European river cruises don’t come cheap, but there’s now a more affordable option that's available only to younger travelers. Uniworld has launched a new brand, U by Uniworld, aimed at ages 21 to 45 -- and the cruises are less than half the cost of their regular sailings.
Starting next April, the line will offer eight-night itineraries down the Rhine, Main, or Danube Rivers on two ships, the A and the B. The line has also announced plans for a third ship to sail on the Mekong in Asia, and a fourth that will be announced in the future.
Prices start at $1,699 per person, based on double occupancy. For the same itinerary on the line’s regularly branded ships? Prices start at $3,949. It’s also a good deal compared to a leading river line like Viking, whose 7-night Rhine river itineraries start at $2,499 for a basic ocean view room.
If you’re wondering how the price can possibly be that low for the same itinerary, note that the line has cut some of the amenities from its regular, all-inclusive Uniworld sailings. On a regular Uniworld cruise, for example, your fare covers everything from airport transfers to in-suite butler service and unlimited alcohol. While you don’t get these perks on a U by Uniworld cruise, it may be worth the lower price if you’re willing to forgo those luxuries. Plus, your fare on a U by Uniworld cruise does include gratuities and 13 excursions. Just note that port taxes are not included on a U by Uniworld cruise, and neither is alcohol or lunch (something offered on all other river ships).
The two 120-passenger ships (recently renovated and renamed Uniworld ships now called The A and The B), will each have a rooftop bar, coffee bar, and a gym, plus entertainment options geared toward a younger crowd, including DJ-hosted parties, mixology classes, and wine and painting classes. The line is also looking to entice younger travelers who might not be cruising in pairs by offering studio cabins that hold up to three passengers.
Another perk of a U by Uniworld cruise? There will be overnight stays in major cities like Paris, Vienna, and Budapest that don’t happen on regular Uniworld sailings, and the schedule is much more relaxed. Passengers can participate in excursions with later start times and explore well into the evening, or venture off on their own for self-guided tours. The optional excursions will be more active than your average cruise: instead of the usual bus tour, think white-water rafting or rock climbing at UNSECO World Heritage Sites, creating custom drinks at a distillery in Amsterdam, or bar-hopping through Budapest’s ramshackle "ruin" pubs.