So, hey, you know that thing where everyone keeps blaming millennials for killing everything? Well, we’ve got one more thing to add to the list: Cruises. Thanks to the new U by Uniworld cruise line, millennial-only cruises are a thing now. PREPARE YOURSELVES, BOOMERS. WE ARE COMING FOR YOUR CRUISES.
Run by luxury river cruise company Uniworld, U by Uniworld is, its website proclaims, “reinventing the travel industry with … a fresh approach to cruising for 21-45 year olds”; Cruise Critic, meanwhile, describes it as “meant to be a line where Instagram moments are made.” The line specializes in European river cruises, which means you can hit up France via the Seine, Germany and the Netherlands via the Rhine, and Germany and Hungary via the Danube. There are currently nine options available; they’re all set to debut in 2018.
But the experience? It is, uh, not what you probably imagine when you think of the word “cruise.” From Cruise Critic:
Two sister ships are designed to be “part boutique hotel, part yacht and part resort,” with stylish staterooms, rooftop morning yoga sessions, two bars, a rooftop lounge with local DJs, and free Wi-Fi. Meals are inspired by the street food of cities you’re cruising through (with craft brew to match), in addition to comfort food crafted by celeb cookbook author Bea Tollman. Master bartenders lead the way with onboard mixology courses, and passengers can capture scenery in more than just a photograph with Wine &Paint classes, which include a glass of local vino. Nights don’t end when you get back on board, either. Passengers can keep the party going on the rooftop lounge or at the silent disco with the ship’s resident DJ.
(The free Wi-Fi is particularly notable; usually cruise lines charge you the equivalent of your first-born child for internet access.)
According to Cruise Critic, the two U by Uniworld ships are refurbished vessels that originally launched with Uniworld’s main line. The A ship, once known as the River Ambassador, first set sail in 1993, while the B ship, formerly the River Baroness, hit the water in 1994; both were renovated in 2011. The room sizes won’t change as the ships prepare for their U by Uniworld launch, but, notes Cruise Critic, “The main differences following the recent renovations will be the all-black exteriors, and sleek, modern décor extending from the communal spaces and rooftop lounges into the Studio, Suite, and Balcony rooms.”
Shore excursions start later in the day than they do for most cruises, too, to allow for the late nights all those millennial cruise aficionados will surely be taking; there will also be overnight stays in ports of call, which (again) is somewhat unusual for cruises. The itineraries are “experiential,” allowing “passengers to really connect with a city and the people who live there, thanks to locally driven activities like pretzel-making classes with baker masters in Miltenberg, Germany.”
The price points aren't cheap, but they are considerably more affordable than regular Uniworld cruises are. The most expensive U by Uniworld trip — the Seine Experience, which begins and ends in Paris and makes four stops in France along the way — costs around $2,000 per person for a week, or about $250 per day; meanwhile, the least expensive — the four-day Merry Little Christmas cruise, which begins and ends in Budapest — costs around $1,000 per person, or about $200 per day. Compared to Uniworld proper, where the cheapest options are $4,000 per person and the most expensive more than $10,000 (it is a luxury line, after all), that’s a steal.
Still, though, I’ll admit that I’m curious how many millennials would actually be able to afford a vacation like this (besides Mona-Lisa up there, that is). Bear in mind that $1,000 to $2,000 is the bare minimum these kinds of trips cost; there’s also fine print that notes that $140 port charges aren’t included, not to mention anything you might spend during your travels, the cost of airfare to get over to Europe in the first place, and so on and so forth. I mean, I’m in my 30s, and I’m only just now starting to be able to afford vacations of this ilk — and I’m in a more financially privileged position than many millennials are: I’m debt-free, I live in a dual-income household, and I don’t have kids. A lot of us would like to be able to travel in relative luxury, but needing to pay off your student loans, pay your rent and bills, and maybe save a little bit for emergencies or retirement if you can usually come first. This isn’t to say that travel is impossible when you’re on a budget — it’s not, not by a long shot — but this kind of travel can be a little tough to manage.
But, hey, if you’re in a position where it’s doable for you, then more power to you. For what it’s worth, cruises can be fun; I went on one for my honeymoon earlier this year, and they’re a good way to see a lot of places with relative ease (although if you’re interested in touring said places in depth,a cruise might not be your jam; there’s only so much you can do in a day). And I can see the draw of one geared towards millennials, as well: Pretty much everyone we met on ours were either retirees or other honeymooners, so although it might seem like a “millennials-only” cruise is somewhat limited in its demographic, I imagine it might actually be more diverse than your standard cruise, purely because millennials are quite a diverse demographic in and of themselves. Admittedly I’m not much of a partier, so I’m not sure U by Uniworld would be quite my cup of tea — but if you’re less of a hermit than I am, then it might be worth checking out.
Now, as for the age requirements: I’m not yet clear on whether these cruises are simply designed with millennials in mind, but available for anyone of any age to book and enjoy, or whether they’re actually limited to millennial passengers. The U by Uniworld website just notes that it’s “a fresh approach to cruising for 21-45 year olds”; however, Cruise Critic’s page on the line actually reads, “Age restriction is 21 to 45” (emphasis mine). Bustle has reached out to U by Uniworld for clarification; we received no response by press time, but we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.