Exclusive: New U by Uniworld Brand Seeks to Draw Millennials to River Cruises

One of U By Uniworld’s new itineraries ends with an overnight on the Danube in Budapest.

In early 2018, U By Uniworld, a new river cruise brand designed specifically for Millennials and Generation Xers, will launch in Europe. Created by Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, the new “younger traveler” (18-40 years of age) brand promises intimate new experiences, active adventures and new programming, plus many late nights and overnights in port.

In a travel industry exclusive, Travel Agent magazine was given a first peek at some of the features and itinerary details of the new Millennial-styled product, operated by River Baroness on the Seine and River Ambassador on the Rhine and Danube. To appeal to a younger clientele, these two dedicated vessels will be refurbished and updated with more open public spaces, plus such features as communal dining tables.

Regarding the onboard vibe, U by 
Uniworld is using words like “social, relaxed, fun, connected, scenic and enriching” to describe the new brand. DJs will provide onboard entertainment, and cruisers will relax with hammocks, beanbags and large sunbeds on the top deck.

A Uniworld chef will offer Chef Master cooking classes in the ship’s galley for a limited number of participants several times during a cruise; guests will have a complete farm-to-table experience — shopping with the chef, bringing the food back to the vessel, cooking it and enjoying the meal with local wines and brews. 

Shore trips will involve both organized tours and independent excursions, plus Travel Agent has learned that free transportation will be provided to city centers, so guests can “do as U please.” On some days, a short port stop is made to quickly let those on biking shore trips or active adventures off the vessel, before it continues to the day’s primary port call, where those guests ultimately re-board after their adventure is over.

U By Uniworld’s roundtrip Paris itinerary will include optional activities on and along the Seine. 

“Looking at the new Uniworld Gen-X project, I think river cruises in the next few years will have much more to offer to younger passengers,” says Candie Steinman of Dream Vacations in Fort Myers, FL. She likes the additional adventure activities and new excursions that Uniworld is now offering.  

Itinerary-wise, the new brand plans four itineraries for its launch year —all are seven nights to accommodate working professionals who may not have more vacation time. One Seine itinerary is roundtrip from Paris. Two other itineraries sail on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Regensburg. Another is on the Danube from Regensburg to Budapest.

Roundtrip Paris Itinerary

During a seven-night Paris roundtrip itinerary, guests will embark the ship at Paris and have the entire embarkation day, and night, to explore, dine and check out the city’s nightlife. During the vessel’s time in Paris, U By Uniworld plans a “Belleville Street Art Tour,” giving guests a look at socially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods as well as the graffiti-street art culture, with knowledge directly from the artists and street scenes.

In addition, the line offers a “Midnight Stroll in Paris,” during which guests will walk under bridges and along the Seine’s bank to see former river barges that have transformed the area into a trendy urban habitat. Continuing on from the Grenelle bridge, guests will take the steps down to the island, see a smaller Statue of Liberty, continue on the Allee des Cygnes and look for the Paris Metro on the viaduct before heading to Esplanade du Trocadéro, Paris’ most popular selfie scene.

River Baroness then sails in the wee hours of the morning (2 a.m. on day two; all times are subject to change) to Conflans Ste. Honorine, arriving around 9 a.m. Again, Millennials will have plenty of time ashore to perhaps go “Kayaking on the Seine” or bike along the riverside path. The vessel doesn’t depart until 9:30 p.m.

Arriving in Rouen at 12:30 a.m. on the third day, the ship will remain there until 11 p.m. the following day, so providing two full days of activity time ashore. Guests might visit the Normandy beaches, go ashore to explore independently, or visit ancient towns and villages.

Day five is spent from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. in Caudebec en Caus / Honfleur, while day six is at Vernon, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. River Baroness arrives back in Paris by 1 a.m. on the seventh day, so guests have another full day in the City of Light, and then disembark the next morning.

Rhine and Danube Voyages

A Frankfurt to Regensburg itinerary gives clients the first day and until midnight or so to enjoy the city, with the River Ambassador leaving for its first port call at 2 a.m. on the second day. After a very brief stop at Aschaffenburg, the ship sails on to Miltenberg, arriving at 4:30 and departing at 10:30 p.m. On day three, the vessel stops for a half hour at Lohr, then continues to Wurzburg, arriving at 7 p.m. and overnighting so guests can go ashore for dining, drinking and entertainment.

At 10 a.m. on day five, River Ambassador arrives at Bamberg, where it remains until 9 p.m. On day six, it’ a full day — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — in Nuremberg, and then on day seven, it’s 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for a Kelheim stop, before sailing on to Regensburg, arriving at 1 p.m. and overnighting, with debarkation the following day. This itinerary is also offered in reverse.

The line’s second Rhine itinerary — between Amsterdam (Haarlem) and Frankfurt, or in reverse — includes such choices as VIP access visit to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam and an “Old Church Brewery” tour to De Jopenkerk, a former church in bustling Haarlem; it’s now a modern city brewery, grand café and restaurant. Guests will enjoy three Jopen brews and food tasting.

Other port calls include Duisburg (brief stop), Cologne (overnight), Bonn, Koblenz (overnight) and Frankfurt (double overnight). During the Duisburg / Cologne day, guests can take the line’s guided “Biking Through an Old Coal Mine” tour to what was once the world’s largest, most modern post-World War II coal mine. Today, it’s known for its Bauhaus-influenced design and has become a lively center for art and culture.

On the Danube, River Ambassador will sail from Regensburg to Budapest, or in reverse. The ship departs for Straubing, Vilshofen and Passau (overnight) in Germany, plus Linz (overnight), Melk, Durnstein (overnight) and Vienna (overnight) in Austria, plus Bratislava, Slovakia and ending in Budapest (overnight).

While neither pricing nor stateroom details were available at press time, U By Uniworld plans to open sales this month. We’ve learned it will offer three different types of accommodations — single, double and triple. It will also offer a solo traveler pairing option, similar to what sister company Contiki offers.