Uniworld’s New Ships
By Anne Kalosh.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, known for exquisitely appointed vessels, polished service, gourmet cuisine and inclusive pricing, will have a dynamic 2020.
The company is going to launch new vessels on the Mekong, the Nile and the Douro and will extensively re-do its Venetian Lagoon stalwart, River Countess, to be renamed La Venezia.
Uniworld also introduced an incentive for passengers to book a future cruise while on board, and a reward for travelers who recommend Uniworld to their friends and family.
Mekong Jewel to replace Mekong Navigator
In Southeast Asia, the new, all-suite 68-passenger Mekong Jewel will debut Jan. 3, replacing Mekong Navigator to operate a 13-day Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & The Mekong itinerary between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, including Cambodia’s spectacular Angkor Wat temple complex.
The four-deck Mekong Jewel sports Uniworld’s characteristic glamorous décor, with sustainable, eco-friendly materials incorporated into the construction. The top Sun Deck has an inviting pool and outdoor lounge. There are two dining venues: a main dining hall and an alfresco restaurant. An indoor lounge, library, spa, gym, sauna/steam room, salon and gift shop round out the amenities.
Two 924-square-foot Royal Suites, facing forward on the top deck, have spacious balconies with hot tubs and ample lounging furniture.
The pair of Grand Suites measure 551 square feet. The rest of the suites are a generous 339 square feet, some with balconies and some with French balconies. An elevator serves the three main decks.
Sphinx on the Nile
In Egypt, the new, 42-suite vessel Sphinx begins Nile service Jan. 4. An eight-day cruise will feature in the 12-day Splendors of Egypt & The Nile program, round-trip Cairo, that includes the temples of Luxor and Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, Aswan Dam, Abu Simbel and the Temple of Esna.
Aboard the five-deck Sphinx, Egyptian artwork, fabrics and hand-carved furnishings will reflect the character of the region. Facilities include a main restaurant and an alfresco dining experience on the upper deck, a small pool, spacious lounge and a massage room.
All accommodations have French balconies. The staterooms range from 233 square feet to 285 square feet, while suites start at 344 square feet. There are 20 Grand Suites of 430 square feet, and four aft-facing Royal Suites of 495 square feet.
São Gabriel new on the Douro
In Portugal, the new 100-passenger São Gabriel will offer more lavishly appointed suites than Uniworld’s Queen Isabel, which it replaces starting in April.
Travelers will experience the UNESCO-designated Douro River Valley on an 11-day Portugal, Spain & The Douro River Valley program from Lisbon to Porto that highlights local culture and cuisine. An eight-day cruise-only version sails round-trip from Porto.
Besides nonstop scenery from the river, the trip includes visits to vineyards, villages and historic sites. A full-day motor coach excursion takes travelers to Spain’s Salamanca, called “Golden City” for its tawny, sandstone buildings, and the home of Spain’s oldest university.
The four-deck São Gabriel has a top deck pool, sunbathing and shaded area. A lounge, shop, restaurant, spa and gym are spread across other decks. Butler service will give passengers the option to dine at any time.
A deck of all lavishly appointed suites includes four midships Grand Suites of 307 square feet and a dozen suites that measure 220 square feet. Staterooms range from 135 square feet to 156 square feet, with one deck of staterooms all offering French balconies.
River Countess to transform into La Venezia
River Countess, the vessel that was struck by an out-of-control MSC Cruises ship, MSC Opera, while dockside in Venice last June, returned to service in early September following repairs. Over the winter, it is undergoing a complete redesign to emerge as the 130-passenger Super Ship La Venezia on March 27.
The vessel sails an eight-day round-trip Venice itinerary, Venice & The Gems of Northern Italy, and is featured in a 10-day program that begins with two hotel overnights and touring in Milan and a visit to Verona. The cruise explores destinations around the Venice Lagoon, and one day gives the choice of a visit to Bologna, the culinary capital of Northern Italy, or the UNESCO-designated Ferrara, a beautifully preserved Renaissance city.
With décor inspired by Northern Italy, La Venezia will introduce two new Grand Suites of 302 square feet. Each can sleep three people. Four other suites measure 214 square feet, and one of them connects to a stateroom with French balcony next door. All the rest of the accommodations are 151 square feet. Fourteen of those have French balconies, and four of those are connecting.
An Italian kitchen on the upper deck will be among the three dining venues. A top deck lounge, a library, fitness center and spa round out the facilities. An elevator serves all three decks.
Uniworld recently improved its onboard booking discount program by introducing a floating deposit concept. As before, when travelers book their next cruise while on board, they can lock in a three percent discount. Now, when they put down a $500 deposit, they don’t have to decide on the exact cruise until later.
This offer is combinable with regular River Heritage Club loyalty member benefits and any other offer available at the time of final booking. (Credits for onboard bookings go to the passenger’s travel agent of record.)
A new benefit for River Heritage Club members is the referral incentive. Travelers who refer a friend or family member to Uniworld will receive a $100 credit per person toward their next cruise, and the friend or family member will receive a $100 credit per person on their first cruise.
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