Passengers:130 World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #5 River Ship Best for: High-end cruisers looking for a stylish river voyage (Minimalists need not apply.)
Sails: The Danube River, the Main River, the Rhine River
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing fifth in the River Ship category. Like Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s other ships, the River Empress feels like a floating boutique hotel. Its design? Old world with a modern edge.
Designed with the aid of Uniworld’s sister company, Red Carnation Hotels, staterooms are stunning, with Savoir of England headboards, rich wall treatments, and luxe fabrics. Even the marble bathrooms serve up little luxuries, from heated towel racks and floors to Hermès and L’Occitane en Provence bath products. Sizes range from 151 square feet for a cabin with a window to 214 square feet for a suite with a French balcony.
No need to keep an eye on your bar bill. Your cruise fare covers almost everything, from exercise classes and gratuities to drinks and WiFi. Most excursions are complimentary, too. (More on that later.)
Many river ships include walking tours and visits to landmarks in their fares, but not everyone covers experiences like a wine-tasting in a castle and a canal cruise through Strasbourg. Also on the agenda: a stop at a vinegar estate in the Palatinate wine country and a tasting at a brewery in Cologne.
The restaurant’s mirrors and chic red seating give off the vibe of a Manhattan supper club, but the menu feels very German, with locally inspired dishes like peaches in schnapps and creamy chicken mushroom ragout with cheese. In the mood for something more familiar? You’ll also find classic cruise fare like Norwegian salmon and grilled chicken breast.