Mention the words ‘river cruising‘ to anyone under the age of 35 and visions of grey-haired, bum-bag toting tourists spring to mind. River cruises have always been thrown into the ‘old person’ category of travelling and it didn’t look like they would ever evade it.
Uniworld, one of the leading river cruise company’s in the world have taken the ‘blue-rinse’ stereotype and tossed it overboard. They transformed one of their previous ships into ‘The B’ – a modern, sleek social hub that will take you around Europe in a chic, new way. Wash away those misconceptions of river cruises being boring because the new U by Uniworld Cruises for 21-45-year-olds will not only impress you but leave you wanting to set sail again and again.
I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend Dana of Wild Hearted World to come to Paris for this world first experience and leapt into it without knowing anything beforehand. I’ve never been on a cruise and had never wanted to go on a cruise so rest assured that what I’m writing is absolutely my first impression. All I knew was that this cruise was targeted towards millennial’s and I was intrigued to see how Uniworld would try and capture the attention of a generation with a very short attention span.
In my naivety, I rocked up expecting a massive cruise liner a la the ‘Titantic’ yet was a little surprised to see that ‘The B’ was a long, jet-black oversized speedboat that was just three floors high. From our view on land, we could see dozens of sunbeds and lounges with a striking black and white design that gave the ‘The B’ a distinct look against the other ships floating on the Seine.
We were greeted warmly and led aboard ‘The B’ where the voguish designs didn’t stop. Black, white and gold decorated the lobby and continued down the hallways and into the lounges. Mood lighting and trendy low hanging light bulbs dangled from the ceiling giving off a warm light to ensure your selfies will always look 10/10.
We were led down the monochromatic hallway to our room (where gold-framed pictures of celebrities filled the walls – I found this a little odd and would have found stunning pictures of destinations would have been more appropriate) and told that we could chill out for the afternoon until tonight’s activities. While the room might have been a tad cosy, the clever design maximised the use of the small space by having plenty of cupboards and nooks to stash things. Firstly, let me just highlight one major benefit of river cruising – you only have to unpack once!
Coming from a girl who never, ever unpacks her bag because I’m always moving to new places, it was refreshing to actually hang up my clothes and still get to visit new destinations. Say if you were doing a two-week cruise through several different countries, you get the experience of travelling without the hassle of lugging your baggage around – genius!
Mirrors were a big part of the design, to give the impression of more space and the chance for us millennials to focus on what we truly love – ourselves. We spent the afternoon settling in and exploring what ‘The B’ had to offer and definitely weren’t disappointed! The ship was fully equipped with millennial essentials such as vending machines, photo booths, a self-serve coffee station and a fully equipped gym (which this millennial didn’t get around to using, oops!) The lounge was filled with retro diner-style booths, comfy couches and of course a dance floor, which would cop a serious pounding each night. Upstairs the Ice Bar had an Alice in Wonderland vibe, with the black and white checked floor almost becoming hypnotic after a few espresso martinis!
Over the course of the five-day cruise, we had a bunch of optional activities to choose from as we sailed from Paris to Rouen and back. Onboard activities included mixology lessons, impressionism wine and painting classes and morning yoga. Off the ship, there was an endless range of activities to do from the typical cycle tours, art and history tours to the more unique and millennial-style type excursions such as visiting Parisienne rooftops, treasure hunts through the Louvre and even a gastronomy bus through Paris. The brilliance of U by Uniworld cruising is that you can join any of these tours or just roam around at your leisure, giving us millennials the freedom we demand!
We started our day devouring the delicious brunch that the fantastic crew put together and sipped our morning lattes as we sailed along the Seine. After brunch, we headed out to whatever activity took our fancy for the day and explored wherever we were docked. Afternoon rolled around and it was time to freshen up for the night-time activities. Dinner was always Insta-worthy and the sharing platters and large tables were a fantastic way to meet new people. I think this was one of the best things about ‘The B’. Everywhere is set up to be sociable – and social media worthy – so that you can make new friends and show off to the world that you’re having a fabulous time!
After dinner was when the fun really began. The masterminds behind U by Uniworld have noted what we millennials like to do and incorporated them into their schedule. From silent discos to pyjama parties, we partied in style every night, creating memories we probably won’t remember with new friends that we won’t forget.
Uniworld has listened to the young people of today and delivered an exceptionally stylish and fun new way to travel. U by Uniworld has shattered the stuffy stigma of river cruising and the reign of the millennial cruise is about to begin. I never thought I would recommend a river cruise to anybody. As a traveller who likes to explore and do her own thing, the idea of being stuck on a boat with a few hundred other people is very unappealing however U by Uniworld have completely changed my mind. The laidback and fun atmosphere that you feel as soon as you walk on ‘The B’ will suck you in and send you into a spiral of sophisticated and unique fun that you just couldn’t capture if you travelled a different way.
The ship’s size and passenger capacity means that you never feel overcrowded and you usually get to know everyone by name. The crew onboard were nothing short of phenomenal and genuinely loved what they do. I couldn’t rate them highly enough!
Being a part of this world first opportunity was an experience I won’t forget and I feel very privileged to be involved. ‘The B’ will commence sailing throughout Europe in April next year and you can find more info about it at their website here. Forget bus tours and Yacht Week, the new, hip way to explore Europe is river cruising and U by Uniworld is the company to do it with!