Themed River Cruises: Golf on Europe’s Top Courses with AMA Waterways in 2019

AMA Waschu Valley Danuber
The Waschu Valley

Immortalised by Johann Strauss in his famous waltz, the Danube is one of Europe’s most famous rivers, flowing through the heart of continent from the Black Forest of Germany to the Black Sea. The 1700-mile waterway meanders past UNESCO status countryside along with fine cities brimming with fascinating culture and history; such as Vienna, Prague and Budapest. Imagine combining this adventure with playing on some of Europe’s best golf courses?

AMA Golf
Beckenbauer Course

AMA Waterways, widely recognised as one of the leading luxury river cruise lines, offers a sensational Concierge Golf Programme to marry the two interests together in perfect harmony.  Offering certainly one of the best golf river cruises in 2019, each 7-night journey includes all the luxuries you would expect with AMA, such as fine dining and beautiful accommodation, as well as shore excursions and at least 5 games on these top courses.

  • Albatross Golf Club, Albatross Course, Prague, Host of the Czech Open
  • Hartl Resorts Beckenbauer Course, Bad Griesbach, Germany, Host of the Porsche European Open
  • Diamond Country Club, Diamond Course, Atzenbrugg, Austria, Host of the Lyoness Austrian Open
  • Penati Country Club, Legends Course, Senica, Slovakia, Host of the Slovakian Open
  • Pannonia Country Club, Budapest, Hungary, Host of the Hungarian Open
AMAMAGNA
AMAMAGNA

On arrival at each destination, you will be chauffeur driven to the day’s course with tee times,  practice balls and trolleys arranged in advance. After your round, during a pleasant lunch in the clubhouse, AMA staff will clean your golf clubs before returning you to the ship to enjoy dinner and all the facilities.

AMA Massage
Spa Services

For non-golfing partners, there are plenty of on-board activities as well as thoughtfully curated shore excursions. A generous discount is also offered on the cruise price. ‘Pre’ and ‘Post’ cruise options can be added to allow more time in Prague and dates run until mid October. Watch the video below to see the AMA experience.

For more information visit www.amawaterways.co.uk or contact Louise here

Images Courtesy of AMA Waterways

River cruising for Millennials: U by Uniworld innovates with a fresh perspective

As far as Millennials are concerned, the image of river cruising hasn’t attracted many to the winding waterways of Europe … until now. A ‘tester’ cruise in October successfully brought a hand-selected crowd of youngsters together to dip-their-toes in this particular travel niche, usually more likely to be enjoyed by their grandparents. U by Uniworld’s disruptive take on this sector of the cruise market is bringing some welcome change. Thanks to their sleek black ships, A and B, (complete with silent disco, bean bags and cocktail classes) river cruises will no longer be the domain of Downton Abbey loving Baby Boomers.

U by Uniworld Silent Disco
Silent Disco

Strictly for the the 21 – 45 year olds, who have cash in their pockets and a curiosity to see the world through fun-coloured spectacles, these boutique-style ships are set to sail down the Danube, Rhine and Seine to the sound of celebrity DJ beats.

Biking in the Park
Biking in the Park

Short eight-day itineraries, starting in April 2018, should align with the work commitments of young professionals yearning for late nights in Amsterdam or Budapest against a backdrop of yoga classes, hammock-snoozing, gym workouts, spa treatments and Rooftop Lounge parties.

U by Uniworld Rooftop Lounge
Rooftop Lounge

Cabins, designed in contemporary black-and-white with pops of colour, are available as spacious suites with balconies or pod-like bunk rooms. All have Uniworld’s five-star hallmarks; Savoir beds, marble bathrooms, Bluetooth speakers and flat-screen televisions are standard.

U by Uniworld Cabin
Room with a View

Dine, the full-service restaurant, serves locally inspired food and ‘street-style’ dishes at communal tables to encourage social interaction. Room service is on hand for ‘post-clubbing’ breakfasts. Lunch is not provided, with the expectation that guests will be out during the day, soaking up the local culture.

