Upon arrival at a Christmassy Vienna airport we were met by my Uniworld hosts, who took us to Vienna's biggest Christmas market. As someone who loves Christmas, this is certainly something I was looking forward to. Once there, we indulged in all the classics; Glühwein, bratwurst and biscuits. Without a doubt a visit to the Christmas markets will get even the most 'bah humbug' of visitors into the Christmas spirit, but be warned, it gets busier the darker it gets. Happily, that's not a problem when you have a beautiful ship awaiting your return.
Suitably full of Glühwein and bratwurst, and feeling the effects of the cold, we decided it was time to return to our home for the evening on board S.S Beatrice. Uniworld like to call their ships 'floating boutique hotels', and spend a lot of time and money to make sure they are reflect the destination through which they are sailing, finished to the highest of standards. S.S Beatrice certainly lives up to this claim; she's a beautifully designed ship, both welcoming and stylish.
But it's the small details that really make the ship so luxurious: the suede walls, with no plastic in sight (which also helps with the noise); the embroidered towels and pillows; and the art work around the ship, featuring pieces from Picasso, Alexander Calder and Pino Signoretto. And don't forget the Savoir Beds of England - I can confirm that Uniworld are really not overselling these, it's truly like floating on a cloud, and almost cruel when your alarm wakes you at 7am, reminding you that you do in fact have to leave the bed and ship.
Given the growing demand for more sustainable and eco-friendly holidays, it's good to see that Uniworld are taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment, without compromising on the luxury that client want and expect. You'll find paper straws in the bar, coasters made from cloth rather than paper, and glass water bottles in your room rather than plastic. As with many hotels, there are now wall-fixed refillable toiletries in the bathroom, but still with luxury Asprey and Hermes products.
Once warmed and wowed by the ship we met for drinks in Wolfgang's Bar, a lovely space for pre- and post-dinner socialising, with plenty of small tables, sofas and larger areas for bigger groups, plus a piano for entertainment. After a few drinks we headed to Max's, an intimate restaurant where we were spoilt with a menu inspired by destination and season.
Given that it was Christmas, this included Brussels sprouts, a food that many people are not so keen on; however, these sprouts are prepared by one of Uniworld's chefs and turned into a citrusy salad, and I guarantee you will change your mind! This was only the start of the menu for the evening, which included scallops, 48-day aged beef, truffles and stollen ice cream, all perfectly paired with local wines and prepared to perfection in front of us.
I had high hopes for S.S Beatrice and Uniworld, and they did not disappoint. The ship was truly beautiful and unique, the food impeccable, and all delivered with friendly, five-star service, without any of the pretentions that you might expect from a luxury product.