Allyson Humber
Senior Travel Consultant, CTA
Tour and River Cruise Specialist
Toll Free:  800-935-2620 X 169
Direct:  281-269-2669
Fax: 281-269-2690
E-mail: allyson@affordabletours.com

My journey began with a non-stop flight from Houston to Amsterdam, arriving 9.20am on Sunday, March 29th.  After clearing immigration and gathering my luggage, I exited into the arrivals hall of Schiphol airport and immediately found the UNIWORLD representative waiting for me with a smile.  We then gathered other passengers who had arrived and within 15 minutes were on the bus enroute to our home for the next 8 days, the SS Antoinette.

Rooms would not be available until 3pm and UNIWORLD had prepared a light breakfast and lunch in their L’Orangerie Sky Lounge for those arriving early.  After breakfast it was down to the Grand Salon where I settled in with a book to wait for my room to be ready.  Coffee, tea and light snacks were available, as well as full beverage service from the bar staff while we waited to check-in.

At 3pm we were asked to visit the front desk to receive our room key and have our picture taken for security reasons.  I was escorted to my room and met my Room Stewardess, Jacklyn, who would be caring for me while I was on board.  I was in Room 331 on the La Duchesse Deck with 2 twin beds and a French Balcony.  The room was fantastic with a very comfortable bed, luxurious marble bathroom with towel warmer, pillow menu, ample closet space, in room safe, flat screen TV, slippers and a bathrobe.  After a long day I was pleased to find an abundance of hot water with strong water pressure in the shower and all the bathroom amenities needed to make this a very pleasurable start to the cruise.

The dining room, Restaurant de Versailles, was on the La Duchesse Deck so it was a short walk to breakfast and dinner each day.  Breakfast and Lunch buffets were plentiful with a variety of choices, and dinner was a different delicious treat every night.  Vegetarian choices were available at every meal and special attention was paid guests with food allergies or special diet requests.

The ship had a small Cinema which had film showings 3 times daily; an indoor swimming pool and a self-service laundry room with 3 washers, 3 dryers, an iron and ironing board (no charge).  Full laundry service was available for a fee.

The cruise itinerary included stops in Cologne, Koblenz, Boppard, Rudesheim, Gemersheim and Breisach Germany, with an included excursion in each location.  Additional excursions were offered to Heidelberg, Germany, Strasbourg and Colmar France.  The highlight and namesake of the cruise are the Castles along the Rhine and the morning spent sailing the Romantic Rhine Valley had magnificent photo opportunities at every turn.  Because we were touring the week before Easter most of the cities had special Easter Markets with local crafts and foods for purchase.  I had the opportunity to listen to choirs practice for Easter services in the various churches which was a special treat.  Rudesheim had a wonderful Christmas shop with many unique ornaments and Easter eggs which made for great gifts to bring home.  Of course, time was also spent doing as the locals do – eating pretzels and drinking beer.

We were scheduled to disembark in Basel on April 5th, but due to a winter storm that followed us down the Rhine we were unable to sail past Breisach because of high water.  At our disembarkation briefing we were told that UNIWORLD had arranged for buses to take us to the airport or train station in Basel and the only inconvenience was a departure 30 minutes earlier than scheduled.  We were given color-coded luggage tags, advised our scheduled departure time and the time our luggage needed to be in the hall for pick-up.

Very early on April 5th I prepared for the long journey home, put my suitcases in the hallway and went to the Salon for hot chocolate and breakfast pastries.  I took my hot chocolate up to the Sun Deck and listened to the bells of the local church announce the arrival of Easter Sunday.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful vacation.

I would highly recommend UNIWORLD to anyone wanting to take their first, or their next, river cruise.  The cruise price included all on-board beverages, including soft drinks, beer, wine and spirits (with a charge for higher-end spirits); all tips to onboard staff as well as local guides and drivers; and a daily shore excursion.  You won’t be disappointed.

Allyson Humber
Senior Travel Consultant, CTA
Tour and River Cruise Specialist
Toll Free:  800-935-2620 X 169
Direct:  281-269-2669
Fax: 281-269-2690
E-mail: allyson@affordabletours.com

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