In the all-inclusive segment of the river cruise market, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Scenic are two of the top contenders.
In this post, we compare all inclusive river cruises from these two lines.
Because of the limitations imposed on river cruisers (maximum widths and lengths are dictated by locks), the hardware components, meaning the ships themselves, are very much alike for both Uniworld and Scenic.
- staterooms with balconies
- a lounge and restaurant
- gyms and bicycles on board that are free of charge for guests
In fact, nearly all river cruisers offer these amenities, with the exception of Viking, which has no gyms or bikes on board.
I recently cruised on Uniworld’s new Maria Theresa and the new Scenic Jasper. The way that these vessels differ provides insights into how the their companies differ both philosophically and operationally.
Both ships feature staterooms that are fairly equivalent in size and with fairly comparable amenities, although Scenic’s staterooms do have complimentary mini-bars with wine, soft drinks, chips and chocolate.
There are bathrobes, the beds are comfy and there’s space for sitting in most stateroom categories on both ships.
Plus, both ships feature balconies that can be enclosed, which is not all that common among river cruisers. It’s a nice feature, creating a solarium of sorts in cool weather and an open-air room in warm weather.
Scenic’s approach and Uniworld’s approach to their balconies are somewhat different. The best way to judge those is to see for yourself in the videos below.
One feature that I appreciated on Uniworld’s Maria Theresa was that the open-air balcony featured mosquito netting; Scenic Jasper did not.
However, Scenic’s open-air balcony featured folding glass doors that opened onto the balcony as opposed to Uniworld’s fixed glass doors that were a tad more obstructive than Scenic’s when passing from the bedroom to the balcony. These are minor quibbles to be sure.
Scenic has multiple dining venues: the main dining room, a specialty dining “experience” within the main dining room, an alternative dining venue, and for snacks, the River Cafe.
Uniworld features a single dining room, although Uniworld does offer a private dinner for up to 20 people in the Leopard Bar, situated aft on Maria Theresa. Dinner there was exceptionally well done as it was in Scenic Jasper’s Table La Rive, which offered a six-course set menu paired with wines, but available only to guests on deck three and those in Junior Suites on deck two.
Scenic offers room service to all guests in all categories of staterooms.
Uniworld offers room service only to guests in suites.
On Scenic, all tours are included, even the evening concert in Vienna.
Uniworld includes all tours also but charges 75 euros per person for the evening concert in Vienna. However, it is important to compare cruise fares to make a fair comparison. Check with your Cruise Specialists Cruise Consultant. Uniworld may come in at a lower price point than Scenic.
Scenic features electric-assist bicycles.
Uniworld’s are not electric-assist.
In all other respects, however, the bikes are equal. The electric-assist bikes do provide a slight advantage on long rides, such as one we did between Durnstein and Melk.
Uniworld has self-service launderettes for complimentary use; Scenic has laundry services at an additional charge.
Both companies excel at service. I talked with travelers on Scenic who likened it to Crystal. Travelers on Uniworld likened Uniworld’s service to Seabourn.
Coffee machines (important category!)
Uniworld had the Viennese Cafe where there is one coffee machine that dispenses all sorts of speciality coffees. Scenic has two coffee machines in the lounge, and also, something I did not see on Uniworld, loose-leaf tea.
Both ships feature well-equipped gyms.
Scenic’s suites, situated aft, are some of the largest on the rivers; Uniworld’s, situated midships, are some of the most elegant.
Worked well on each ship.
When you are ready to enjoy a wonderful river cruise, our team of specialists can help you decide which ship is the best match!