Staff: The staff was excellent. Everyone was very friendly and worked hard to make sure that the cruise was a great experience. Tanya headed up the front desk and made any problem easy. Rik was the tour director and effective at getting 130 passengers to various sites without any problems. When the boat was cruising, he was often up in the wheelhouse providing commentary on what was going by to anyone up on the sun deck. He even showed up for the earliest bus to go to the airport after the trip (3:45AM), to make sure everything was okay.
Weather: Although cool (5-17°C ), the weather was good with five days of sunshine/partial sunshine and only two days of clouds. When the sun is out, it can be very lovely but bring lots of layers for when it is cloudy and when the sun sets – the days are short and they can be cold. Gloves and a hat are a good idea and we wore light long underwear on the two days when the sun did not make an appearance.
Laundry: The River Beatrice has a small laundry: two small Miele front load washers, two dryers and iron and an ironing board, on the lower deck. Detergent is available from the front desk at a cost of 2.5€. Everything is clean and works.
Yoga: Balazs leads a 30-minute yoga class at 7:00 every morning. No mat is necessary; all of the exercise and stretches are from a standup position. Even though it is tough to be up that early in the morning, it is an excellent class and worth the effort.
Exercise Room: There is a small exercise room on the lowest deck. Although we did not use it (no time), it appeared to be well set up and clean.
Food/Special Diets: One of our group was a celiac (gluten-free) and she had no problems getting gluten-free food on the trip. All of the soups and sauces are made on board so there was no danger of gluten contamination. The chefs even provided fresh gluten- free bread which tasted like normal bread, at many of the meals. Special diets for them appears to be very normal for the chefs on the River Beatrice, not something special.
Breakfast and lunch were buffets and dinner was served. There was no assigned seating allowing you to circulate and get to know the various people on the ship. Wine, beer and soda were included with your lunch and evening meals. All of the food was very good with lots of vegetables and fruit available. On the last day of the cruise, some of the passengers had to leave very early to catch early morning flights. The staff anticipated this and provided a boxed breakfast.
Water: All of the water on board is filtered and completely safe. I have some concerns about their sewage. I understand it is cleaned and filtered before it is dumped into the Danube; however, given the number of cruise boats that are now on the Danube, I am concerned that this is not sustainable.
Rooms: The rooms are small but set up very efficiently and more than adequate. I have seen rooms in the big ocean cruise boats that are smaller. There are lots of drawers and a moderate-sized closet. Luggage can be stored under the bed in a convenient and well-designed space. Each room has individual temperature controls and there was sufficient air circulation that stuffiness was never a problem. The two upper decks have French balconies and the lowermost deck has windows but they don’t open. The rooms towards the back of the boat get some engine noise but it is muted. There was no discernible noise coming from the adjacent rooms or rooms from above or below.
The cabins were cleaned in the morning and then checked again in the early evening. Everything was kept very clean.
Number and Age of Passengers: On the older side but quite variable, all the way from the late 20s to probably mid-80s. The average would be estimated to be in their late 50s to early 60s.
The River Beatrice takes about 160 passengers. We had 130 on board during our trip, about 30 of which were travel agents who were learning about the cruise. You do not get overwhelmed with numbers on these cruises.
Getting There/Embarkation/Disembarkation: We booked our own airline tickets there rather than use Uniworld’s service. We arrived in the major air hub of Frankfurt the day before then took the train (4 ½ hours) down to Passau the next morning. There are usually about 4 trains a day since the train continues on to Vienna. You can walk to the boat docks in Passau from the train station. It is about 1 km. Be warned that the River Beatrice docks about 3 km downstream of Passau in the early part of embarkation day (a short taxi ride) since that location is better for bus access. The boat moves up to the docks in Passau later in the day and stays there for the night.
Depending on when you were leaving, staff grouped the various passengers into approximate time intervals and arranged buses or taxis to the airport. Since we were travelling on to another location in Europe after this cruise, we had not made arrangements. No problem, the staff made arrangements for us to be included with another group going to the airport.
Internet: Free but very slow during the morning and evening when everyone is trying to use it. Also you have to sign in each time you wish to access it.
Gratuities: The guidelines for tipping are openly stated on Uniworld’s website. Payment is in cash so be prepared for it. There are two envelopes provided, one for most of the staff and the other for the cruise director who is a separate contractor. Keep in mind that the staff does not earn much - tips count.
Library: There is one! It is small but well-appointed with a fairly extensive selection of hard cover books in several different languages and many different topics and a number of good comfortable chairs. Being a total bookworm, I wished that there was more of a selection but I was able to get several good readable books.
Promotion/Selling: If you have been on a large cruise ship, you are used to the sales job on lots of different things from water bottles to a card that lets you get soda whenever you want. Although there is a small room with jewelry and souvenirs on the Princess Beatrice, there was no attempt to sell you anything – a lot of the things you need to buy on a big cruise are included.