SAIL AWAY WITH ME ON UNIWORLD’S S.S. ANTOINETTE
Greetings from the Netherlands. This was the next stop on our recent European holiday that started in beautiful Belgium. Today, as I continue to share with you our journey, I invite you to sail away with me on Uniworld’s S.S. Antoinette, one of the most innovative ships sailing on Europe’s rivers.
The S.S. Antoinette is Rhine River based, plying the waters between Amsterdam, Netherlands and Basel, Switzerland. We joined this “Super Ship” for her 7 day, “Castles Along the Rhine” voyage, which was listed by Condé Nast Traveler as a Top 11 Dream Itinerary.
Cruise Critic also named the S.S. Antoinette the “World’s Best New River Ship” shortly after her launch in 2011. These were 2 of the factors influencing our decision to select both the ship and the itinerary for our recent trip, feeling fairly certain that with these credentials she would not disappoint. It was an exciting day when we boarded the vessel and made our way to our suite #403, one of the 9 suites onboard.
As we entered the two-story foyer we would find our suite up one floor. Climbing the ornate staircase I couldn’t help but notice the 10-foot tall, Strauss Baccarat chandelier decorated with huge sapphires. This chandelier once hung in New York’s famous Tavern on the Green.
So come on in and let me show you around our 294 square foot stateroom.
Uniworld ships are known for their luxurious appointments and bold, spirited interiors. The 443-foot, 154 passenger, S.S. Antoinette was named after the daughter of Stanley Tollman, Chairman of The Travel Corporation, Uniworld’s parent company. His daughter, Antoinette “Toni” Tollman, also designed the interiors of the ship. Our lovely suite, decorated in shades of black, white and gray, featured a 4-Poster Canopy Bed and a handcrafted Savoir® of England mattress that was dressed in luxurious, super high thread count sheets.
There was an abundance of built in closet space, and a spacious sitting area with two velvet upholstered chairs complete with foot stools.
All Uniworld cruise fares, no matter what category of stateroom, include unlimited wine, beer and spirits. In addition to that, each suite also includes in-room spirits, artfully displayed in crystal decanters on a silver tray with cut crystal glasses. Another added touch was a fruit platter and cookie jar which were refreshed daily. While there was little time on our cruise for TV watching, our suite featured 3 televisions. There was the one you see below in the sitting area, another one mounted inside the canopy bed, and a 3rd TV was located on the fully enclosed balcony. A soft cashmere throw was a welcome addition since we were sailing in winter.
Just off the sitting area was a small balcony that, at the touch of a button, converted into a fully glassed-in conservatory. This was also a wonderful feature that allowed us to feel as though we were outside without having to endure the winter wind and cold weather. We made good use of the small table on the veranda during our afternoon sail-away at cocktail hour. It was decorated with a live orchid plant, a nice touch!
But let’s step back inside so I can show you the rest of the cabin, which included this area complete with our own Nespresso coffee machine. Since the 9 Suites onboard the S.S. Antoinette also included Butler Service, I asked ours to place milk inside our mini bar so that I could enjoy ensuite Cafe Lattes each morning. He also made sure to stock the fridge with fresh lime wedges, tonic water and my favorite brand of gin for our evening gin & tonic. There was also mineral water, wine and champagne at our fingertips. We did not want for a thing!
Now let me show you the spacious marble bathroom, a feature not often found on river boats. Plush towels hung on towel warmers, there was a backlit magnifying mirror (an absolute must for me), dual sinks, and the heated floors, cozy bathrobes & slippers made getting ready each morning a pleasure.
And the bath was stocked each day with Hermes bath and body products, including full size Hermes bars of soap. In addition to that our Butler showed up the first evening with a gift of 2 additional bars of scented soaps from Spain.
While our suite did not feature a bathtub, it did have a very spacious marble shower. They also supplied a hair dryer, an in-room safe, an iPod dock, an individual climate-control thermostat and a direct-dial telephone. We took advantage of the complimentary shoe shine & free laundry service included as a suite amenity. Those not in a suite had a self service laundry room available to them.
So now that you’ve seen our suite, let me take you down the hall to suite #406. This whimsically decorated stateroom also caught my fancy when making our booking for the cruise. Although I ultimately decided upon suite #403 with its cozy, 4-poster bed, it was difficult choosing between these 2 lovely suites, my favorites onboard.
Leopard prints were not only used in this suite, but could be found in a number of locales on the ship, including the stylish Bar du Leopard. It was here that we gathered every evening after dinner for a nightcap with fellow passengers. As is so often the case when cruising, one makes friends easily, and this cruise was no exception. We now count among our friends 2 couples from South Africa, a mother-daughter duo from Los Angeles, and a lively pair of Texans. Making new friends from around the world is one of the greatest joys of travel.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here with the nightcaps. It was actually here in the S.S. Antoinette’s Salon du Grand Trianon that we relaxed each afternoon after a long day of complimentary shore excursions. Our Cruise Director would give passengers the itinerary for the following day in this lounge, while we enjoyed cocktails complete with a trio of salty snacks.
Following the cocktail hour, dinner was served each evening in the Restaurant de Versailles. Most evenings we found ourselves at this table, even though there was no assigned seating. We were joined here by different couples throughout the course of the cruise, and made new friends over delicious gourmet dinners.
One evening we were invited to a special dinner served upstairs in L’Orangerie Sky Lounge. This very unique room, located on the upper deck of the ship, is actually a retractable room. Most riverboats use their upper decks as observation areas in good weather only. These decks usually have no furnishings taller than a removable lounge chair so that the vessels can fit under low-slung bridges. Not the case with the S.S. Antoinette. Her ceilings and windows on the upper deck collapse, allowing it to pass under low bridges. So, we were able to enjoy dinner in this all weather, heated (and cooled in summer) room perched high above the ship.
After first being introduced to the Executive Chef, the Pastry Chef, and the Sommelier, occupants of the suites were served a delicious, course-by-course dinner by our skilled Butlers.
The appetizer course consisted of a Jumbo Prawn, Prosciutto, a Vegetable Tartare & Smoked Salmon.
Next came a soup duo: Broccoli Cream and Vegetable Consommé. Delicious.
The 3rd course was a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Lobster & Saffron Oil. Are you hungry yet?
The main course was Beef Tenderloin with Bearnaise Sauce, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Steamed Vegetables.
It culminated with a dessert trio of Creme Brulee, Blackcurrant Cheesecake & Chocolate Panna Cotta with Tropical Fruit. Simply divine!
After dinner those not heading to the Leopard Lounge can take in a film, complete with popcorn in the S.S. Antoinette’s Le Cinema Pigalle, another feature unique to this ship. The 22-seat cinema even features Dolby Surround Sound and is decorated with vintage movie posters.
If you haven’t sailed on a riverboat before you may not know that few riverboats have swimming pools. However, on the S.S. Antoinette there’s a glassed-in pool with an adjacent spa.
So there you have it: UNIWORLD’S S.S. ANTOINETTE
In upcoming blog posts I hope you’ll sail away with me on the S.S Antoinette as we cruise the romantic Rhine River.
We’ll visit fairytale castles, medieval churches, mighty fortresses and historic cities. With Germany on one side of the river and France on the other, I’ll take you to ancient Cologne, picturesque Strasbourg, and the utterly charming villages of Alsace Lorraine.
We’ll dine on fabulous food and taste delicious wine at hundred year old wineries whose grapes are grown on the verdant hillsides that line the river Rhine. Hope to see you next time!
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All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Some of the photos in this post are via Uniwrold.com. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are the original property of www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.