Contemporary and sleek, the River Empress was remodelled in 2010 to cruise the Rhine, Danube and Main rivers in truly effortless style. From the 360-degree unobstructed views that are on offer on the Sun Deck, to the rich and vibrant decor of the sophisticated ‘New York jazz and supper club style’ restaurant, the River Empress, a Uniworld ship, is one of the finest vessels to cruise through Europe’s stunning heartland.
The Empress can carry up to 130 guests, who are looked after expertly by the 41 English-speaking staff onboard. The majority of passengers are well-travelled and have a passion for culture, history and new experiences. River cruises generally attract a more senior audience but this ship has some luxurious modern touches that also appeal to a slightly younger demographic. As an American line, Uniworld’s passengers tend to be from the USA, but its itineraries are also popular with other English-speaking nations including the UK, Australia and Canada.
The main restaurant onboard serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Breakfast and lunch are available from the central buffet station, which is filled with a variety of dishes inspired by European and continental cuisine. Made-to-order dishes are also available, expertly prepared by the chefs onboard. Dinner is served in the form of a four-course meal, with menus comprising of regional specialities as well as failsafe favourites including tender steak and chicken dishes.
Alternatively, guests can enjoy lighter fare in the glassed-in Sky Lounge, or can make a reservation at the intimate and exclusive Captain’s Lounge which can accommodate up to 24 guests for each dining experience. Suite guests also have the option to enjoy a luxuriously lazy breakfast in their room.
Uniworld typically offers its guests unlimited drinks included in their fare, meaning wines, beers, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks can be enjoyed free of charge. Some high-end wines and premium spirits cost extra. There is also a 24-hour beverage station onboard, offering speciality teas and coffees around the clock.
There is a choice of four lounges onboard, including the Main Lounge, Patio Lounge, Sky Lounge and Captain’s Lounge. The main lounge features a full-service bar and dancefloor, and tends to be the primary place for socialising. Evening entertainment, including a resident pianist, is showcased daily. Local performers are sometimes invited onboard to delight guests with music, dance and examples of regional culture.
If you’re hoping to enjoy somewhere a little more intimate, the Captain’s Lounge would be the ideal place, and also includes a full-service bar. The Sky Lounge offers a casual and relaxing space in which to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by with incredible river views. Finally, the open-air Patio Lounge is smaller and quieter, ideal for guests who prefer a peaceful place to drink, read, relax and reflect.
In addition to the entertainment programme, guests can attend a welcome cocktail reception and a farewell dinner as part of every itinerary. Many guests like to dress up for these special events.
The Captain’s Lounge doubles up as a library, offering a range of reading material as well as tables and chairs where you can relax with a book, or play a game of bridge, chess or backgammon. Alternatively, you can choose to browse the onboard boutique, or relax on the Sun Deck. Each itinerary includes an enrichment programme, including Signature Lectures that reflect the region.
Onshore, guests can enjoy the ‘Choice is Yours’ programme which ensures every passenger has a choice of excursions to suit their individual preferences, ranging from gentle walks to more active adventures. Guided tours can be followed in every port, led by English-speaking local experts - and Quietvox audio headsets ensure that not a single word is missed.
There are four 214 sq. ft. suites onboard, and 61 151 sq. ft. staterooms split into five categories. Suites and Category One staterooms feature French balconies, while all other categories include large picture windows so all guests can enjoy views of the river from the comfort of their cabin.
Amenities that are standard across the various categories of stateroom include a private bathroom with marble units, shower, L’Occitane bath products, plush towels, bathrobes and slippers, as well as handcrafted Savoir of England beds, 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, individual climate control, hairdryer, safe, flatscreen TV with infotainment and satellite channels, built-in wardrobe and bottled water.
In addition, suite guests can enjoy extra amenities including a DVD player, iPod dock, Nespresso coffee machine, fully stocked minibar, in-room breakfast, shoe shine, complimentary laundry service, bottle of wine on arrival and a daily fruit and cookie platter.
There is a sauna, fitness centre and River Serenity Spa onboard. The Sun Deck also features comfortable sunloungers and deck chairs, so guests can unwind and relax during free time.
The River Empress currently offers two captivating itineraries, including the eight day ‘Castles along the Rhine’ and the 15 day ‘European Jewels’ voyage.
Sailing between Basel and Amsterdam, ‘Castles along the Rhine’ celebrates some of the Rhine River’s most romantic and magical landscapes, stopping by four countries including the Netherlands, France, Germany and Switzerland. Highlights include walking tours of Strasbourg, Speyer and Koblenz, as well as wine tasting in Castle Vollrads, a visit to a vinegar estate in Doktorenhof and an aerial cable car ride to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which sits on the Rhine river bank.
‘European Jewels’ sails between Budapest and Amsterdam, and offers guests a wide look at European culture and history. Visiting Austria, Germany, Hungary and The Netherlands, this itinerary includes 12 excursions, including walking tours of Budapest, Cologne, Vienna and Passau, as well as wine tasting in the Wachau Valley, bike rides along the Danube and pretzel-making demonstrations in Wertheim.