Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
The History of Uniworld
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises was founded in 1976 by Yugoslavian entrepreneur Serba Illich. Based in California, the company began operating river cruises along the waterways of Europe in 1993. With a fleet of 21 distinct and diverse ships (as of 2017), Uniworld sails through some of Europe’s most spectacular cities and towns, in addition to offering river cruises that explore the wonders of Russia, the magic of Egypt, and the ancient civilizations of China, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Inside, Uniworld’s ships offer some of the most distinctive interior design afloat, thanks to the line’s long-standing partnership with Red Carnation Hotels. The emphasis here is on classically modern European elegance, with interiors designed to resemble baroque opulence, Art Deco chic, or the classic, wood-paneled lounges and public rooms of some of Europe’s greatest liners, trains and hotels. No two ships are alike, and each boasts its own uniquely Uniworld fit and feel.
Uniworld places emphasis on its all-inclusive luxury concept. The company recently expanded its in-suite butler service throughout the European fleet. Guests staying in suites on Uniworld’s vessels will find their every need attended to by Uniworld’s renowned butlers. Trained under the tutelage of Zita Langenstein of England’s Ivor Spencer Butler School, Uniworld butlers provide the unsurpassed level of service found at the finest hotels and royal houses, including Buckingham Palace.
Uniworld does not include port charges, however.
Uniworld’s included services and amenities:
- Impeccable service with a larger onboard staff than any other river cruise line
- Intimate and beautifully designed ships carrying an average of just 130 guests
- All gratuities onboard and onshore
- All-scheduled airport transfers
- Elegant and well-appointed riverview staterooms and suites
- In-suite butler service (Uniworld ships in Europe except Russia and Portugal in 2016)
- All dining onboard and unlimited beverages (including many premium spirits such as Grey goose, Crown royal, and Glenfiddich)
- A wide choice of personalized excursions led by English-speaking local experts
- A number of exclusive excursions offered only by Uniworld
- Well-equipped onboard fitness center
- Onboard exercise & wellness classes (with certified onboard wellness instructors in Europe)
- Bicycles and Nordic walking sticks for onshore use
- Ship-wide internet and Wi-Fi access
- Onboard entertainment and signature lectures
Uniworld’s New Destinations & Ships
In January of 2016, the company introduced to its roster of sailings a new destination, India. Uniworld’s “India’s Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges” is a 13-day journey that delves deeply into the spirit of the country, including seven nights onboard the 56-passenger, all-suite Ganges Voyager II and five nights onshore at three award-winning Oberoi Hotels & Resorts in New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur.
Uniworld announced the new Super Ship, S.S. Joie De Vivre, to launch in Northern France in March 2017. The new ship will sail Uniworld’s popular “Paris & Normandy” itinerary, and when in Paris, will dock in the heart of the city.
Also in 2017, Uniworld will use only all-suite ships in Asia. In Vietnam and Cambodia, the company is introducing the all-suite Mekong Navigator. The 68-passenger, all-suite Mekong Navigator will be fashioned in the spirit of the French Colonial-era manor homes that once lined the streets of Old Saigon. In China, Uniworld will provide magnificent Executive Suites on the Century Legend. The company’s 15-day “Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong” presents a deep exploration of two worlds joined by one river.
Family Friendly Sailings & Waived Solo Supplements
In 2016, Uniworld is offering family-friendly river cruise departures throughout Europe during key holiday periods. Highlighting 11 new family-friendly sailings for 2016 along the Danube, Po, Rhine and Seine rivers, Uniworld has more than tripled its family-friendly offerings this year, from five sailings to a total of 16. See our story for a listing of features and sailings, Uniworld Family River Cruises: New Brochure & A Highlight Of Perks For Families.
Uniworld’s Wellness Program
Recognizing that personal health is an important consideration for travelers, Uniworld provides a variety of services that treat the mind, body and spirit both onboard and onshore. The Serenity River Spa® offers a wide selection of tranquil services, expertly designed to soothe and invigorate.
Examples of available treatments include …
- Traditional Thai Foot and Hand Treatments, which incorporate elements of Shiatsu, reflexology, and Chinese massage and yoga;
- Honey Body Beauty Treatment, which cleanses the body of toxins while delivering a rich supply of Vitamins C, B1 and B2;
- Hot Stone Treatments, which deeply relax the muscles and relieve stress using water-heated Basalt stones;
- Women’s Facial Moments , which combines oils and plant extracts with individualized massage techniques to restore and recondition the skin.
Each treatment uses only the finest products, made from premium natural and organic ingredients, to nourish the body and stimulate the senses.
Yoga and exercise classes are available for guests in addition to each ship’s well-equipped fitness center. Activities include …
- Five Tibetan Rites, a system of exercises reported to be more than 2,500 years old;
- TRX® suspension bodyweight training, where users leverage gravity and their own body weight to complete hundreds of exercises.
Select ships also feature heated swimming pools, and guests staying in suites are treated to one complimentary personal training session and a meeting with an Onboard Wellness Coach.
Uniworld also offers a broad range of dynamic onshore experiences, including Go Active hiking and biking excursions led by local naturalists and sports guides. Guests can experience each destination from a unique angle – such as paddling a kayak under an ancient Roman aqueduct – or borrow one of Uniworld’s complimentary bicycles or Nordic walking sticks and explore on their own. Gentle Walking excursions are also active, but provide a more relaxed pace and plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.
