A Short Stay on Uniworld’s River Duchess Gave Us an Insight into this Boutique Riverboat:
On our Uniworld Vienna to Paris River Cruise in June 2013, the River Duchess served as our floating hotel for the two nights that we were in Vienna. Our riverboat for this cruise was the River Princess, but because of the massive flooding of the Danube in early June, the River Princess was not able to make it back to Vienna in time for the start of our cruise. So for the first two nights of our cruise, we had the pleasure of getting to know the River Duchess and its crew.
Sister Ship of the River Princess
The River Duchess is a sister ship of the River Princess so apart from the decor and some minor differences, the layout of the two ships are similar.
Facts about the River Duchess:
The River Duchess was launched in 2003 and went through a major refurbishment in 2012. There are three passenger decks and it can accommodate 132 guests in its 4 suits and 62 staterooms. Regardless of which of the 5 stateroom categories you book, the rooms are all the same size (151 sq ft). When the weather’s fine, the sundeck is the best place to be to enjoy the views when cruising.
Staterooms – At 151 sq. ft, the staterooms are small, but they are very well designed and have plenty of storage space. There are gaps under each side of the bed for your cases and once you’ve unpacked you really will not need to access your case until the end of the cruise.
Regardless of the category, all staterooms are finely furnished to the same standard and enjoy the same lavish amenities. The Savoir® of England hotel-style bed is very comfortable, the bathrobe is luxurious and the L’Occitane en Provence toiletries I absolutely loved.
If you book the suite, you’ll be pampered with extra luxuries like daily fruit and cookie plate and an evening amuse-bouche, slippers, private DVD, iPod® docking station, Nespresso coffee machine, refrigerator, bottle of wine upon arrival, morning coffee and tea, continental breakfast, shoe shine, and free laundry service.
Balconies – If balconies are important to you, note that the River Duchess staterooms only have French balconies and these can be found in all the staterooms on the Rhine Deck (top deck). Category 2 and 3 staterooms have half windows that come down to the desk level. We were in room 209 (category 3) and found the window was fine as it allows you to enjoy the sights from your desk or bed. Category 4 and 5 staterooms only have narrow windows that require you to stand if you want to look out. We don’t recommend such rooms as you will not be able to enjoy the passing views from the comfort of your stateroom.
Restaurant – The River Princess has only one restaurant, the Palace Restaurant, and all meals are served here. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style. Dinner is a three-course meal and there are usually three choices for entrees and the main meal. It is free-seating, so you can arrange to sit with whomever you like, or sit with someone new each evening. We had two dinners on board and found the meals to be good.
Dress Code is smart casual, with the exception of the Captain’s Gala dinner or other special evenings where semi-formal attire is appropriate.
At the front of the ship is the Blue Danube Lounge where you can buy drinks and snacks from the bar. There is also a 24-hour coffee station where you can help yourself to various hot beverages and biscuits throughout the day.
Free Internet and Wi-Fi – There are two computers for use by guests and free Wi-Fi is available from the lounge. Although they say that the free Wi-Fi is not available in the rooms, we were able to get access from our room. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi service was quite unrealiable and would drop out whenever we went into a lock. Our hotel manager acknowledged that the Wi-Fi service needed improvement.
Although the River Duchess is an older boat and does not have external balconies, the staterooms are finely decorated and they live up to the company’s claim of a boutique floating hotel.
A great blessing is that there are no public announcements in your room or in the corridors and your time on board is peaceful.
The staff, especially Richard the Restaurant Manager and his crew, were truly professional and they went all out to make our temporary stay on the River Duchess a pleasure. We wouldn’t have minded sailing in this riverboat and were in fact quite sad when we had to change boats after two days.Any other ideas?