Overview The sister ship to the newer River Empress, the River Princess nonetheless has a completely different ambiance. The decor on the River Princess is starker and bolder than its sister's, with honey-colored woods, aluminum accents, and a deep color scheme of green, blue or pinky-red. However, Uniworld President Serba Ilich says the ship will be renovated to tone down the decor so it is more similar to the soothing, rich-looking interior on the River Empress.
The ship is an extremely comfortable way to see some of Europe's most popular sights while unpacking only once. The long, narrow ships often dock in the heart of small towns and historic cities so passengers can simply walk off the ship to explore. Shore excursions are included and often are guided walking tours or motorcoach tours, sometimes with lunch in a wonderful restaurant for a local experience.
Dining During the day, some might be surprised at the bold fuchsia and mahogany decor. The carpeting and upholstery are a deep pink-red, which might seem a bit bright when the sun shines in through the floor-to-ceiling windows that line the room. But in the evening, when the light dims a bit, the color takes on a softer glow that some found quite appealing. Still, this room is earmarked for redecoration.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, with both cold and hot items, while dinner is served by the efficient, friendly waiters. There is one seating for dinner, but passengers sit where and with whom they choose. There is no room service.
Public Rooms The Main Lounge has a cool atmosphere of navy blue with aluminum railings separating the couches and chairs from the bar. There's a small dance floor and room for a piano or small combo. The lounge is lined with panoramic windows, making it an ideal spot for watching the passing scenery during daytime cruising or a nighttime view of city lights while docked. The Patio is a casual space for reading newspapers, playing board games or sipping coffee or tea. The expansive sun deck has lounge chairs and a glass-enclosed solarium that keeps passengers protected during inclement weather but can be opened when it's warm outside.
Cabins All 65 cabins are 153 square feet and thoughtfully designed with comfort and efficiency in mind. The only difference between categories is simply the deck they are located on and the size of the windows. The top-category staterooms have two floor-to-ceiling windows while those on the lowest deck have two small windows near the ceiling, just above the water line. Depending on the deck, the color scheme is bold, in jewel tones of emerald, blue or a pinky- red. Staterooms have three closets and eight drawers, twin beds convertible to a double, a small table and two chairs, a TV with local and satellite channels, a bathroom with shelf space and a good-sized, ceramic-tiled shower stall. The four suites measure 225 square feet and have three floor-to-ceiling windows and a roomier sitting area with a couch. All cabins have hair dryers, but bring along a converter and adapter for curling irons and the like since electric voltage is 220v.
Gratuity Recommended gratuity is $10 per passenger per day to be pooled among the crew and $3 per person per day for the cruise manager. Uniworld will move towards all-inclusive in 2014, when most cruise fares (excluding Russia, China and Vietnam) will include unlimited fine wine, beer and spirits, as well as gratuities for onboard and onshore services, including pre- and post-cruise extensions.
Fitness and Recreation The ship's fitness center has one treadmill, two stationary bikes and one climbing machine. Adjacent is a sauna and a shower for two with six shower heads for each person. Many shore excursions are walking tours, so passengers can get plenty of exercise while sightseeing.
Fellow Passengers Uniworld customers tend to be older, experienced travelers, although the age demographic may be trending downward as river cruising grows in popularity. The typical passenger is 50 years of age or older with a household income of more than $75,000. Many have cruised on large ocean-going cruise ships although Uniworld trips are also eminently suitable for the first-timer to Europe. Perhaps this is a more comfortable option than the five-country motorcoach tour?
Entertainment Subdued, genteel entertainment is the norm, from a pianist playing and singing standards to a local cultural performance. Most of the entertainment is in the European cities themselves; don't expect Jackpot bingo or Broadway revues on the ship.