The History of Uniworld
was founded in 1976 by Yugoslavian entrepreneur Serba Illich. Based in California, the company began operating river cruises along the waterways of Europe in 1993. With a fleet of twelve distinct and diverse ships, Uniworld sails through some of Europe’s most spectacular cities and towns, in addition to offering river cruises that explore the wonders of Russia, the magic of Egypt, and the ancient civilisations of China, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Inside, Uniworld’s ships offer some of the most distinctive interior design afloat, thanks to the line’s long-standing partnership with Red Carnation Hotels. The emphasis here is on classically modern European elegance, with interiors designed to resemble baroque opulence, Art Deco chic, or the classic, wood-paneled lounges and public rooms of some of Europe’s greatest liners, trains and hotels. No two ships are alike, and each boasts its own uniquely Uniworld fit and feel.
The Uniworld Fleet
In 1993, Uniworld entered the European river cruise market with their 361-foot long River Ambassador. In 1994, her sister ship, the River Baroness, entered service. But don’t let their relative age fool you: both ships underwent dramatic refurbishments in 2011, emerging with the same comfortable, chic look that their newer counterparts sport. With just 120 guests, these sisters offer a degree of intimacy that just isn’t possible on many newer vessels.
Between 2001 and 2003 Uniworld expanded their offerings by launching some of their most popular vessels to-date, the and These highly-successful ships were followed in 2006 by the launch of the With space onboard for between 132 and 134 passengers, all four of these ships have been remodeled for the 2012 cruising season, with the exception of River Empress, which underwent her refurbishment in 2010.
In 2009, Uniworld launched one of their largest ships to-date, the 162-guest River Beatrice. Featuring two suite categories and five categories of staterooms, River Beatrice helped transition the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise product to the next level.
In 2011, Uniworld took delivery of its most ambitious and innovative ship: the With features like an indoor swimming pool, dedicated cinema, and the breathtaking Salon du Grand Trianon, it’s easy to understand why Uniworld appended the “S.S” designation to the Antoinette. The initials, after all, stand for “Super Ship”, and the S.S. Antoinette is every bit deserving of that special recognition. Staterooms and suites on La Princesse Deck have full open-air balconies that, at the touch of a switch, feature windows that can be raised to create a fully-enclosed glass conservatory.
But one of the line’s most distinctive ships is surely the 1999-builtExtensively remodeled in 2010, the River Queen is designed to epitomize the classic grandeur and elegance of the 1930’s Art Deco movement, while her exterior design pays homage to the classic turn-of-the-century steamships. She’s one of the most distinctive – and classic – river cruise ships afloat.
In 2011, Uniworld expanded their offerings with the Douro Spirit, designed from the ground-up to sail Portugal’s famed Douro Valley.
In Russia, the River Victoria operates voyages from St. Petersburg to Moscow, allowing guests to retrace the steps of Peter the Great along Russia’s famed Volga River.
Uniworld also offers some spectacular sailings to China, Vietnam and Cambodia in partnership with with Victoria Cruises for journeys along the Yangtze River on board the Victoria Anna and Victoria Jenna. In 2012, they will be joined by the brand-new Victoria Sophia (information coming soon.)
Along the Mekong River, 2012 will see River Saigon’s entry into service, followed in 2013 by the intimate River Orchid.
Despite the recent unrest in Egypt, Uniworld still offers a comprehensive programme of sailings to this fascinatingly historic part of the world, operating aboard either the River Tosca or Prince Abbas.
River Cruisers Should Know!
- Currency onboard all Uniworld European voyages is the Euro. For all Egypt and China voyages, the onboard currency is the US Dollar. Suggested daily tipping amounts must be completed in cash only.
- River Countess, River Duchess and River Empress all offer suites equipped with bathtubs.
- Local performers and entertainment are often brought onboard in select ports.
- North American passengers cruising to China aboard Victoria Anna, Victoria Prince and Victoria Jenna should bring a two prong European 220 volt converter.