U by Uniworld Dine
Dine

As an alternative to the cruise line ‘Godmother’, U by Uniworld have opted for a ‘Guardian Angel’ instead. On this occasion, Victoria Secret model, Petra Nemcova, has been chosen to represent the brand. According to Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO of Uniworld, this selection cements the intention to change the industry. “We’re making history with this concept, so rather than follow the traditional ‘Godmother’ path for each individual ship, we’re paving our own way forward.”

U by Uniworld
Petra Nemcova

Hopefully, U by Uniworld will know its limits; to produce a high-quality, game-changing experience for Millennials without patronising them or confusing this exciting innovation with stereotypes. Other river cruise lines will certainly be watching and should U by Uniworld prove to be a success we can expect many more brands to follow their lead. In the meantime, Bon Voyage to the lucky ones who set sail next year … please post plenty of Instagrams for us oldies.

U by Uniworld Selfie
Selfie

www.ubyuniworld.com

Radar: Crystal Bach – Official handover of exquisite ‘Rhine Class’ ship takes place

Crystal Bach is the first of four new ‘Rhine Class’ ships to be introduced by the award-winning Crystal River Cruises brand; winner of “Best River Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure in the magazine’s 2017 World’s Best Awards.

River Cruise Crystal Bach

This luxury river ship was delivered to Crystal by MV WERFTEN during the official handover ceremony in Wismar, Germany. In attendance to witness the occasion were Crystal’s CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez and several local dignitaries.

River Cruise Crystal Bach

“It is a thrill to welcome Crystal Bach to the family, as she is one of the most anticipated vessels to embark on Europe’s rivers in years,” says Rodriguez. “Her design, abundant space and standard of amenities and luxury are groundbreaking in and of themselves, then, combined with the acclaimed Crystal brand of service and attention to detail, create an unprecedented experience in the river cruising industry.”

Crystal Bach River Cruise Dining

Crystal Bach is Europe’s first all-balcony and all-suite vessel, with every stateroom located above the waterline and accompanied by Crystal’s outstanding butler service. King-sized beds, Panoramic Balcony-Windows™, Nespresso coffee machines, walk-in closets and dual bathroom vanities elevate this ship to the dizziest heights of luxury.

Crystal Bach Petite Suite River Cruise

Crystal’s farm-to-table, Michelin-inspired cuisine is offered in multiple, open-seating eateries including the elegant Waterside Restaurant, exclusive Vintage Room and the Palm Court.

Crystal Bach River Cruise Pool Spa

The Crystal Bach will travel along the Rhine and Moselle rivers, sailing itineraries between Amsterdam and Frankfurt, and Amsterdam and Basel.

River Cruise Itinerary Crystal Bach

www.crystalcruises.com

 

 

Best River Cruise: Russian Volga with Viking

Viking River Cruise Volga Helgi
Helgi

Despite some political and social instability surrounding Russia, the region remains a popular and exciting river cruise destination. Tensions have led to a reduction in the number of cruise companies operating in the area, but some, most notably the world-leading Viking River Cruise line, still maintain a significant presence in the market. Their established Waterways of the Tsars is a 13-day tour from Moscow to St.Petersburg, or vice-versa, attracting adventurous travellers seeking to combine a safe and relaxing holiday with education and cultural interest.

A Viking cruise on the Volga, which is Europe’s longest river (3,690km) and Russia’s main waterway, reveals the real country, weaving together the authenticity of traditional villages and fairy-tale churches with bucket-list icons such as the Kremlin and Catherine Palace. This particular itinerary offers plenty of time in each of these magnificent cities, along with the option of pre/post cruise extension stays.

Viking River Cruise Uglich
Uglich

Viking, who started sailing in Russia in 1997, have a wealth of experience in the area and own their four vessels outright. The 204-passenger Akun, Helgi, Ingvar and Truvor are identical luxury vessels, refurbished to a high standard with a mix of stateroom classes and suites. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer panoramic river views. As expected of the largest river cruise line in the world, the Viking experience is exemplary with wonderful food and wine, elegant surrounding and discerning service.  Of special note is the inclusion of shore excursions, ensuring guests have the fullest experience on their voyage, with a great choice of curated trips and unique opportunities.

