Let’s get straight to the point…
Why ‘U By Uniworld‘?
“Uniworld’s sister brand – U is a fresh approach to river cruising. With more active itineraries and excursions, a cool onboard vibe, fun nightlife and a casual crowd who enjoys farm-to-table dining as much as kayaking. U is river cruising for the young and young at heart.
Uniworld has redefined the concept of all-inclusive luxury, offering only the most exceptional amenities, experiences and service—including an ample selection of premium spirits and wines, bicycles, Nordic walking sticks, gratuities, onboard fitness classes (like yoga and TRX), ship-wide Wi-Fi and exclusive shore excursions in each city.”
Before going on the U River Cruises’ Tattoo Cruise’, we had heard very little about river cruises but what we had heard was we would be surrounded by old people, eating cafeteria food, and going on boring walking tours. Well, as it turns out, all three of those couldn’t be more wrong.
In addition to the incredible food, spa, gym, ice bar, and various other amenities on board, ‘The A’ tries their best to be fully sustainable and doesn’t use any paper on board. They also have personal ‘Quiet Boxes’ for each guest that you can take on the walking tours to be sure you can hear the guide at all times. Another feature that we loved was their use of ‘What’s App’ to send information throughout the day along with a chat group to connect with other guests, send photos, etc.
How much did it cost?
Airfare: if you book early, you obviously get a better deal so try to plan ahead. Edwards LaLone helped us find the best travel package that worked with Dan’s time off, free checked bags, arriving at (and departing from) the most convenient airports, etc.
Cruise: Pricing for the cruise also varies widely based on when you book, how you book (it’s best to go through a travel agent because they can ensure you get the best deal and add on any extra packages you might benefit from – we are so glad we had the Romance Package to enjoy some extra special experiences on and off the ship.) Pricing will also vary depending on the room you’d like. We had a room with our own balcony, which I’d highly recommend. We often had the door open and just enjoyed the fresh river breeze as we cruised along. Another determining factor will be which route you choose to take along the river. They have a wide variety of cruise routes so you can choose the one that stops in the cities you are most interested in visiting. We are already scouting out their Grand China & The Yangtze cruise: 18 days from Beijing to Hong Kong! (Another benefit of using Edwards LaLone to book a trip like this is, in the case of going somewhere where you will need special travel documents, they can help ensure you won’t have anything to worry about at customs).
Other spending: We went a day early and stayed a day late so we had a hotel each of those nights, but with the package Edwards LaLone booked for us, the hotel fare is included in the airfare so you get a special deal. As you stop in each city on the cruise, there are free excursion options and paid excursion options. When we booked the cruise with Edwards LaLone, they set us up with a couple on-board credits that we could exchange for some of the paid excursions (another benefit of booking through a travel agent). Because of this, we did every excursion we wanted, and only had to pay for one of them. We also tried to book massages on the ship, but they booked so quickly we missed our opportunity so at check out, we owed less than $100 for our onboard charges. In addition, all of your breakfasts and dinners are provided on the ship along with late-night snacks, so the only meal you have to pay for is lunch. A lot of the tours included samples and snacks as well. It ended up being an extremely inexpensive trip after the flights and cruise were booked. The only things we spent money on once there were food (duh), shopping, and random activities.
What were the age ranges of people on the ship?
The ages varied, there was a little bit of everything but the majority, I’d guess, were 25-40. Everyone on board was very active and ready for all the adventurous excursions, dance parties, etc.
What was your favorite part?
This is so hard to answer! It was really just such a treat to get so much alone time together. We are both so busy with work and life when we are home that having 24/7 together was much needed! If it weren’t for the help from Edwards LaLone, we would’ve never made the effort to spend such an unforgettable week together in Germany.
As for our favorite city or excursion, I was so pleasantly surprised by each and every city. It’s impossible to pick a favorite, but I especially loved the little dreamy Disney town of Rothenburg. If Dan had to choose, he really loved Bamburg. The romantic bike ride we got to do was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip, but what really made it so special were all of the amazing people onboard. We made some wonderful friends and the crew and staff were unbelievably accommodating and made all of the on-board events so much fun!
Did they offer Vegan food options on the ship?
YES! For the breakfast and dinner buffets, they always had a full salad bar, full charcuterie bar, and a full vegan bar with tons of options like quinoa, hummus, tofu, and other filling, vegan proteins. Oh, and don’t even get me started on all of the breads and pastries.
What if I don’t want to participate in the guided tours?
