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Kathy Hanser

Age: 61


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Uniworld

Ship: River Royale

Sailing Date: 2012-05-24

Itinerary: Provence and Burgundy

I did the Provence and Burgundy cruise in May 2012. Fabulous service, decor, staff, sightseeing, destination.

The food was fabulous. The breakfast buffet offers everything anyone could want, hot or cold, including an omelet station. Lunch was also buffet style and equally good. Dinner was always a four-course delight, with a good selection to choose from. If you don't like the offerings, you can get a plain steak or chicken. One night there was an Epicurean Delight with special wines for each course. Local specialties are offered and they were always good.

My room (107) was small, with tone-on-tone decor, but and a very plush bed. It was very comfortable. Tiny rooms are to be expected on a river cruise, so I'm not complaining. There was plenty of storage space though; two big drawers under the bed, a large closet with at least five shelves and space for hanging items on good wooden hangers, and a large drawer under the bathroom sink. There is an umbrella, a hair dryer, plenty of high quality L'Occitane toiletries, and a safe. My room was on the Champagne Deck. It's actually the bottom deck, but the rooms are exactly like the ones mid-deck only with two portholes instead of a picture window. I never found myself feeling claustrophobic without the picture window, and felt enough light came in. I can't see paying $500 more for a big window. There was no noise from the engines, which I worried about beforehand.

As on most river cruises, there isn't a lot of entertainment or other onboard activities. There is a pianist in the lounge; he played during tea time and in the evenings. I did not make use of the gym or jacuzzi. I did use the WiFi, which is free. It worked well for a moving river boat, but it was slow. This is to be expected.

I loved Les Baux and highly recommend this optional excursion. It is paired with a visit to an olive farm with tastings.

The people at the front desk are a mixture of nationalities, the captain is French, and the rest of the staff are mostly from Eastern Europe. Everyone spoke English well. They were a terrific group -- unfailingly polite and friendly. It doesn't seem forced or unnatural. I think they enjoy their jobs. One waiter I had the most is from Poland; his name is Jakub. He had a wry, low-key sense of humor and gave great service. The maitre d', Marius, is a real riot and full of personality, very cheerful, and hysterically funny. No task was beneath him. Our hotel manager, Aniko, was in training but did an outstanding job. Our tour manager, Alexandra, was very efficient and knowledgeable. Nothing ever went wrong. Passengers were from all over -- South Africa, Australia, the UK, Japan, and lots of Canadians and Americans. There were two other solo women travelers at my table the first night, so I wasn't the only one. I made friends with all the passengers easily and never felt alone. I think 99% of the passengers were over 40, which is not a bad thing, since I'm over 40 myself. Many people were confirmed river-cruise lovers and repeat Uniworld customers. The local tour guides were fantastic -- the complete package. Uniworld provides listening devices on the tours. They are great; you don't have to stay right next to the guide but can wander through a church, for instance, and still hear the guide. The destination, Provence and Burgundy, was fantastic. I'm so glad I took this trip.

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