We have previously taken a number of cruises but this was our first river cruise.
We arrived in Basel, Switzerland two nights before the ship departed. We stayed in a lovely hotel, Hotel-Brasserie Au Violon, which used to be a prison. They have obviously updated it by converting to cells to one room with a lovely bath. The hotel staff were extremely helpful and knowledgeable and went out of their way to be sure our brief stay was pleasant.
We boarded the River Queen early in the afternoon. The check-in process was extremely fast and easy, nothing like arriving for larger cruises has been in the past.
The ship was beautifully appointed and looked exactly as advertised by catalog and internet. We visited the lounge to briefly await our cabin availability. When we were shown to our cabin we were very pleasantly surprised. We had been "warned" that river cruise cabins are very small. We found our cabin to be very comfortable and nicely appointed. There was adequate room for two single beds configured as a king, with night tables and reading lamps next to each side. We had two large windows, two straight-back chairs with a small round occasional table and a large dresser and mirror combination. The bathroom was small but certainly adequate. We found plenty of room in the closets and drawers to put away our belongings and promptly went about exploring the ship further.
We sailed the first night right about dinner time. The meals were good and we enjoyed the freedom to sit where we wanted at every mealtime allowing us to meet a number of very enjoyable people. The breakfasts and lunches were served buffet-style and included a number of options. Complimentary beer and wine were generously served at both lunch and dinner. I would say overall, the meals did not match other culinary experiences we have had on Oceania cruises in the past, but were still pleasant.
One concern was the noise in the dining room. My husband has a hearing impairment which proved quite challenging to carry on conversation at the table. However, he was not the only one who had such difficulties. It really became a topic of discussion amongst our fellow passengers.
We visited many ports in France, Germany, Luxemborg, and The Netherlands. Although we were scheduled to sail both the Rhine and a tributary, the Moselle River, due to severe flooding we were limited to ports on the Rhine. Even with this complication, the Uniworld staff and our Cruise Director, made sure we were still able to visit each of the planned stops. They arranged coaches to transport us to the areas that weren't available by sailing even the though, at the time, the Moselle was three meters above flood stage. They even through in a few "extras" that weren't planned to try to make up for the fact that we weren't able to sail on the Moselle. There were only a few passengers that we heard of that really complained about this fact. After all, you cannot control nature.
Each stop had very enjoyable excursions that were included with the price of the cruise itself. In addition, a couple of other excursions were available for an additional fee. The ship had great bicycles that could be reserved and most locations had fabulous bike paths readily available near the ship. The ship also made nordic walking sticks available which helped me immensely to more comfortably participate in excursions, as I have severe back problems.
I skipped one excursion and scheduled a massage on board. It was fairly comparably priced and the young masseuse from Budapest was skilled and delightful. He spoke with our room steward who then provided ice for my back every evening after that.
We didn't participate in the entertainment offered in the evening because we tended to turn-in for the night pretty early so we could get an early start each morning.
One particular section of the Rhine river includes many castles and we passed this area during the day. Our Cruise Director announced and told a little bit about each one over the P.A. system so everyone could see and hear all the information.
Our disembarkation was very quick and easy. We had to make our luggage ready to be moved by 8:30 a.m. on the last day. This was much preferred over larger cruise ships that require your luggage to be left in the hall on the last night. The ship arranged for a taxi to take us to the hotel.
We stayed two additional nights at The Zandbergen Hotel in Amsterdam after the cruise. The hotel was very affordable and conveniently located, just a short way from the bustle of the city right on a tram line. The stairs were quite steep, but the cheerful breakfast room made up for that. The hotel staff were very helpful and knowledgeable as well.