One of the things we loved about this cruise (compared to other cruises or guided trips we have been on) is the freedom you’re given. As long as you are back before the ship leaves that night, you’re free to head out and explore the area however you want all day long. Oh, and if you happen to miss the ship (which no one did), you simply take a train and meet us at the next stop.
Because you were on a cruise, did you feel like you missed out on other things?
Absolutely not. This was our favorite part. We traveled at night and had all day to explore. We’d cruise the river while we slept and wake up in a new city!
Were the river levels low? We were told the Danube was low and may have to be bused.
We didn’t have any issues with this and the crew never mentioned it as a concern.
Was it worth the price?
1000 times yes. Like I said, we are already planning our next one!
About our trip…
Day 1: FRANKFURT “Germany’s Melting Pot”
Check in to NH Collection Frankfurt City (Vilbeler Str. 2) . Edwards LaLone strategically set us up with a perfect hotel location, close to the airport and close to the ship’s port.
My biggest tip when traveling abroad is to get acclimated with local time as fast as possible. As soon as you board the plane, eat, sleep, and drink as if you are already on the new time zone. Then, when you arrive, no matter how tired you might feel, try to power through the first day and fight the jet lag.
Ok, first things first… food! When we eat out while traveling, we try to find the local treasures and we ended up at a Kabab House serving up fabulous Doners. If you haven’t experienced the goodness of a Doner, it’s a kebab sandwich wrap stuffed with meat shaved right in front of your eyes, then topped with yogurt sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion. Once we were fed, the exploration could begin. Frankfurt is a very walking-friendly city and our hotel was pretty centrally located so we started in the main shopping area flooded with fantastic clothing stores, small fruit stands, street vendors and more. There was lots of action going on in this area. After walking for hours, we got ready for a special photoshoot scheduled at a nearby castle. After our dreamy photoshoot, we continued the explorations and walked all along the Main River. We shopped, had dinner at a fresh cafe called Dean & David, and visited the local cider fair happening in the heart of town. Apparently Frankfurt is the cider capital of Germany. Who knew?
Frankfurt is known as the financial hub of Europe and has one of the biggest airports in Europe so it’s a great place to start or end your trip around Germany. Like many other German towns, during WWII, Frankfurt was literally bombed flat and most of the older buildings have been replaced with high-rises.
Day 2: Frankfurt
We woke up to a nice buffet breakfast set up at the hotel then set out for our next day of Frankfurt explorations. We started at the Frankfurt Cathedral where you can climb the tower all the way to the top for the absolute best 360 degree view of the city. Next we shopped the Kleinmarkethalle which reminded me of Frankfurt’s version of Pike Place Market. They had endless flowers, pastries, herbs, seafood, produce, and of course… sausage. Now, when I heard that you could get the best sausage of your entire life from this market, I was skeptical. There’s a little booth called Schreiber and after waiting in line (always a good sign), we went with the traditional pork sausage and oh. my. goodness. It was like biting into a stick of butter, so incredibly soft and smooth. It comes served with a fresh roll and mustard. We decided to share but instantly regretted that after the first bite. Soon enough, it was time to board our ship, ‘The A,’ for our river cruise with U River.
From the second we entered the doors we knew this was going to be very special. Incredibly professional and helpful staff, gorgeous, modern decor, and the only black ship on the water… let’s just say when you roll with U River, everyone stares. We entered our cabin to a romantic setup with a huge bow, rose petals, a fruit platter, and complimentary drinks. After a quick tour of the ship and orientation with the staff, it was dinner time! Our favorite time. The chef on board ‘The A’ strives to serve Farm to Table, fresh food, perfect for every palette, and let me tell you, he succeeded time and time again. Dinner was set up either as a buffet or family style. The buffet dinners usually included a seafood option, beef option, pork option and chicken option along with some starches like potatoes, pasta, and/or rice. Along with that, they always offered a full salad bar along with a vegan bar as well. I told you they have something for everyone, right? Dan’s favorite part was the carving station featuring a new prime meat each night. Oh, and they always had a full charcuterie spread along with plenty of dessert and fruit options.
The ship offered hosted activities on board every night to keep everyone entertained while we cruised. Our first night was a walking tour through Frankfurt ending at the Cider Fest. Activities like this were always available, free of charge, but you were also free to do whatever you wanted as long as you made it back to the ship in time for departure. The cruise could be as structured or as free as you prefer, so it’s perfect for everyone.
Day 3: Miltenburg
Day three of our trip, we woke up to the most gorgeous view of rolling hills as we sailed toward Miltenburg. After a gourmet breakfast buffet, including a custom omelet station and the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted, we embarked on our first hosted adventure. Passengers had three options: Bike the Burg (the boat has bikes on board that you can take out in each city if you want), a Castle Hike, or a Beer Tasting Tour. We chose the bike ride and it was perfectly scenic. We rode about 15 kilometers to a quaint little city where we got lunch, the German staple: Curry Wurst.
