With this blog I am afraid I am going to have to add a WARNING to anyone reading this. If you like River cruising or Italy then after reading this blog you are going to want to embark on the very same journey we were lucky enough to partake in.
This fairy tale story began with a very easy flight from the UK to Venice followed by a nice short transfer from the airport. That’s when we caught our first glimpse of our river cruise hotel for the week and instantly knew that we were in for a decadent week. Uniworld’s boat, the River Countess was gleaming in every aspect.
The second we stepped foot on the river countess we were blown away with the beauty, elegance and welcoming of both the boat and crew. The reception area is by far the most beautiful I have seen on the rivers (and trust me I have seen a few). Chic yet stylish and surprisingly spacious. We were greeted by our hotel manager and instantly shown to our cabin. Again, the first impressions were of quality and elegance. Every attention to detail had been thought through and the depth of the cleanliness and glimmer took our breath away. We were kindly shown all that our cabin has to offer and where everything was! A little extra touch that was very welcome.
The cabin- The decoration of our cabin was sumptuous and almost regal.
You would not be mistaken to feel as if you were in a part of history where the wealthy once lived. Decadent with many thoughtful and intricate trimmings. The lovely marble bathroom is small but beautiful. I would describe the cabins as compact. We were very pleased to have French balcony doors allowing us to enjoy the view of Venice and fresh air wherever we were on our journey throughout the week.
We simply arrived in time for pre-dinner drinks and then dinner. We visited the lounge and bar area. Again, we were taken away with the breathtaking beauty of the room. The colours and the charm of the room work so well with the sumptuous furnishings. We are once again impressed with the quality of the staff and how dedicated they are. You can almost feel straight away that nothing will be too much trouble. As the cruise is an all-inclusive holiday, the pressure is off in terms of what we wanted and how much it cost! A welcome break from wondering how much we have spent on our holidays.
Then for dinner. Elegant and well laid out with floor to ceiling windows providing us with our unique views across Venice. Certainly a better view than any hotel in Venice could offer, as each day we were treated to a different perspective of this stunning city. Our first meal was consistent with every meal on board – Simply delicious, there was always a great choice with a variety of fine dining options always available. A great choice and if you so choose the option of 4/5 courses. Once again, the service throughout was impeccable.
Breakfast and then the first tour of the day. A morning walking tour in Venice through the Castello District. Our guide Susan Steer, an art historian was exceptional. You are provided with your own Vox System, individual hand-held sets with comfortable ear pieces which allows you to hear clearly all that is being said. We wandered around quaint narrow streets, across bridges and then to the impressive Dog’s Palace. The in-depth talk given by our guide was fascinating and factual.
Back by water taxi for lunch on board then either a choice of trips to the Murano glass factory (Arti Beneziana dells Giudecca) or an art trip to Scupla Grande di San Rocco Art. Or indeed free time. We chose to explore Venice further on our own.
An early dinner as we had an exclusive invitation to view the Saint Marc’s Bascilla and goodness what a treat this was and a real unique experience. Our guide once again was Susan, her passion and depth of knowledge is quite unlike anything I have come across before. She led us through journeys and brought to life the meaning of the mosaics and paintings that stood before us. A very special evening.
As we had early dinner we returned to the boat and were offered light snacks.
Day 3 Venice to Padua/Chioggia.
We cruised this morning and enjoyed a commentary detailing all the sights along our journey.
After lunch we disembarked for a tour to Padua. A 45-minute bus journey to this quaint historic town. Again, a guide introduced us to the town, its history and the many beautiful buildings.
Tonight, we enjoyed the captains welcome party, met the crew and then had a gala dinner, we dined while sailing to our next port.
Day 4. Polesella/Po
A one and a half hour bus journey takes us to Bologna. A long coach drive (1hr 40mins). Our walking guide leads us to the center and leads us once again through the history of the surrounding buildings. We walk through a colourful, fresh fruit and fish market that is alive and buzzing. There is a leaning tower which to be honest we couldn’t believe it was still standing.
Then off to take part in a pasta making demonstration and a typical Bolognese lunch in a nice local restaurant. There were a few optional extra tours available to visit the Anatomical Theatre of the University or simply to enjoy free time.
In the evening we had the pleasure of live music with Maria’s live band – I Canti Della Laguna – fabulous.
Day 5 Chioggia
You have a choice today here to visit Chioggia or Ravenna.
We chose Chioggia – here the weekly market is in full swing. Again, another quaint little town with many canals and tiny little streets abundant with colourful buildings. Lots of bargains to be had in the markets.
In the evening after dinner, we were treated to Opera in the lounge. Very high-quality singers and certainly the most enjoyable way to round off our day.
Day 6 Burano Torcello and Mazzorbo
My favourite day. Firstly, a scenic boat ride to the very first settlements on the Venice Lagoon. Here we visit the Basilica of Torello with its old Mosaics and structure brought alive again by the charming Susan Steer. A coffee break in the luxurious Loana Cipriani… then off to Burano. What a beautiful town. Very pretty houses, charming craft shops and many canals and bridges. Lunch is on our own today so we enjoyed a local pizza by the canal and watched the people enjoy this delightful place.
The afternoon is enjoying a spent wine tasting experience at Venissa estate on the Mazzorbo Islands.
On our last day we chose to simply visit Venice on our own in the morning and enjoyed a Gondola ride. We were going to give this a miss – as at 80euros we thought we have been on the canals enough. But we joined friends as this also halved the cost. We are so glad we did as we thoroughly relished in this experience, yet another perspective of Venice from the canals themselves.
The afternoon – the river countess sailed slowly all around the islands on a wonderful cruise accompanied by a very interesting commentary from Tamara.
The evening we enjoyed the Captains Farewell dinner, and of course more gastronomic delights.
On Sunday our cruise had come to the end. Our flight was not until the afternoon, but we were invited to enjoy the boat until we needed. This was a welcome asset and allowed us not to be roaming the streets aimlessly with our bags. We were sad to say goodbye to all at Uniworld but we will be back and we can’t wait to do so!
For more information on this particular Itinerary or to discuss a Uniworld River Cruise please call our team on 01954 232802 or emails [email protected]