Uniworld was founded in 1976 by Serba Ilich, a Yugoslavian entrepreneur and former KLM executive who wanted to introduce river cruising, popular primarily among Europeans, to an American audience. He placed English-speaking staff on his ships and tailored onboard culinary offerings to American tastes. While Europeans typically took short river cruises of just a couple of nights, Ilich recognized that U.S. travelers who crossed the Atlantic for their vacations would be more likely to desire longer itineraries, so he installed larger cabins that would comfortably accommodate passengers for an extended period of time.
In 2004, Uniworld was purchased by The Travel Corporation, the parent company of respected travel brands such as Trafalgar, CostSaver, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Contiki, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and many others.
Today, the beautifully designed ships of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection sail the rivers of Europe as well as the Yangtze, Mekong and Ganges in Asia and the Nile in Egypt.
On a Uniworld cruise, guests unpack once and settle into a beautifully appointed stateroom for a sailing that takes them from one intriguing destination to the next. A Uniworld vacation in Europe is an amazing value, as the upfront rate includes all of the following: accommodations, gratuities on board and on shore, all meals on board, unlimited beverages on the ship (wine, beer, spirits, mineral water, etc.), airport transfers, a choice of shore excursions, shipwide Wi-Fi and more. (Beverage policies and inclusions vary for sailings in Russia, Egypt and Asia.)
Uniworld’s vessels are intimate and elegant floating hotels, modeled on the upscale design and hospitality concepts of the boutique lodgings of Uniworld’s sister company, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Filled with antiques, original art and handcrafted furnishings, each ship has a distinctive look -- no two are alike.
Interiors often are inspired by the sailing region. For example, the S.S. Maria Theresa is reminiscent of a baroque Viennese palace, while the S.S. Antoinette evokes the Chateau de Versailles.
On Board the Ship
An attentive staff and gourmet cuisine are hallmarks of Uniworld’s onboard experience.
The ships boast a high crew-to-guest ratio, which allows for intuitive service. Your server at breakfast will remember how you take your morning coffee, while the bartender might seek out your favorite bottle of wine at the next port of call. Uniworld calls these acts of personalized service “Tiny Noticeable Touches,” or TNTs.
Uniworld embraces a farm-to-table philosophy for its onboard dining venues, and chefs use locally sourced ingredients from farms, markets and artisanal food producers. Many recipes are from the personal collection of Beatrice Tollman, a chef, cookbook author and the founder of sister brand Red Carnation. Uniworld offers low-calorie “Traveling Lite” menus, as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Selective beverage lists feature regional wines and beers.
Uniworld’s carefully curated excursions allow guests to immerse themselves in each destination’s history, culture, sights and cuisine. Many of the amazing experiences are arranged exclusively for Uniworld guests. The company offers several options:
See the destination on a hiking or biking tour, using complimentary Nordic walking poles and bicycles available on board.
These slower-paced excursions allow more time to linger at attractions and stores.
Do As the Locals Do
Get an insider’s look with your local guide, visiting favorite neighborhood spots to meet, eat and shop.
Discover charming towns and learn about daily life in rural areas.
Select Uniworld itineraries and departures are specially designed for family travel. They provide kid-friendly menus and two onboard Family Hosts for Junior Cruisers (ages 4 to 12) and Teen Cruisers (ages 13 to 17). Activities that engage young guests are offered, such as hands-on craft workshops or pizza-making classes, or active shore excursions just for the teens on board. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy some relaxing free time for themselves.
U by Uniworld
U by Uniworld offers river cruises geared exclusively to travelers ages 21 to 45. Compared to the deluxe offerings of Uniworld, these sailings are lower-priced with fewer inclusions. The upfront rate includes two onboard meals and one shore excursion each day, as well as gratuities and Wi-Fi.
Itineraries feature late-night and overnight stays in ports, as well as later starting times for excursions. Optional “U Time” excursions, available at an additional cost, provide more ways to delve into a destination. Onboard activities might include yoga sessions and classes in painting or cooking. At night, mingle with new friends in the ship’s rooftop lounge, or join one of the “U Hosts” on a jaunt to a local hot spot.
To get a feel for the Uniworld experience, check out the video below.