From the moment we stepped through customs at CDG, we were pampered by Uniworld staff. Our Paris guide met us at the airport, and accompanied us to our shuttle. Once in our hotel, our guide (Pierre) provided information about the city, and about tours available. Our two nights in Paris before the cruise were wonderful, and we saw much of the city on foot, but we also toured by riverboat and bus. We also found it was simple and convenient to use the subway for those sights that were out of our walking range.
The River Baroness is a beautiful ship. Our cabin was well appointed, with plenty of storage space. We found it interesting that the walls were padded and covered in beautiful upholstery. This probably contributed to the wonderful sound insulation. The bathroom was without a doubt the nicest of any ship we've been on. The shower was actually roomy, and there was never a lack of hot water. Our cabin was always kept clean, and was visited twice daily by the room steward, who left small gifts at the end of each day, along with the next day's itinerary. Water containers were provided for our use, and refills were available at the lounge (along with iced tea, coffee and treats all day long).
All of the staff on the ship were exemplary. They all were very professional, yet friendly in their service, and we felt like we were very well taken care of throughout the trip. Our guides on our shore excursions were excellent, and some were residents of the towns we visited, so we really got an insider's perspective during the tours. Use of the quietvox system enabled everyone in the group to hear the guide's commentary without having to be in "ear shot".
Our itinerary kept us busy, and we only opted for one optional tour (to Versailles). We did spend some time on buses reaching some of our tour destinations (the Normandy Beaches, Honfleur, and Giverny) but the guides took this time to give us valuable information about the destination, or about the passing scenery.
The food on the River Baroness was delicious. Breakfasts and lunches were buffets....with amazing selections! Dinners were a la carte with several choices for each course. Wines and beer were free-flowing at lunch and dinner, and at breakfast, mimosas were available. The variety of cheese that was provided at breakfast and lunch was reflective of the regions we visited, and most were melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
The only downside of the trip was that we spent very little time cruising along the Seine (at least in daylight). It was one of the highlights of the trip to relax on the deck, taking in the sights along the shore as well as the boat traffic in the river.
Uniworld, and our experience on the River Baroness, has sold us on river cruising in Europe and we are looking forward to planning another cruise in the next year or two. Now we just have to choose an itinerary!