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PALACE magazine (PM) had the privilege to catch up with Ellen Bettridge (EB), President & CEO of Uniworld. If you’re a bona fide wanderlust individual and haven’t heard about Uniworld’s famous luxury river cruises around the world, you’re missing out a lot in life! We spend 15 minutes with her and what the brand and its services are all about.
PM: For newcomers to your brand, tell me more about Uniworld
EB: Our one-of-a-kind ships are floating boutique hotels inspired by the destinations in which they sail. What sets us apart is our relationship to our sister company, the five-star Red Carnation Hotel Collection, which enables us to tap into over 50 years of worldwide expertise in design and service. We believe that luxury is in the details, so the Uniworld experience includes the ship’s interior design, personalised service, culinary excellence, exclusive access to authentic cultural experiences, and speciality-themed and family cruises to create a truly all-inclusive boutique travel experience. Uniworld allows guests to enhance their experiences even further through personalisation, making river cruising the ideal option for first-time travellers and travel veterans alike. We are a leader in the river cruise industry, driven by innovation, we are known for our unsurpassed level of service, and our niche is elevated luxury.
“River cruising is one of the most captivating ways to see the world and a more intimate way to travel, both onboard and onshore. Our guests love the opportunity to go to so many cities and unexpected places.”
PM: What kind of in-ship activities do you provide?
EB: For onboard entertainment, we invite local musicians on board the ship to perform and we also include other culture immersive workshops such as basic language (French, German, Italian or Hungarian language) classes. We host daily port talks to introduce culture and history of the towns and villages that guests will visit, and we have cooking classes and offer private dining experiences such as alfresco venues, seasonal menus, and farm-to-ship meals.
PM: What amenities and services are provided on the ship?
EB: Uniworld guests can enjoy all-inclusive shore excursions: Wi-Fi access, yoga classes, use of bicycles, and airport transfers. Guests are served unlimited alcoholic beverages, and gratuities for onboard and onshore services are included in the price of the cruise holiday. Typically, all-inclusive cruises are in the luxury category, and guests need not worry about out-of-pocket expenses other than booking a treatment at the spa. Our suites and staterooms provide an elegant and serene onboard sanctuary throughout your journey. From beds handcrafted by Savoir of England to the highest quality linens, and Italian marble-lined bathrooms, every element is designed with your ultimate comfort in mind. Onboard, guests will find stylish restaurants, and themed lounges with full-service bars. There is also a fitness centre and spa on every ship in Europe. Select ships also feature heated swimming pools. Other services include all-scheduled airport transfers, in-suite butler service, personalised excursions, and more.
PM: What are the best periods to travel to Europe?
EB: In Spring, we have popular itineraries like “Tulips and Windmills” where guests will discover the best of the Netherlands and Belgium. In addition to the springtime blossoms, this trip will appeal to those who enjoy guided museum visits and those who like to visit historic villages and medieval cities. For Summer, we have several popular itineraries including a culinary journey through southern France; the “Burgundy and Provence” itinerary which also means guests can admire the beautiful lavender fields. In Autumn, it’s the perfect time for a wine-tasting cruise in Bordeaux as you visit the wine region with “Brilliant Bordeaux”. Christmas time means there are Christmas market cruises to visit along the Rhine and Danube
PM: Are there medical facilities if one should feel ill on board the ship?
EB: We do not have onboard medical facilities, but all staff are trained in basic first aid. We also have automated external defibrillator (AED) in the event a guest requires assistance for providing CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). For any medical needs, we usually have a staff member accompany the guest to the nearest hospital for medical assistance. As our ships move down the rivers, it is quite easy in case of a medical emergency to stop at the nearest port for the guest to disembark.
PM: If I’m a newcomer to your cruises, what should I expect?
EB: As our guest demographic consists of 95 per cent who are travelling with family and friends and the majority are 50 years old and above, we also welcome first-time guests who have an adventurous spirit. Each ship is a work of art designed to be unique and inspired by the destinations each ship visits. Uniworld’s iconic ships exemplify true artistry, the very essence of our boutique philosophy. In partnership with the design visionaries at our award-winning sister company—the Red Carnation Hotel Collection—our ships have a stylish flair inspired by the rivers upon which they cruise, a blend of old-world elegance, the latest technological innovations, and ultra-luxurious amenities. Read about yacht cruises here.
BOXED: FAST FACTS
Best-selling cruise: “Enchanting Danube” along the Danube River – the Uniworld’s S.S Maria Theresa allows 150 guests with 57 service staff onboard. The ship includes a beautifully designed Viennese Café and Baroque Restaurant. There is also an intimate and cosy Lipizzan Cinema for movie screenings, or you can partake in cocktails at the Habsburg Salon. If you love history, art, architecture, music and exquisite food and wine, this is a good river excursion to explore.
- You can always enjoy any food or beverage at any time of the day even if you don’t feel like coming out of your cabin.
- You must partake in the port talks held just before dinner to understand the highlights of each town or country.
- Enjoy the onboard complimentary self-service laundry which even comes with free detergent!
- Make sure you borrow the bicycle from the ship to explore quaint towns and unique neighbourhoods of the port you are visiting.
- Do you know you need not change too many Euros when you’re travelling with Uniworld (unless you plan to do lots of shopping)? That’s because your all-inclusive trip will ensure you don’t have to take out your wallet at all unless you plan to book a private massage at the spa.
- Uniworld is committed to sustainability and it provides personal water bottles, so you don’t use plastic ones.
- Don’t feel shy if you want to have one more main course for dinner! The staff will be happy to assist.
- Open your senses to tasting the local cuisine and discovering the destination’s culture via Uniworld’s daily complimentary onshore excursions! For example, Vienna, guests get to try the Wiener Schnitzel, potato soup and the famous Sacher cake is served for dessert.
- Guests who require wheelchairs can celebrate because Uniworld’s ships offer lifts in all our ships to allows access to different floors. However, we do not provide wheelchairs so guests will need to travel with their own equipment.