Uniworld River Royale Disaster

The River Royale sails the rivers in Bordeaux, France. It is touted as a “culinary” and “wine” experience. We chose this cruise as it s supposed to be upmarket and sophisticated. The focus is on food and wine.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The food was mediocre. If they think the food they serve is a culinary experience, then they have absolutely no idea what they are doing. I get better wine at my local supermarket. Almost everyone I spoke to on the cruise was dissapointed.

The service is shocking. They have “self service” coffee stations with the worst coffee in the world. There is no service on the deck, even though Uniworld promise that you can “snap” your fingers and someone will service you. I had to ask for service at the reception more than once.

The staff spend more time at the smokers corner, looking at their phones, than servicing guests. On a number of occasions, we would have wine and coffee on the deck and then we would find our empty glasses and coffee cups at the same table the next day. Shocking.

The captain saw all of this happen in front of him but not once did he reprimand his staff. One day I took all the empty glasses from the table that have been there for a whole day and night, and deposited it on the table where the staff where smoking and chatting and told them that they can take the dishes back considering that we are paying their salaries. They glared at me.

Bad management. That s all it is. But it’s also more than that. It’s unethical to sell something and create these expectations and then to fail so miserably. This cruise is mediocre and most certainly not worth the money. And it’s not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination.

People were going to dinner in shorts! I packed a jacket and trousers and shirts with collars. Why? People dressed this way because of the nonchalant attitude of the staff and management. There was nothing “classy” about this cruise.

I told the cruise director that the coffee is really terrible. She said that she thinks the coffee is good. I told her that I am her customer and I know the coffee is bad. Unbelievable. Denial. Incompetence.

I know that Bea Tollman would probably have a heart attack if she knew that her legacy is being disrespected like this. This is not the Red Carnation way. I expected so much more. We won’t go on another cruise with Uniworld, even if they gave it away for free.

As the owner of a very large travel group, I can assure you that you can get so much more value from other destinations and cruises. Uniworld has “stolen” our money. That’s how I feel.

The sales brochures are slick. The photos are highly photoshopped. Don’t be fooled. Listen to someone who has experienced the Uniworld service and found it lacking. Don’t be fooled by the sales pitch. It’s all smoke, mirrors and red carnations.

Marthinus Strydom

Marthinus is a venture capitalist and private equity investor.

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