Uniworld River Royale Bordeaux Review
I had the absolute pleasure of being invited aboard the remarkable River Royale with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, for a short insightful voyage of the Southwest of France.
Being completely honest, with being new to Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, myself and my friend Lyndsay, who also joined me on this trip, were initially skeptical when it came to the standard of the Ship. Admittingly first thinking, that whilst Uniworld is 5-star luxury, that it was also very eccentric and garish in style - but how wrong we were, as this could not be further from the truth!
The ship had a style and charm all of its own. Firstly, I can confidently say that there’s a reason why it’s called the River Royale - because when you first step foot inside the ship, you are instantly made to feel like royalty! A real ‘wow’ moment for me, not just because of the beautiful interior but also due to the lovely & pleasant staff; their gracious warm welcome made me feel instantly at home.
With over 65 rooms ranging from staterooms to suites, which were tastefully decorated in a style befitting to the itinerary we had chosen to enjoy - it truly captured the essence of the Bordeaux region. We both enjoyed the French Balcony Cabins; the room really did emphasize elegance and comfort; from soft Savoir beds, an immaculate en-suite bathroom which had all the amenities you would need, including a non-slip mat for the shower and lovely L'Occitaine Bath products - which I obviously took full advantage of. Not forgetting the interactive TV which not only gave you information on the daily activity programme but also the ships current location, the weather, and great films to watch and enjoy. We even had a surprisingly large amount of storage for all of our belongings which was a nice surprise, because who doesn't like having infinite amounts of storage?
What started out as a lovely surprise but quickly became a sweet ‘norm’ on our trip was a lovely gift befitting to the area we were visiting being placed in our room each evening. This was just one of the many divine extras that we experienced that made us feel that little bit extra special.
Speaking of divine, the food was nothing but excellence. I can’t honestly pinpoint one negative thing against the food... it was that delicious! Uniworld is all-inclusive so we enjoyed (and took advantage of) the great amount of choice and variety of food (and drink) that the ship offered.
Let’s start with breakfast, because who doesn't love to start the day with a tasty brekkie? I was truly spoilt for choice from the array of eggs, pastries, danishes and everything in between - it was excellent. Lunch was served as a buffet style with options for all dietary needs and there was definitely something to suit everyone's taste. The nice thing that I quickly noticed was how the staff did not leave food out for long periods - they would rather replace often so that the food is always fresh.
Dinner was a La Carte - set menu with the Chef's daily recommendations along with the Somelliers wine pairing to compliment the meal. They also had an everyday a la carte option for those who did not want to have anything from the Chef's daily recommendations. This included steak with pepper sauce, Chicken or a vegetarian option.
As well as the set menu, I noticed that Uniworld also offered a room service menu which is unusual as a lot of other River Cruise lines do not offer this kind of service. The room service menu included food options varying from a selection of danish's and fresh fruit for breakfast to baguettes, potato chips, and toasted sandwiches for lunch. I occasionally enjoyed a danish in the morning when I didn’t fancy going to the main restaurant, whilst sat on my balcony watching the world go by - not a bad way to start the day!
One thing that always seemed to take my breath away whilst onboard this ship was it’s luxurious, extravagant lounge/bar spaces, simply because of the breathtakingly beautiful interior. In my opinion, and Lyndsay would agree, the bar and lounge area managed to combine luxury with comfort perfectly - you never once felt out of place.
The bar was always stocked full of a great selection of complimentary beverages including a lot of high-end brands, for instance, Tanqueray, Hendricks Gin, Absolute Vodka just to name a few. Not to mention the various sparkling wines, selection of red, white and rose wines as well as different beers, lagers, and draught beer. Soft drinks were readily available as well. Whilst there was no cocktail list - if you knew what cocktail you wanted, the staff would be more than happy to make it for you!
On the Sun Deck, there was a self-service bar, (an air-conditioned 'conservatory type area'). This was a lovely spacious open deck with 360 panoramic views. Sun Deck was also home to a lovely Hot Tub at the rear of the ship - which was a nice way to sit back with a cold drink and enjoy the views whilst sailing along the river. One thing to note is that the sun loungers and deck chairs are amongst the nicest I have ever had at sea on a river cruise. If you ever decide to sail on a Uniworld cruise - which you definitely should - and happen to find yourself on the River Royale, then make sure to try out the soft thick mattresses of the sun loungers - with headrests and thick cushion. The Sun Deck also has an entertainment area filled with a giant chess-board for guests to play!
Although I spent my few days relaxing, the ship also had a gym with four exercise machines, free weights, a sauna and a spa with massage facilities for anyone looking to stay active whilst on holiday.
One of the main reasons I chose a Uniworld Boutique River Cruise was for this particular Bordeaux itinerary, which sounded fabulous. Let’s just say I had high expectations - and it did not disappoint!
Even though many of the excursions are included in the cost of the cruise, you can also purchase additional tours. For example, in Bordeaux, I went on a motorbike and sidecar tour of the back roads. This was an additional 69 Euros, however, this is something I would highly recommend. We never felt pushed into booking these tours - it was just lovely to do something completely different.
Referring back to the included excursions, we got taken to a Chateau & Vineyard where we were met by the owner himself. He explained all the history of how the Chateau had been passed from generation to generation and how it is still very much a family business. We got shown around the family’s private living room and then around the public living room to see how it differed in style. We felt very honored to be shown around such a beautiful place. We also got to taste some beautiful wines.
After our trip to the Chateau, we were taken to the local market in Libourne. Here we were taken around by our guide, she bought local produce for us to try. We sampled local fromage (cheeses), fresh fruits and some beautiful cakes. It was a really great experience to see how the locals live. All of the excursions we had the pleasure of taking part in were incredibly special.
Overall, I would summarise this trip and Uniworld’s product, as a holiday like no other! The ship was absolutely stunning and the service was nothing but impeccable.