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Tully Luxury Travel’s own Cheri Port recently embarked on Uniworld’s ‘Castles Along the Rhine’ cruise, which sails from Amsterdam to Basel. She loved the TNTs (Uniworld’s Tiny Noticeable Touches) attention to detail of their exquisite onboard experience and praised the gorgeous scenery along the river. Read on for her full review...
This wasn’t my first experience aboard a Uniworld cruise, so my expectations for this trip were high and I must say they were all exceeded, again. I have to underscore that the level of service is truly six star. There wasn’t enough that the staff could do for you and they were all so very endearing. You could feel their passion and sincerity and they make you feel at home aboard the ship. We stayed in a suite and our butler, Boris, aimed to please! He made sure our mini-bar was well-stocked and that we never ran out of the pretzels/nuts, Valrhona chocolates, and the infamous Sally Williams nougat. He even came by our room with all the fixings to shake a martini for us.
The room itself was spacious and gorgeous with a lovely powder table that would look amazing in any boudoir, a massive bathroom with dual sinks, oversized shower, and heated floors. The bed is a handcrafted Savoir luxury bed from England and feels like sleeping on a cloud, truly some of the best rest I’ve ever had. There was plenty of space in the closets for all of our things and we were very comfortable. We made great use of our French balcony, spending time relaxing on the bed and admiring the beautiful views of the river.
When it comes to decor, Uniworld’s attention to detail is hard to match. Each ship is furnished and decorated differently, creating a unique atmosphere and distinct experience on every voyage. The ship we sailed on was the River Empress, which has a boutique-style feel to it. Each space is decorated with jewel tones and feels opulent, like walking into a palace. From the decor to the fabrics, the details were incredible.
I really can’t say enough about the cuisine aboard Uniworld. It was as if each meal surpassed the last and everything was fine dining. All the ingredients used in the restaurants are ‘farm to table’ and everything is made in-house, right down to the pastas, sauces, breads and all those delicious desserts. All meals are intelligently paired with wines from the region and they change daily to complement the offerings.
A beautiful ship, tantalizing cuisine and amazing service are all trademarks of Uniworld, however, the real draw of this particular cruise is the scenery. The ship follows along the Rhine as it snakes its way through four countries: the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The Sun Deck provides 360° views of the surroundings and is the best place on the ship to watch all the castles. I went on the first sailing of the year and it was still fairly chilly, but the staff brought out delicious Rudesheimer Kaffee — a specialty coffee from the area with brandy — for the guests so we could enjoy the deck in comfort all nestled in our blankets.
I can see now firsthand why this itinerary is so popular and in such demand from our clients. The morning we spent cruising down the Rhine Gorge was out of this world. I wasn’t sure which direction to look as there was a castle popping up what seemed like every two seconds from either side! It is a photographer’s dream and the narration of the history and stories about the area and its famous castles was fascinating! They call it the Romantic Rhine for good reason.
Uniworld includes all excursions and there are many choices; however, a couple stood out for me as truly exceptional. The first was a tour of the Schloss Vollrads wine estate, one of the oldest in Germany. Famous for its Riesling, the vineyard is set in a beautiful rolling valley with an on-site castle. We had a private tour and a tasting of some of the world’s finest Rieslings.
The second was a visit to the Marksburg Castle, which is the only medieval castle in the Middle Rhine region that remained untouched during the two world wars. It sits high on a cliff overlooking the town of Braubach. The views from the castle are amazing and the tour of the interior is entertaining and informative. There are some steep walking parts so guests with mobility issues should be aware.
Don’t miss a chance to ride up the cable car in Rudesheim. It wasn’t included in our free time on our way to Schloss Vollrads, but worth the €6 each to get up there. The views were incredible! We also paid €6 to share a bottle of sparkling wine on the ride up and we were able to keep the commemorative flutes. It was an experience I will never forget!
Ship: River Empress
Itinerary: Castles Along the Rhine; Basel to Amsterdam
Length: 8 days
Capacity: 130 passengers
– The Tully Team