As well as visiting the main sights of Moscow and St.Petersburg, highlights on the Waterways of the Tsars include tea in the home of a Russian family in Uglich, a trip on the Moscow Metro, bathing in a traditional ‘banya’ Russian bath house and an evening of spellbinding Russian ballet.

Viking River Cruise Volga Map
Volga River Cruise

Photos courtesy of www.vikingrivercruises.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Best River Cruise: Mekong River with Scenic

Scenic Spirit Mekong River Cruise
Scenic Spirit

The Nine Dragons River flows 2,700 miles from the snowy Tibetan Plateau through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam where it disappears into the South China Sea.

Scenic Spirit Mekong River
Mekong River

As one of Asia’s least developed waterways, the Mekong is abundant in wildlife, history and culture. With a biodiversity second only to the Amazon, this precious river is the lifeblood of South East Asia. It is also a place of stark contrasts; bustling cities and rural river towns, royalty and poverty, ancient sacred sites and POW camps.

Scenic River Cruise Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat

Scenic cruises the Mekong river on the luxurious Scenic Spirit. The 13-day Treasures of the Mekong uncovers the best of Cambodia and Vietnam, taking guests to the spectacular ruins of 12th century Angkor Wat, the ancient hilltop monastery of Wat Hanchey where monks offer their blessing, the Royal Palace, the Killing Fields, lively local markets and Ho Chi Min City. Ox carts, rickshaws, sampans and tuk tuks take guests from place to place.

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Mekong River

A Mekong river cruise is an adventure and experience to embark upon sooner rather than later. With China’s dam crisis, environmental concerns and inevitable economic development the Mekong is sure to change over time, perhaps losing some of its authenticity and charm along the way. A journey to this part of the world will likely present challenges for most visitors as local people still bear the scars of war despite their cheerful and welcoming faces. However, there are opportunities for visitors to support local communities and pay respect to their fascinating way of life.

Scenic Spirit Lounge
Spirit Lounge

The Scenic Spirit, introduced in 2016, is an ultra-luxurious ship with 34 balcony suites which, at the gentle press of a button, smoothly convert into a Scenic Sun Lounge by seamlessly sliding away the window glass.

Scenic Spirit Deluxe
Deluxe Room

Each suite has a personal butler and service follows a 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio. The ship itself is tasteful and in harmony with the Asian surroundings. Facilities include a pool, sauna, bar and open-air cinema.

Scenic Spirit Sun Deck
Sun Deck

Custom designed for the Mekong, the Scenic Spirit emulates the cruise line’s high standards in Europe, replicating the style and service they are known for. The all-inclusive fares are comprehensive with everything included – even port charges, bottled water for excursions, Wi-Fi and tips.

www.scenic.com.au

Photos courtesy of Scenic

 

New River Cruise Ships for 2017 – Crystal Bach

River Cruise Crystal Bach

June 2017 sees the launch of Crystal Bach, one of four new luxury river yachts being introduced and an integral part of Crystal’s ambitious evolution to become ‘The World’s Most Luxurious Hospitality and Lifestyle Brand Portfolio™’.

River Cruise Itinerary Crystal Bach

The all-balcony, all-suite ship accommodates 106 guests on tours of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, taking in spectacular UNESCO sites, historical towns, hilltop castles and terraced vineyards.

crystal river cruise

Voyages include a Crystal Signature Event in Amsterdam where guests are treated to a complimentary exclusive concert at the Royal Concertgebouw, considered one of the finest concert halls in the world. Guests will tour the theater’s great hall, which is famous for its superb acoustics; then enjoy a private performance of master works in various genres in the charming “Kleine Zaal,” or the “Spiegelzaal,” two of the hall’s more intimate Baroque venues.

River Cruise Crystal Bach

Public spaces are conveniently located on a single deck, with the impressive glass-domed Palm Court as a focal point.

Crystal Bach Petite Suite River Cruise

Suite are offered as Petite, River or the ultimate Crystal, ranging in size from 188 sq.ft. to 759 sq.ft. with premium butler service. Features include king-size beds, panoramic windows, walk-in wardrobes, bathrooms with double vanities, ETRO robes and slippers, wall-mounted flat-screen HD TVs and Nespresso machines.

