With dramatic Murano glass chandeliers, colorful Venetian masks, and enough marble and portrait molding to make it feel like an Old World estate, the elegant and ornate River Countess feels just right on the Po River itineraries she sails through Northern Italy. Remodeled in 2012, River Countess was then moved to Venice to be the only ship from a U.S. carrier to regularly sail this route year-round. And while the Po is often plagued by low water levels that force passengers onto buses for part of the itinerary, that moment of sailing out of Venice's Grand Canal is hard to beat.
What We Love
Decadent Staterooms: The luxurious staterooms present handcrafted Savoir Beds with pillow-top mattresses and pillow options that are so comfortable it's hard to leave each morning. The cabins come with all of the treats you would expect in a nice hotel: fresh flowers, pitchers of water, lovely bath products (from L’Occitane en Provence), and a flat-screen TV with an extended free movie menu. Some staterooms also showcase French balconies.
No Crowds: With only 130 passengers maximum on River Countess, guests will find no lines or crowds getting on or off the vessel, or for dining or activities. Best of all, the ship manages to provide a crowd-free look at Venice's St. Mark's Basilica as well, affording after-hours access.
Best Known For
Impressive Service: With 41 staff members for the 130 guests, passengers are treated to a high level of service. The dining, front desk and stateroom staff, as well as the hotel manager and tour guides, are attentive and quick to fill requests, going out of their way to accommodate guests.
Elegant Décor: On board, the ambiance is comfortable yet sophisticated, with bold accents such as a leopard couch in the lobby lounge and plenty of pale turquoise (wallpaper, curtains, bedspreads) in the staterooms.
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Who It's Best For
Well-Heeled Couples: Most weeks, the cruisers on board are older, well-traveled couples.
Families With Kids: In addition to its regular departures, River Countess provides special family-focused sailings. During these cruises, the ship is transformed by multigenerational groups with young children.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It Has Limited Amenities: Due to their small size, river cruise ships lack the long list of amenities of the larger ocean-going ships, and River Countess is no exception. You’ll find just two restaurants, one lounge, a small fitness center, and a massage room. Think of the ship as an inn rather than a resort, and you get the picture.
Stacey Zable is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Food & Wine and Islands.
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River Countess at a Glance
- Line: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
- Number of Passengers: 130
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 2003
- Refurbish Date: 2012