My wife and I had long been tempted to try river cruising. We kept it as a backup idea mainly because we thought it was more expensive than ocean cruising for a trip of the same duration. This year we were tempted no more and took the plunge. An airfare discount was part of the incentive and did the trick to get me to book “Castles on the Rhine” aboard Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette.Our expectations were exceeded for service, food, itinerary and atmosphere. Our only regret is our cabin was ... small, we booked late and upper deck cabin were not available, so we took a water line cabin. The cabin did fit us and all of our stuff so I do not regard the cabin as a detriment. It does bring up the advice to book and get a upper deck cabin, the S.S. Antoinette is new for 2011 and the boat is comfortable and tastefully decorated. There is a lounge with views on both sides, a dining room, and a top deck dining room ad a separate lounge. The Antoinette even has a pool, no Olympic venue but sizable for a boat that is only 36 feet wide.
My unease and perception at cost difference between Ocean ships versus River boats was resolved when I realized that 1 excursion per port was included as well as included wine beer or soft drinks at dinner. The dinner waiter was very dedicated to keeping my glass full. The meals were good of high quality with larger than expected portions. This was no “scale model food” involved.
The crew was fabulous from the stateroom attendants, front desk staff, waitstaff to the Captains (Capts Peter and Freddy). All were professional and focused on the guests. My highest praise goes to our cruise manager, Christine. She was always around when we were touring, open to questions or just conversations. She demonstrated resourcefulness on the morning of day#5, just as the boat was about to pull out of Rudesheim, we got word that no movement was allowed because of a bad barge accident further up river. Within one hour Christine arranged for busses to take us up to our next port at Koblenz and the optional excursion to Marksburg Castle. Since the busses could not be in Rudesheim until the afternoon, she also arranged for complementary morning activities.As an experienced Ocean cruiser I, found that this river cruise was better than the large ship ocean cruise I have been on. Rather than being 1 passenger in 1600, you are 1 in 140. You can get to know everybody on the boat and there is an intimacy that you can’t get on a mega-ship. True there won’t be a broadway-style show in the front of the ship, you may have to be happy with a piano player and a singer, but the absence of lines and crowds more than make up for the absence of the glitz. Read More...
First, and far most, I want to THANK my Reservation lady, Annette Pesa for arranging a cake for my daughter’s birthday aboard ship the second night (happened to be the Captain’s Dinner at his Table). The best present my daughter has ever had, so she said. Outstanding, Annette, the presentation was great, cake was light and hit the spot. Thank you, again, for all your hard work and time. It was appreciated.
I’ve sailed on big ships and one other river cruise which did spoil ... me, but this trip takes the CAKE. We were treated like Royalty in every sense of the word. The ship was breath taking, the staff was at your beck and call and always eager to please you. Yes, the staff would go that extra mile out of their way to assist or please you. No request to large or small—they handled it all with a smile and a happy voice. The food was outstanding and the wait staff was always ready to fill a glass or to see if you required something special to drink or eat. You always felt welcome and at ease with any request you might have. I took my own brand of coffee and requested a pot of water the first morning, didn’t have to request a pot of water afterwards they always brought it to me without my asking for it. Shows how they pay attention to the guests and their needs.
Our room was continuously clean and ready to accept us when we arrived. I have to admit that on one occasion, bad me, I flooded the bathroom. It was reported immediately and before we could get seated on the couch there was a knock on the door and before he could get to the bathroom door another knock on the door—it was a maintenance man with a water-vac to clean up. Next thing we had four (4) men working to clean up my mess. It seems the door got out of adjustment and that caused the mess. It was fixed immediately. I really couldn’t figure out why when prior nights I had no problem at all then all of a sudden it floods. They had it cleaned up in no time.
Sorry, Annette, I just can’t think of all the great things to say about the SS Antoinette or her staff. Just wish everyone I know could make their next trip on that boat, because they would never stop talking about it or the people. I know they would enjoy it because you just can’t help it. I’m already trying to see when my daughter finishes school, so I can book our next trip on one of your other boats. I can honestly say, “ UNIWORLD” has me not wanting to go if your boats do not go to that particular place.
I did mention I had been on another river cruise prior to this and it was on the River Queen. That ship did spoil me to doing another river cruise which to me is really the only way to travel. You feel like a family traveling together not a bunch of strangers. That trip was really good and special things did happen, people were fantastic and it was relaxing the way it should be. Since I’ve been on that ship it has been completely updated and the pictures look great. In fact, my daughter and I have been thinking about doing another one on her soon.
Ann DowdyRead More...
We just returned from the most marvelous vacation on the Rhine river! Our week on the SS Antoinette exceeded our expectations. The ship is fantastic and the entire crew was professional, friendly and very well trained. The food was varied and delicious. The excursions were well planned and our guides very informative. We were blessed with outstanding weather which just added to the overall experience.
Lastly, thanks for the stateroom upgrade that you provided to both ourselves and the Palmquist party. The staterooms were beautiful. Your team is to ... be congratulated for the design of this supership. We have sung the praise of Uniworld to our friends and neighbors and already are planning our next cruise.
Jim & Dolores Flashman