U by Uniworld’s new ship The A combines the brand’s luxury flair with a fun twist, but does it appeal to more youthful cruisers? Here Sally Hales, who was on board the inaugural sailing in Amsterdam, gives her verdict
Formerly Uniworld’s River Ambassador and now known as The A, this cruise ship is a funky new proposition that the company hopes will appeal to a new, more youthful cruiser under new brand U by Uniworld.
With a sleek, matte-black exterior, The A certainly announces its desire to do things differently from the outset. Inside, the design ethos has taken its cue from cool city eateries and funky boutique hotels: elegant and luxurious on one hand, cheeky and fun on the other. The décor is sleek and bold with neon artwork and limited edition prints of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe.
Social, whether on board or online, is the mainstay of The A, with its top-to-bottom rethink of river cruising’s classic style apparent from check-in. The service rings the changes: the crew sport black jeans and hoodies, while itineraries are delivered by Whatsapp and displayed on screens around reception in a nod to the social media generation’s connectivity and environmental concerns. U by Uniworld thinks paperless, while USB ports can be easily located all over the ship, so no Instagrammable moments will ever be missed.
The A’s four suites offer Uniworld’s trademark quality and luxury – Savoir beds, beautiful marble bathrooms, complimentary coffee and laundry, and minibar – but come adorned in blocks of bold reds and perky stripes. Along with the other cabins, the TV offers Bluetooth connectivity to allow personal music to be played, so a private party or chill out is always on hand. In another thoughtful touch for its younger guests, two super-cool triple rooms have bunk bed-style pods, which come with their own TVs and electric-operated screens to afford sharing friends some personal space.
The restaurant – simply called Dine – is a masterclass in contemporary city-chic in understated greys with purple accents, exposed filament lights and classic house music, while large tables and sharing platters create a sociable, pre-party vibe. The menu is an urbane offering of antipasti, soup and hearty mains which are reminiscent of the artisan, street-food beloved of millennial diners. While the mains could take some refining, the delicious desserts, served up with razzle-dazzle by the chefs, perfectly hit the mark.
On deck is where the party really happens. Here, the chic and understated Ice Bar hosts silent discos by international DJs, cocktail mixology classes and more, and is ideal for a deck-top chillout with a cocktail.
Onshore excursions look set to focus on the active, such as blokarting, and after-dark experiences taking it in amazing nightlight life of Europe’s coolest capitals. In Amsterdam, it’s a tour of the Red Light District.
With onboard dining options limited to brunch and evening meal, there will be plenty of time to explore cities independently, maybe even using in the free onboard bikes.
And, as millennials and Gen Y never like to neglect their wellbeing, The A features the largest gym on the river, a spa – with a moonlight massage offering – and morning yoga stretching, so guests can have fun and stay fabulous at the same time.
The A – and its sister ship The B – undoubtedly offer a new and unique experience in cruising that should get the party started in style.
GETTING THERE: U by Uniworld’s seven-night Rolling on the Rhine itinerary cruises from Amsterdam to Frankfurt on The A and costs from £1,249pp, based on two sharing, departing 14 April 2018. The price includes return flights or Eurostar, 14 meals on board, 13 included excursions, 2 dedicated U Hosts, onboard wine tasting, a welcome party and local celebrity DJ party, plus port charges and gratuities (0845 678 5656; ubyuniworld.com).