Wa­ter­way to heaven

Elite staff of­fer­ing a stu­pen­dous stan­dard of ser­vice is what puts Uni­world ahead of Europe’s river cruis­ing fleet

Hamilton Metro News - - Travel -

THE CRUISE man­ager of Uni­world ship River Beatrice, Ta­mas Koc­sis, nailed the de­light of river over ocean cruis­ing:

“Once you ex­pe­ri­ence it, you’ll never go back.”

The ebul­lient and charis­matic young Hun­gar­ian was re­cently head­hunted by Uni­world af­ter eight years as a cruise di­rec­tor on ocean me­ga­lin­ers.

Gush­ing with su­perla­tives about his ca­reer change to the wa­tery rib­bons of Europe, Ta­mas frothed with all of the qual­i­ties that per­me­ate Uni­world’s staffing ethos.

Pas­sion­ate, worldly, per­son­able, well-hu­moured and tire­lessly ded­i­cated to de­liv­er­ing guests the ex­pe­ri­ence of their lives, co­cooned on board a float­ing lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel— at af­ford­able prices.

I chat­ted to a lovely Mon­treal cou­ple over din­ner, fa­nat­i­cal glo­be­trot­ters who have clocked up 18 river cruises and are still in awe of Uni­world’s “un­be­liev­able stan­dard of ser­vice”.

As if by magic, the staff seem to learn ev­ery­one’s name right away. Within hours of be­ing aboard, the front desk, wait­ing staff and house­keep­ing all warmly ad­dressed me by name.

They have the high­est staff-to-guest ra­tio in the river cruise in­dus­try.

That metic­u­lous, hands-on duty of care ex­tends to the in­cluded shore ex­cur­sions, where lo­cal guides are scrupu­lously hand-picked.

I’ll never for­get the lo­cal guide in Bratislava, ‘Ge­orge the Gi­ant’, a born co­me­dian who had us all in stitches as he brought his city’s story to life vividly and hi­lar­i­ously, like a talismanic sto­ry­teller.

Some­thing else that re­ally struck me about Uni­world’s bou­tique ethos is that you’ll no­tice there are no on-board pub­lic an­nounce­ments belt­ing out in­struc­tions about when the tour is leav­ing or when lunch is be­ing served.

The onus is on you to wake on time for that early morn­ing walk­a­bout or coach tour de­par­ture. As it should be.

Cab­ins and suites also ex­ude the de­sign fi­nesse of an el­e­gant bou­tique ho­tel, with hand­crafted bed­ding, gazil­lion-thread count Egyp­tian cot­ton, lux­u­ri­ous Euro­pean du­vets and the al­ways in­trigu­ing pil­low menu.

State­rooms are sized at a gen­er­ous 150 square feet. Bath­rooms sparkle with ex­tra op­u­lence, slabbed in mar­ble, fully-stocked and re­peat­edly re­plen­ished with L’Oc­c­i­tane en Provence toi­letries. Stash as many as you can!

Con­tem­po­rary crea­ture com­forts en­com­pass all techie needs; flat-screen TVs are loaded with a wealth of ca­ble chan­nels, plus an ex­cel­lent GPS map­ping chan­nel with zoom fea­tures, so you can chart your cruise in real-time pre­ci­sion.

An­other sig­na­ture ini­tia­tive is the con­spic­u­ous ab­sence of plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles. Ex­em­pli­fy­ing its ecofriendly stripes, in­stead you’re gifted a per­sonal re­us­able wa­ter bot­tle (tram­per-style).

Glass carafes of wa­ter in your room are reg­u­larly re­plen­ished.

This Uni­world bot­tle is a fab­u­lous keep­sake of am­ag­i­cal on Europe’s wa­ter­ways.

CLOCK­WISE FROM MAIN: Uni­world ship; sump­tu­ous state­room; din­ing room; lo­cal guides are hand-picked.

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