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 2020, 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 designs 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 unique Uniworld fit and feel.
Uniworld places emphasis on its all-inclusive luxury concept. 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’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 does not include port charges.
Uniworld’s New Destinations & Ships
The company is currently focusing on transitioning its vessels into Super Ships. Four ships will join Uniworld’s fleet in 2020. The Super Ship Sphinx will sail in Egypt and will come out in January of 2020. A new ship in Portugal, the super ship São Gabriel will start sailing in April of 2020. In March Uniworld La Venezia will join the fleet in Venice. Lastly, the Mekong Jewel will be sailing Vietnam and Cambodia also in January of 2020.
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.
Uniworld has theme cruises for guests from all walks of life.
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. Guests looking to travel with young family members can cruise on an itinerary offered in Uniworld’s Generations Collection. Uniworld’s Jewish Heritage Cruises take place on the Rhine and Danube and focus on the Jewish heritage and history in these regions.
Other theme cruises include Floating Art Workshops, Uniworld’s Signature Lecture Series, and Holiday Season Cruises.
The Uniworld Fleet
Between 2001 and 2003 Uniworld launched some of their most popular vessels to-date, the River Princess, River Empress and River Duchess. 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, the 162-guest S.S. Beatrice. Featuring two suite categories and five categories of staterooms, S.S. Beatrice helped transition the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise product to the next level.
In 2011, Uniworld took delivery of an 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
Launched in 2015, Uniworld’s S.S. Maria Theresa features luxurious accommodations and numerous personal touches on a ship that was named in honor of one of the Habsburg Empire’s most beloved rulers. We sailed the new ship.
See our daily reports: Day 1, Boarding Maria Theresa | Day 2, Biking Bamberg, Making The Case For River Cruising As An Active Experience | Day 3, Step Into Stateroom 425, Crossing Europe’s Continental Divide | Day 4, Open-Air Balconies Make All The Difference | Day 5, This Is River Cruising? Fine Dining On Uniworld | Day 6, Cruising & Cycling The Wachau Valley
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. She will be joined by S.S. São Gabriel in 2020.
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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Susan Henslin says
Complaint! Completed a Uniworld Cruise on the Rhine 09.25.22 to 10.02.22 with an extension. Basel to Amsterdam/ SS Antoinette. Found ourselves on a small ship with a LARGE group which ruined our trip. 80 of 120 on the small ship were in the group. The group dominated all public areas, dining, excursions (booked up) and left us (and other guests) with the trip from hell.
Talked to Hotel Mgr and Cruise Mgr on board who were no help. Began working with Uniworld upon our return 10/08/22, and our travel agent/AAA of So. Cal. I spent $75K for a family of (six) 6 and received neither the service nor the cruise advertised because of Uniworld and this group. Uniworld had total control of the group’s booking and never notified us so that we could reconsider.
They have offered $650.00 per person cruise credit which is a paltry sum compared to their willingness to accept my $75K. I am almost insulted! Uniworld had full knowledge of this group and was responsible for ruining our expensive cruise.
We are in Calif. as is Uniworld and AAA. Have contacted BBB, of which Uniworld is NOT a member. Have contacted Feefo, a certification agency for Uniworld. All contacts have pointed to “Uniworld’s customer service” who are no help. Waiting for another reply from AAA for two weeks now. Do readers have any other ideas to mitigate what I see as a failure on Uniworld’s part to perform adequately? Or other avenues to consider? Other sad and sorry details available upon request as there are more failings to report.
By the way, this is our 4th Uniworld Cruise. The first 3 were fantastic. We are not strangers, we are their customers. In addition, we are 58, almost 59 year members of AAA. No one is listening to us. Advice?
Love Uniworld. A wonderful experience. We’ve done 4 of these and each were perfect. They will do whatever you want and arrange whatever you wish! GREAT!