Crystal Bach River Cruise Dining

Dining centres around farm-to-table, Michelin-inspired cuisine in multiple, open-seating eateries: the elegant Waterside Restaurant, namesake Bistro cafés and the exclusive Vintage Room; and the Palm Court.

Crystal Bach River Cruise Pool Spa

Additional noteworthy amenities include a well-appointed fitness centre, luxurious spa and complimentary use of electric bikes, watercrafts and kayaks.

Photos courtesy of Crystal

www.crystalcruises.com

 

 

New river cruise ships for 2017 – Uniworld S.S. Joie de Vivre

 

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An exciting new season beckons this year for the supremely successful river cruise market. Top operators bring original destinations, itineraries and a collection of stunning new ships. Amongst these, Uniworld, the boutique river cruise line, launches a spectacular addition to their fleet; The S.S. Joie de Vivre.

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Destined for the beautiful Seine river, this ‘Super Ship’ reflects the French ‘Joy of Life’ with a firm focus on the cuisine, wines, art and culture of this beautiful region.

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Newly built, the 125 metre vessel debuts in March 2017, with exciting advances in design and facilities. Handcrafted furniture, rich fabrics, gilded interiors, curated antiques and art sourced from the best auction houses decorate the Salon de Beaux-Arts lounge and other public areas. Modern technology is evident throughout, including a cinema and surrounding pool with hydraulic floor, which can turn into a dance floor at night.

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Bedrooms are lavish with Savoir of England beds and marble bathrooms. Suites are individually designed with enhanced amenities and ‘Buckingham Palace’ standard butlers.

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Le Restaurant Pigalle and La Cave de Vins offer excellent dining, with a strong emphasis on regional cuisine and local ingredients. The Vinoteque is a perfect venue for private dining and wine-pairing dinners.

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As the largest river cruise ship on the Seine, guests can expect an experience worthy of such grandeur. Itineraries visit Monet’s divine house and garden in Giverny, the Normandy beaches and Conflans-Sainte-Honorine where Vincent Van Gogh spent his last few months.

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Photos courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

www.uniworld.com

Viking River – The Facts

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Viking is the largest river cruise company in the market. Their vast fleet includes the immensely successful ‘Longships’, designed in an appealing Nordic style with energy-efficient hybrid engines for a smoother ride. Cruise fares include all necessities: flights, luxury accommodation, meals with drinks, tea and coffee, cultural enrichment programme and daily shore excursions. Leisure facilities are minimal on board, in comparison with other lines, but good value fares compensate. Torstein Hagen, who founded Viking River in 1997, owns the company.

Fleet: 

The largest in the industry with over 60 ships and an ambitious expansion plan. The ‘Longships’ are unilaterally admired and provide a blueprint for further vessels.

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Destinations

Viking reaches out across the globe with an exciting and vast range of destinations offered. Europe is well covered with trips available on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Rhone, Seine and Douro. Russia is also a popular choice for Viking travellers along with China’s Yangtze River, Egypt and Southeast Asia. There are exciting plans to launch USA cruises along the Mississippi River.

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Staterooms

Most rooms on board are classed as Veranda Staterooms with spacious Scandinavian designed interiors and modern bathrooms. Suites have two rooms with a veranda off the living room and French balcony in the bedroom. ‘Infotainment’ centre, Wi-Fi and bottled water are standard.

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Food and Drink

The main restaurant is an elegant space where first-rate cuisine is served along with complimentary drinks. The Aquavit Terrace, with revolutionary indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship and grills for al fresco dining is well-liked, as is the bright and airy Lounge.

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Facilities

Onboard amenities are more limited on Viking than other lines. There are no hot tubs, pools, exercise bikes or spa facilities. Instead guests are encouraged to relax on the sun deck, stroll the walking track, practice their putting, take shore excursions and engage in the enrichment series of lectures and classes available throughout the trip. As well as the standard shore trips included in the guest fare, there are further options to book more immersive experiences with locals or take VIP tours of special places.

