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Anyone used Uniworld River Cruises in Europe?

Anyone used Uniworld River Cruises in Europe?

Dec 20th, 2001, 03:56 PM
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Anyone used Uniworld River Cruises in Europe?

We are thinking of booking a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest with Uniworld. Any past experiences that I should consider?
I am thinking of June, 2002. Thank you.
Dec 21st, 2001, 12:33 AM
Paul Therault
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Mostly seniors. Friendly, quiet, sedate.

Dec 21st, 2001, 03:44 PM
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Thanks Paul, are the boats new and clean? How about the off short trips, does Uniworld offer the best? Thanx
Dec 22nd, 2001, 02:23 AM
Paul Therault
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Hi Nancy,

It is a good company but certainly not the best. You can tell by the price you will pay.

The ships are clean, the food is good and the shore tours are OK.

Royal Viking is better and Peter Deilman is the best.

May 18th, 2002, 07:44 AM
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Nancy, I just read your post from last December. I was wondering if you decided on a June river cruise. We are leaving June 8th on Uniworld's River Empress from Amsterdam to Budapest.
Jun 26th, 2003, 07:35 AM
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I am topping this in hopes of some newer feedback. We are currently under deposit for a Russian river cruise in July 2004 on the Tolstoy with Uniworld.

I am always a little suspicious when I read comments such as Paul's which purport that one company is "better" or "best" but no reasons/rationale is included.

Peter D certainly has a great, and I am sure, wel-deserved reputation but that company does not do the usual Moscow-St. Petersburg route so that doesn't help much. Viking???..same route but not as many nights.
So, what to do? FACTS are always more useful than mere opinion and would be hgelpful in this situation.
Thanks in advance.
Jun 29th, 2003, 08:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
For Bootman:

We just returned from a Moscow-St. Petersburg cruise with Viking. I chose Viking because there are very few trip reports I could find on the web, all raved about Viking, and though we would have enjoyed the extra nights in Moscow & St. Petersburg, our work schedules didn't permit.

I do have a few tips for you. (I'm assuming that "we" - you are a couple.)

1) Find the ATM at the airport and get some rubbles there before meeting your guide and boarding the ship. For whatever reason, when we finally got to an ATM, we could withdraw only 3000 rubbles each (about $100). This was more than sufficient for us, but the ATM dispensed only 500 rubble bills and it was difficult to use them (no change anywhere). For smaller bills, request 2990 rubbles. Then, always try to use a large bill (don't show your bills, they will try to make change if they can, but not if they see you have smaller ones). The occasional restroom, for example, requires 7-10 rubbles, and the metro is only 7 rubbles.

2) Don't bother with travelers checks (no one on our tour was ever able to cash/exchange them).

3) Regardless of the weather forecast or "averages", be prepared for three seasons. From June 12-22, the weather was unseasonably cool (it was unseasonably hot last year), and it was even cooler outdoors on the ship (and you'll want to be dressed comfortably to enjoy sitting outdoors during cruising). We were thrilled to have our hooded polartec jackets (which fit underneath), our goretex hooded rainjackets, wool blazers. One day, I was glad I brought silk long underwear and wool socks. There were many who did not pack sufficient outerwear/footwear. An umbrella for each of you is a must. Always a chance (even on the sunniest of days) of unexpected showers. At the last minute, I packed two new Totes auto open/auto close models. Though these are heavier than our featherweight pocket-sized models, the handles are much more comfortable, the coverage is better, and they're not as likely to turn inside out when it's windy.

Spring arrived late this year. The lilacs, daffodils, tulips, flowering trees were all in bloom during our visit, and the summer gardens were just being planted everywhere.

4) Recommend footwear for hot weather (sandals), walking (the most comfortable you can find), and dressing up. Those who packed only sandals had a terrible time when the weather was chilly or raining.

5) Though our literature indicated there would be only two dressy evenings and even suggested that coats/ties were optional, nearly everyone changed into "nicer" clothing nearly every night. More than half the gents wore ties and/or jackets to dinner. In our daily newletters, recommended dress for the two dressy evenings was "elegant", other evenings "casual chic", daytime always "casual". The evening activities and two cocktail lounges were nice enough to be worthy of changing out of the daytime casual touring clothing. After being out and about all day, or lounging about in really casual clothing on cruising days, it really was better to change for the evening. I wished I had packed a couple of summer skirts. (Note: there were very few brand new white sneakers, very few wore shorts out and about, and the only folks complaining about their shoes, or having to rest their feet every few steps, were the ones who brought only sneakers.)

