Hopefully, everyone’s summer is getting off to a great start. I know mine is, and it’s largely because of the support of the great staff I have here at Uniworld. I’d like to share a story that illustrates that.
While a big part of what Uniworld does is to carefully map out fascinating itineraries for our guests to enjoy from beginning to end, unforeseen incidents occasionally throw us a curve that sends us back to the charts to adjust our best laid plans.
One such unplanned “adventure” came just this week when we received word that a cargo ship was involved in an accident in a lock near Weissenkirchen, Austria, on the Danube. All boat traffic was temporarily blocked. While none of our ships were even in the area at the time, it would soon affect two of them. The River Duchess, bound for Amsterdam, and the River Princess, on her way to Budapest, were both on the Danube. Coming from opposite ends of the river, they were scheduled to pass each other during their voyages. However, with the lock out of commission for an undetermined amount of time, both ships were headed for an impasse in Weissenkirchen.
While Weissenkirchen is a quaint 14th century town, named for its white church and surrounded by vineyards, we didn’t think our guests would appreciate spending the bulk of their vacations there. Luckily, quick thinking on the part of Ben Wirz, Head of Operations in Europe, provided a brilliant alternative plan that saved the day. Since the ships are virtually identical in design, he reasoned that they could swap passengers at the disabled lock and turn around, allowing everyone to finish their planned routes—only on different vessels.
The plan was simple - the passengers on the River Duchess would leave with their luggage to make a short bus trip around the lock and check into their corresponding cabins on the River Princess. Then they would continue on to Amsterdam, almost as though nothing had happened. The River Princess guests would do the same, transferring to the River Duchess to sail on to Budapest. Voila! Not only did we solve a complex problem, but our guests got the chance to experience life onboard TWO different Uniworld ships during their trip.
I am fortunate that Uniworld has so many employees who are clever enough to react nimbly to the inconveniences (both major and minor) that from time to time arise on the river. Sometimes our guests are aware of it. Sometimes their voyages continue on seamlessly. In a way, it’s a reflection of our size. I believe that as a small, debt-free, family-owned company, our staff feels a special connection to our guests and a sense of ownership to ensure that your vacation is perfect. I know this is true from the beautiful letters I receive and the comments posted by our guests on Feefo (a platform for collecting unedited comments and ratings from our customers) that sing their praises. This positive attitude and genuine caring spirit is in our DNA and makes us special.
At the same time, Uniworld also enjoys the travel expertise and support that comes from being under the umbrella of The Travel Corporation, the 30 + brand tourism company that was founded more than 50 years ago by Beatrice and Stanley Tollman. Providing excellence in travel experiences has always been the goal throughout the corporation. Perhaps you are familiar with some of these companies that provide family, individual and youth tours, luxury hotel accommodations and safari adventures across six continents; brands like Brendan Vacations, Contiki, Trafalgar and The Red Carnation Hotel Collection are just some of our amazing sister brands. I’m thrilled that our past Uniworld guests are able to take advantage of a past-passenger discount with any of our sister brands and of course on your next Uniworld cruise.
Finally, I am very happy to announce that I am planning my next Uniworld experience on the S.S. Joie de Vivre on December 6th when I will be hosting a River Heritage Club Reunion Cruise. It’s my chance to meet with more of our amazing guests, share in the Uniworld experience together, and listen to the feedback our guests have on the services we offer. My husband Jack and I are looking forward to connecting with our customers while enjoying Paris and other enchanting French cities on the Seine during the holiday season.
One thing is for sure: we will be in great hands with our amazing staff looking after us. I hope you will consider joining me on the incredible S.S. Joie de Vivre.