Deemed too mature for the hippest river cruise line in Europe, Peter Lynch turned to social media to see what all the viral, trending fuss is about.
The turnout was very on-message: bloggers, glitterati and… ahem …us!
“Sorry, only 21-to-45s can enter the raffle,” the blonde on the door cheerily told us as we arrived. Never mind. The champagne was cool… and the food was hot.
The event was the launch of U by Uniworld, the bold new river cruise line aimed at the very people who, hitherto, would be as rare as a Tasmanian tiger on Europe’s waterways: millennials.
U by Uniworld is a bid by one of the genre’s leading lines – who doesn’t love Uniworld’s fabulous OTT river ships? – to create something different for Generation Next.
The ships are black and christened The A and The B. The interiors chic and sophisticated, filled with wi-fi, USB ports and TV screens. Petra Nemcova, philanthropist, founder of Happy Heart Fund and Victoria’s Secret Angel, is The B’s guardian angel (nothing so naff as a godmother).
Everything aims to reassure that there will be no aged piano men or glass-blowers aboard these ultra-hip river ships. The entertainment is, instead, silent discos, pyjama parties and original cocktails created by mixologists.
No doubt because it would be just too uncool to follow the alphabet, The B set sail first with a crew of fashonistas and bloggers aboard. So we knew exactly where to go to get the verdict on this fascinating new venture…
“just another photo of Chris and his best friend: there’s a new post on #yummertime.com all about our trip to France, sailing along the Seine River with @ubyuniworld and detailing our entire itinerary! ✌ link in bio✌ // #travelforu #wanderlust #paris”
That little item was seen by a staggering 6000-plus people and garnered almost 100 comments on Instagram.
“Chris” is one half of “Chris and Brock”, bloggers from San Francisco who write yummertime.com. You can go there to “shop the feed” – not cheesburgers, but mostly clothes by Coach.
So what did they think? First, they announced they’d once been on a cruise, but the buffet got the better of them, making it difficult to squeeze into those tight jeans. So, to quote their blog, they swore never to cruise again.
But as The B sailed from Paris to Rouen and back again, the boys performed a “U”-turn.
“We were so surprised. Such an incredible surprise. Surprised by how young everyone was on the cruise (the cruise itself is designed and tailored for millennials, specifically in the 21-to-45 age range). Surprised by how trendy the entire ship was (including a snap of Kylie Jenner outside our cabin and one of Britney Spears on the way to the ship’s restaurant).
“Surprised by the unique, behind-the-scenes perspective we were presented with on the trip; we’ve been to Paris multiple times before, but have never experienced the city this way.
“Surprised by the green goddess juice served every morning (among all other brunch items). How healthy! And surprised by the quality, craft cocktails with bartenders knowledgeable enough to recommend them, instead of a Mai Tai or a Sex on the Beach (i.e. standard cruise-fare).
Did we mention we were surprised?”
Actually, you did.
Brock and Chris, digital markers in a previous life, weren’t alone. Sam Evans is a Sydney vlogger and filmmaker. We commend his 11-minute movie on the journey – www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4VSm9UdYSQ
We’ve never heard of a river ship captain reversing his vessel because a passenger has lost his drone. You’ll also catch a wedding proposal (spoiler alert: she said yes!) and a motivational speaker with no legs on an electric skateboard.
Not your usual ship review. But The B is not your usual ship.
Sam’s verdict: “Had the most beautiful few days on-board U by Uniworld’s newest ship, The B, as we took off on the inaugural sail up the Sienne River in France.”
Phoebe Chen of phoebe_eats – “Freebies & green tea. Everything else is negotiable. Follow me as I eat my way around the world” – was also impressed.
“Thanks for the feature, @ubyuniworld. I’m still salivating from all the tasty food.”
And Stavey Leasca of Travel+Leisure magazine loved the very different shore excursions. “On our trip we were able to experience the Eiffel Tower at night (and skip the line because we already had tickets thanks to our guides), check out the Palace of Versailles, take a walking tour of Rouen, and much more. Other offerings included a hidden treasure tour of the Louvre, a guided bike tour of Paris, and a tour following the footsteps of Claude Monet.”
The U by Uniworld ships are due to sail on their first passenger services this April.
Uniworld Australian MD Fiona Dalton told Cruise Passenger: “Some have called it revolutionary, others a game-changer, but whichever way you look at it, what we’re doing is new, innovative and offers a completely new take on experiential travel!”
Full marks to Uniworld for boldly going where no river cruise line has gone before. Visit ubyuniworld.com – but only if you’re 21 to 45 and uber-cool.