When we returned to the ship, they had set up a Pretzel Making class by one of the best pretzel makers in town from Frisch Muth Bakery. His family has been making pretzels since the 1700’s. He now travels the world teaching other chefs how to make perfect sourdough bread. His motto? “Eat pretzels and you will have a wonderful life”. He also taught us the secret taste you’re looking for in pretzel: soap. You better bet I am going to put his techniques to the test in my own kitchen!
Edwards LaLone set us up with the special “Romance Package” as they knew we were treating this trip as our Baby Moon! With this romance package, we got a little extra spoiling while on the ship. One of the perks was getting to take special city bikes out that afternoon for a romantic picnic (prepared by the onboard staff). They told us about a gorgeous castle about 15 km in the opposite direction we rode that morning so we set out on our little one-on-one adventure. It was so fun getting to explore the city without a guide or rules. After a couple small detours, we found the castle and since it was Sunday there was not a soul around. We set up our romantic picnic with the blankets and supplies provided by the crew. Let me tell you, the sandwich they made was quite possibly the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It was perfectly simple, just bread, cheese, tomatoes, cured meat, lettuce, with a special tomato sauce. This, along with an apple, chips, a pretzel, dessert and drinks. We rode all around the castle then made it back to the ship just in time to avoid a quick downpour.
Since we attended a special themed cruise: ‘Tattoo on You’, a lot of our events were focused around the theme. On night four, there was a tattoo contest with people showing off their ink and planning future ink with the tattoo artists on board.
Day 4: Wurzburg
This morning, we got to choose between two included activities: a painting & wine class on board or a bike ride along the river. The bike riders rode alongside the boat as we continued to cruise down the river and paint. It was just like something out of a movie! After Dan and my sad attempt at painting, we docked in Wurzburg. I’ve mentioned a couple of included activities, there were also some extra off board activities and tours that you could add on to your cruise package upon arrival. One of these included a Baroque Palace tour followed by a walking tour through the city. We ended on the Wurzburg bridge where it is a tradition to enjoy a glass of wine, the signature, Silvaner. We watched the sunset and then returned to the ship for another fabulous dinner. We didn’t leave Wurzburg that night until late, so we were able to leave again and explore. Dan and I walked back to the city for some late night Gelato. Lemon sorbet always and forever.
Day 5: Rothenburg
We woke up in the charming city of Rothenburg, pronounce Routenborg. It’s known as one of the most romantic German towns you can find and it looked as if it was designed by Walt Disney. Perfectly medieval. Perfectly intact. One of the most preserved towns in Germany with a deep love for Christmas!
We started with a walking tour then we explored on our own for the rest of the day. During our tour, we got to sample a variety of sausages along with the cities traditional pastry, Schneeballen. We walked along the ancient wall surrounding the city for a perfect aerial view. After some shopping at the world’s cutest Christmas store, we stopped for lunch and sat right next to an open window with a view of the main street. Similar to Miltenburg, we perfectly avoided a downpour. The rain we experienced during our trip only happened here and in Miltenburg and both times it was a super quick downpour then it cleared up for a beautiful day. Dan ordered sausage, of course, and I ordered chicken and vegetables which ended up being a chicken cordon bleu with French fries. I’ll count that as a win! After lunch we explored more of the city. That evening we returned to the ship for another fabulous dinner and a silent disco party. If you’ve never silent disco’d, you need to get on it.
Day 6: Bamberg
We woke up to breakfast in bed (another perk to the Romance Package) and enjoyed it with our balcony door open next to the water. Similar to the other days, we chose the brief morning walking tour to get acclimated with the city then we ventured off on our own. We had zero expectations for Bamberg and it ended up being one of our favorite stops!
After hiking up the hill for a scenic view, we headed to lunch where we had to try their staple, Die Bamberger Zwiebel, a stuffed onion smothered in smoked beer gravy. Imagine a stuffed pepper but instead of a pepper, a giant white onion. It’s absolutely delicious. Speaking of smoked beer, that’s another staple in Bamberg. The city is proudly the highest average consumers of beer in Germany! Their average person consumes 280 liters of beer per year where the rest of the country averages around 130 liters. We walked the entire city then stopped for some snacks from street vendors. We also visited a gorgeous cathedral located at the top of one of the many hills in Bamberg.
