Being from North America it was TRULY an incredible experience to visit the regions of Vietnam and Cambodia as they are so different from what we are accustomed to. You can learn more about what we did by reading The highlights of our Uniworld River Cruise Tour on the Mekong.
Below though, is a summary of the “experience we received” with Uniworld River Cruises and it will give you a good idea of the level of service Uniworld offers & what to expect.
For your reading pleasure you may also want to check out the Review of our Uniworld Cruise through Venice And Northern Italy too if you are in the “looking for cruise ideas” phase…
…and speaking of, by contacting Shawn he can help you sift through all the information you learned and easily help you plan the perfect cruise for YOU. Doing it all on your own can be a nightmare & time consuming task!
OK, back to our Uniworld River Cruise Experience!
First off, if you arrive by flight the same day of your River Cruise start date, a friendly Uniworld representative will be holding a sign up waiting for you at the airport when you exit the luggage area… NO MATTER if you purchase their airfare or not, a perk unique to Uniworld! FYI, with most River Cruise itineraries in Europe for example, you would be escorted by motor coach to the ship but in this case we started our River Cruise Tour in a Hotel for 2 nights.
We began for 2 nights at the delectable “Park Hyatt Saigon” Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s one of the nicest hotels in the city and it’s in THE prime location for travelers. We had a fast, friendly & Private check in, in our room… fancy that! 🙂 The bags were quick to arrive, and fresh fruit & flowers welcomed us to our temporary home… a great start to our Uniworld River Cruise Tour!
Right away Chantel, our tour manager, greeted us with a welcome package filled with pertinent information about our tour & her cell phone number if we needed ANYTHING.
At our welcome greeting that evening, Chantel encouraged us to read the program which she delivers to our room each day. It tells in detail what is happening the very next day, including what to wear, interesting facts on places we would visit that day, etc.
QUOTE: “As You walk, Eat & Travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life” -Gautama Buddha
It’s super important to stay hydrated in tropical climates & Uniworld had that covered offering us mineral and regular water available everywhere we went. They even gave us a water cooler bag to put over our shoulder for longer tours… impressive!
Our guides spoke excellent English which is super important for learning abut the region. (there’s nothing worse then being on a tour & not understanding the guide- it ruins the experience) One day our Vietnam guide, Phong, gave us such a fantastic talk on the local region & while making us laugh we didn’t even notice the bus ride was over and we had arrived to our excursion. He was obviously very entertaining!
Our experience on the buses themselves were really good. They were super clean and cozy. The seats recline for better comfort and we were provided with cold water constantly (as mentioned earlier) and wet naps which was welcomed after a tour in the hot sun. Other goodies & little surprises happened too, but they wouldn’t be a surprise if we told you about them, now would they? 🙂
The level of Service Uniworld River Cruises offers is outstanding!
Going back to the food topic again, all the restaurants we went to on the program provided sumptuous dishes, and the comments by other guests confirmed that. Usually the plates were licked clean, so that will tell you how the food tasted.
Celebrating a special occasion?
We celebrated our anniversary on our Uniworld River Cruise Tour & were pleasantly surprised at what the Uniworld team did for us to help celebrate. They surprised us with a beautiful cake at dessert time & completely AMAZED us when we returned to the room & found a bottle of wine, 18 red roses (but who’s counting) a box of chocolate truffles and a card from our host saying, congrats! Yup, we felt pretty special.
After our 2 nights at the hotel, we arrived to our embarkation point and boarded the “River Orchid” Ship where we would be INDULGING for the next 7 nights. The staff were incredibly gracious, always smiling and welcoming as we excitedly stepped on… this was our 33rd Cruise & we can sincerely say we’ve never experienced friendlier staff while on a Cruise!
Immediately we were shown to our room where our bags were already waiting and on the sun deck alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks were being served… which were all included on our Cruise fare. Looking around we said, “boy, we could get used to this!” The atmosphere was hypnotizing & the ship’s dark mahogany wood and plush loungers made her VERY inviting. We were like kids in a candy shop, we couldn’t wait to explore and see what surprises were in store for us next.
The staff continued to impress us. At every turn they treated us like Royalty… Hands together in prayer while bowing forward to say hello was common & a beautiful gesture. They truly were there to help make our experience memorable and make any request possible.
You may be wondering about the staterooms! On the River Orchid they are all the same size, except for the two Suites which are bigger. So, you have 2 options. Simply check out these 2 video’s where we show you the Regular Stateroom Video & then the Suites Video.
Our stateroom was comfortable and had a rustic charm to it because of the warm wood theme- as you could see in the video. We slept like babies each night!… It’s not hard to, as being on a river the water is so calm, barely a ripple- you forget you are on water most of the time.
