Featured blog by Amy Pearson-Jensen of Smitten HoneymoonsWe rolled our luggage along the brick pathway near Amsterdam Centraal, steering clear of the bike lane as riders zoomed by us, dinging their bells to alert us of their passing. It was just after noon on July 7, and we were on a mission: Board our U by Uniworld cruise, a seven-night journey down the Rhine River that would whisk us from Amsterdam to Frankfurt.After several minutes of walking, my husband stopped.“There it is,” he said, pointing to the only matte black ship in port, unmistakable among the glossy white boats on either side of it.As our U hosts (hi, Mik and Diana!) and captain would later tell us, The A’s exterior—and U by Uniworld’s mission to revolutionize river cruising by infusing it with a more youthful energy—had earned the boat the moniker of “pirate ship” since its launch earlier in the year, mostly among passing vessels and dam workers who helped shuffle it from one section of the river to the next.While the ship’s edgy exterior may evoke a sense of pirate-like rebelliousness, our week aboard The A was enveloped in the warmest service, delicious meals and inspiring excursions more in line with the kind of experience curated by a family welcoming visitors to its boutique hotel than by a band of buccaneers known for making guests walk the plank.At a snapshot, here were my favorite on-board and off-board experiences while sailing with U by Uniworld.
THE SUN DECK
Part of the appeal of river cruising is being able to soak up handfuls of destinations without having to unpack and repack every time you want to hop to another city. Make no mistake, gliding from point A to B on a river cruise is infinitely more enjoyable than relying on planes, trains and automobiles, too.In fact, the mornings and afternoons we spent cruising on The A turned out to be some of my favorite moments on the ship. This was partly because in addition to my husband, I also was sailing with my sister and brother-in-law. The four of us spent hours on the sun deck catching up on life, laughing and playing games like oversized chess and Jenga. Factor in the friendliest staff, craft cocktails and centuries-old castles dotting vineyard-clad riverbanks, and the sun deck would have been impossible to leave—if not for the scheduled on-shore excursions that were equally irresistible.
On the latter half of our cruise, The A sailed into Rudesheim in the Rhine Gorge, a picturesque dot on the map with winemaking roots that extend back centuries. For reference, the town was first mentioned in documents around 1074, though Rudesheim existed before this, too. It was only fitting then that upon our arrival, U by Uniworld had a luxury bus waiting to take us up the winding roads to Kloster Eberbach, a 12th-century monastery now home to some of the most delicious Rieslings in the world.
This historic destination just outside Rudesheim is so striking that it has even served as a filming location for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” While we didn’t see any dragons, we were treated to a tour of the property, which started with a dramatic wine tasting in the abbey’s former hospital—complete with candle lighting and eerie stories told by an expert guide.The only downfall of our visit? I had to pay an excessive baggage charge on our flight home to accommodate my haul of Eberbach Riesling.Cheers!-------------Follow Amy on social media:Instagram: @SmittenhoneymoonsFacebook: Smitten HoneymoonsIf you want to experience a U by Uniworld cruise, contact Amy to plan your trip!