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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"

Rhine Holiday Markets SS Antoinette; Fantastic Experience!

S.S. Antoinette Cruise Review by HellofromToronto

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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"
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Cabin Review

Cabin 206
The cabin was small but extremely tastefully done, clean and comfortable. I had a roommate and we both had enough room for our luggage and our purchases!
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews