1 Uniworld S.S. Antoinette Spa Cruise Reviews

This is my review. "Cruise Critic" June 2014 and other reviewers have already done pretty thorough reviews which I would recommend reading. I will try to keep my comments in the same format as the Cruise Critic article. SHIP ... Read More
This is my review. "Cruise Critic" June 2014 and other reviewers have already done pretty thorough reviews which I would recommend reading. I will try to keep my comments in the same format as the Cruise Critic article. SHIP Décor was a bit gaudy. When I think of Marie Antoinette I always think of her little hamlet where she played at being a shepherdess, rather than the glitter of Versailles. In any case, the ship named after her was always kept spotless and the brass and the marble gleamed. ROOMS We didn’t have a room with butler service, but it was still quite nice, with sliding glass doors to a verandah whose top window could be raised or lowered. There was a TV opposite the bed, and another in the alcove. While there were a variety of electrical outlets you might want to bring an extension cord with multiple outlets for whatever current your appliances use. SHORE EXCURSIONS Every stop offered at least one included tour, and sometimes more. There were also tours that cost extra, such as the one to the Black Forest or the one to Heidelberg. We took the tour to Heidelberg and it was good value. On a typical included tour, when we got off the ship, or out of whatever transport we took from the ship, the passengers would be split between several guides, who would communicate with us through the included VOX box. The guides tried to route their tours so that all the passengers on the ship weren’t in one big mob. If the destination was more than a short walk there were buses, and one time a miniature train, to take you from the ship to the destination. The free excursion in Strasbourg also included a guided tour on a canal boat. I would like to recommend that you do thorough research on the ports before leaving. Time on shore was severely limited, and there is no way you will be able to see everything in even a very small village, so you will have to decide what is important to you. The tours cover the high points, but you might, for instance, prefer to visit the chocolate factory in Cologne rather than the Cathedral. AFTER THE CRUISE IS OVER On the last morning of the cruise, depending on whether you are going to an airport, walking to a train station, taking a taxi, or getting on a bus for a post-tour extension, you are supposed to mark your luggage with a colored tag and label and put it outside your stateroom so that it can be taken off the ship and taken with you to your destination. DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IN YOUR LUGGAGE ANY TIME IT IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL. I found that out by to my sorrow when another guest apparently picked up my suitcase outside the ship in Amsterdam. The cruise director, Tony, and his assistant Nikolette, searched frantically for it, but it wasn’t found until we had already left for Paris. Since we were only staying two nights in Paris, they forwarded my suitcase to me in London, but I had some very worried moments without some of my prescription medication and no clothing except what I had on my back. ALCOHOL The ‘free’ drink choices seemed to be limited to red or white wine, and a pale beer. If you wanted something different there was an "additional charge" wine and mixed drinks list, but no other "additional charge" beers except Becks. At one stop in Germany my husband and I stopped by a supermarket and picked up some beers we hadn’t tried before. I’m afraid more than one passenger had a problem with “all the wine and beer you can drink.” I was guilty of this myself on the previous river cruise, so I tried to limit my drinking on this one. HOUSE KEEPING No problems. Our housekeeper was there when we needed her, but kept out of the way other times. WIFI As the cruise critic reviewer has noted, the Wi-Fi worked better in the lounge area of the ship. IN ROOM ENTERTAINMENT Lots of options on the TV, including music channels – when I got really lazy I could turn on the camera view from the front of the ship and sit in the alcove with the window open so that I could see in two directions . There was only one glitch here – they stopped offering movies some time after the ship sailed from Cologne. LAUNDRY There were only three washers and three dryers for over one hundred passengers. I don’t know what I would have done if everyone had decided to do their laundry at the same time. EXERCISE ROOM, STORE, LIBRARY, SPA, POOL The ship store was only open a few hours a day, so I never saw it open. The exercise room was small but well-equipped and the pool looked very nice, I think it is very decadent to sit in a pool in the back of an elegant ship while you cruise down the river. I never used the Spa facilities. The library seemed to consist of a few shelves of books near the pool, and a lot of ‘coffee table’ and reference books scattered around the lounge area. You might want to bring a good book and donate it after you’ve read it. The ship also offers the loan of Nordic Walking sticks and bicycles for you to borrow in port. If you want to borrow a bicycle you should practice a lot at home first. I saw one tourist cyclist fall head over heels in Hyde Park when we were in London. ENTERTAINMENT Although we are not night owls, what we saw of the entertainment was very good. There were also