We are experienced cruisers but this is only our 2nd River cruise. The new SS Catherine is beautiful...a little over the top in decor but the quality is staggering! Murano glass everywhere, original artwork, embroidered wallpaper and draperies, comfortable beds with great linens. Sumptuous.
Every member of the staff was professional and approachable and very helpful. Laurentia, the sommelier, was a standout. Our wine and food organization nearly took over the boat and Laurentia was just exceptional with her depth of knowledge, professional service and kindness to a group of very demanding winos!
The kitchen also needs to be commended as they produced fabulous food all the time. Breakfast and lunch buffets had a wide variety of foods that were often replenished and always delicious. Our dinners had been pre-planned to go with our own organizations' wines but a vegetarian menu was always offered and several standard dishes, like a steak, could be substituted. The service was impeccable and the food beyond compare with any other cruise line. (Even Oceania and Seabourne)
The rooms seemed a bit cramped at first but there is really a lot of storage and once we had fully unpacked (we are on a month long European vacation and had a lot of luggage) there was room to spare. The bathrooms are spacious for a ship and well appointed.
We only did a few of the included excursions but 2 of 3 were exceptional, Avignon with Marie and Arles with Frances, the other was forgettable because of the guide.
It was wonderful to just spend time on the boat. Wish we were on a longer cruise and would definitely sail on the Catherine again.
The only real problem was that the dining room seemed to have really hot zones but the crew responded quickly and brought on extra air conditioners to help solve that problem.