Erin Peters explains how the journey on the SS Antoinette enhances the destinations this beautiful Uniworld ship visits.
First impressions of the SS Antoinette had been grand. The imposing lobby with its crystal chandelier and gleaming marble was matched by the opulent beauty of the other spacious public areas. My stateroom was utterly delectable with exquisite furnishings and finishes, a marble bathroom and an open-air balcony that moved up and down with a touch of a button meant I wouldn’t miss a minute of the passing parade along the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam.
So far, so fantastic and that was just the first day.
But it was breakfast on the second morning that I knew this was going to be a journey to remember.
After explaining the intricacies of the vast breakfast buffet in the Restaurant de Versailles, Tomas, the waiter who had served me lunch after I had boarded, said he would get me my coffee. And that’s exactly what he placed in front of me – my perfect coffee – a double shot latte with a smidgen of froth in a small cup. It was just as I had asked him for the day before.
Tomas remembering my preference for a latte showed a level of detail and care that I came to learn is at the heart of all Uniworld’s experiences, be they on board or on shore, and which deliver to its guests a profound sense of the countries.
To give you an example, on the day after we sailed past the Black Forest, the Chef and his staff turned the elegant I’Orangerie Sky Lounge into a mini kitchen and took us through the steps of making our own Black Forest cake. (They also served us huge slabs of cake with Champagne afterwards. Unspeakably delicious.)
As you might expect given we were sailing up the Rhine, Rieslings featured strongly on the wine list. The sommelier and his staff were deeply knowledgeable about the variety but, above all else, were keen to ensure what we drank, Riesling or not, was the right choice for us.
Menus changed daily in line with where we were on the river. Pan-fried fillet of river perch served in a light Riesling wine sauce was one of the options for dinner after we had spent an afternoon at Schloss Johannisberg, the standout winery in the Rheingau region. The fish had been delivered to the ship that afternoon, as it is Uniworld’s practice to use local produce.
Anyone uncertain about eating fish straight from the Rhine would have had their fears allayed by a lecturer from the University of Koblenz who not only took us on a an historical journey down the Romantic Rhine but explained how stringent ecological measures had returned clean water and fish to the Rhine.
Each evening during cocktail hour in what was perhaps my favourite space, the luxuriously comfortable Salon du Grand Trianon, our cruise director would detail what the coming day held and our options for exploring the new destination. This presentation meant there was no chance that you would end up doing something you didn’t like or wasn’t appropriate for your fitness level.
Despite the level of activity I still found time on the eight-day voyage to have a splash in the pool, catch a movie in La Pigalle, the first theatre on any river ship, indulge in the spa, and do yoga every morning. I didn’t bother with the gym but can report I looked inside and it’s got a lot of great equipment.
Which might explain why I disembarked in Amsterdam a kilo heavier but with a deep sense of life on the Rhine and its towns and villages, thanks in no small part to what I discovered on board the SS Antoinette.
The SS Antoinette embarks on the Castles Along the Rhine and the Rhine Holiday Markets itineraries. Click here to view the full range of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises or contact your Travel Associates consultant for more information.