Sail away

Lifestyle | Tue 8 Oct | Author – Anne Whelton
river cruises

River cruising is one of the fastest growing sectors in the cruise industry, and as Sharon Jordan, Uniworld country manager, points out, offers the perfect alternative to a large ocean cruise holiday for many people who want a new and more intimate experience.

Picture the scene. You are relaxing on the deck of an ultra luxury river cruise ship on the Danube – somewhere between Salzburg and Vienna – watching some of Europe’s most breathtaking scenery drift by as you sample local wines, cuisine and culture.

The lap of luxury

Few can argue with the appeal of a leisurely sail down some of world’s most iconic rivers; in fact river cruise ships have an average capacity of 130 guests, providing a more personal and intimate experience than one might find on a large ocean liner. While cruising with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises you will experience a spectacular hassle-free way of travelling, one that allows you the freedom to simply let the sites come to you. Glide over calm waters on your river cruise ship and cruise straight into the heart of Europe’s best-loved towns. A gallery of the world’s most beautiful scenery lies just outside each window, making the journey every bit as captivating as the destination.

Uniworld’s six-star experience delivers the highest standards of excellence in luxury river cruising. Plush surroundings, stylish staterooms with marble-clad bathrooms, included daily shore excursions, onboard entertainment, award-winning cuisine and hospitality have earned Uniworld many awards. They have been voted the ‘the world’s best river cruises’, by Conde Nast Travellers.

However, there is also plenty on offer for the more intrepid traveller. Passengers can delve into a region’s music, cuisine, landscapes, folk culture, and history. Uniworld’s cruise ships sail into small towns where guests disembark and shore excursions are provided by professional local English-speaking guides. Guests also have the freedom to avail of onboard bicycles and venture out on their own.

Uniworld’s onboard signature lectures given by local experts introduce passengers to the vibrant cultures of a destination, while performances by local musicians add to the enriching encounters experienced along the way.

Fine dining

Uniworld offers a remarkable dining experience, with food sourced locally each day and, when possible, from local farmer’s markets. A professional culinary team prepare gourmet cuisine that offers a delicious fusion of styles and tastes inspired by the regions of each itinerary.

A wealth of dining options are offered to accommodate everyone’s culinary desires. Whether it’s al fresco dining under the star on the sun deck or the captain’s welcome gala and farewell dinners, all are catered for with Uniworld which has earned ‘Top Dining’ Zagat award for its culinary offering.

Uniworld also offers special Epicurean Adventurer Programmes, where guests can partake in a wine and food pairing dinner, culinary demonstrations and tastings, private onshore wine tasting, and casual gourmet samplings while onboard and onshore.

All inclusive

Unlike ocean cruises, river cruises offer value-added packages including so much, giving you excellent value for money – a Uniworld river cruise is virtually all inclusive. Transfers on arrival and departure, complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks at lunch and dinner, world-class gourmet cuisine (breakfast, lunch and dinner), bottled water in your luxury riverview stateroom, and speciality coffees are all included.
And most importantly, daily shore excursions hosted by English speaking local experts are an important part of the inclusions in any river cruise price – so there are very few out-of-pocket expenses required while onboard Uniworld’s river cruise ships. What’s more, Uniworld provides onboard local entertainment, signature lectures, internet and free Wi-Fi.

What’s more, in 2014 Uniworld’s European cruises are going truly all inclusive.

Popular for 2014

Uniworld offers over 600 departures sailing on over 13 rivers in more than 20 countries throughout Europe, Russia, Egypt, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. When choosing a river cruise it is worth noting that the Dutch waterways are very popular in spring when the tulips are in full bloom, so this cruise books out very early.
The Rhine, Danube and Moselle, are all popular during the summer, with Uniworld’s new cruise along the Po in Venice proving very popular for 2014. If you wish to savour the unique gastronomical heritage of the southwest of France Uniworld’s new itinerary in 2014 – Bordeaux, Vineyards and Chateaux is a perfect choice.

Taste regional delights including caviar d’Aquitaine, and oysters. Sample onboard meals designed by French master chef Philippe Etchebest, and delve into the glorious wines of the Bordeaux region while partaking in local wine tasting – visit the cellars of Premier Grand Cru. This eight-day cruise starts and ends in Bordeaux and sails along three rivers the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde.

Uniworld also has some beautiful Christmas Market cruises during November and December. If you want to venture further afield and explore some of Asia then try Uniworld’s amazing Mekong and Yangtze river cruises. Most river cruises last between eight to 11 days, while grand European cruises sailing through multiple countries can last up to 27 days.
For more details or to book a Uniworld river cruise contact your local travel agent, log on to www.uniworld.ie or call 01 775 3803.

Prices and information

Rhine Holiday (Christmas) Markets   
8 days – Cologne to Basel
Departs: December 15th
Cruise: *€2,397 per person (Based on a CAT 4 riverview stateroom) Price includes CAT upgrade and port tax.

Enchanting Danube  
8 days – Budapest to Passau
Departs: November 3rd
Cruise: *€2,219 per person (Based on a CAT 5 riverview stateroom) Price includes port tax.

Venice & the Po River  
8 days – Venice to Venice
Departs: November 10th
Cruise: Was *€2,699/Now *€1,426 per person (Based on a CAT 5 riverview stateroom). Price includes port tax.

Springtime Tulips & the Rhine   
8 days – Frankfurt to Amsterdam
Departs: April 9th 2014
Cruise: *€2,969 per person (Based on a CAT 3 riverview stateroom). Price includes port tax.

*Flights not included