some interesting lectures in the lounge during the day, and once a demonstration of how to make Black Forest cake. DINING Every meal offered many options, including a vegetarian choice. I would have to say that the cooking was top-notch here, and I have to applaud the food preparation staff. The wait staff was excellent. One night when I didn’t see anything on the menu that appealed to me and our waiter said I could have a roasted chicken breast, instead, and it was quite good. I should also note that I had written that I had a shellfish allergy, and one of the staff came and checked with me before meals with lobster or shrimp to make sure I didn’t order anything with shellfish in it by mistake. The dining room was open seating, so that you are not forced to sit with someone you don’t like. Most of the time the dining room was pretty noisy with all the conversations, but I noticed that it was possible to find a table with few or no other passenger if you weren’t feeling particularly social. On ocean cruises my husband and I had, after a few episodes of being glared at by people wearing evening dress, chosen to eat outside of the main dining room during “Captain’s Welcome” and other gala occasions. It wasn’t possible to eat somewhere else on the river cruise, so I would recommend bringing something that looks a little bit dressy (not the shorts and the crop top, please) for the formal dinners. CREW The crew was busy night and day. I hope they got enough sleep. They took care with everything, from unloading the garbage, to making sure that the ropes on the side of the gangplank were secure and steps were in place before passengers were allowed to cross. TIPPING Although tipping is included, I saw another passenger handing out small envelopes in the lounge. I left something for our housekeeper, and you might want to leave praise and/or reward for anyone you found particularly helpful. WHAT TO TAKE: Uniworld has provided good information in the “Before you go” brochure they furnish (this is also online). Other things to consider: Maps: My husband has a smart phone without a data plan, so he downloaded maps through a “Maps for Me” app. The ship does provide nice paper maps of most shore destinations, but it would be useful to set up your phone or camera so that you could tell where you were in relation to the paper map. If you remember to activate the GPS on your camera, you will also be able to figure out where the shots were taken when you get back home. Portable Umbrellas: It will probably rain at some time during your trip. We had some scattered rain in August, and I read another review where it was reported that there was heavy rain, wind, and hail in November. While the ship provides umbrellas in the staterooms and near the exits, it is a good idea to have a small portable umbrella with you any time you leave the ship. DO NOT BUY THE CHEAP UMBRELLAS YOU SEE AT SOUVENIR SHOPS. We bought two of them, at different times, and neither survived the trip. Over the Counter Drugs: My husband has had ‘travellers’ disease’ twice over the years, so I took the advice of my HMO and brought powdered Pedialyte with us, as well as printed instructions on what to avoid and what to do if he got sick again. We live on the West Coast, so I also took and brought melatonin as a possible remedy for jet lag, and it seemed to help a little. Prescribed medication: I keep my medication in the original bottles, and I also bring at least one week’s more than I think I will need, in case we are delayed. Taking Pictures: I used my IPhone 5S to take snapshots, but I think I will use my Nikon camera in future, because it gives me more options. Clothing: If you planning on going directly to the ship, and flying back immediately after the cruise, you can probably fit a week’s worth of clothing in a large suitcase with no problem. Because we still had almost two weeks’ of travelling ahead of us, and would be using public transport, I packed things that could be washed and dried overnight if I couldn’t find a laundry. Before the trip I tried washing and drying everything that way, and some of the ‘no wrinkle, quick drying’ tops I bought from an expensive online store did not fare as well as some of the Foxcroft blouses I bought at a thrift store. ExOficio and sporting goods stores were also places I found clothing that could be washed and dried overnight. Credit Cards: My credit union does not yet offer the smart card technology used in Europe, so I got a smart card through another bank for the trip. Based on our own and other travellers' experience, it is also a good idea to take more than one credit card with you because it is annoying to have to spend half a day getting your credit card company to fix things so that you have money to spend. …………….. My cruise experience: I have taken several ocean cruises, including a transatlantic crossing when I was a toddler. My husband and I have taken only one extended river cruise, on the Rhone and Saone,in 2011. This was part of a 12-day Provence to Paris tour with Elderhostel and the ship was Croisi-Europe. Our small group was only part of a group of multi-national passengers. We chose this current itinerary and cruise line because it was the only one we could find that would fit the week we had available before the rest of our vacation. I’m glad we did, but it was a rare luxury for us. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
S.S. Antoinette Ratings
Category Editor Member

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