Five Things to Know About Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's Joie de Vivre Cruise Ship
Best for: Couples, Francophiles, and anyone who loves outstanding food and wine.
Sails: The Seine
At a Glance: This elegant river cruise ship, the fourth in Uniworld’s Super Ship class, debuted in March 2017 and makes regular 8-day sailings from Paris to Normandy. The décor is elegant — but not stuffy — and appeals to high-end cruisers who appreciate sophisticated design and fine art.
The Design Is Elegant
Uniworld sets itself apart from other cruise lines in that each ship is individually designed to reflect the destination. The Joie de Vivre is inspired by mid-century Paris, and has beautiful art including aquatint etchings from 1861 documenting the history of the capital and the Seine, and caricatures by the artist Sem. Marble floors, Sanderson fabric couches, and solid walnut furniture are just a few of the other touches on this intimate vessel, which overall, feels tasteful and polished — but not stuffy.
The Food is Primarily French
If you love French fare (and wine) then this is the ship for you. The lunch and dinner menus always feature classic dishes such as coq au vin, Dover sole, beef bourguignon, lobster thermidor, and roasted Bresse chicken. Lunch is a hearty and lavish buffet, which includes a generous selection of patés and local desserts like a Norman apple tarte. Dinner portions are perfectly sized so you never feel too full — and can always save room for a cheese course highlighting the best from Normandy (Livarot, Pont l’Évêque, Neufchatel) or a soufflé spiked with Calvados. All of this is paired with standout French white or red wines, which are included in the price of the fare.
The Staterooms Feels Spacious
The Joie de Vivre has 10 suites and 54 staterooms, all with white marble bathrooms and custom Savoir of England beds. The staterooms range in size from a generous 410 square feet (that’s a top of the line suite) to 162 square feet, with the majority being sized at 194 square feet. If you want to take full advantage of the river views and get some fresh air, book a category three stateroom or higher; the top half of the window rolls down with the push of a button. You’ll also find plenty of drawers and shelves for stashing away your clothes and personal items, including two great slots for hiding suitcases, right under the bed. In some of the cabins, the wall facing the bed is mirrored to create depth and hide a built-in television.
There’s a Private Dining Room
For the first time ever, Uniworld has built a private event space on board a ship. The 14-seat Les Caves du Vin hosts seven-course dinners and cooking demos for an additional fee of 95 Euros a person — wine pairings included. It’s a lovely space for groups, complete with a glassed-in wine cellar.
Intimate Group Tours Are the Name of the Game
Excursions are included in the price of the cruise, and passengers have several choices in each port. For example, in Rouen, you might take walking tour through the food market or go on a golf outing at Mont-Saint-Aignan. In Versailles, there’s the choice of a bike ride and garden tour, or a behind-the-scenes look at rooms in the palace itself. One of the highlights, however is the full-day outing to see the famous D-Day beaches, Omaha and Utah, as well as the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Tour groups are a manageable size; for certain exclusive trips, it’s best to sign up in advance, as they book up fast.