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S.S. Bon Voyage


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With 62 cabins, S.S. Bon Voyage exclusively sails the Bordeaux-Medoc region of southwestern France on wine- and art-infused cruises. As a result, its French décor is meant to immediately immerse passengers in the region from the moment they arrive.

What sets Uniworld apart from the competition is its intense focus on more imperial-style interior design, as opposed to contemporary. Expect marble, polished brass, Murano glass chandeliers and fabric-covered walls at every turn. Bea Tollman, the company's founder and owner, and her daughter are responsible for the eclectic and clever design found throughout the ship, which often sparks lively conversation among passengers.

This formality has a loyal following, especially among American travellers searching for an elevated standard of service. All of those Murano accents come from the Tollman's own glass factory on Murano Island in Italy. Massive bouquets of fresh sunflowers and rosemary plants remind passengers of this beautiful part of southwestern France. With ample public spaces, including a top deck with awnings for shade and thickly cushioned lounge chairs, there are plenty of options for relaxation.

If you're a first-time cruiser with little to compare things to, the smaller cabins may not be as much of a surprise. Experienced cruisers may find them to be on the smaller side compared to other river ships, including Uniworld vessels. Luckily, the beautiful design with new marble bathrooms and the lavish public areas provide plenty of opportunities to enjoy your time on the ship.

Excursions run the gamut from fitness-focused activities, like trekking and biking, to cultural pursuits, such as chateau visits and wine tasting. Uniworld is all-inclusive, meaning that daily activities, food and drinks, gratuities and airport transfers are part of the package.

If you're the kind of traveller that likes to dress for dinner while being more informal during the day, this one is for you. The entire experience is designed around posh design, impressive cuisine and a growing focus on wellness and active lifestyle.

During the day, there is no dress code, and the numerous excursions allow passengers to wear what they want for each experience. Breakfast and lunch also have no formal dress code, but dinner hours suggest no shorts or jeans in the dining room. While jackets are not required most nights, many travellers feel more comfortable dressing a bit for dinner, especially with the formal design and service of Le Grand Fromage, the main dining room.

S.S. Bon Voyage Inclusions

Part of the joy of a Uniworld cruise is not having to sign receipts at every turn. Included in the rate are airport transfers, excursions, all meals and drinks, and gratuities. Only few premium liquor brands and wines carry a fee. There's also an additional cost for specialty dining in La Cave du Vin for special wine pairing dinners and spa services. The primary currency used aboard is the euro.

This was the only Uniworld ship that did not have complimentary, self-service laundry, but with the remodel, now it does. The option for standard laundry services are still available.

Uniworld does a great job of bringing aboard historians and lecturers who can share ideas and knowledge about the local area. Among the talks are details about the World War II history of the area, including a visit to local bunkers, and in-depth explanations about wine tasting and varietals of the region.

Shore Excursions

Uniworld is seeing interest in more active excursions and has stocked more bikes aboard its ships for passengers to borrow. Since the ship cruises only the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, excursions stick to a solid mix of vineyard tours, visits to beautiful villages and optional opportunities to visit special sites for sunrise dune photos or painting on the river shores with wine.

All shore excursions are included, except a few special experiences that can be tacked on for extra fun. Dubbed Masterpiece Collection excursions, these are unique activities, such as cooking classes and sunrise hikes, which can be pre-booked before arriving onboard.

Tours are typically only a few hours to allow passengers to pick and choose between wandering on their own or joining one of the group tours. Options vary for different interests, including the ability to experience more active tours, like hikes, or something more leisurely, like a stroll through a vineyard. Most involve short coach drives to the destination, but none is very far given the smaller scope of the ship's itinerary. Those with mobility issues are usually well-informed about which tours are most suitable for them in advance by the always-accessible cruise director.

Daytime and Evening Entertainment

Each evening, performers keep the mood lively and entertaining in the lounge. Expect everything from musicians to local cancan dancers that are sure to get any party started. Depending upon the port, activities can vary.


Even if you think you know everything, the onboard lectures do a solid job of adding context and detailed local description. Cabins add their own lengthy list of onscreen entertainment and documentaries available through the wall-mounted flat-screen TVs.

S.S. Bon Voyage Bars and Lounges

Le Salon Champagne (Deck 3): Inspired by Yves Saint Laurent's home, the décor here brings together Art Deco accents with period French style. Brass architectural pieces, 14-year-old palm trees, plush conversation seating and a small space for entertainment fill the room. At the centre, the main bar is always staffed when passengers are in the lounge. During the day, this is a popular place to lounge with a book or to use the free wireless internet.

