lounge might have been inspired by a Toulouse-Lautrec painting: salmon-hued walls, tufted mauve velvet upholstery, gilded armchairs, and mirrored tables.
Claustrophobes Beware: Snug is the only way to describe the 128-square-foot Category 1-3 cabins (there are also four 256-square-foot suites for those with a bigger budget), but the cream-and-pink chintz fabric walls are cheery and the down-topped beds are dreamy.
Expect Bus Time: Aside from Paris and Rouen, most ports require a bus transfer — from 10 minutes in Giverny to two hours each way for the D-Day beaches (making visits to the landing sites and American cemetery feel a bit rushed, although the guides are excellent).
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.
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River Baroness at a Glance
- Line: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
- Number of Passengers: 116
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 1994
- Refurbish Date: 2011