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This was the first cruise for our party of four. We traveled with close friends and both couples were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. We flew into Basel a day early and stayed at Hotel Spalentor, right outside the historic gate to the old city. This was a reasonably priced hotel with large, modern, clean rooms and a nice breakfast included. It was easy to walk throughout historic Basel from the hotel. I think the pre-cruise guests stayed at the Hotel Les Trois Rois, which was spectacular with lovely Rhine views, but more than twice the rate we paid. We checked out of the hotel on Sunday and arrived at our dock in Basel around noon. The area near the dock isn't particularly pretty but there were several other boats docked there as well. Check in was easy and our room (Room 416 - Balcony) was already ready. The room was nice, quiet, comfortable, a little small, but well thought out with plenty of storage. We stored our suitcases under the bed and we were good for the week. There is a safe in the closet for your valuables. The bathrooms are an adequate size with a drawer to store toiletries. There is a hairdryer in the drawer. Some of the toiletries (body wash) were in a larger pump container attached to the shower. There are several outlets in the room that are adapted to US standards. Housekeeping did a great job tidying up, leaving little gifts and refilling the chocolate jar. Overall the ship was lovely. The chandelier in the entry is impressive. We particularly liked the Salon du Grand Trianon (lounge area, bar and entertainment) and the Leopard Bar, which was pretty lively the nights it was open. Dinner was very good with plenty of entree options. Everyone was seated around 7:00. People were friendly and felt comfortable joining our foursome. We made a point of sitting in Vladimir's section every night. He was very personable and enhanced our dining experience. It was my friend's birthday the first night (I had mentioned it when sitting down at our table) and he brought a birthday cake out without being asked. A featured entree was offered every night, which was always a good choice. Wine flowed freely. I saw french fries (a weakness), somewhat hidden on the menu, and made the table jealous when I ordered them (twice). Ice cream (rumored to be home made) was popular with our group for dessert. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with plenty of healthy options. They had an omelet station for breakfast that made my husband very happy. We just showed up during buffet hours and there were plenty of open seats since guests arrived at different times and didn't linger. The men in our group enjoyed massages with Doris in the spa. She was trained as a Physical Therapist which was reassuring since my husband had a sprain he was recovering from. The pool area was hardly used but it would be a nice place to read a book. Every aspect of service was outstanding. Every staff member we encountered was friendly and helpful. Most excursions were included and Uniworld provided at least two options each day. They also offered a third option on a few days for an additional fee. The guides were great and our headsets worked well. Every morning, you need to remember your head set and your boarding ID, which is swiped when you exit and enter so they can account for everyone. For excursions, we chose: Day 1: Alsatian Village tour - We visited two story-tale, picture perfect villages. We had a little time to shop and taste some Riesling wine. If you are into Christmas, you'll find the opportunity to shop at a number of Christmas ornament shops throughout the week. Day 2: We chose a walking tour of beautiful Strasbourg, visited the cathedral, stopped for lunch and explored. We had more free time here since some some passengers went on to visit the Black Forest. They seemed to enjoy the tour (which was extra) but we decided we didn't want to take a long bus ride. Day 3: We went to the Dokforenhof Vinegar Cellar for a lecture on vinegar making and a tasting. It was an unusual experience that I would recommend. We bought a package of all 5 vinegars tasted. It's pretty heavy so you might want to pick just one or two of your favorites. There was an option to stay and take a gourmet cooking class with our charismatic guide (at his house) around the corner for an extra fee. We chose to visit Heidelberg (also an extra fee) which was a highlight of our trip. We visited the castle with our entertaining guide, Lauren, and had a short walking tour of the town. Heidelberg has a different vibe since it's a university town. My only regret is not staying in town for dinner. We could have taken a taxi back to the dock. Other passengers just enjoyed afternoon time on the boat. Day 4: We went to the Castle Vollrads for a Riesling wine tasting. It was beautiful, a little early for wine for me, but I rallied. We also went into Rudesheim, another charming town and tried a famous Rudesheim coffee (more alcohol). They also offered a morning hike that I was very tempted to switch to but both options were great. The afternoon was the trip highlight, sailing the Rhine Gorge and enjoying the Castles. We were thrilled the low waters did not affect us. It was a little cloudy and cool but a wonderful afternoon! We stayed in the town of Boppard for dinner (where the boat was docked) just to take a break from the main dining room. A great day! Day 5: We visited Marksburg Castle - supposedly the only castle never conquered and destroyed. Others biked from Boppard to Koblenz. We spent some of the afternoon exploring Koblenz and attended the Captain's Farewell Dinner in the evening. Day 6: Cologne - We had a short walking tour en route to the cathedral, which holds the remains of the three Magi. We climbed the steps to the top of the Cathedral (about 5 euros). However, I had to turn around since it is a narrow, winding stairway where you had to hug the wall on the right walking up, since others are walking down on the left. So if you are a little claustrophobic, or not in great shape, this might not be the best option for you. The remainder of the trip was sailing to Amsterdam. Although all tips are included in the price, we did leave something extra for our server at dinner and housekeeping. Since we are new to river cruising and Uniworld, we really didn't know what was appropriate. After the cruise, we stayed a few days in Amsterdam at a wonderful airbnb along the Brouwersgracht Canal. It was immaculate, well decorated, stocked with goodies, and perfect for two couples. FYI - tickets for Anne Frank and the Van Gogh Museum need to be purchased online. They start selling 2 months ahead of your desired date for Anne Frank. We also visited the Rijksmuseum, Vondel Park, the Dutch Resistance Museum and took a canal cruise. General observations about the cruise: We are in our mid to late 50's and were probably among the younger third of this group of passengers. However, we weren't the youngest. The older guests were fun, interesting and physically fit for the most part. A number of guests enjoyed the lounge for post dinner drinks and dancing. The live entertainment was low key and fine for a smaller ship but I think it would have been fun to have a DJ one night playing music from a range of decades. The more intimate Leopard Lounge was fun to visit the nights it was open. We enjoyed a heated game of Trivial Pursuit with our new friends. Guests dressed casually for breakfast, lunch and touring (jeans, shorts, leggings, khakis). At dinner, most dressed up a little more, like you would if you were dining at a nice restaurant with friends. On the Captain's dinner nights, about 2/3 of the men wore jackets (not ties) the first night and less the second. I wore wrinkle free, sheath dresses several nights and other nights pants with a nice blouse. My personal taste for decorating is more modern. However, I found the S.S. Antoinette to be elegant, charming and "old school" in a good way. The 7:00 dinner seating encouraged but did not force you to make new friends. Overall, people on this trip paid for a high end experience, often close to a year in advance, and wanted to have a good time.

