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