Finally, Uniworld provides a “Traveling Lite” menu as well as vegetarian options, allowing guests to enjoy a sumptuous selection of meals without compromising their dietary needs. Working with a palette of the freshest and highest-quality local ingredients, sourced from farmers’ markets and artisanal producers, Uniworld’s chefs embody the unique character of each region and season while catering to guests’ individual preferences.
The Monarch Collection caters to guests intrigued with European royalty and culture, and provides travelers with an opportunity to enjoy a touch of aristocracy on their journey. Guests are treated to a cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle with Princess Anita von Hohenberg, an onboard Liszt piano concert, intimate themed dinners, an onboard pâtisserie demonstration, and a cocktail reception followed by a private guided tour of the Royal Lipizzan Stallions and Spanish Riding School at the Hofburg in Vienna.
“European Jewels” travelers also enjoy dinner and a concert at Castle Weikersheim while those on the “Enchanting Danube” will experience an exclusive concert at a Viennese palais. Departures are available from June to August on select “European Jewels,” sailing from Budapest to Amsterdam, and “Enchanting Danube,” sailing from Budapest to Passau.
The Connoisseur Collection is an ideal getaway for foodies, providing guests the opportunity to savor rich culinary traditions and tastes while learning from the best and getting their hands dirty, literally and figuratively. Francophiles and oenophiles enjoy a bevy of onshore and onboard culinary activities depending on the itinerary they choose, from an onboard Valrhona chocolate tasting and wine pairing to a cooking demonstration and tea party at the Institut Paul Bocuse.
Other highlights include tasting apples, cheese, cider and calvados at a local apple farm; Cognac tasting at Rémy Martin Estate; hunting for truffles at a truffle farm; and visiting La Couronne, where Julia Child’s first French meal changed her life—and eventually American’s perspective on French cooking. Guests can choose from select “Paris & Normandy,” “Burgundy & Provence,” and “Bordeaux, Vineyards & Châteaux” departures, as well as the combination cruises, “A Portrait of Majestic France” and “Grand France.”
The Uniworld Fleet
In 1993, Uniworld entered the European river cruise market with their 361-foot long River Ambassador. In 1994, her sister ship, the River Baroness, entered service. But don’t let their relative ages fool you: both ships underwent dramatic refurbishments in 2011, emerging with the same comfortable, chic look that their newer counterparts sport. With just 120 guests, these sisters offer a degree of intimacy that just isn’t possible on many newer vessels.
Between 2001 and 2003 Uniworld expanded their offerings by launching some of their most popular vessels to-date, the River Princess, River Empress and River Duchess. These highly successful ships were followed in 2006 by the launch of the River Royale. With space onboard for between 132 and 134 passengers, all four of these ships have been remodeled for the 2012 cruising season, with the exception of River Empress, which underwent her refurbishment in 2010.
In 2009, Uniworld launched one of their largest ships to-date, the 162-guest River Beatrice. Featuring two suite categories and five categories of staterooms, River Beatrice helped transition the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise product to the next level.
In 2011, Uniworld took delivery of its most ambitious and innovative ship: the S.S Antoinette. With features like an indoor swimming pool, dedicated cinema, and the breathtaking Salon du Grand Trianon, it’s easy to understand why Uniworld appended the “S.S” designation to the Antoinette. The initials, after all, stand for “Super Ship”, and the S.S. Antoinette is every bit deserving of that special recognition. Staterooms and suites on La Princesse Deck have full open-air balconies that, at the touch of a switch, feature windows that can be raised to create a fully-enclosed glass conservatory.
Uniworld’s second Super Ship was delivered in 2014. The vessel’s opulent interiors include a two-story lobby with a specially commissioned Murano glass chandelier and whimsical life-size glass horse. We were there for the christening event and a short-preview sailing. See our report here: S.S. Catherine Christening | Day 2 On Uniworld’s S.S. Catherine: Ship Of Elegance | Day 3 On Uniworld’s S.S. Catherine: Public Room Tour & The Royal Suite
In 2016, Uniworld brings the reality of S.S. Maria Theresa to life with the launch of its very first virtual reality app. The S.S. Maria Theresa, Uniworld’s flagship, is showcased in 360-degree views through evolutionary app technology. Uniworld is one of the only river and ocean cruise lines to offer this type of virtual reality technology. The app has been developed to function with Oculus Rift, a virtual reality head-mounted display that can be worn by the user and completely immerses you inside the virtual world.
One of the line’s most distinctive ships is surely the 1999-built River Queen. Extensively remodeled in 2010, the River Queen is designed to epitomize the classic grandeur and elegance of the 1930’s Art Deco movement, while her exterior design pays homage to the classic turn-of-the-century steamships. She’s one of the most distinctive – and classic – river cruise ships afloat.
Operating in Portugal, the Queen Isabel provides an up-close and unforgettable view of the Douro River Valley—a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site—renowned for its dramatic, rugged scenery and pristine waters. Named after Portugal’s beloved queen, this boutique 118-passenger vessel is the most unique and stately ship on the Douro, a wonderful place to admire the region’s steeply terraced hillside vineyards and charming wine estates.
In Russia, the River Victoria operates voyages from St. Petersburg to Moscow, allowing guests to retrace the steps of Peter the Great along Russia’s famed Volga River.
Connect with Uniworld
- Phone: 1.800.257.2407
- Website: https://uniworld.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/UniworldCruises
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uniworldrivercruises
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uniworldcruises
- Hashtag: #ExploreUniworld
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