Recently remodelled in 2012 and showing off elegant and sophisticated designs throughout, the River Countess has been cruising the River Po in Italy since 2013. Enjoy an unforgettable Italian adventure with the help of this luxurious Uniworld ship, offering top-quality amenities across four decks, including extra touches such as a pizza oven to complement new itineraries.
The River Countess offers an intimate experience, thanks to the maximum capacity of 130 guests. The 41 staff onboard, including the dedicated Uniworld Cruise Manager, are English-speaking, meaning that cruises appeal to English-speaking clientele – the majority of which tend to be from the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK.
Itineraries onboard appeal to a predominantly retired holidaymaker, who is well-travelled and may have enjoyed other river cruises previously. Most guests travel as couples or friends, but solo travellers find the cruises enticing, too.
The main dining venue – the Savoy Restaurant – can be found on the Marco Polo Deck and offers open seating at set times. It is here where breakfast, lunch and dinner are held, which take inspiration from continental cuisine as well as Italian specialities. A buffet station is available for both breakfast and lunch, with other dishes available to order at no extra charge. Dinner takes the form of a four-course meal showcasing authentic Italian fare, with other traditional options including steak and chicken also available.
Alternatively, guests can enjoy lighter meals, and pizza from the new pizza oven, in the Osteria Siena Salon Sky Lounge, situated on the Sun Deck, which offers a glass-enclosed conservatory-style space where you can fully appreciate the phenomenal views. The Captain’s Lounge is an intimate and exclusive space, where up to 24 guests can enjoy private dining – booking is essential. The Il Castillo bar and lounge also serves up snacks including sandwiches and cookies every afternoon. Suite passengers can opt to have breakfast served in their suites thanks to the room service.
Fare prices on most Uniworld cruises include unlimited fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks and mineral water. Higher-end wines and premium spirits may carry an additional charge. A 24-hour hot beverage station is available onboard, where guests can choose from a range of traditional and speciality teas and coffees.
The Il Castillo Lounge is located on the Marco Polo Deck and boasts a full-service bar. Here, guests can enjoy socialising with fellow travellers throughout the day, taking in the panoramic views as they relax. After dinner, passengers can sample the lounge’s evening entertainment, which can include local performances, music and dance, which represent the culture and heritage of the region.
Guests can also look forward to cocktail receptions, as well as welcome and farewell dinners, as part of every itinerary.
The Captain’s Lounge doubles as a well-stocked library which offers a perfect place to read or play a game of bridge. There is also a boutique onboard, and an Internet corner situated on the Bellini Deck.
There is an enrichment programme included in every itinerary, offering a range of interesting activities including Signature Lectures on topics such as ‘La Serenissima: The Lagoon of Venice’. You can also enjoy presentations by wine experts, among other delights.
As with all river cruises, the River Countess’ shore excursions are a major draw. Guided tours are available, with the help of a local expert, and Quietvox audio headsets ensure guests won’t miss a word of their narrative, even if they are at the back of the group. The ‘Choice is Yours’ programme ensures each guest has at least one appealing option in every port – often more than that. ‘Do as the Locals Do’ offers exclusive experiences, and ‘gentle walking’ and ‘go active’ excursions mean guests of all fitness levels can make the most of what the regions have to offer. There are also complimentary Nordic walking sticks available for use.
There are four 214 sq. ft. suites and 61 151 sq. ft. staterooms onboard. Suites and Category 1 staterooms feature French balconies, while remaining categories (Two to Five) include large picture windows. Common amenities across the board include handcrafted Savoir of England beds, 100% Egyptian cottons, European duvets, pillow choice, built-in wardrobes, private marble bathroom with plush bathrobes and premium L’Occitane bath products, hairdryer, in-room safe, telephone, climate control, flatscreen TV with satellite channels and infotainment and bottled water.
In addition, suites include special services and amenities, including a daily fruit and cookie plate, DVD player, iPod dock, Nespresso coffee machine, fully stocked minibar, wine on arrival, shoe shine and free laundry service.
The Bellini Deck features a sauna, fitness centre and Serenity River Spa. All of which are adequately-sized and serviced by professionals. The Sun Deck also features plenty of sunloungers, chairs and tables, where guests can relax and unwind while soaking up the Italian sunshine and the glorious views. The Sun Deck is also home to shuffleboard and giant chess, and it’s not uncommon to find morning yoga sessions if you like to start your day in this way.
The River Countess currently offers two exciting itineraries, including the ‘Gems of Northern Italy’ and ‘Splendours of Italy’ voyages. Both of which can be extended to include a two night land stay in Milan, if you wish.
The ‘Gems of Northern Italy’ is an eight day sail to and from Venice, and offers featured excursions such as walking tours of Venice, Padua and Bologna. Guests can sign up for a visit to a pasta making workshop or an exclusive evening opening of St. Mark’s Basilica. Alternatively, you could enjoy a mussel harvest experience in Chioggia, or an Islands of Venice tour which includes lace making in Burano and wine tasting in Mazzorbo.
The 13 day ‘Splendours of Italy’ itinerary mirrors the above itinerary, but extends to include Florence and Rome. Highlights of these extra days include a guided accademia tour with a visit to Michelangelo’s David, an ‘Architectural Treasures of Renaissance Florence’ walking tour, chianti tasting and lunch at a wine estate, and an ‘Imperial Rome and Heart of the City’ walking discovery tour which includes the chance to see the Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, St Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum. Guests can also join a guided Vatican museums visit and trip to the infamous Sistine Chapel.