River Countess cruise review
In 2015, as in 2014, the official seven-night/eight-day River Countess cruise itinerary is identical from week to week:
Please see our River Countess itinerary map for an aerial view of the places that you'll visit during a typical cruise.
Cruise + land tour
Uniworld also offers a 13-day guided cruise tour called "Splendors of Northern Italy, Venice, Florence, & Rome" that includes the cruise plus two nights in Florence and three nights in Rome. Transportation from Venice to Florence, Florence to Rome, and Rome to Fiumicino Airport is by motorcoach.
Adjustments for the unexpected
Water levels on the Po River can be unpredictable, and so can weather on the Adriatic Sea (which the ship has to navigate for a short distance, without passengers, to reach the Po River from the Venetian Lagoon).
Occasionally, the itinerary has to be adjusted slightly. During our cruise, the ship was unable to reach the Po because of dangerous weather outside the Lagoon, so we used Chioggia as a base for excursions to Bologna and Ravenna. To complicate matters further, seasonal acqua alta or tidal flooding made it necessary to juggle the schedule slightly in Venice--e.g., by visiting St. Mark's Cathedral for an after-hours illumination on Friday instead of Monday.
Looking ahead to 2016
During our cruise, we heard unofficially that Uniworld will eliminate the short Po River section of the cruise in 2016 for the reasons described above. The Po isn't one of Europe's more scenic rivers, so the change won't make the cruise any less enjoyable.
Instead of cruising to Polisella, River Countess will offer new experiences in the Venetian Lagoon, such as a visit to the fishing and lacemaking island of Burano (famous for its colorful houses) that will be made possible by a new set of mooring pontoons for small ships.
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