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Joie de Vivre Review

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Joie de Vivre
5.0 / 5.0
14 reviews

Unparalleled cuisine, decor and evening options; delightful crew
Additional cost for dining in new venue; poor Wi-Fi at times
Bottom Line
Celebrate the "joy of life" through river cruising at its best




Passenger to Crew


Shore Excursions
Sails To
Sails From
Uniworld Cruise Deals
Louise Goldsbury
Cruise Critic Contributor

Joie de Vivre Overview

Building a French-themed ship based in Paris is always an ambitious venture, particularly in such a challenging time for tourism in France, but Uniworld has succeeded with perhaps its best creation yet. Joie de Vivre lives up to its name, bringing together the joys of life: fabulous food, wine, music, art, design and travel with family and friends, lifelong and new.

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This is a ship where you can start the day with gentle yoga at sunrise, overlooking the Seine River, and finish it dancing on the same floor -- the wellness space becomes a supper club with a live band at night. Passengers can sample caviar in the bar or sip Champagne on the sun deck. They can cook with the chef, cycle with the masseuse and be welcomed back by the captain after a tour -- mostly all included in the fare.

Uniworld's biggest challenge may be explaining that exclusive doesn't mean excluding. The truth is there's no pretension here; anyone could have a good time on this ship. One of the ship's greatest achievements is its easygoing extravagance -- Joie de Vivre is luxurious in a comfortable way; high-end and yet low-key. There's a relaxed ambience, despite the glamorous surroundings, and this balance is what makes it work. Joie de Vivre is 'oh-so-Frenchy' without being gimmicky. The crew are courteous but fun; the butlers mix with everyone, not only those in suites. Staff are paid a salary rather than contracted and it shows in the pride they take in their work.

Joie de Vivre is the same width as the line's other 'Super Ships' but 33 feet shorter in length and with a smaller capacity of 128 guests in 54 cabins and 10 suites. Permitted to dock in the heart of the city -- about 20 minutes' walk to the Eiffel Tower -- it operates a seven-night Seine River cruise round trip from Paris via Rouen, Vernon and Caudebec-en-Caux for excursions to Monet's Gardens at Giverny, Palace of Versailles, Normandy's World War II landing beaches and more.

Compared to other ships in the fleet, the decor on Joie de Vivre is softer; more boutique hotel than palace. The cruise line is owned by the Tollman family, who is very involved in all aspects, so there's a personal touch in every piece of furniture, artwork, the flowers, the brand of chocolates in your room. The result is that the ship feels like your fanciful second home -- complete with chefs, waiters, bartenders, housekeepers, concierge and personal assistants, with an adorable cafe at one end of your street (Le Bistrot) and a cool bar at the other (Claude's).

Top Joie de Vivre Itineraries

View All Uniworld Joie de Vivre Itineraries (10)

Fellow Passengers

The majority of passengers are American, with sizable contingencies from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the U.K. The main age group is 50s to 70s but it would not be unusual to see couples in their 30s, 40s or 80s, mothers and their adult daughters, solo travelers and groups of friends.

Uniworld Joie de Vivre Dress Code

Passengers dress casually during the day to be comfortable for shore excursions. Most people change for pre-dinner drinks. In the main restaurant, men are encouraged to wear trousers, a collared shirt and optional jacket (ties not required); women wear dresses or elegant pants and top, glamming up a little more for the welcome and farewell dinners. If jeans and T-shirts are your preferred vacation style, you can dine in Le Bistrot or order room service. There are no formal nights.

The weather can turn wet as the ship heads north to Normandy, so bring a rain jacket (umbrellas are provided) and a scarf; a heavier coat would be wise for early or late season. Particularly in Paris and the south of France, it can get very hot so take a hat and sunglasses. Dress in layers to best manage the changeable conditions. If you plan to use the pool or gym, don't forget swimwear and activewear.

Joie de Vivre Inclusions

The cruise fare includes all dining (except La Cave de Vins), 24-hour room service, alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, daily shore excursions, Wi-Fi, yoga, bicycle rental, entertainment, lectures, self-service guest laundry and gratuities for onboard crew and tour guides. The only extra costs are optional, such as spa treatments, laundry and pressing service, a few premium brands of alcohol and a small selection of additional tours. The onboard currency is the euro.

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Joie de Vivre Ratings

Public Rooms5.04.6
Fitness Recreation4.03.8
Value For Money5.04.4

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More about Uniworld Joie de Vivre

Where does Uniworld Joie de Vivre sail from?

Uniworld Joie de Vivre departs from Paris

Where does Uniworld Joie de Vivre sail to?

