Ooh la la! The magnificent Uniworld river cruise ship S.S. Catherine hit me with the wow factor from the moment I stepped on board. Right from the start, all the hype from the inspirational Uniworld Brochure came to life and exceeded all my expectations, exuding luxury and elegance.
The background to the reception desk was a beautiful, white artistic porcelain mosaic. In the nearby foyer area stood a stunning Murano Venetian Glass Horse and eye-catching chandelier – just extraordinary. From our first casual inspection and wander round the ship, the boutique S.S. Catherine communicated a bespoke design feel – style, quality, grandeur and French charm.
Although she was built in 2014, everything on the S.S. Catherine is in immaculate condition, and it feels as if the ship was built yesterday. All is so clean and sparkly –every mirror gleams, every hand rail shines.
The staterooms all have a rich, plush, elegant feel and are artistically decorated in a very European French style. Even though the space is compact, the cabins accommodate everything you could wish for and more.
There is ample drawer and cupboard space - everything is so well thought out for storage with the convenience of the suit case fitting under the beds. The cabins all have good soundproofing.
The king-sized bed is deliciously comfortable, with its high quality linen and soft, cosy European down duvet. You can choose from a selection of pillows offered on the pillow menu.
The cabin featured a French Balcony with a small table and two chairs. The French Balcony is a fantastic design - the window and mosquito net on the balcony were remotely controlled, so with just the press of a button, your room becomes al fresco. All cabins on the river cruise are outside – no inside cabins like that of an ocean cruise ship.
The lavish marble bathroom had many indulgent features, such as plush towels, luxurious Monarch Cypress bathrobes and comfortable slippers. The spacious adjustable shower gave instant hot water and the pressure was excellent.
The large Sun Deck runs the full length of the S.S. Catherine top deck, with plenty of deck chairs for guests and some shaded canopies.
The panoramic elegant Van Gogh Lounge Bar was the larger bar that could accommodate all guests. The daily briefings and special guest lectures and demonstrations were held in this lounge and by night it was transformed into with a pianist and singer. The second full service Bar was the chic Bar du Leopard. This was a more intimate space at the back of the ship, with very stylish decor.
On each guest deck, the corridors are decorated with uniquely beautiful artwork. There are pieces from famous artists including Picasso, Chagall and Kandinsky and several distinctive South African artworks. All the common areas of the ship are an art lover’s paradise.
Wine and dine
The stunning Cezanne Restaurant is the only onboard eatery, and although there was just one dinner sitting, it was all pleasant and not cluttered. There were large windows so we could appreciate the magnificent views of Europe that drifted past.
The style of cuisine was a mixture of French and Western flavours with a farm-to-table focus.
Breakfast was buffet style and there was a huge variety of gourmet food; from cereals and fruit to an egg station where you could order to your preference.
All the dinners projected a wow factor. On regular nights, we were served five courses and for the two gala dinners, this increased to nine courses. The menu was a la carte with usually two to three selections for each course. The wine offerings were carefully chosen to reflect the area and complement the meal selection. Every dinner served met the standards of any award winning restaurant.
There was always something interesting to do and see onboard the S.S. Catherine. The entertainment has a cultural focus, so we enjoyed demonstrations such as silk printing and crepe Suzette cooking and lectures from guest speakers on Van Gogh and lavender.
The ship boasts a small Gym & Fitness Centre and a petite heated pool, and yoga is offered daily.
Probably the aspect that most impressed me about Uniworld was the dedicated, personalised, attentive service from every single staff member. The crew definitely wanted your cruise experience to be special and simply amazing. No request was too small or large.
Just walking from my stateroom to the restaurant or bar, I would be greeted by at least five staff members, and often by name. The gorgeous room maid Monica chatted daily with me, and went above and beyond to help find a lost earring in my cabin.
Dinner waiters would remember to include your favourite bread rolls in the basket selection. Our wonderful breakfast waiter Demi was quite a character and endeared himself to all guests with his dry sense of humour.
The incredible service from Uniworld staff contributed to an unforgettable journey unlike anything I have experienced in my many years of travel.
- All images courtesy of Uniworld
Contact your local Travel Associates advisor and find out about our range of luxury Uniworld packages aboard the dazzling SS Catherine