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Perks

The Viking Explorer Society is a community-based membership scheme open to all Viking guests offering a range of benefits and rewards including a magazine and invitations to events.

 

Photos courtesy of Viking River Cruises

 

www.vikingrivercruises.co.uk

Scenic River – The Facts

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Scenic is the brand choice for many discerning river cruise devotees; lured year-on-year to the fleet of gorgeous ‘Space Ships’ with vitality pools and wellness centres, personal butlers, 24-hour room service, unlimited drinks and wonderful cuisine. The company’s Australian roots reach back to 1987 when Australian entrepreneur Glen Moroney founded Scenic Tours. Since then the line has grown and expanded to become a leader in river cruising. Not content to stop there, Scenic plans to launch their luxury expedition cruise ship, Eclipse, in 2018.

Fleet: 

Of the 16 vessels in the fleet, the most desirable are the enviable ‘Space Ships’ which earn their moniker from the higher than average space-guest ratio on board. The top-level sundeck, with walking track, is the perfect spot for watching the world pass by, and newer vessels have vitality pools in this area. Staterooms are mostly designed with balconies and seating. The design is luxurious, modern and understated, which reflects the elegant and upscale atmosphere on board.

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Destinations

Cruises explore the classic rivers of Europe, including the Rhine, Danube, Rhone and Seine. Trips also extend to the Volga in Russia and to South East Asia.

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Staterooms

Spacious staterooms are tastefully designed with first-class furnishings; guests can expect luxurious marble bathrooms, pillow menus, HDTV, climate control and the unique ‘Sun-Lounge’ system which transforms the balcony into conservatory-style seating area at the touch of a button. All suites have butler service, free Wi-Fi and full room service.

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Food and Drink

The open-seating Crystal Dining venue is the main eatery on board, supplemented by cafés, bars and some specialty restaurants. All drinks are included in the fare and available at all times.

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Facilities

A serene wellness centre offers nourishment for body and soul with expert massage and treatments, alongside a vitality pool on the sun deck, well-equipped gym and walking track. E-bikes are available for shore cycling trips

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Escorted shore excursions, included in the cruise fare, are thoughtfully planned and executed by English-speaking guides.

Perks

The Scenic Club loyalty scheme rewards guest after their first trip, with a range of discounts, transfers, hotel stays, onboard perks and complimentary luggage.

 Photos courtesy of Scenic River Cruises

www.scenic.co.uk

AMA Waterways – The Facts

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The exponential growth of AMA Waterways is surely the result of astute investment in an ever-expanding fleet of ultra-luxury vessels, plush accommodation, fine dining with generous drinks policy, thoughtfully constructed shore tours and first-class service. It’s hardly surprising the brand is doing so well given the pedigree of CEO Rudi Schreiner who held senior executive positions with Uniworld and Viking before founding AMA in 2002. The highly talented and professional team extends from the Californian headquarters to the boats themselves; service and attention to detail are hallmarks of the AMA experience.

Fleet: 

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With over 20 vessels in use, and more planned, AMA has one of the newest fleets on the water. The latest boats feature staterooms with fantastic twin balconies, multiple dining venues, a heated pool, massage and beauty salon, free in-room Internet and Infotainment system and bicycles.

Destinations

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Itineraries are predominately European with cruises also available in Vietnam & Cambodia, Burma and Africa.

Staterooms

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Decor is modern and luxurious with quality beds, pristine linens, marble bathrooms, power showers, fluffy robes and mineral water. Suites offer more space and added amenities. The twin balcony staterooms on newer vessels each have a French veranda, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open, as well as a step-out balcony with table and chairs.

Food and Drink

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Executive Chef, Primus Perchtold, is held in high regard for his focus on regional cuisine and wine, producing exquisite tasting menus on some vessels. Newer fleet additions have multiple dining options.

Facilities

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Facilities vary, with newer boats offering more. Guests can expect heated pools with swim-up bar, massage service, beauty salon, free bikes, nightly entertainment, free Wi-Fi and unlimited shore excursions.