Wonderful time on the Rhine!

S.S. Antoinette Cruise Review by skinnylegs

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was the first cruise for our party of four. We traveled with close friends and both couples were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. We flew into Basel a day early and stayed at Hotel Spalentor, right outside the historic gate to the old city. This was a reasonably priced hotel with large, modern, clean rooms and a nice breakfast included. It was easy to walk throughout historic Basel from the hotel. I think the pre-cruise guests stayed at the Hotel Les Trois Rois, which was spectacular with lovely Rhine views, but more than twice the rate we paid.

We checked out of the hotel on Sunday and arrived at our dock in Basel around noon. The area near the dock isn't particularly pretty but there were several other boats docked there as well. Check in was easy and our room (Room 416 - Balcony) was already ready. The room was nice, quiet, comfortable, a little small, but well thought out with plenty of storage. We stored our suitcases under the bed and we were good for the week. There is a safe in the closet for your valuables. The bathrooms are an adequate size with a drawer to store toiletries. There is a hairdryer in the drawer. Some of the toiletries (body wash) were in a larger pump container attached to the shower. There are several outlets in the room that are adapted to US standards. Housekeeping did a great job tidying up, leaving little gifts and refilling the chocolate jar.

Overall the ship was lovely. The chandelier in the entry is impressive. We particularly liked the Salon du Grand Trianon (lounge area, bar and entertainment) and the Leopard Bar, which was pretty lively the nights it was open. Dinner was very good with plenty of entree options. Everyone was seated around 7:00. People were friendly and felt comfortable joining our foursome. We made a point of sitting in Vladimir's section every night. He was very personable and enhanced our dining experience. It was my friend's birthday the first night (I had mentioned it when sitting down at our table) and he brought a birthday cake out without being asked. A featured entree was offered every night, which was always a good choice. Wine flowed freely. I saw french fries (a weakness), somewhat hidden on the menu, and made the table jealous when I ordered them (twice). Ice cream (rumored to be home made) was popular with our group for dessert. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with plenty of healthy options. They had an omelet station for breakfast that made my husband very happy. We just showed up during buffet hours and there were plenty of open seats since guests arrived at different times and didn't linger.

The men in our group enjoyed massages with Doris in the spa. She was trained as a Physical Therapist which was reassuring since my husband had a sprain he was recovering from. The pool area was hardly used but it would be a nice place to read a book.