S.S. Bon Voyage Outside Recreation

The top Soleil Deck wows with its infinity-edge, heated plunge pool at the rear of the ship; Uniworld says this is the first of its kind for a river ship. It features attractive blue and white mosaic tiles that were brought in from South Africa. Café seating around the small pool is popular on sunny days and shaded lounge chairs with plump cushions in quintessentially French white and blue patterns line the top deck. Made from Sunbrella outdoor fabric, they feature images of a playful Indian tiger.

Laps around the ship are a great way to get in your steps for the day. This is also where the ship stores its fleet of bikes that passengers can borrow for self-guided tours in each stop or for dedicated shore excursions.

S.S. Bon Voyage Services

Jars of various kinds of candy at reception draw passengers and help keep the 24-hour staff engaged with everyone (the gummy bears seem to be the most popular, by the way). Wireless internet throughout the ship is free and an upgraded system was installed to boost speed and accessibility during the remodel. It works well but is best in the main lounge and near reception. The former library -- rarely used -- has been transformed into a small passenger workstation with internet-equipped computer.

An lift in the centre of the lobby reaches all decks, except the alfresco top floor, which makes most of the ship fully accessible. When passengers disembark, they must remember to bring not only their key card, but also the barcoded card to swipe at the kiosk. Many ports also use a gated system as a second layer of security, which locks at a certain time. Ask for the key code in advance if you plan to stay out late.

The ship is non-smoking with the exception of a dedicated area on the top deck. Sustainability efforts are strong with Uniworld. Passengers will find carafes of filtered water in each cabin with metal bottles that they can refill at the coffee stations any time during the cruise. This cuts down on plastic usage, and plastic straws and other materials have been eliminated from inventory.

A fitness centre in the back of the ship has modern equipment positioned toward the windows for maximum views. Wellness coaches are part of the line's programming to lead fitness and yoga classes (sometimes in memorable locations on shore), plus special excursions like biking and hiking. You'll also find healthier "Traveling Lite" options designated on all shipboard menus.

Massage and beauty appointments using French toiletries are available to book via reception.

You'll find a chef's station, plus plenty of regional and fresh choices purchased locally to stock the buffet. On the top deck, there's a dedicated area for cooking classes as well as panoramic and alfresco dining for lunch and dinner. Uniworld has always been known for excellent dining, and this ship is no different.

What you wouldn't have seen before is the new brasserie area that sits behind the bar. Formerly, that space was an extension of the lounge, but now it is used for all-day snacks and a more casual à la carte dinner area. Of course, all drinks and meals are included on Uniworld voyages with the exception of a few premium liquors and wines.

Vegetarians and vegans are well cared for, among other dietary requirements. This begins from the first meal of the cruise where servers note any dietary requests into a database with your photo so that everyone's needs are met during the rest of the cruise. During the remodel, infrequently used areas near the dining room were transitioned into more storage for the crew, which is essential for offering more variety on the menu.

Le Grand Fromage (Deck 1): This is the main dining room and where passengers enjoy all meals from breakfast to dinner. You'll find a continuation of the Art Deco styling of the main lounge here with brass and hardwood accents. The look is elegant but welcoming and bright with large windows on both sides.

A mix of booth, two-top and roundtable seating make it easy to find space for dining groups large and small. The space is being better utilized now that the buffet has been moved from up against the wall to the centre of the dining room, which relieves any congestion.

Breakfast is served buffet-style with everything from eggs to sautéed vegetables and the oh-so-famous French cheese board and selection of breads. Lunch offers more options, including the choice to dine from an equally sumptuous buffet with a carving station or to head upstairs to La Belle Etoile for lighter fare. Both seem equally popular, although there are more options in the main dining room.

By sunset, the experience is a tad more formal with most passengers choosing to dress for dinner (often jacket, but no tie). The à la carte menu includes plenty of regional favourites but always offers a roster of staple favourites, like poached salmon and grilled steak. Service is impeccable with the international staff, mostly hailing from Eastern Europe, going out of their way to use passenger names and remember personal preferences.

Each day, a different selection of regional, complimentary wines are served. Open seating is the norm, although passengers are encouraged to arrive when dinner opens so that there is enough time for them to enjoy the full experience before any evening entertainment or excursions.

