I recently went on my very first river cruise as the guest of Uniworld Cruises. This cruise took me back to my favorite French city, Bordeaux, where I was able to visit some places I fell in love with during my previous visit to the region.
I was traveling on my own, a strange experience in an environment where most travelers are there as couples or families. And unlike the bigger cruise ships, these cruises are less crowded, making the entire experience even more intimate.
We sailed on the River Royale and set off from Bordeaux on an 8-day excursions to wineries, chateaus, and villages in and around Pauillac, Blaye, Bergerac, Saint-Emilion, Cadillac, and back to Bordeaux.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Cruising, as I have experienced on bigger ships has been fun, but not always my favorite experience. River cruising is a bit different from the cruise ship experience…and a luxury river cruise, such as the one I was on, was unlike anything I imagined.
What I most enjoyed about cruising with Uniworld was the level of service and attention to detail. Everything, from transfers to the airport to help in coordinating transportation back to the train station, was done for me. And when the trains were on strike during the day of my departure from Bordeaux our Cruise Manager, Katell Le Bourdonnec, made sure that she got as much up-to-date information for all who could be affected.
Eric Christophe, Hotel Manager; Katell Le Bourdonnec, Cruise Manager; and First Captain Emmanuel Quendera.
Chef Frederic and Pastry Chef Delfina made sure we were fed plenty, and well. Which brings me to what else I enjoyed about the cruise: the food. I had some of the best food on this cruise, with authentic dishes such as fish and foie gras, local cheeses, pasta dishes, desserts, soups…the list goes on and on. Chef even got me to taste rabbit! And yes, it was delicious.
Executive Chef Frederic and Pastry Chef Delfina.
Dinner here was an experience, complimented only by the endless amount of wines we got to taste daily, not only during the already included excursions, but also served to us by Sommelier Liviu.
We never went thirsty with Sommelier Liviu on duty.
The dining service team provided friendly, professional service every time.
Our awesome tour guides Pauline, Martin, and Janneke, with Cruise Manager Katell, gave us the 411 on all there is to know about every single destination we visited.
My state cabin was a joy for me as I spent much time in it working. The views of the river and coastal towns as we sailed were calming and I found myself really enjoying the overall experience.
I also enjoyed the excursions. All the various places we visited, the activities we did and the tours and tour guides where a lot of fun.
Sunset in Bordeaux
Mid-afternoon in Bergerac
Hot afternoon in Pauillac City
Strolling in Saint-Emilion
If I had to say that there was something I didn’t enjoy as much it would be that I was on the cruise alone and though I was able to get work done, I found that this is something best enjoyed with a loved one or friend. As far as little kids, well, I wouldn’t really recommend it. This particular cruise was heavy on the wine and wineries, so not really appropriate for little ones. And though there were some younger people on the cruise I was on, the majority of the people on board were a lot older. The activities onboard and off really don’t lend themselves to families with little kids, so it’s not worth the investment for travel with them.
I could go on and on about my opinion on the overall cruise experience, but I thought that it would be more interesting to let you hear what other passengers had to say. All that alone time allowed me to connect with many of the passengers and get to hear about their opinion as well as their river cruising experiences.
Here are some of the fun people I met while cruising:
Dickens, Ida, Stefenny and Bryan from Hong Kong traveled to France for the 2014 French Open and decided to extend their trip with a Uniworld Cruise. They took advantage of everything the cruise offered both on and off shore, proving that even younger, more active adult travelers will find plenty to do.
Faye, from Idaho, traveled with her niece Meghan, from California. Says Faye, “Because of my motion sickness I’ve never cruised, but I haven’t felt it at all here. Everything was done to perfection. The service and staff were incredible.” Trying to get a quote from Meghan was harder, because she was always either out touring, or biking, or hiking, or making new friends.
Kate and Kevin, from Texas, were celebrating their 25 year wedding anniversary! When I asked them what they thought about the Uniworld Cruise, a first for them, they said they thought the cruise had a “very attentive staff, excellent food, and wine”. They also enjoyed they excursions, which they said were “pleasant” and felt they had a “very relaxing week”.
Rose and Domenic, from Montreal, had previously traveled with Uniworld Cruises and had endless praise not only for the cruise line, but also for the captain, whom they had cruised with in the past.
Debbie and Doug, from California, where doing what they enjoy doing best: travel together. This fun and loving couple were such a joy to hang around with and their free spirit and adventurous energy was contagious. They told me they had a really great time and even after the post cruise trip was cancelled, they booked it anyway and went on to more fun adventures afterwards.
A family representing three generations, they are: Karen and Bob (grandparents), Raymond (uncle), Gary and Julie (husband and wife), Zoe and Raymond (children). Often times they did things as a group, but sometimes they were just as comfortable doing their own thing. Such a beautiful gift, not only for them, but for those of us who loved watching such a great family enjoying travel together. They really made the most of the experience.
Arno and Astrid, from Germany, were honeymooners on the cruise. They spent a lot of their time doing their own thing, and though I didn’t get to speak to them too much to give them space, they were gracious enough to allow me to capture this beautiful moment, which to me says it all.
Thank you to all the Uniworld Cruise guests and cruise team members who allowed me to capture them through my photography, for sharing their smiles, their stories, and most of all, their friendship.
To see more on the adventure, check out the Instagram story on River Cruising Through Bordeaux with Uniworld.
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