While the art of cruising down almost any river is truly relaxing, certain elements aboard some boats combine to make the experience even sweeter. Having just spent a week on Uniworld’s sybaritic River Beatrice sailing between Budapest and Passau, I came to the inevitable conclusion that the sheer luxury of the hardware and soft furnishings on board, together with the all inclusive nature of the Uniworld experience, went a huge way towards creating a level of pampered indolence that enhanced the overall vibe quite considerably.
How so? Let me run through a few salient points here…
The white. twin level entrance lobby, with its vast central chandelier, made a stunning focal point.But it was the little glass jars full of gummy bears and other sweet treats, free all day long, that gave it a kind of slightly naughty, kid-at-the-sweet- shop feel. I must have snaffled at least two handfuls of those gummy goodies, each and every day. My bad. Bite me.
The cabins. Roomy for a river boat at some 150 sq feet; all white accents around a Savoir double bed that was a dream destination in its own right. Small marble bathroom with a strong, potent shower and L’Occitaine goodies on tap. Ample storage space, fluffy towels and bathrobes and, best of all, floor to ceiling glass doors that opened onto the scenery drifting past your window. How wonderful to nurse a nightcap there- like a little window box opening onto the stars. Snug, spotless; utterly sybaritic.
The restaurant. Open seating for all meals, served as a mixture of buffet and waiter service for breakfast and lunch, and a slightly more formal, five course affair at dinner. Menus featuring superb local produce- freshly caught fish and many fresh, local vegetables. And, quite simply, the best Wiener Schnitzel that I have ever tasted anywhere. Pre-dinner treats also appeared in the lounge bar every night.
The lounge bar; an elegant, horseshoe shaped expanse of floor to ceiling glass walls, with its own bar, dance floor, and super comfy sofa and chair groupings. The duo that played in here every night were simply the best I have ever heard on any river cruiser.
The deck furniture; plump, cushioned sunbeds with adjustable awnings overhead. Tables and chairs sprinkled along the entire, narrow expanse. Perfectly primped topiary that added a touch of raffish class to a place where every bit of furniture constituted a genuine hazard to activity of any kind. Peachy.
The service- right up there with any deluxe boutique hotel that you can imagine. I was totally amazed to find the lounge bar in the capable hands of a barman I remembered from the Queen Mary 2, no less. Attentive without being intrusive, genuinely nothing seemed to be too much trouble. The Uniworld staff- from top to bottom- were friendly without ever becoming overly familiar.
Little things matter; the free Wi-Fi was such a boon, as were the free bicycles that we carried along with us. And the size of the boat- long and narrow as she was- meant that we could tie up almost anywhere. Often as not, we simply rocked up in the middle of town, literally steps from all of the sweet spots.
So- to coin a phrase- these are just a few of ‘my favourite things’ aboard the low slung, highly styled little jewel box that is the River Beatrice.