SS Antoinette River Cruise Blog Day 1
Our flight was just over an hour from Gatwick to Basel, and after making sure we left the airport on the Swiss side, we were greeted by a Uniworld River Cruises representative and were soon on the bus for the short 15 minute transfer to the ship.
It was dark by the time we arrived, and the SS Antoinette looked beautiful moored alongside the dock with her lights on. The porters took care of our luggage and we preceded up the gangway to board the boat.
As we entered on deck four, a 10-foot Baccarat chandelier with huge sapphires, which was originally hung in New York’s Tavern on the Green, greeted us. On each side of the deck there were sweeping twin staircases descending down to the reception desk. It all added up to create a very ornate and spectacular first impression. The ships décor has been designed by Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, godmother and namesake of Uniworld’s River Beatrice, and President of Uniworld’s sister company the award-winning Red Carnation Hotel Collection. It is described as "like stepping into France’s Château de Versailles during the late 18th century" well, it is certainly very ornate, and in the brochure looked a tad chintzy, however once onboard it looks very elegant and sophisticated.
We made our way to reception and handed over our passports in return for our cabin key-card. Check in was a breeze, and we were then escorted to our cabin - number 423 on Princess Deck. This cabin is a category 1, and is the highest grade other than the suites.
The room was decorated in white and blue, with padded walls (yes padded!) covered in a patterned fabric that was also the same pattern as the heavy drapes leading to the balcony. The balcony area was very novel, as it has a sliding glass window that descends at a touch of a button. This enables you to use the area like a regular balcony space, or raise the window to create an extra indoor space - very innovative and perfect for inclement weather or cruising in winter to the Christmas markets.
There was a choice of pillows (duck, lumbar support etc) and the beds were super comfy. A flat screen TV was attached to a large mirror-wall and below this was a small shelf with a clock/ipod dock, ship information books, a glass bottle of water and 2 plastic bottles of water for excursions. To one side, opposite the balcony were the wardrobes, housing the safe and draw units. Bit of a problem - the right hand wardrobe door hit the beside table, and then in turn you couldn’t access the drawers - bit if a design fault there!
The bathroom was spacious, with a really great shower, ample draw/storage space and L’Occicitane en Provence bath and body products. There were mirrors everywhere, creating a light and airy ambience, and allowing you to check the back of your hair!
We did feel the cabin was a tad small, but practical and comfy nonetheless.
After a safety briefing and talk by the cruise director, captain, and hotel manager it was time to unpack and get ready for dinner
The dress code on board is smart-casual, so no jackets required in the evenings, apart from the Captains night, and most people seemed to adhere to this, with some more casual than smart, but then it was the first night.
Dinner was served in the Restaurant de Versailles, tastefully decorated in tones of green and white, with tableware and linens to match. Food was tasty and inventive, and inspired by the locality of the ship. The complimentary wines were excellent and free flowing. When it came to desert I noticed there was no cheese selection on the menu, however I requested it from our waiter and he brought over a fine selection, complete with crackers, walnuts and grapes!
After dinner we retired to the main lounge - Salon du Grand Trianon - to listen to the ships pianist. We had left our dock now and the SS Antoinette was well under way -a very smooth sail and we couldn’t even tell we were moving - one of the many pluses of a river cruises - no ships motion!
This is the main lounge onboard and offers panoramic views of the river, and you can access the forward deck just below the bridge from here too.
After a night-cap it was off to bed - ready for Breisach
SS Antoinette River Cruise Blog - Day 2 »
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SS Antoinette River Cruise Blog - Day 7 »