When the tiniest details are exceptionally executed, the whole experience becomes so much more than just the sum of its parts – and so it is with the best boutique river cruises. Discover all the small things with Uniworld.
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It’s the stuff cruising dreams are made of: luxe staterooms and suites that are about as palatial as you can get on a floating vessel, filled with marble, gilt and lavish patterning that’s more Versailles than vacation; white-gloved in-suite butlers getting your dinner suit pressed while you’re bathing in Hermès and L’Occitane; unlimited premium spirits and wine, so you don’t have that mood-killing, second-guessing moment before indulging in a really good whisky at the end of a day of sightseeing.
These are the details that make the difference between pretty great and gorgeously grand, embroidering your cruising holiday with the kind of luxury that makes it so much more utterly joyful to experience. Uniworld, in particular, is concentrating on what it calls those TNTs (‘tiny noticeable touches’) in its itineraries from the Boutique River Cruise Collection.
The touches, however, are not that tiny. Personal butlers, Savoir of England beds, and an ultra-inclusive approach that means you don’t need to reach for your wallet at all, from transfers through to wi-fi, all gratuities on board and on shore, entertainment and more; this all translates to a massive level-up in terms of sheer pleasure and relaxation.
The suites themselves are nothing short of decadent, so you can blissfully luxuriate among original artworks, handcrafted furnishings, and stunning balcony views that, of course, change every day to showcase some of the most famous destinations in the world – framed seemingly especially for you. Those seeking an understated, modest cruising experience might like to look elsewhere; this is living large, being unashamedly spoiled, and it’s all rather delicious.
Speaking of which, the ‘farm to five-star’ onboard dining has an emphasis on creative technique and a sensate journey that echoes the destinations on shore. Local wines and beers, cleverly sourced, are served alongside the best of the fresh produce nearby, prepared to showcase wonderful local recipes and specialties. You’re also invited to ‘taste the city’ on a VizEat: sharing an authentic, home-cooked meal in the home of a Uniworld host.
When you’re facing this level of unrelenting fabulousness, it stands to reason that the on-shore experience is every bit as special. Uniworld describes its ‘Exclusive Experiences’ shore excursions as ‘once in a lifetime’, yet you can line them up, to enjoy them day after day. Swap notes about your new butler-enhanced lifestyle with an actual Austrian princess in her 13th-century castle; join the hunt for exquisitely fragranced black truffles, hidden on a farm in Provence; take a private art tour of the Vienna Art History Museum on a ‘Morning with the Masters’ and take in the Habsburgs’ imperial treasures, gathered during centuries as one of the most powerful families of Europe; or simply take a village day on an intimate tour of some of the world’s more picturesque towns, laughing with locals and generally having the time of your life. To keep your land legs, hiking poles and custom bikes are all included for whenever you feel like taking the air as you explore the sights. There are options galore, so you never need to feel locked in to any one kind of excursion.
Of course, if you know what you like and you can’t get enough of it, perhaps a themed cruise is your kind of heaven. Special holiday, new year and Christmas market cruises bring tradition and sheer delight to your end of year, while the Connoisseur Collection of culinary-focused cruises through France sounds like pure bliss for foodies. In line with the huge trend toward multigenerational cruising, Uniworld’s Generations program includes activities and excursions that keep all ages starry eyed.