Every aspect of service was outstanding. Every staff member we encountered was friendly and helpful.

Most excursions were included and Uniworld provided at least two options each day. They also offered a third option on a few days for an additional fee. The guides were great and our headsets worked well. Every morning, you need to remember your head set and your boarding ID, which is swiped when you exit and enter so they can account for everyone. For excursions, we chose:

Day 1: Alsatian Village tour - We visited two story-tale, picture perfect villages. We had a little time to shop and taste some Riesling wine. If you are into Christmas, you'll find the opportunity to shop at a number of Christmas ornament shops throughout the week.

Day 2: We chose a walking tour of beautiful Strasbourg, visited the cathedral, stopped for lunch and explored. We had more free time here since some some passengers went on to visit the Black Forest. They seemed to enjoy the tour (which was extra) but we decided we didn't want to take a long bus ride.

Day 3: We went to the Dokforenhof Vinegar Cellar for a lecture on vinegar making and a tasting. It was an unusual experience that I would recommend. We bought a package of all 5 vinegars tasted. It's pretty heavy so you might want to pick just one or two of your favorites. There was an option to stay and take a gourmet cooking class with our charismatic guide (at his house) around the corner for an extra fee. We chose to visit Heidelberg (also an extra fee) which was a highlight of our trip. We visited the castle with our entertaining guide, Lauren, and had a short walking tour of the town. Heidelberg has a different vibe since it's a university town. My only regret is not staying in town for dinner. We could have taken a taxi back to the dock. Other passengers just enjoyed afternoon time on the boat.

Day 4: We went to the Castle Vollrads for a Riesling wine tasting. It was beautiful, a little early for wine for me, but I rallied. We also went into Rudesheim, another charming town and tried a famous Rudesheim coffee (more alcohol). They also offered a morning hike that I was very tempted to switch to but both options were great.

The afternoon was the trip highlight, sailing the Rhine Gorge and enjoying the Castles. We were thrilled the low waters did not affect us. It was a little cloudy and cool but a wonderful afternoon!

We stayed in the town of Boppard for dinner (where the boat was docked) just to take a break from the main dining room. A great day!

Day 5: We visited Marksburg Castle - supposedly the only castle never conquered and destroyed. Others biked from Boppard to Koblenz. We spent some of the afternoon exploring Koblenz and attended the Captain's Farewell Dinner in the evening.

Day 6: Cologne - We had a short walking tour en route to the cathedral, which holds the remains of the three Magi. We climbed the steps to the top of the Cathedral (about 5 euros). However, I had to turn around since it is a narrow, winding stairway where you had to hug the wall on the right walking up, since others are walking down on the left. So if you are a little claustrophobic, or not in great shape, this might not be the best option for you. The remainder of the trip was sailing to Amsterdam.

Although all tips are included in the price, we did leave something extra for our server at dinner and housekeeping. Since we are new to river cruising and Uniworld, we really didn't know what was appropriate.

After the cruise, we stayed a few days in Amsterdam at a wonderful airbnb along the Brouwersgracht Canal. It was immaculate, well decorated, stocked with goodies, and perfect for two couples. FYI - tickets for Anne Frank and the Van Gogh Museum need to be purchased online. They start selling 2 months ahead of your desired date for Anne Frank. We also visited the Rijksmuseum, Vondel Park, the Dutch Resistance Museum and took a canal cruise.

General observations about the cruise:

We are in our mid to late 50's and were probably among the younger third of this group of passengers. However, we weren't the youngest. The older guests were fun, interesting and physically fit for the most part. A number of guests enjoyed the lounge for post dinner drinks and dancing. The live entertainment was low key and fine for a smaller ship but I think it would have been fun to have a DJ one night playing music from a range of decades. The more intimate Leopard Lounge was fun to visit the nights it was open. We enjoyed a heated game of Trivial Pursuit with our new friends.

Guests dressed casually for breakfast, lunch and touring (jeans, shorts, leggings, khakis). At dinner, most dressed up a little more, like you would if you were dining at a nice restaurant with friends. On the Captain's dinner nights, about 2/3 of the men wore jackets (not ties) the first night and less the second. I wore wrinkle free, sheath dresses several nights and other nights pants with a nice blouse.

My personal taste for decorating is more modern. However, I found the S.S. Antoinette to be elegant, charming and "old school" in a good way. The 7:00 dinner seating encouraged but did not force you to make new friends. Overall, people on this trip paid for a high end experience, often close to a year in advance, and wanted to have a good time.
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