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U by Uniworld proves that cruising is the hottest break for young gay people

Written by gaytourism

Continental Europe. It’s a big old place, isn’t it?

So when you’re coming from the UK, most of us just settle for city breaks. You might occasionally treat yourself to a fortnight at a resort in Spain or Greece, or a week in the south of France. But for the most part, it’s a long weekend to whichever city takes your fancy, having painfully squeezed clothes to last twice as long into your carry-on luggage.

But what if you could have the best of both?

River cruising is essentially that. A series of city breaks linked together by a very plush, river-born hotel with the must-have amenities of a five-star resort.

My idea of what it meant to cruise were formed watching the episode of Keeping Up Appearances where social-climber extraordinaire, Hyacinth Bucket and long-suffering Richard took a trip of the queue-eeeee-toooo. A cruise feels like something for people in their dotage.

Of course, the QE2 and a river cruiser aren’t the same thing. Riverboats, unlike ocean liners, aren’t floating towns, but they’ve both attracted similar, senior audiences – until now.

Step forward U by Uniworld

Cruises with a young audience in mind | Photo: U by Uniworld

Uniworld’s a long-established name in river cruising, but U is their diffusion line. It’s infinitely cool, and very much focused on catering for younger, more active audience. Think of it as Brighton rather than Eastbourne, or Princess Beatrice’s fascinator, rather than Her Majesty’s hat.

We jumped on its ‘Rolling on the Rhine’ adventure, though you can slink down the Seine or dance along the Danube – a boat on the three big rivers in Europe, basically.

Ours was an eight-night, eight-stop (Frankfurt, Rüdesheim, Koblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Duisburg, Haarlem, Amsterdam) trip, along one of the most historically important rivers in Europe.

The boat itself is a floating boutique hotel. The décor is high Euro chic. There’s a lot of polished chrome and velvet in the communal areas, but it feels very premium. Uniworld have clearly splashed out, and the ship is peppered with modern art – there are at least four Emins hung in the dining room along.

The cabins are best described as intimate. But that’s fine, as you spend so little time in them. They are, however, very well thought-out. There’s a plethora of cubby holes and storage spaces, with USB points littered about the room. The highlight was undoubtedly the bed. They’re made by Savoir and cost thousands of pounds. Each are designed to satisfy the exacting standards of Americans, who are the most frequent cruisers in Europe. They felt like climbing into a marshmallow. 

U by Uniworld bedroom

Beware if you like hard beds – you will sink into this dreamy mattress | Photo: U by Uniworld