Uniworld Joie de Vivre cruises to Paris, Vernon, Rouen, Lyon, Tournon-sur-Rhone, Avignon and Bordeaux

How much does it cost to go on Uniworld Joie de Vivre?

Cruises on Uniworld Joie de Vivre start from null per person.

Is Uniworld Joie de Vivre a good ship to cruise on?

Uniworld Joie de Vivre won 1 award over the years.

Awards and Recognition

Uniworld Joie de Vivre Member Reviews

Joie de Vivre
Sail Date: Aug 2019
I hope future travelers have a great experience on the Joie de Vivre as well! Bon voyage!... Read More
Joie de Vivre
Sail Date: Aug 2019
We had the same issue with the a/c on the Joie de Vive as we did on the Catherine; it was not nearly adequate given the temperature in France at the time.... Read More
Joie de Vivre
Sail Date: Dec 2018
Our airfare package include transfers to/from Charles de Gaul (CDG) airport which is a good distance from the ship berth, but was accomplished with speed and comfort.... Read More
Joie de Vivre
Sail Date: Apr 2018
Cruising on Uniworld Joi de Vivre was a pleasure almost beyond description. This small boat had an outstanding staff in every way.... Read More

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection Fleet

River Empress
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

56 reviews

River Empress is one of the older ships in Uniworld's fleet, dating back to 2002. It's also a one-off (not part of a "class").

Uniworld River Empress Cruises to Europe View All Uniworld River Empress Cruises
River Princess
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

River Princess' ambiance is different from that of sister ship River Empress, with starker and bolder decor, honey-colored woods, aluminum accents and a jewel-toned palette.

River Duchess

Uniworld's River Duchess features three passenger decks plus a sun deck. Unlike other ships in the fleet, staterooms have no windows that open.

River Queen

Uniworld's River Queen, launched in 1999, set the standard for the company's new-builds; it's the first to boast an elevator and launderette.

River Tosca
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Holding 82 passengers, River Tosca brings Uniworld's brand of luxury cruising to the Nile River, with experienced tour guides that show you the best of Egypt.

River Countess
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The most luxurious river cruise on Italy's Po, the 134-passenger River Countess surpasses any other river vessel based in Venice.

S.S. Antoinette

S.S. Antoinette launched in March 2011. The 164-passenger vessel offers a serious wow factor with its unique-to-river-cruising features, including suites with clever open-air balconies.

River Victoria

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises re-launched River Victoria in 2011 after an extensive refurb (it was built in 1982). The 206-passenger boat sails Russia's Volga River between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

S.S. Catherine

The 159-passenger S.S. Catherine is elegant, comfortable, colorful and whimsical, with some some staterooms having both private balconies and French verandahs.

Queen Isabel
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Built in Portugal, furnished with locally crafted furniture and staffed by Portuguese crew (with the exception of the Dutch chef), the ship is reassuringly authentic.

Century Legend (Uniworld)

Uniworld's chartered vessel carries 398 passengers and sails on China's Yangtze River.

S.S. Maria Theresa
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Maria Theresa is Uniworld's third "super ship" and is a floating masterpiece that combines historic artwork and antiques with contemporary, high-tech creature comforts.

Joie de Vivre
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Uniworld's Joie de Vivre lives up to its name, bringing together the joys of life: fabulous food, wine, music, art, design and travel with family and friends.

Ganges Voyager II
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Since 2016, Uniworld has put the Ganges Voyager II under exclusive charter, offering two-week trips that combine a land tour of India's Golden Triangle cities -- Delhi, Agra and Jaipur -- with seven nights on the Ganges.

S.S. Bon Voyage
5.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The re-imagined River Royale joins the ranks of Uniworld's Super Ships, offering supreme comfort and luxury on Europe's waterways.

S.S. Sphinx

Nile river luxury cruiser S.S. Sphinx debuts January 2020, as one of the destination's more lavish luxury ships with 42 suites, an onboard swimming pool and interior decor reflecting the beauty and history of Egypt.

Mekong Jewel

Entering service in January 2020, Mekong Jewel will run Uniworld's river voyages through Vietnam and Cambodia, with the latest luxury touches and some of the region's most striking decor.

S.S. La Venezia

Debuting March 27, 2020, as a revamped ship, S.S. La Venezia returns to sail Italy's Po River, complete with new touches designed to better represent its Italian itineraries.

S.S. Sao Gabriel

Uniworld's new 100-passenger S.S. Sao Gabriel, which debuts in spring 2020, will offer larger and more lavish suites and introduce butler service for suite passengers for the first time on Uniworld's Douro river cruises.

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