8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this Christmas Markets tour because it included cities we know and love: Aachen, Cologne, Rudisheim, Heidelberg, Baden Baden, Strassburg and Colmar. Although cruising the Rhine became problematic after a year of historic heat and ... Read More
We chose this Christmas Markets tour because it included cities we know and love: Aachen, Cologne, Rudisheim, Heidelberg, Baden Baden, Strassburg and Colmar. Although cruising the Rhine became problematic after a year of historic heat and low river levels, Tauck found a way to make it all work seamlessly, instituting a "ship swap" half way through. Yes, it is inconvenient to have to pack up and unpack again, but Tauck saw to it that it was a minor inconvenience. Our bags were left packed in our room, and when we got to our new ship and almost identical room, there were our bags. We give them a lot of credit for insuring we got to the places we wanted to see and minimized the inconvenience. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas; the crew was festive and jovial. The smaller ship made it easy to meet people and share information. Our tour directors were very knowledgeable and our city guides were very good, one, Markus, in Cologne, not only good but very funny. Tauck really has these trips down to a fine art. Transfers are on time, without making you feel rushed. The MS Grace had lovely spaces, a great dining room, a nice alternative casual dining spot, a huge lounge, and a great large walking deck up top with the hottest hot tub I have ever experienced. We felt like cherished guests our entire time on the ship. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The southern Rhine Christmas market theme cruise. Taking in Mannheim , Heidelberg, Strasbourg and Mainz. The excursions where add ons and needed to be booked as in most cases except for Strasbourg your where moored to far away and ... Read More
The southern Rhine Christmas market theme cruise. Taking in Mannheim , Heidelberg, Strasbourg and Mainz. The excursions where add ons and needed to be booked as in most cases except for Strasbourg your where moored to far away and all on the German side of the river. The excursion was not a guided one as all it was , was a transfer to a market with set time of collection. No guide no info no nothing. Unlike other cruise lines who try to get as close as possible to the centre town. Thus limiting your own access to the area. I expected it to be European but was totally German. No safety announcements even in English . Thank heavens for a Maître de and F&B manager who spoke English, in fact the crew where only to happy to speak English to us the only two English speaking on board a full cruise. The F&B manager went out of his way to ensure the daily info sheet left in the cabin was in English for us The Maître De even translated the menu ( again in German as well as our night at the chefs table which was fantastic and money well spent.) The entertainment was a disaster , with a themed cruise it would be more appropriate to have carols or pleasant Christmas songs in many languages and not some very tired aged singer from central Germany trying to do Robbie Williams each and every night. Hence the lounge did not see many people but the bar did. ( maybe that's the business plan all along) Sail aways where non existent and the Captain never hosted a table at all during the entire cruise or even a welcome or farewell party. Service in the dining room was excellent ( all Russian with a clear dominant older Russian in charge one way or no way attitude) I believe now with a British company taking over the line and some ships being made " international " hence English being spoken this could help but I think it is a long road ahead to catch up to the likes of AMAWaterways or Crystal . Will give the Arosa brand a wide berth for a few more years hopefully it improves. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We choose this cruise specifically because of the excursion to castle Neuschwanstein, the Bavarian castle which Disney modeled Cinderella's castle. The castle was great and beautiful in every way. I was disappointed that we felt so ... Read More
We choose this cruise specifically because of the excursion to castle Neuschwanstein, the Bavarian castle which Disney modeled Cinderella's castle. The castle was great and beautiful in every way. I was disappointed that we felt so rushed the whole day both getting there and the amount of time spent there. I would have liked to spend more time at the castle and then the village below. I came so far just to see this as the highlight of our trip, only to be rushed through. I don't understand why they couldn't have extended the time, its not like we had to be home at a certain time. It was a 2 hour bus ride there and back. After the tour we had to make a choice to eat lunch at one of the very quaint restaurants or go shopping. I chose the shopping and not eat. Also disappointing was we were supposed to visit King Ludwig's museum, only to find out all museums are closed on Mondays, the day we were there. Couldn't they have planned that better? Especially knowing its listed in the catalog as a stop we were to make. My husband and I have traveled before on river cruises. This cabin was by far the smallest, but we didn't really have a choice since this was the size of the ship's cabins. I felt like I was sleeping in a closet. The ship only has french balconies, no outside balconies, another feature I would normally prefer. The staff was very accommodating and friendly. The service was excellent and the food was also excellent and gave you a variety of selections, as well as wines and beers, all included. The cruise director was rather "flat", not much personality and I felt other than his talks in the lounge, didn't inform us on a day to day basis of the schedule. Yes, we received a program each night in the room, but there were still always unanswered questions which guests were always asking each other for the answers. Although the tours were interesting and informative, I felt the tour guides did a much better job on previous ships we have been on. We did really enjoy the two different occasions for just cruising and relaxing on board. They could have done a better job with entertainment, which was really non existent, except for a keyboard player each night. We would have really enjoyed some local authentic entertainment in some of the ports, or bring us to restaurants with entertainment. That was another disappointment for us. Again, there was good and bad, but all in all it was a memorable trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2016
We chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Christmas Markets and specifically because we had travelled with UniWorld on 5 previous cruises. We chose this particular cruise date because it coincided with our 45th Wedding Anniversary. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to visit Christmas Markets and specifically because we had travelled with UniWorld on 5 previous cruises. We chose this particular cruise date because it coincided with our 45th Wedding Anniversary. UniWorld decorated our state room with "candles", rose petals and a bottle of champagne. We did explore Cologne for two days prior to embarkation. Embarkation was effortless; as we arrived the ship's crew brought our bags immediately onboard. The SS Antoinette was magnificent: marble was tastefully incorporated throughout the entire ship; the draperies were exceptionally well color-coordinated to pieces of furniture; the chandelier in the main reception area was simply gorgeous; and the cuisine was 5-Star quality! Service was up to the standards that we had experienced on previous cruises. All of the staff attended to our requested and anticipated needs. The excursions were well-integrated with the Christmas Markets and the city tours. Superb guides, one of whom we had on a previous cruise. The musicians in the lounge added a very nice touch creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The swimming pool was excellent. The resistance jets added a wonderful challenge to our morning swim. The disembarkation was handled as smoothly as our arrival. The post-cruise extension at Les Trois Rois was of the same caliber of service as being onboard the SS Antoinette...including a view of the Rhine River from our room. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
I first provide a bit of personal context before reviewing because I was a reluctant cruiser and nearly cancelled the trip. There are things in life you are sure about. There are things in life that you are not sure about. Not terribly ... Read More
I first provide a bit of personal context before reviewing because I was a reluctant cruiser and nearly cancelled the trip. There are things in life you are sure about. There are things in life that you are not sure about. Not terribly profound. I was sure that I was not a cruiser. I like the freedom of being out and about. Not tied to a boat schedule and someone else's agenda. But when my sister asked me to join her running group for a Rhine River holiday cruise last year, I thought.... why not? Cruising down the Rhine River can't be a bad proposition. As Nov 2015 approached I started to feel some regret. Cruising is just not me.... I was also exhausted. It had been a crazy year up to that point from a work perspective. Projects I had undertaken required my travelling back and forth from Europe to Toronto (Brussels then back to Toronto; Paris then back to Toronto, interspersed with short trips to and from Philadelphia, Montreal, Ottawa, all within weeks of one another). Had it not been for the cruise, I was scheduled to fly to The Hague for yet another round of meetings. Enough already! I just wanted to stay still, stay home and get to the holiday season. The weekend before leaving for the cruise, Europe was on heightened alert. Attacks in Paris with the alert moving towards Brussels, with me scheduled to fly into Brussels first (then to Cologne to board the cruise) made me want to cancel the trip altogether. With a measured perspective and considerable thought, I decided to go anyway. We flew into Cologne and avoided Brussels altogether. Sometimes, what you're apprehensive about or reluctant to try is exactly what you need! I came home extremely relaxed. It was one of my best vacations! Here's why: Service, service, service-Cruising down the Rhine to see the holiday markets, quite frankly, is very mainstream and widely available. Many companies offer cruises with the same itinerary. So what is the differentiator? It’s the service, namely, the people! The crew, staff and management were outstanding in their balance of professionalism and appropriate sense of fun. Huge credit goes to the SS Antoinette's hotel manager Yann Roche (and his team); always present, a real gentleman, and infinitely friendly and courteous. The guests became the beneficiaries of Monsieur Roche's quiet leadership. Protocols must have been in place to ensure a smooth transition of duties. There were never any displays of anger or frustration from the team members; while expected, this could be difficult to achieve when you have discerning guests and the staff is basically required to work around the clock. Food Service-I would like to call out Emile especially for his friendliness and outgoing personality, always trying to please. He never missed asking the kitchen to prepare a fruit plate for me after every dinner (once he knew I preferred over a dessert)! Thank you, Emile. The servers were all friendly, efficient and worked well together (no sense of ‘this is not my table, I will get you your server’)! Svet was also extremely helpful and a joy to talk to. The food merits favorable comment. Always a good selection, always well prepared (except maybe one evening, the fish was a little over cooked), this cruise ship can boast a high end culinary offering. The little towns along the way of course were lovely. I enjoyed them all even though I had visited Lucerne and Strasbourg many years ago. Worth seeing again. The guided excursions were great but thought the groups were a little large. We could have benefited from more guides perhaps. I would also suggest that Uniworld consider offering to guests a 3k, 5k and 7k running map at every port for running enthusiasts. However, that may not be for the typical clientele for Uniworld. I don’t know. Entertainment-The nightly entertainment was fun whether in the lounge or the Leopard Lounge. I had fun dancing; definitely keeping my mind off work. So much so that when I returned to the office I had forgotten my password to get into my company email and network. That has never happened to me. That's testament to having had a great vacation! The Ship-Tastefully and thematically done à la 18th century French. Clean, bright and comfortable. Marie Antoinette herself may have preferred escaping to the SS Antoinette.... over Le Petit Trianon! There were comfortable common usage areas to relax, read or listen to music. We did not take advantage of the cinema on the ship. Security-I don’t know much about security on cruise ships but wanted to mention one incident and how the staff/crew handled it. I was very impressed. During one evening (after dinner), I was hanging out at the Reception area. A man from a neighboring cruise ship (docked further down from the SS Antoinette), slightly inebriated, walked in, persistently and eventually, more aggressively, asked to use the washroom. He was told that he could not and had to leave. The gentleman at Reception had to repeat himself 4-5 times and still no success. After the 5th time, a member of the ship’s crew (not the hotel staff) came out from behind and stood calmly beside this man and insisted on his departure. The man left. I felt safe on the ship needless to say. To the 'unsure' - If you're skeptical about cruises, before you say no, re-think, re-consider. You may be pleasantly surprised! It might be exactly what you need. Stateroom 206 Rhine River Holiday Cruise (Cologne to Basel) Nov 29-Dec 6 ’15" Read Less

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