This was our first river cruise out of 10 cruises. We love small cruise ships and wanted to see how this compares to ocean cruising. We made our own travel arrangements.
The River Antoinette is beautifully decorated and has many amenities for a small ship. The Dining Room and Lounge are bright and comfortable. Because of the weather we didn't spend a lot of time on the upper deck and never visited the Leopard Bar. We enjoyed the pool and fitness room.
The staff was excellent and committed to customer service. I especially commend the cruise manager, the waiters and the room stewards. They made a nice cruise a great cruise. Low water levels on the Rhine created some problems, but they found alternatives to ensure it didn't impact our experience.
We had a category 4 stateroom. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of storage available and the bathroom, while compact, was well laid out. The bed was very comfortable. BUT the stateroom was cramped. If we were both in the room, I had to climb over the bed to reach things. There were 2 chairs under the window leaving only a few inches of clearance to the bed - more of a nuisance than a sitting area. We couldn't fully open the bathroom door because of the bed.
Breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent, with good variety and quality. However I feel the dinners could be improved. First, the food always arrived warm, never hot. We sat at different tables served by different waiters so it cannot be attributed to the wait staff. The quality and presentation of the food was good but I have another issue.
Dinner selection was limited to 2 items per course, but on 3 nights the menu was set and we could only choose the main course. The 2 main course selections were usually fish and red meat, both of which are problems for me so I frequently ordered the alternative - broiled chicken.
When I asked for a Caesar salad minus the anchovies the waiter told me "no alterations to menu items" (this was the first time I've heard "no" on a cruise). Other waiters were more accommodating and helpful. The 6th night a waiter showed me a special vegetarian menu. I wish I had known about it earlier.
Shore activities were very good. The guides hired by Uniworld were excellent. Two of the activities (Marksburg Castle and the winery) used guides supplied by the facility and they were okay but not up to the quality of the other guides. The assisted listening devices worked very well and definitely made the tours more meaningful. For several ports, shuttle buses were supplied from the ship to the center of town giving us greater options to indulge individual interests after the organized tours.
The ship entertainers were fine. We had already seen most of the movies shown in the theater (which included "The Sound of Music") so we didn't use that amenity. WIFI was routinely slow - and stopped whenever we entered a lock. They loaned laptop computers to passengers who didn't bring their own and one was always available.
Disembarkation was very smooth. Even though it's a small ship, it still takes a lot of organization to get everyone off in a timely manner. We appreciated the arrangements made by the staff and their estimates of time allowances, taxi rates, etc. were accurate.
In summary, we really enjoyed this cruise. We'll do a few things differently next time - upgrade the room and ask about alternative menus - but that next time will definitely be with Uniworld.