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jpalbny

Uniworld, SS Antoinette – Basel to Amsterdam 3/30/14 on Tape Delay

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Wednesday 4/2 - An afternoon in Heidelberg:

 

Our tour was one of the optional (€59 extra) tours offered at this stop. It was about a 45-minute bus ride, otherwise it was similar in quality and intensity to the included tours. Not sure why this particular one was extra vs. included, but as it used up some OBC that we wouldn't have known what to do with, no problem for us.

 

I'm going to jump around a little here; the pictures won't be in chronological order but in my mind they make a little more sense this way.

 

This first set of pictures is an overview of the town - scenic shots from various points. First, the view of town and the Neckar River, from varying spots on the hill where the castle is located - what a beautiful day for a view:

 

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Now the other direction:

 

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This damn tourist won't get out of Chris' way! If any of you are curious about the Quiet Vox system that Uniworld uses for tours, I'm wearing it around my neck; it's the white box to the left as you look at this picture. It has an earpiece that goes in your left ear, and you keep the same unit throughout the whole week (it fits into a charger base that's in your stateroom).

 

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Let's switch gears a bit and show you the castle from the University Square part of the city - notice that it's such a hodgepodge of different styles:

 

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And finally, a few shots of the town and castle from the Alte Brucke - it's beautiful! After this, I'll go back in some sort of order to describe the tour:

 

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4/2 Wednesday - Heidelberg Castle Tour:

 

We started with a visit to the ruins of the castle which is situated on a hill outside town. The bus took us most of the way up and we walked a few minutes to the entrance. This gate was built as a birthday gift for then-17 year old Elizabeth Stuart, from her husband:

 

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Some detail of one of the other entry gate towers:

 

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Most of the castle is incompletely repaired, but the varying styles of architecture are nicely done and it must have looked amazing in its day!

 

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They have a huge wine barrel that holds 58,000 gallons – and was only filled twice. Apparently it leaked and the wine wasn't all that good either! It's so big that you can walk around on top of it, and the railing that you see is surrounding a decent-sized dance floor! Nonetheless, Chris tried to bring it home with us:

 

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There's a Pharmaceutical museum on the grounds which is interesting as well, but no time to really get much out if it. We were pretty surprised to find this in an otherwise empty castle!

 

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Wednesday 4/2 - Heidelberg City Tour:

 

Back to the bus to the main town, where we get a little walking tour from our guide to orient us, and then we're on our own for almost 2 hours. They have a huge shopping street and (of course) another cathedral, but we're looking for something different so we visited the Student Jail and Museum of Heidelberg University.

 

Apparently, in the old days, the University was its own entity separate from the town. Therefore, the local police couldn't jail the students, but they were turned over to the University to be dealt with. The University would confine them for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of their offense. After the first 48 hours of bread and water, they could receive visitors who'd bring them real food – sounds cushy! In their time of confinement the students decorated the walls quite thoroughly:

 

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Here is one of the rooms with simple furniture, and steel cots. I think I remember reading that they had to rent bedding or bring their own. On the far wall, there is a plaque where the students would put their pictures - kind of like a wall of fame; apparently, spending time in the prison became a sort of status symbol for the students:

 

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The University's museum was interesting as well; especially the history of how they were affected by WWII. Many of the professors were fired by the Third Reich for not conforming with their ideology, and though some were rehired after the war, many had left the country by then and were lost for good.

 

Afterwards, we enjoyed some nice views from the Alte Bruke, and decided to get a local beverage – beer for me and Riesling for Chris, and a pretzel for good measure.

 

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This was one strange statue, by the Alte Brucke - definitely not traditional art! I saw some tourists sticking their face into the hollowed-out area behind the face, and using it as a mask - kind of a gross way to take a selfie:

 

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We finished just in time to catch the bus – then back to the ship for another nice dinner. We really enjoyed Heidelberg and we were glad that we had chosen to come on this optional excursion.

Edited by jpalbny

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Fabulous review and pictures! We are planning on doing the reverse itinerary next year. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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JP, thanks for all the pictures and the time you took out of your vacation to post.

 

We will be on the same voyage, first week of June. Hope the weather will be as nice as what your pictures show.

 

Is there optional excursions we shouldn't miss? Or just selective excursions to not miss?

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We boarded as you exited! Amsterdam to Basel on the splendid SS Antoinette. Lovely to see your pictures, and I suspect if we compared, we'd have 90% of the same ones. :)

 

We did discover it sometimes helped not to take the number for a guide the next day, and just look for a smaller group with an interesting-looking guide. We also discovered if you take #6, you generally get the smallest group. A good tip for slower walkers.

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Great pictures. What type of camera? I decided not to take a camera. I have been using my I Pad and camera phone. You did a terrific job! I am not that good with photography. We are leaving June 29 same ship and itinerary. Thanks so much for all the info..

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Fabulous review and pictures! We are planning on doing the reverse itinerary next year. Thanks for sharing your experience!