The bathroom in our stateroom was surprisingly big considering, which made for a fantastic shower. Sliding glass doors open out to a shared patio with 2 wicker chairs for checking out the scenery as we floated by villages and watched life along the Mekong River.
The Uniworld River Orchid ship is boutique in size, (60 people max) PERFECT for tracing its way through the Mekong River but large enough to provide MANY comforts for it’s guests. With 4 guest decks, the top deck holds the lounge & sun deck with both a canopy to shelter you from the sun and an open deck area for sun lovers…
…each evening before dinner, we would sit back on the open deck, sip a tasty cocktail, & talk about the INCREDIBLE day we just had with our new cruise friends, all while pointing to some beautiful Buddhist Temple at the river’s edge as we floated by… You get the picture… life can’t get much better then that! 🙂
The top deck also has a glassed in air-conditioned lounge as well with a fully stocked bar- perfect for cooling down with a ice cold beverage while reading your favorite book or staying in touch with your family & friends from your Ipad (FYI, no computers provided on the River Orchid Ship- so please bring your own device if you need it stay in touch).
Decks 2 & 3 are where the staterooms are and is shared with the small shop and informal but charming dining room. We dined like Kings and Queens here! There was always a vegetarian and lighter meal option available and the chef easily made arrangements for food allergies, etc.
Off deck 2 you walk down a flight of stairs to the movie/lecture room where they played movies specific to the region we were going to the next day so you could learn more about it, and they also had a massage services area… if you were so inclined. 🙂
TIP: Be in fairly good health and able to walk up and down stairs comfortably to participate in this tour (there’s no elevator) as all 4 decks of the ship have something for everyone each day, so expect to use those steps often.
And yes, just as you may have seen it on Uniworld’s video of it’s Vietnam & Cambodia Mekong River Cruise Tour, a UNIQUE feature is that they REALLY DO pull up to the rivers edge and make guests a walkway to guide us & explore a new village… It’s spectacular! You can watch the whole thing happen from the comforts of the ship and wave to the friendly locals who come down to check out the action and wave hello. The experience is something that really cannot be described in words, but ONLY felt by being there!
One day we were supposed to take a walking tour & visit Monks for a water blessing and ceremony, but it was raining so hard that Uniworld River Cruises ACTUALLY had them come to us on the ship so we wouldn’t miss it. Again- making us feel really special!
Our final morning on the ship was no different. As we said goodbye to the staff and loaded onto our comfy bus heading for Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia (see our entire blog on it here) the entire staff ALL greeted us off the ship and waved goodbye when we drove away- very nice touch).
TIP: Uniworld’s Sunset & Elephant ride tour in Angkor is additional, but we would encourage you NOT to miss… one of the highlights of the trip for sure. Just do it!
For our short 1.5 hr flight back to Vietnam from Cambodia, Chantel arranged EVERYTHING… she went to the airport ahead of us, got the tickets and was waiting for us when we arrived along with our luggage… All we had to do was relax and enjoy the hospitality.
Oh and that’s another nice feature- we didn’t need to worry about our baggage. From the moment we arrived to the time we left to go home, our bags were delivered to us everywhere we went.
Other Benefits/features of our Uniworld Cruise Experience:
- There were 29 crew members for 51 guests, pretty awesome!!
- Free Internet onboard… (although it’s pretty SLOW).
- You learn & see how local things are made… lacquer, rice paper, snake wine, pop rice, coconut candy, rubber, silk clothing… and more.
- FREE beer, spirits & non-alcoholic drinks onboard, as well as wine with dinner, are included in your Cruise fare.
- Personal listening devices were provided on tours so you can roam off to look at things that interest you and you can still hear everything the guides are saying.
- They break the entire group into small touring groups of 20 people or less for a more intimate experience. And for added comfort & space, each group gets their own bus.
- The Cruise Manager is on tour with everyone for the full 14 nights, so you can take comfort in knowing everything is taken care for you!
- There is free laundry & a nice gift for repeat guests… a nice perk as the laundry comes in handy when traveling for 2 weeks!
- It’s a casual Cruise. No jackets, fancy shoes or dresses need to worn on this tour. Just relax and dress casual.
A common fear for most people when considering a Cruise in Asia is the quality of hotels, food, hygiene etc, but as you have read, the Cruise Tour with Uniworld was FIRST CLASS the whole way & the staff could not have possible been better!!
If you want to see more sites & sounds from our trip you can Check out our pictures & videos of our “Mekong River” Cruise.
You can also read our Highlights of our Mekong River Cruise in Vietnam & Cambodia. There we get into more details about the Itinerary & what we did.
And if you are ready to experience a Vietnam & Cambodia “Mekong” River Cruise for yourself, then contact Shawn today & he’ll help you get that Dream Vacation planned!
Keep Learning & Cruising.
We appreciate you!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!