Lisa Whitmarsh was invited to join owners and executives of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises in France for the maiden voyage the S.S. Bon Voyage, Uniworld newest ship.
Sailing roundtrip from Bourdeaux, France, the expert river cruise company showed Whitmarsh what it was like to be pampered as a Uniworld patron. She enjoyed the ‘all-inclusive’ river experience all Uniworld guests receive, some of the best wines in the world, and the fine company of fellow luxury travel advisors.
“It was a food-and-wine lovers delight. The new decor, the layout, and design of the ship were exquisite,” she said. "The food was fabulous. The service was impeccable. The ship was immaculate.”
Uniworld’s staff was especially pampering.
When Lisa landed, Uniworld’s staff was ready in Bourdeaux to whisk her away.
The first tour on the Bon Voyage’s inaugural cruise started with champagne and oysters.
“We walked right off the ship and into an old fort where we were served champagne and spoke to an oyster farmer while he shucked oysters for us.
But it wasn’t just about the bivalves and bubbles. There’s a wealth of history too.
The farmer explained that they used to import oysters from Portugal but one time they arrived rotten, so they tossed them in the water. They weren't all dead, however, it turns out and soon they had their very own oyster beds!
From there, their group moved to Médoc, sampling the beautiful, full-bodied wines among castle-like chateaux and manors.
“Some of these estates have been around since the seven hundreds,” Whitmarsh said. “They’ve survived the Hundred Years’ War and survived the ages.”
SS Bon Voyage Uniworld Bordeaux
Of course, you can’t talk about France without talking about food. And food and wine go together like … well, food and wine.
And that starts as soon as you board the boat, not just at the shore excursion.
“There were four or five Michelin chefs on that boat,” Whitmarsh said. And if you love to cook, you can set up cooking classes on a group booking with that culinary talent. There isn’t anything else quite like it.
But the stops were special as well.
“In Medoc we went to one of the top bakeries in the area,” she said, recalling one particularly splendid culinary experience. “He won an award for these cakes – these very small and dense cakes that used the leftover egg yolks from the process of making the wines.”
“They’re soaked in rum, very dense, and very delicious. It’s something you can only get in that area.”
And of course, Uniworld is all-inclusive, which means the vino did flow!
“Their big joke was how many glasses of wine you get out of a 750 milliliter bottle? And they said it depends on who you're talking to – most French will tell you one!”
But the snacks, the drinks, the treats, desserts, and service were all exemplary. The perfect image of a luxury French cruise getaway.
“There were no restrictions,” she said. “Wine, bread, and cheese – is there anything else you need?”
While on the journey, Whitmarsh had a chance to interview Uniworld’s CEO Ellen Bettridge on what’s upcoming for the line.
She touted the many upgrades made to Uniworld's fleet and quoted the chairman of the TTC in saying, "super people deserve super ships."
That means more trips like this one on beautiful boats with fabulous food but for routes in Venice, Portugal, and beyond. So there’s something for everyone even if you’ve done a French river cruise before.
“There were so many stories,” she said. “I should have just recorded everything”
But if a picture is worth a 1,000 words, surely being there yourself is worth even more.
Uncork the trip of a lifetime on Uniworld with a pampered, all-inclusive river cruise. Contact or call 800-848-3273 to learn more!