6) About souvenirs. Pick up postcards (beautiful sets of 12 for $2 available from street vendors everywhere) and photo books ($8-10, ditto) along the way. The very best selection of lacquer boxes (the genuine, high quality ones) were in the gift shop of the puppet theater in Yaroslavl. Best watches (Chaika) were in Uglich, where they are manufactured (not nearly the selection at twice the price elsewhere). Military/Soviet memorabilia, stacking dolls, scarves, trays, etc., are available everywhere at low prices, so be on the lookout, when with the group, for the unique items - videos (you need NTSC format for US VCR's), charming (inexpensive) water colors, local items.

7) Bring lots of US Dollars. My husband brought $500 in 50's, in case our ATM cards didn't work and we needed to exchange cash; I brought $100 in 20's, $100 in tens, $100 in fives, $200 in ones (divided into several bank envelopes). We had plenty left over, but you just never know.

8) Every day, when you head out, have some rubbles in one pocket and US dollars in the other. US dollars are the preferred (often only) currency accepted for merchandise (even in the palaces and museums) nearly everywhere, but you need rubbles for the occasional restroom, water, coffee, ice cream (Russian ice cream is wonderful), and sometimes in a museum shop. One credit card is handy, too, thought the only place I used mine, other than in St. Petersburg, was for a lacquer box in Yaroslavl (and was glad I had it, as I didn't have sufficient cash). On the other hand, my credit card wouldn't go through at a shop in St. Petersburg (their phone line was down or something) and I was glad to have sufficient cash for the purchase.

9) A warning about pickpockets. The usual precautions apply. Don't carry a wallet, carry small amounts of cash and one card in a very deep front pocket or inside zipper pocket of your jacket. Though our group was warned over and over again, a dozen or more fellow passengers were relieved of their wallets - in the metro and by gypsies (there weren't very many, but they were expert). You do not need a wallet or handbag. We used only one small Eagle Creek day tote between us for water, umbrellas, maps, etc.

10) Consider engaging a private guide for Moscow and St. Petersburg as opposed to signing up for a lot of optional tours. We spent only a day and a half in Moscow, with only one "free" afternoon, but hired a guide for St. Petersburg. We spent and afternoon and evening with her and another full day. Rather than visit another palace, more museums, and another folklore show, we returned to the Hermitage (she got us into the Treasury on the English tour, and guided us through the areas of most interest to us), did the "canal cruise" with her (she knew the best boats, with the best prices and route), and walked all over enjoying palaces, gardens, architecture and a lunch and dinner in a local restaurant. We also went inside various places (Church on Spilled Blood, St. Isaacs, Yussupov Palace...) You could visit these places on your own, but a licensed tour guide skips the ticket line (not to mention the ladies room line for the "staff only" stall!) and provides a guided tour in English.

11) If you do plan to tour on your own in the cities, determine ahead of time where you'll visit and the admission prices so you'll have sufficient rubbles. There is nearly always an ATM in the larger hotel lobbies (though they often are out of cash or for one reason or another your transaction is denied - just try another). Note that in St. Petersburg there are souvenir shops all over where you'll find tables/chairs (often comfortable sofas), free coffee/cordials/vodka, and free clean restrooms, along with a dazzling array of souvenirs.

12) There's a metro station about 20 minutes walking from the river port in Moscow, and about 10 minutes walking in St. Petersburg. The lines for both take you directly to city center. COUNT the stops, as it's often difficult to see the name of the station at each stop. Or, have your map out (again, with nothing accessible to pickpockets), show a local where you want to get off, and they'll be happy to assist. They are also helpful in ensuring you're on the right track for taking the train in the correct direction going "home".

13) If you're planning to tour the cities on your own, bring good, detailed, maps with you. I found some terrific maps to download on the web (with all the sights and buildings on them) to supplement my fold-ups.
djkbooks is offline  
Jun 29th, 2003, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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djkbooks--That is one of the best reviews I have read in a long time--very thorough, but interesting to read.
Thanks so much. It helped me relive my cruise to St. Petersburg a few years ago.
P.S. For future reference--it is RUBLES.
Cruiser is offline  
Jun 29th, 2003, 11:21 AM
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Trust me...the Bootman appreciates your thorough and comprehensive response. Much obliged!
Jun 29th, 2003, 11:27 AM
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As a follow-on for djkbooks, how did you FIND the guide in St. Petersburg?
Jul 3rd, 2003, 05:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,421
For Intrepid:

Found Olga somewhere in my web research. [email protected]

She was incredibly reasonable, totally flexible, and extraordinarily knowledgeable. Highly recommend Olga (we felt very lucky, indeed, to have found and engaged her).

djkbooks is offline  

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