I hadn’t been on a river cruise until I was a guest of Uniworld, a line known for its amazing boutique ships, service, and amenities. A bucket list experience, I choose the Classic Christmas Markets river cruise along Germany’s Main River (starting in Frankfurt and ending in Nuremberg), and it was an experience that I would never forget.

I rave about Uniworld to anyone who will listen (ask my husband). Now that I’ve covered every single one of our stops (links below), it’s time for you to see how luxurious the ships are, along with what life is like onboard. As you’ll soon see, the River Queen isn’t your average ship. It’s pure luxury on the water.

These are some of the many reasons why you need to try boutique river cruising with Uniworld.

1. Easy Arrivals Process

Uniworld's River Queen ship docked in Frankfurt before the Classic Christmas Markets Cruise

I received a very nice zip travel case with a professionally-printed booklet that included our itinerary and important things to know about our river cruise.

Also, connecting with ground transportation staff when arriving in Frankfurt was incredibly easy. Quite a few passengers arrived around the same time as I did, so we boarded a bus and were escorted to the ship without a hitch.

2. Gorgeous and Comfortable Staterooms

The elegantly-appointed rooms are equivalent to those in luxury hotels. I stayed in a suite which is a larger room with floor-to-ceiling windows and amenities such as decanted liquor, fruit, and coffee.

A one-hour chair massage was included with my suite, and, of course, I took advantage of that. Rooms have flat-screen TVs that play a handful of local stations and others like BBC World and a safety video.

I loved the River Queen’s shades of blue and varied prints on fabrics and walls. There were classic mirrors and artwork that I was told was mostly original.

After a long-haul flight, a comfortable bed is key. Uniworld staterooms have beds from Savoir® of England bedmakers to the world’s finest hotels that are draped in the highest quality linens and a fluffy duvet. There is also a pillow menu to choose from. I was beyond comfortable.

Excellent WiFi is available onboard in the lounge and library but if you’d like it in your stateroom, consider bringing an international MiFi.

3. Outstanding Food

Over the course of a week, I never got tired of the food. In fact, it was so good that it was difficult to turn away.

If you are hungry at any time of the day, food can be arranged either via the set meal times (which usually are between generous time frames) or via an a la care menu in the lounge. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, of course, but light snacks are available all day, and lovely afternoon tea is served daily in the lounge. With a schedule like this, there is no time to get hungry.

Breakfast was a full buffet of cold items, including pastries, cereals, mimosas, fruit, cheese and charcuterie, and much more. Plenty of hot dishes ranging from bacon to pancakes to an omelet station rounded out the offerings. Lunch is served on the ship, but I was always out exploring, so I only took advantage of it once and headed straight for the salad and cheese in preparation for a full dinner. Dinner was always a fantastic multi-course sit-down meal. Tables of eight and smaller filled the dining room, and as a solo traveler, I sat next to the most interesting people I keep in touch with, some of them still to this day.

Passengers with gluten-free and other dietary restrictions were presented with delicious options. I sat next to one woman who raved about the gluten-free bread.

4. Gracious Staff

Our Uniworld captain giving a speech before dinner on the River Queen.

Various staff members warmly greeted us every single time there was a scheduled departure from the ship or arrival to the ship from touring. Sometimes Captain Ferdy joined in. Unlike an airplane, the captain of our ship was visible every day. He gave charming welcome speeches and toasts. He shook people’s hands and chatted, never seeming rushed or inconvenienced.

Also, our Cruise Director, Piet, could not have been more helpful or enthusiastic. Every day before dinner, he presented the following day’s itinerary and important things to know. He was incredibly knowledgeable regarding things to do at each stop and made sure that every level of walker was accounted for.

I never wanted for anything from the attendant who cleaned my room to the servers in the dining room. Uniworld has one of the highest staff to passenger ratios in the industry.

5. Truly All-Inclusive

The gorgeous bar and lounge on Uniworld's River Queen ship

What does this mean? Drinks are included. Go ahead and try the craft cocktail of the day or sample regional beers. The bar is open virtually all day, and I quite enjoyed pulling up a luxurious stool to chat with staff about German wine or catch up on work for an hour. From gluwein (sometimes in the morning!) to specialty coffee drinks, any drink was a treat onboard.