Perks

The AMA loyalty programme offers fares discounts, upgrades and onboard perks according a tiered system.

Photos courtesy of AMA Waterways

www.amawaterways.co.uk

Tauck – The Facts

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Tauck River Cruising launched its fleet of luxury ‘Jewel Class’ riverboats in 2006 to great acclaim, adding steadily to this with ‘Inspiration Class’ vessels in 2014 and 2016. As a sub-brand of the highly regarded family-owned Connecticut-based tour company Tauck World Discovery, this river cruise line has earned an enviable reputation for providing well-choreographed shore excursions enabling guests to become truly immersed in the culture and heritage of each destination. Several tour directors travel on each voyage. Equally appealing is the truly all-inclusive nature of Tauck; cruise fares encompass all shore trips, onshore and offshore dining, crew gratuities, transfers, onboard lectures and entertainment, pre- or post-cruise hotel stays, and unlimited beer, wine and spirits.

 Fleet: 

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In 2014 Inspire and Savor ‘Inspiration Class’ vessels were launched with Joy and Grace following in 2016. Each carries 130 passengers in outside cabins, ranging from standard to suites. The earlier ‘Jewel Class’ boats are due for refurbishment in 2017 to reduce passenger numbers to 98 from 150 and add specialty dining. Interiors are decorated in a traditional style with plenty of teak, marble and brass throughout.

 Destinations

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The company cruises the Danube, Rhine, Rhone and Seine with themed and family journeys gaining popularity.

Staterooms

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Accommodation is luxurious but unpretentious. All staterooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, high-quality linens and modern amenities. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout. Suites are more spacious with French balconies, walk-in closets and marble baths.

Food and Drink

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Dining in the main restaraunt is open-seating with intimate tables of four to six guests. The atmosphere is relaxed and a Lido offers a casual alternative to the main restaurant. Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks are included at lunch and dinner.

Facilities

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Each boat has a fitness centre, massage and hot tub. Shore excursions are varied, expertly led and immersive.

Photos courtesy of Tauck River Cruises

www.tauck.co.uk

Uniworld River Cruise – The Facts

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Founded in in 1976 by Yugoslavian entrepreneur Serba Illich, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is renowned for opulent style and personal service. The vast fleet of luxurious vessels follow interesting rivers of Europe, Egypt, Russia and China exploring fascinating towns and cities along the way. Ships are all distinctly different, although they share the same high-standards of European influenced decor, original artworks, wellness features, first-class cuisine and all-inclusive amenities. The company is partnered with hospitality experts, the Red Carnation Hotel group, which results in very high standards of service.

Fleet: 

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Despite some vessels having launch dates in the early 1990’s the refurbishment programme is comprehensive and fastidious. All ships are luxuriously furnished with antiques, original art, upscale cabins and numerous personal touches, each carrying an average of 130 guests. The flagship, S.S. Maria Theresa is the latest launch in 2015 with more planned in 2017.

 Destinations

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Cruises take in global destinations including Europe, Russia, China, Egypt, Vietnam and India. Themed, Family and Holiday journeys are increasingly popular.

Staterooms

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Accommodation is lavish on all boats; with Savoir beds, marble bathrooms, L’Occitane and Hermes products, high-quality furnishings and modern technology. Suites include butler service. The S.S.Maria Theresa is a palatial affair; complete with 22-carat gold leaf coronets, silk-clad walls, touch-control lighting, ‘infotainment’ centre and high-tech balconies.

Food and Drink

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Open-seating restaurants add to the relaxed atmosphere on board and all dining and beverages are included in the fare – Champagne flows freely throughout the trip.

Facilities

The Serenity River Spa, well-equipped fitness centre, complimentary bicycle hire, Nordic walking poles, personal trainer, watersport sessions, yoga classes, Travel Lite menu, expert lectures and enrichment classes ensure well-being of mind, body and spirit during the voyage. Some ships have outdoor swimming pools.

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Personalised and exclusive excursions offer cultural immersion and exploration.

Perks

The River Heritage Club offers a range of member-only savings and onboard benefits on completion of an initial cruise.

Photos courtesy of Uniworld

www.uniworld.com