The world’s most awarded luxury river cruise line, Uniworld, is adding three ‘Super Ships’ to its impressive fleet this spring, coinciding with heightened interest in smaller, high-end cruises offering privacy and restorative experiences.
A few months ago, we asked our readers about their hopes and dreams for travel in 2021 and beyond. Many longed to revisit places they’ve long loved, some stated they’ll turn towards tour operators to help organise their holidays, others simply wanted to make up for lost time on the slopes. On the backdrop of the pandemic, these all made perfect sense. And then, a little less expectedly, flocks of readers expressed a newfound desire for cruising (no, not the kind you’re thinking!). Ignoring the bad press the cruise industry received during the early days of Covid-19, some 46% of OutThere readers said they’d consider a journey on the water in 2021 – mind you, that’s 11% up from 2020.
But no two ships are alike, and the saturated cruise market of recent years means luxury liners not rarely grind nose to tail down the Danube or across the Atlantic. To stay afloat, we think it’s vital to up the game and make cruising more luxurious and experiential than ever before. Uniworld have kicked off the year doing just that. Launching three new additions to their premium line of ‘Super Ships’, one of the world’s top cruise companies now offers some of the lushest ‘floating hotels’ on the Seine. Meet the S.S. São Gabriel, for instance. A vessel so lush and homely, you’d be tempted to stay aboard when your fellow passengers descend onto the hills of Portugal’s Douro Valley to explore its historic Quintas and befriend local winemakers during private port wine tastings (we said almost, but not quite). There’s also the S.S. Sphinx, equipped with everything you’d need on a voyage down the Nile, including a personal, onboard Egyptologist to shed light on the ancient mysteries of the Valley of the Kings and more.
Our personal favourite, however, is the sumptuous S.S. La Venezia, a stately vessel with near-palatial interiors that blend right into Venetian splendour. On its route around northern Italy, the Venezia makes for a perfect base to immerse yourself in the country’s culture: explore medieval Padua, the bustling university town of Bologna and experience real-life magic during a private opening and lighting ceremony at St. Mark’s Basilica. One of the many things Uniworld gets right about cruises is its uncompromising stance on luxury accommodation – too often will travellers splurge on high-end cruises and bed down in suites lacking charisma or a sense of place (and don’t even get us started on awkward room layouts and ceiling heights!). Living up to its ‘floating hotel’ approach, Uniworld cleverly eludes such shortcomings, with each Super Ship being designed to reflect the heritage of the destinations it visits; from authentic antiques to artworks produced by local makers.
There’s another trend our readers cared about more than ever, and the company scores with regards to that, too: OutThere travellers are looking to put their money towards businesses recognising the importance of inclusivity and embracing diversity. A proud IGLTA member, Uniworld provide sensitivity training for their staff, so every traveller can feel perfectly well looked after on the water. Way to go, throwing an anchor right into our hearts!