Gratuities are also included. This means there’s no need to travel with extra cash or worry about extra math at the end of the trip. The only thing I paid extra for was an optional brewery tour in Bamberg that was worth every penny. You might also pay for extra spa services, should you so desire.

6. Luxurious Bath Amenities

I wasn’t sure if I needed to pack shampoo, but it turned out that there were full-sized bottles of my favorite L’Occitane shampoo, conditioner, and lotion in my suite, along with a hairdryer and anything else I needed. It was a pleasure to bathe daily under a massive rain shower, too.

7. Flexible Day-to-Day Itineraries

I appreciated that each day started with a short 1-2 hour guided tour that allowed us to get our bearings and learn a bit more about each destination. Then, we were free to explore on our own. Except for Rothenburg, where a bus was necessary to reach the ship, we could return at our leisure. Optional excursions were available for those who wanted all-day touring.

Guests are tracked by a key card that is scanned upon departure from the ship and re-entry to the ship so that they can make sure all guests are accounted for.

Uniworld tracks who is onboard with a scannable key card.

I usually stayed out until tea time. The ship is so nice that it’s not a hardship to relax onboard.

I highly recommend Uniworld for a luxury river cruise.

Special onboard entertainment featured a very cool glass-blowing demonstration (a skill Wertheim is famous for), a lecture about Christmas in Germany, a band one evening, and much more.

8. Regional Wines

Each night it seemed that a different red and white wine option was available at dinner. The wine list was pretty extensive in the bar area, too. A few of us had asked if we might enjoy a tasting and the staff was happy to oblige. Unfortunately, we were so busy having a good time that it never came to fruition but, trust me, I did drink plenty. In a situation where beverages are included, one might think that the offerings lean toward cheap, but these certainly did not. Premium beverages were served throughout.

Uniworld also sources local ingredients wherever possible and plenty of regional dishes were featured throughout our river cruise.

9. Beautiful Attention to Detail

No need for voltage converters on Uniworld ships.

Like a luxury hotel, Uniworld ships have even the smallest details covered. I had luggage racks, plenty of closet space, and a variety of outlets to choose from. Unless you need multiple outlets at one time, leave the voltage converter at home.

Rooms featured turndown service with little gifts ranging from chocolate to recipe cards each evening. I also loved that our entire ship was tastefully decked out for Christmas.

A gingerbread house on the River Queen during Uniworld 's Classic Christmas Markets cruise

And, as you can see, the public areas are just as elegant as the staterooms.

10. Kids Can Cruise, Too!

Uniworld offers river cruises with itineraries tailored for families with kids ages 4-18. During these luxury river cruises, kids’ menus are available and there is a dedicated host to oversee kids’ activities. In fact, Uniworld has been voted #1 Top River Cruise Line for Families by Travel + Leisure magazine three years in a row.

Classic Christmas Markets Cruise Reviews and Itinerary

Uniworld Classic Christmas Markets Main River Cruise Map

Here is my round-up and review of each stop and then some:

I highly recommend a luxury river cruise with Uniworld to anyone who will listen. I look forward to cruising with them again. It is never too early to start thinking about a river cruise so have a look at Uniworld’s destinations and schedule.

*Thank you to Uniworld for hosting the river cruise portion of my trip!

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. I traveled once accros Danube river from Hungary, Croatia and Serbia. I can say that river tours are great!

  2. I have to say, this is completely different to any other River Cruises I have seen before – the rooms and the ship look lovely!

    1. Uniworld is quite different. It seems silly to say but having everything all-inclusive was such a convenience. No fumbling for cash tips or guilt about too many glasses of wine. You would absolutely love it!!!

  3. So glad I stumbled across your blog. We are booked on this cruise later this year. Your photos and info have been really helpful.

  4. I have read your article previously but didn’t leave a message. This will be my 8th river cruise with Uniworld and have enjoyed every single one!
    J. Christina @www.scribblesandsmiles.net