Outside of the main dining room, there is a small coffee and tea station that is open at all hours for passengers to enjoy.

La Cave du Vin (Deck 2): This specialty dining venue comes with a surcharge, but the set menu is a step above the already solid cuisine in the main restaurant. Expert wine pairings are what makes this communal table in a private dining room so special. It is worth the experience at least once during a sailing, although it is without windows. This is a relatively new feature is slightly different because it offers a cooking demonstration. Aboard this ship, it is exclusively a food and wine pairing dinner.

La Brasserie (Deck 3): New to the ship is a French-style brasserie that serves an à la carte menu at dinner; it takes its décor inspiration from the Bouillon Pigalle brasserie in Paris. During the day, light refreshments are always available. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a faster, more leisurely dinner.

Le Café du Soleil (Soleil Deck): On the Soleil Deck, this new panoramic dining venue serves a beautifully presented salad bar with a variety of fresh greens, hand-picked tomatoes, every imaginable salad topping and the famous north-eastern French flatbread known as tarte flambee made to order. Grilled meats and soup are also part of this popular lunchtime experience. At night, it transforms into La Belle Etoile with a cocktail menu for passengers to enjoy facing the sunset.

Room Service: Room service is included for all cabins at any time of day.

While not the largest in the industry, the cabins on Bon Voyage are certainly among the most distinctive, with décor inspiration taken from the region. Each features Uniworld's signature fabric-coated walls and pastel colour palette. The duvet-coated Savoir of England bed is the star of the room with starched white linens, a quartet of monogrammed pillows and new cushioned mattress. On both sides of the bed are international power outlets and USB ports.

Built-in desks add more power outlets, plus there are carafes of water and plenty of counter space for unpacking. A cushioned chair tucks into the desk with another fabric-covered stool in the corner. Flat-screen TVs offer plenty of international channels. The best place to store your luggage after unpacking is under the bed to save space. Deep drawers and tall closets with plenty of hangers provide storage.

The most exciting new feature in the cabins are the beautiful marble bathrooms. Rainfall showers and marble vanities are the standard with two drawers and a shelf. Tissues and hair dryers are carefully tucked away into corners. The heated towel racks are extremely effective. In an effort to reduce plastic, Asprey toiletries (replacing L'Occitane) come from eco-friendly pump bottles. Robes and slippers are a standard perk of every cabin.

There are two sets of connecting cabins (305-307 and 306-308), which are especially popular during dedicated family sailings. Single supplements are sometimes waived depending upon the season and demand.

Classic (Beaujolais Deck, 1): There are only six of these entry-level categories. They measure 151 square feet and have smaller windows.

Deluxe (Medoc Deck, 2): These cabins are slightly larger at 151 square feet. They are similar to the French Balcony rooms albeit without the sliding door.

French Balcony (Bordeaux Deck, 3): At 140 square feet, the standard cabins are not expansive, but they make excellent use of space so that the line's well-known Savoir of England beds remain the main focus. You'll sink into four oversized pillows and a plush duvet with expansive floor-to-ceiling views. USB and power outlets are on both sides of the bed.

The space between the base of the bed and the built-in desk feels narrow with the chair tucked underneath, but it can be moved to the side to create more room. A cushioned stool is in one corner. Uniworld considered adding balconies during the remodel, but opted to invest in the impressive marble bathrooms instead.

Suites (Bordeaux Deck, 3): Two suites, located closest to reception on level three, measure in at 210 square feet and feature en-suite living areas with mirrored desk and vanity area, large closet space, complimentary mini-bars and long, spacious bathrooms with separate tubs and showers. Their dual vanities are stocked with Hermes toiletries and drop-down TVs from the ceiling facing the bed.

Grand Suites (Bordeaux Deck, 3): Two Grand Suites (up from one previously), located midship and created by combining two former standard cabins, measure in at 280 square feet and feature separate bedroom and living room areas. With the same high-quality bedding as the standard rooms, Grand Suites add bonuses, like drop-down TVs from the ceiling facing the bed and second TVs in the living room.

Dedicated butlers handle everything from unpacking to coffee delivery (or any beverage and snack, really) throughout the day. Mini-bars in these suites are also complimentary. Two sets of large glass windows slide open for fresh air. The chic European décor is similar to those in other accommodations with brocaded fabrics, fabric-coated walls and bespoke artwork. Bathrooms are immense with dark marble surfaces, dual vanities with Hermes products and separate shower and tub facilities.

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