This River Cruise for Millennials Has Brunch, a Silent Disco, and Wi-Fi at Every Turn
Millennials, plain and simple, know what they like.
They enjoy great food, music, culture, being entertained at all times, and ensuring they have the opportunity to snap a grade-A Instagram photo or two along the way. That’s exactly what makes U By Uniworld’s new river cruise experience an ideal option for a 20- to 30-something getaway.
Related: 20 Trips to Take in Your Twenties
Some may still associate river cruises with travelers closer to their grandmother’s age, but it turns out younger people are just as interested in cruising as companies are in courting them.
According to Cruise Travel Report’s 2017 findings, 39 percent of Gen Y/Millennials identify ocean cruises as the best type of vacation. An additional seven percent cited river cruises as the optimal trip, though once they get a look inside Uniworld’s latest offerings, that number may skyrocket.
“Young people are as adventurous and interested in traveling and having life-changing experiences as anyone,” Brett Tollman, CEO of Uniworld’s parent company, the Travel Corporation, told Travel + Leisure.
On a recent preview cruise aboard the B, which sailed from Paris along the Seine to Rouen and back, it became clear why this pre-packaged trip has younger appeal: It offered the aforementioned delicious cuisine, music, nightlife, and more than enough photo-ready scenes through both its onboard activities and city excursions. It is, after all, the newest offshoot of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, a T+L World’s Best winner beloved by readers for its top-notch amenities.
And Paris won’t be Uniworld’s only cruising option when it launches to the public in April of 2018. Other trips include “rolling down the Rhine,” “Germany’s finest,” “the Danube flow,” and a “merry little Christmas cruise” through Budapest.
This particular trip allowed for travelers to experience many different facets of the City of Lights including biking and walking tours, rooftop expeditions ending with Champagne, a tour of the catacombs, and of course a trip to the Eiffel Tower at night. And that was just day one.
Spending time aboard the boat encourages people to mingle and get to know one another over dining and drinks at its various bars. And because of the close quarters of a river cruise, it’s easy to get intimate with fellow passengers and bond over newly shared experiences.
Uniworld's new experience has something for travelers looking to fly solo, meet new friends, plan girls' getaways, or enjoy a romantic trip for two — as long as they’re in the 21-45 demographic. We know what you're thinking: 45-year-olds are not Millennials. It's true, but the wide range of offerings experienced could inspire anyone from the recent college grad to parents on a kid-free getaway. You'll see what we mean below.
With its matte-black exterior and bright white accents, the B is a totally different ship than the river cruisers you may be familiar with – even at first glance.
That same color scheme runs throughout the ship and is present in its entryway with vintage-style black and white tiling and all-white walls. As you flow from room to room, the black and white furnishings compliment each other. Even the ship’s gym is decked out in white, black, and chrome. The boat’s decor is matchy-matchy for sure, but it's simple enough to come across as cool, not garish.
“A group of us came up with everything from the USB ports to the design and what it should look like,” Tollman said, adding that this boat went from concept to reality in less than one year.
And having USB ports at every turn, Wi-Fi access in every space, and televisions displaying the day’s events felt like cruising into the future. It was the opposite of trying to unplug on vacation, but it made the ship even more friendly, inviting, and practical for the modern, connected traveler.
Perhaps the most youthful element of the ship’s chic decor, however, is hanging on its walls: massive portraits of the generation’s superstars including Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, The Weeknd and more. Seriously, the ship is packed end-to-end with black and white photos of everyone’s favorite young Hollywood celebs — which also happen to make for great photo ops.
Uniworld’s newest boat comes complete with 61 rooms, which includes its four suites and two bunked bedrooms that can sleep up to three people.
The rooms (ours was a balcony room on the second floor) are a little tight but definitely adequate, as we can pretty much guarantee you won't be spending much time in your room.
Moreover, every square inch of each room is useful and accounted for, such as the cabinets over each bedside table that come complete with USB and traditional charging outlets, along with bluetooth capabilities so you can pair your phone to the speakers and rock out to your favorite music as you prepare for the day or night ahead.
The rooms are also the only place you’ll spot a splash of color while onboard. Each room’s floor-to-ceiling headboard is a bright fire engine red, which is just enough color to make the space feel just a bit more sexy.
The room’s oversized plush beds and ultra-soft pillows are good enough that you may even want to take one home in your suitcase (we didn’t, we swear). For friends traveling together, the Uniworld crew will even put in a divider in the beds so you can each have a side all to yourself.
While U by Uniworld’s new cruise had plenty to like, the food was by far the best part of the onboard experience.
It truly felt like the staff put their heart and soul into the preparation of each meal, perhaps because the meals actually come from Tollman’s own family recipes.
“My mother and I have had a lifetime of food, so it's a combination of her recipes and then being a foodie myself,” he said. “We just curated every dish. We've always had a farm-to-table approach for all of our menus and are now just taking it a little bit further.”
And, of course, the new ship gives even its food a new-age twist by offering a daily brunch and dinner, rather than breakfast lunch and dinner. This way cruise-goers can wake up later and dine on their own time.
“The itinerary is very much tailored for the young,” Tollman added. “So things are very different in terms of staying later in ports, or people being up all night, so that's why we have brunch from 10 to 2 p.m.”
And those late-night dinners encourage even more of a community vibe, as starters are all brought out as shared plates to encourage you and your tablemates to dine together and bond over cocktails until the wee hours of the morning. But if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or have any other food sensitivities, fear not, as Uniworld will ask you before you even board the ship and tailor your personal culinary experience to your needs.
U By Uniworld wants you to get off their ship. Really. The B has partnered with local guides to bring passengers one-of-a-kind excursions along the way.
On our trip we were able to experience the Eiffel Tower at night (and skip the line because we already had tickets thanks to our guides), check out the Palace of Versailles, take a walking tour of Rouen, and much more. Other offerings included a hidden treasure tour of the Louvre, a guided bike tour of Paris, and a tour following the footsteps of Claude Monet.
Additionally, The B will host more intimate off-boat adventures through their partners like Vizeat, a company that pairs travelers with local hosts who offer visitors a meal inside their own home. This way passengers can choose to dine in luxury onboard the ship or get a true Parisian dining experience with a host.
And what makes these excursions extra special is passengers' ability to tailor their days however they choose. One excursion is included for each day of the trip, however passengers can choose to go on more, or go on none at all and simply experience a destination themselves.
No cruise review, especially a Millennial cruise review, would be complete without discussing the nightlife.
Each night, the staff took charge of the dance floor, DJ booth, and cocktail service like the true professionals they are for events like a silent disco (where participants wear headphones and can tune into different channels on the dance floor), a pajama party, and a rooftop cocktail hour at sunset beneath the Eiffel Tower, which was also complete with a drum circle.
The nightlife is so great on the cruise that it may actually deter any early to bed, early to rise people as the party tends to go on until the sun comes up.
Prices for Uniworld’s four different eight-day itineraries start at just $1,699 per person, or about $212 per day. That includes all lodging on the boat for the week, a daily excursion, food, non-alcoholic drinks, and gratuities.
Who is this trip really right for in the end?
“I would say it's a young professional who is looking for a great vacation of quality and they want adventure and they want to be with people who are just like them,” Ellen Bettridge, CEO of Uniworld, shared on the ship.
Bettridge added that the trip is also perfect for a “complete girls' getaway,” honeymooners, and singles looking to travel alone or meet new people around the globe.
But don’t just take our word for it. This is a Millennial cruise after all, so it comes with its own hashtag that you can take a look through on Instagram at #TravelForU.