 

JP, thanks for all the pictures and the time you took out of your vacation to post.

 

We will be on the same voyage, first week of June. Hope the weather will be as nice as what your pictures show.

 

Is there optional excursions we shouldn't miss? Or just selective excursions to not miss?

 

Thanks, bandito and carefreecruise. I hope you enjoy your cruises as much as we did! The weather is about to get a little less pleasant from here on out, but it still was a great time! It was such a treat to get bright sunshine and 70 degrees in March...

 

I would never be able to post this much detail while actually on a trip - what I do is write a trip log while we're actually traveling, then expand it and add pictures once I'm home. Otherwise, we wouldn't have time to enjoy the trip!

 

We enjoyed all of our excursions, more or less. The Speyer one was our least favorite, mostly because it was not the most efficient use of our time. We did two optional excursions; Heidelberg which was quite nice, and Marksberg Castle (details forthcoming) which was OK - would have liked more time exploring the castle proper. People spoke highly of the Black Forest tour.

Edited by jpalbny

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We boarded as you exited! Amsterdam to Basel on the splendid SS Antoinette. Lovely to see your pictures, and I suspect if we compared, we'd have 90% of the same ones. :)

 

We did discover it sometimes helped not to take the number for a guide the next day, and just look for a smaller group with an interesting-looking guide. We also discovered if you take #6, you generally get the smallest group. A good tip for slower walkers.

 

So glad you enjoyed the ship too! How was your cruise director? Ours, Hildegard, exited the ship as we did - in fact, we were with her for the transfer to the airport. But she spoke highly of her incoming replacement.

 

Did the weather improve after you left Amsterdam?

 

Great pictures. What type of camera? I decided not to take a camera. I have been using my I Pad and camera phone. You did a terrific job! I am not that good with photography. We are leaving June 29 same ship and itinerary. Thanks so much for all the info..

 

Cameras... An interesting subject! We had both been without cameras since both of ours got wet and ruined in a downpour in the Darien Jungle (Panama) on our last cruise in October. I used to have a nice DSLR which was getting to be a pain to lug around. We couldn't decide what to replace them with but we knew we wanted something smaller.

 

Chris got a Sony HX50V which is pocket-sized and has a killer zoom (30x). I still couldn't decide what to do so finally, the day before we left, I picked up a Nikon AW120 waterproof camera just to have something to bring with me. It's only a 5x zoom so pretty good for landscapes, but I never worried about getting it wet!

 

It's tiny and unobtrusive - it's the little orange camera hanging around my neck in the picture at Heidelberg Castle. The images are surprisingly good for such a tiny camera! I'll probably get something else for the long-term.

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Got2Cruise, cruisinskier, H2Otstr, rrhound, and DrivesLikeMario - thanks for your kind comments and for following along!

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Great photos and review. Thanks so much. Being a pharmacist, I would have loved to have toured that pharmaceutical museum!

We're doing a Danube cruise, beginning very soon!

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Thursday 4/3 – Rudesheim and Boppard

 

The town of Rudesheim is the Southern end of the scenic Rhine gorge. Our itinerary for today is pretty busy – we'll start in Rudesheim, have a few morning activities, then cruise north along the scenic Rhine gorge for the afternoon, arriving in Boppard for the late afternoon and evening.

 

A late morning today as we don't have to be ready for tour until 9:00. The ship is docked about ½ mile out of town but they have sent a little train to pick us up and take us into the town center! The scenery along the Rhine is pretty this morning as we set off for town:

 

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On the way, we get a narrated tour of some of the highlights of the town which was a nice overview. We have a little free time to wander before the bus picks us up at 10:00 for a wine tasting tour outside of town.

 

There's some vineyards on the edge of town, as well as a castle and a wine museum. In the distance, you can see the chairlift, which leads to a nice viewpoint at the top of the hill overlooking the city and the river. Unfortunately, it didn't start running until 9:30, and we had to be on the bus by 10:00! So, no way to do this - a shame.

 

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Rudesheim looks like a great place to visit – there are Biergartens and Winegartens everywhere, though at 9:30 AM they are pretty empty - from the pictures, they know how to have a good time!

 

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There's even a nice-looking hotel in the center of town. I think we'll have to come back for another visit!

 

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Too soon, back to the bus for the wine tasting at Castle Vollrads. This was nice; the setting was beautiful and the wines were tasty. We started outside:

 

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After that we moved inside for a combination castle tour with two other stops for wine tasting. I liked this breakfast nook:

 

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We had some free time afterwards to enjoy the beautiful spring surroundings:

 

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After that, back to the ship for lunch and some scenic cruising - we're finally going to see the scenic part with castles all around! We have been exercising our necks so as to not get whiplash... :)

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I have really been enjoying your photos and your review. We will be doing this cruise in reverse in September of 2015. We have sailed on Uniworld River Beatrice from Budapest to Passau. The WIFI was only good in the lounges. And even there, the connections were spotty. How was it on the Antoinette?

