Anyone who knows and loves Red Carnation Hotels, but is in search of a different holiday experience, need look no further than Uniworld river cruises, which share many synergies with their sister properties. The boutique ship SS Maria Theresa is the most recent addition to the Uniworld fleet, taking guests on a journey along the River Danube and the Rhine. PR Director Caroline Calvert took us behind the scenes of this stunning new ship, to show us what these beautiful Uniworld river cruises have to offer.
Caroline’s River Cruise On-board the SS Maria Theresa
‘We started our journey in Budapest, with a breathtaking night-time cruise past the iconic Buda Palace and Parliament buildings as the lights reflected on the water. From then on, each stage of the journey was equally as rewarding; we were taken into the heart of some of Europe’s most attractive, vibrant and culturally and historically significant cities – Budapest, Vienna, Cologne, Nuremburg, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. And all of these were linked by beautiful scenery with enchanting castles, medieval towns and verdant vineyards to explore.
A whole host of cultural opportunities ensured we got the best out of each destination, with many experiences exclusive to Uniworld. In Vienna, we had the chance to go behind-the-scenes of the Spanish Riding School, and we were treated to a private performance of Strauss and Mozart classics at the Palais de OAVI, which dates back to 1871.
More contemporary activities featured on the itinerary too, including a trip to the top of the fourth highest skyscraper in Frankfurt, the Main Tower, and a fascinating visit to watch the robots in action at the BMW factory near Regensburg; 98 per cent of the factory’s work is done by the robots, with an additional 9,000 employees.
A personal highlight was having the opportunity to meet Princess Anita von Hohenberg – the great granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked the beginning of WWI – in the private quarters of her home at Austria’s Artstetten Castle. It was an incredible privilege to be welcomed into her drawing room, with a glass of Champagne, to hear the stories of her life and heritage.
The on-board experience just as enjoyable. The ship itself has got to be one of the best equipped on the rivers. Along with sister ship, SS Antoinette, the SS Maria Theresa has the only 3D cinema screen on the rivers. Then there’s the indoor heated pool, cosy Bar du Leopard, and the Viennese Café offering cakes, fruit and coffee. Reflecting Bea Tollman’s signature style, the ship’s interiors are designed by the same team behind Red Carnation Hotels, sharing the same ethos in terms of cuisine, attention to detail and, of course, highly personalised service.
The food on-board was of exceptional quality, with a generous buffet spread for breakfast and lunch, and a three-course fine dining evening meal, all showcasing the provenance of the produce and flavours of the season, paired with local wines picked out by the sommelier, Igor.
Entertainment on-board exceeded our high expectations, too, with music concerts, pretzel making and a cookery demonstration of a specialty Hungarian cake, as well as informative lectures and wine tasting. But it wasn’t all about indulgence. Every morning at 7am those who had the energy met with Balazs, the wellness coach, for power yoga on the deck, aqua aerobics in the pool, or Nordic walking along the river bank, all of which are part of Uniworld’s Wellness on the Water programme.
With its beautifully curated itinerary, and an indulgent yet friendly on-board experience that’s reminiscent of Red Carnation Hotels, this cruise was a real treat. The only question that remains is, which of the Uniworld river cruises will I be going on next?’