When we returned back on the ship, all the passengers hung out on the top deck in the ice bar and under the sun chairs. Did we mention we loved the other passengers? We made so many wonderful friends from other parts of the world. Everyone spoke English which made communicating easy. The passengers were mostly from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland, and London. After dinner it was time for Karaoke night! We sang, we laughed, we danced, we applauded, and we stayed out way past our bedtime. 🙂
Day 7: Nuremberg
Nuremberg was different than the picturesque, charming cities we had visited. There is so much deep, intense history here and we chose the WWII tour where we visited the Nazi Documentation Center, the place of their large rallies, and the courtroom of the Nuremberg Trials. After our tour, we were dropped off in the heart of town where we had time to explore on our own. We visited another cathedral (St. Lorenz) and it was my favorite one of the entire trip. The stained glass windows were breathtaking. Some of the cathedral was destroyed in WWII so people from around germany donated a great deal of artwork to help restore the building. Speaking of the destruction during WWII, 90% of the buildings inside city walls were destroyed.
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Maestro where we shared a delicious brick oven pizza and salad.
This was the point on the cruise where we were passing from the Main River to the Danube. We had to go over a “hill” which meant we had to pass through incredibly tall lock systems. Throughout the trip, the ship passed through a lock almost every hour. It was really fun to see how they worked and Dan was stunned every time by the engineering.
We enjoyed a fabulous family-style dinner with some of our shipmates including a German staple, shneitzel. Little did we know, the chef and kitchen crew had set up a special surprise for dessert. They had us all gather around the buffet table covered in various specialties then they blasted some music and the staff all came out in costumes, dancing and singing, throwing dessert all around the table. It was quite the spectacle and one of the highlights of our on-ship experience. But, the party didn’t stop there because it was our decades disco night! Everyone dressed up in 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s attire and danced the night away.
Day 8: Regensburg
Our last day on the ship. How did this happen?! We woke up, looked outside our window and were stunned. We were parked directly next to a gorgeous castle. Can I wake up like this every day? After our morning walking tour, we set off to explore. Noticing a trend here? We did some shopping, some cathedral touring, and some eating. Another trend? Yep, and just how we like it! Our lunch today was so scenic. Again, we were seated by an open window with an incredible view of the little town from the second floor. We saw this restaurant called ‘Hans I’m gluck’ the day before that looked delish, so when we saw it again, we decided to stop. We enjoyed awesome burgers and sweet potato fries.
Then we got a message from the ship crew telling us about a little Oktoberfest party happening across the bridge. We went back to the ship, grabbed bikes and rode over. It was such a fun way to see the city and we got to experience a brief preview of a German Oktoberfest party.
Since it was our final night, we had to finish with a party showing off everyones tattoos they received on the ship that week. After the party, Dan and I played Jenga with a huge Jenga set until the wee hours of the night trying to pretend that this amazing vacation wasn’t over.
Day 9: Munich
We disembarked the next morning, said goodbye to our shipmates, and headed on a train to Munich.
We arrived and checked into our hotel, Design Hotel Stradt Rosenheim (Orelansplatz 6a). We would HIGHLY recommend this hotel. It has been around since 1890 and it’s gorgeous, with so much character. Edwards LaLone set us up with a suite and we felt like we were living the high life. The hotel is located right next to the train station which made the commute to Munich and to the airport the next morning a breeze. It also made all of our commuting during our day of exploration as easy as possible. The receptionist was able to tell us exactly which trains and busses to take and which platforms they left from.
Dan had visited Munich before so he had a couple spots he wanted me to see. Starting with the Dauchau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. What a sobering sight. It seems impossible to believe that these things happened, but as our tour guide told us “it’s so important to learn about and study these things so that they never happen again”. After the Memorial, we went to the English Gardens where we walked and walked and walked. We also watched the surfers on the river which was super rad and incredibly dangerous. My heart stopped every time one of them would fall into the rough current. Guess what we had for dinner? Only our new favorite thing ever, Doners. Oh, and I forgot to mention the lemon gelato we got for lunch 🙂 We (mostly me) were completely exhausted so we headed back to the hotel early. Also, when your hotel is that cute, you want to spend time there, trust me.
And just like that our trip-of-a-lifetime was over. We can’t say enough great things about the ship, the staff, the other guests, the tour guides, and Edwards LaLone. Germany wasn’t previously high on my travel list but after this river cruise, I’m singing its praises to anyone and everyone that will listen. We experienced so much intense culture, beauty, and history, and like I mentioned, we are already planning our next river cruise!
This post was created in partnership with U by Uniworld & Edwards LaLone Travel Agency