Cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, through some of the most spectacular landscapes of mainland Europe, Uniworld’s River Duchess offers luxurious and elegant voyages. From the soft hues that adorn the interiors to the stylish restaurant and lounges onboard, guests can enjoy a fittingly regal experience. Remodelled in 2012, the ship offers all of the amenities that Uniworld have built a reliable reputation for, including luxury suites and the glassed-in La Motte Sky Lounge, which provides astounding views of the picturesque, ever-changing scenery.
Passengers When operating at maximum capacity, the Duchess can accommodate 130 passengers, who are well looked after by the 41 attentive and professional members of staff onboard. The majority of river cruisers are from a more mature, retired audience, but the luxury and style of Uniworld vessels can attract a slightly younger, affluent crowd as well. Most guests onboard are American, with other English-speaking nations including Canada, Australia and the UK making up the mix.
Dining The Palace Restaurant is the main dining venue on the ship, where guests can enjoy breakfast and lunch from the buffet station (with some dishes made-to-order) and a four-course dinner, served by professional waiters. Cuisine is predominantly European, taking inspiration from the regions you sail through and including a variety of authentic local specialities. Popular traditional alternatives including steak and chicken are also available. There is also a Captain’s Lounge onboard, which offers an exclusive dining option for dinner. Here, up to 24 guests can enjoy this private and intimate space at no extra charge. Reservations are recommended. The La Motte Sky Lounge on the Sky Deck offers lighter fare if you fancy something a little more casual, and is open throughout the day and for dinner, too. Suite guests can also choose to enjoy their breakfast in their suite, thanks to the exclusive room service option available. Drinks onboard are typically unlimited and complimentary, including wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks and mineral water. High-end wines and premium spirits may cost extra. There is also a 24-hour tea and coffee station available.
Entertainment There is are several lounges onboard to be enjoyed, from the Blue Danube Lounge and intimate Captain’s Lounge and Library, to the Sun Deck’s La Motte Sky Lounge and the peaceful Patio Lounge. The Blue Danube Lounge is the main social hub of the ship, and features a full-service bar as well as a dancefloor. It is here where guests can enjoy the evening entertainment, which often complements the itinerary followed. Sometimes, local performers are invited onboard for an evening of music, dance and culture. There is also a resident pianist, and cocktail receptions, welcome dinners and farewell events are highly anticipated.
Activities The Captain’s Lounge doubles as a well-stocked library, where guests can relax with a book or playing a game of bridge with friends. There is also an onboard boutique and Wi-Fi can be accessed from public areas and staterooms. The Sun Deck is home to a giant chess set and shuffleboard.Guests have the chance to appreciate an enriching programme of activities during itineraries, including Signature Lectures, wine tasting sessions and demonstrations. However, the main draw of a river cruise are the shore excursions that are on offer, including the diverse ‘Choice is Yours’ programme which gives Uniworld passengers a choice of excursions in every port. Expert local guides lead every guided tour – all fluent in English – and Quietvox audio headsets ensure every guest can hear the narrative, even those at the back. There are also Nordic walking sticks and bicycles available for active types.
Accommodation There are four 214 sq. ft. Suites onboard, and 61 151 sq. ft. Staterooms. Every category of accommodation is beautifully designed and features views of the river, thanks to French balconies (Suites, and Cat. 1) and large picture windows (Category 2 onwards). Common amenities across the various categories of stateroom and suite include handcrafted Savoir of England beds, European duvets, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, marble bathroom with L’Occitane bath products, plush towels, bathrobes and slippers, climate control, flatscreen TV with infotainment and satellite channels, hairdryer, in-room safe and bottled water. In addition, suite guests can enjoy special amenities and services, including a butler service, shoe shine, complimentary laundry service, iPod dock, DVD player, Nespresso coffee machine, bottle of wine on arrival and a daily fruit and cookie platter.
Spa/Wellbeing The Duchess includes a fitness centre, sauna and Serenity River Spa – all of which are available daily and are operated by professionals. To unwind, guests can spend time on the glorious Sun Deck, where there are ample sunloungers and deckchairs that offer spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes.
Itineraries The River Duchess currently offers four different itineraries which encompass some of the most beautiful regions of this corner of the world. The eight day ‘Classic Christmas Markets’ itinerary travels between Nuremberg and Frankfurt, and introduces guests to some of Europe’s renowned Christmas markets. It includes guided ‘Taste of Christmas’, ‘Village Day’ and ‘Gentle Walking’ programmes. In all, there are six excursions available, including visits to two UNESCO World Heritage sites. The 12 day ‘Highlights of Eastern Europe and Istanbul’ sails between Budapest and Istanbul, providing guests with a first-hand look at some of the beautiful scenery, heritage and customs that this magical part of the world has to offer. The ten day ‘Tulips and Windmills’ itinerary brings guests back to the western edge of mainland Europe, sailing through Holland and Belgium between Amsterdam and Antwerp. With this tour, you can appreciate the canals, windmills, flowers and architecture that these two colourful countries are famous for. Finally, for a lengthier voyage, the Duchess offers the ‘Ultimate European Journey’ itinerary, which travels between Amsterdam and Istanbul, taking 26 days. Embracing a wide experience of culture, history and customs, this epic river cruise adventure allows guests to really explore ten countries that span the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Elements of this cruise are spent on-land in Istanbul and Bucharest, with the majority of the holiday (21 nights) spent on the Duchess.