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I have really been enjoying your photos and your review. We will be doing this cruise in reverse in September of 2015. We have sailed on Uniworld River Beatrice from Budapest to Passau. The WIFI was only good in the lounges. And even there, the connections were spotty. How was it on the Antoinette?

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Hi JP,

Looks like we are just following you this year. After the Uniworld Antoinette, first week of June we will be boarding the Cloud at Athens October 31st. Maybe we will pass on the gangway? We are just off the Wind three weeks ago and hope the Cloud has been redone as nice as her. Looking forward to any live posts from the Cloud…

 

I know you have answered this somewhere else, but I am trying to put quality pictures in my posts and the best I can do is place the link to my Dropbox. It just is not as slick as putting the actual picture in the post. Could you send me to a PK class or a link to follow, getting me up to speed?

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Thanks for the comments. I will try to get the Rhine Gorge pictures up soon...

 

whatnot, the ship's WiFi worked everywhere we tried, even in our stateroom and while we were ashore standing next to the ship.

 

Jazzbeau, no need - they weren't offering any Weissbier!

 

carefreecruise - sorry we'll miss you! We have not been on the Cloud since her refurb, but have heard good things about it from other CC regulars.

 

Posting pictures in the middle of a review is convoluted but you are on the right track. You don't put the picture in per se, you post a link to the picture itself, which is uploaded elsewhere. I don't know how / if it works in Dropbox, but I use Picasa web albums and I know that works.

 

Have to get to work now but there is a thread somewhere on the Carnival boards that goes over this in detail, with specific instructions. If you can't find it by searching, let me know and I'll try to find it for you.

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Hi JP,

 

I know you have answered this somewhere else, but I am trying to put quality pictures in my posts and the best I can do is place the link to my Dropbox. It just is not as slick as putting the actual picture in the post. Could you send me to a PK class or a link to follow, getting me up to speed?

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/faq.php?faq=vb3_reading_posting#faq_vb3_attachments This link on cc provides a couple of options for uploading your photos.

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Thanks for answering the WIFI question. So glad it was very good! That was probably one of our biggest issues with our River Beatrice Danube cruise last year. Otherwise we loved Uniworld.

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Thanks for answering the WIFI question. So glad it was very good! That was probably one of our biggest issues with our River Beatrice Danube cruise last year. Otherwise we loved Uniworld.

 

The WiFi on our AMA Rhine cruise was also good throughout. The problem you had may be with the Danube topography.

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4/3 - Rhine Gorge - Castles on the Rhine!

 

This part is the highlight of the trip and it didn't fail to amaze us. Though the weather was a little more cloudy and cooler than we would have preferred, this 20-mile stretch of the Rhine was one castle after another, each accompanied with its own cute small town.

 

Right outside of Rudesheim was the Niederwald Monument, commemorating the 1871 unification of Germany. There is a Germania statue on top:

 

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Next was the town of Bingen with its Burg Klopp - a small castle - just wait!

 

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Our first castle is Burg Ehrenfels - destroyed by the French, it is owned by the State, but looks a bit of a fixer-upper... Apparently, it has a grape varietal named after it - the Ehrenfelser grape. We've never tried it:

 

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Next is Burg Rheinstein, which is beautifully restored and in an amazing setting - built into a piece of protruding bedrock, and towering over the surrounding hill. It reminds us of the way Mont-St-Michel was built, at the top of a peak of stone.

 

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This castle was not destroyed by war, but was abandoned in the 1500s and decayed, then was rebuilt in the 1800s by Prince Frederick of Prussia. It's now privately owned and apparently can be visited; sign us up! But please don't make us stay in the prison - you can see the steel cage hanging from the tower!

 

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This really looks like a place we'd like to visit again some day, as a land-based tour so that we could take tours of some of the castles. It's beautiful sailing by, but it would be even better to explore the castles from the inside too. But we're just getting started!

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The castles kept coming fast and furious! Every few minutes, we'd see a new one. The history of how they were built, destroyed, and rebuilt was amazing. Even though they all look so old, most of them were rebuilt in the 1800s after being destroyed in the late 1600s during the War of the Palatine Succession.

 

Next up was Burg Reichenstein - first built over 1000 years ago in a seemingly beautiful location - restored in the 1800s, it's now a hotel and restaruant: http://www.hotel-burg-reichenstein.de/castle-germany/index.html

 

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But when you pan out, you wonder why they built this beautiful castle so close to an RV / trailer park!

 

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Every once in a while between castles, we had a second to glance at the river gorge and enjoy the scenery - lots of river traffic today:

 

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But make it quick, before you miss the next castle, Burg Sooneck:

 

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Do you see the observation platform way up above the castle? That looks like a great place for a zip line... Here's another shot of the castle from a different angle:

 

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Sorry about the poor lighting this afternoon. Lots of glare! It gets better later in the day.

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