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jpalbny

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

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sanantoniogirl58, welcome to CC! Thanks for reading and I hope you made it to work on time. CC can be addictive... Lots of information there. You will have a great time on your cruise and no matter how much you read about it beforehand, it's even better to be there. The Rhine Gorge is amazing - hope you have nicer weather than we did that day.

 

Buck1949 - found an Android app called Skyro that records voice memos. It geotags the memos with your phone's GPS, and also timestamps them. Should come in handy. We'll see how it goes.

 

Sounds like a plan. Speaking of which... I assume that works with your data plan. If you use it out of the country, bet that could cost a few $$$...but would be great in the US tho. While I have an Apple...I am sure there is something similar. Hope it works well for you !!

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Sorry for just getting back to you now. Yes, we decided on this cruise for October!

 

Thank you for the invaluable daily schedule. Im not really a morning person on vacations, but now I can prioritise which days to have an early day!

 

Did you use the bikes provided often? My husband is a cycling fanatic and was hoping the bikes are good quality.

 

Enjoy your next cruise:)

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Sorry for just getting back to you now. Yes, we decided on this cruise for October!

 

Thank you for the invaluable daily schedule. Im not really a morning person on vacations, but now I can prioritise which days to have an early day!

 

Did you use the bikes provided often? My husband is a cycling fanatic and was hoping the bikes are good quality.

 

Enjoy your next cruise:)

 

I know I am not the one your question was directed to....but I can tell you that the bicycles were surprisingly well received by many passengers during our cruise. There was almost always 4 or 5 being used at every port stop. In fact 2 men grabbed the bikes, and at one point along our cruise....they pedaled along a path to the next port, where our ship was traveling. We honked and waved at them along the shore.

 

Also...it is tough to prioritize what you want to do, and if you are like we were, we just did not want to miss anything. In fact, we sometimes took 2 tours while in port... Morning and afternoon, in order to take in the vast amount of scenery !!!

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Buck1949, thanks for answering. We have never taken the bikes... Though they do seem to get some use. We just never have gotten around to it!

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Just found this thread last night by accident. WOW!! Read till I couldn't keep my eyes open, finished this morning. Couldn't put it down! Can't believe how much wonderful info I have gained from this one thread. Really appreciate the links from other posters also, that are helping me with research for our late April 2016 Viking cruise from Basel to Amsterdam. Our first ever river cruise, going with 2 other couples and looking forward to a great time. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions in the next few weeks, but am so excited right now that I can hardly think of ALL THE OTHER WORK I HAVE TO DO(!!) before I can really concentrate on this cruise.

 

JP, I loved your pictures and narrative. So easy to read and follow, and the pictures were so clear. Felt like I was right there.

 

I know everyone has their favorites, but can any of you share why you use your particular river cruise line?

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I know everyone has their favorites, but can any of you share why you use your particular river cruise line?

 

We have been on 9 river cruises, 5 with AMA who is now our favorite.

 

What makes them our top choice is the quality and variety of food; the warm and wonderful crew and staff; the good included wines; the nice variety of included excursions; the twin balcony staterooms; the well designed top deck; the overall attention to detail. We really enjoyed our theme cruises with AMA and have found a diverse demographic on our cruises with them, which we prefer.

Edited by caviargal

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wandb, thanks for reading the thread, and glad that you found it helpful.

 

It's been my feeling (from reading these boards) that many people book their first river cruise, go and have a really good time, and then stick to that line. Nothing wrong with that. Others switch lines until they find a good fit. Uniworld encourages repeat customers by offering (small) discounts to prior guests - I suspect other lines offer incentives to get repeat business as well.

 

When we started looking at river cruises we picked lines seemingly at random, based on what was available and what itinerary looked good and what dates were available. In retrospect, that wasn't particularly smart, but live and learn. A river cruise is an expensive trip to choose willy-nilly.

 

We had a booking on Viking in 2012, but canceled when a half-price deal for Egypt with A&K fell into our lap; that was too good to pass up. We booked Avalon for the next year, but got canceled a few days prior to sailing when the June 2013 flood of the millennium hit. Luckily, we booked Uniworld in 2014, largely because (1) we could use timeshare points through II to reduce the cost, and (2) they offered AMEX Platinum benefits - so it was a good deal, and (3) we actually looked a little more closely at the various lines, and thought Uniworld would be a better fit for us based on the type of ocean cruise we like. And as an extra bonus, we actually got to SAIL this time!

 

We ended up really enjoying the high level of service, the small uncrowded ships, the enjoyable décor (sorry, caviargal :D), the very good food that closely reflected the areas through which we traveled, the all-inclusive drinks which included local wines and beer. Our CD was a sweetheart; we still keep in touch with her - in fact, we met up with her a few months after the cruise on another trip to Germany, to have coffee and cheesecake at her house.

 

So, we're booked again on Uniworld next year. I am sure that there are other lines that would provide an equal experience, perhaps even better. AMA gets rave reviews from posters here and from friends. Tauck sounds lovely as well; so does Scenic. Each of these lines has its strong proponents on these boards and I'd be happy to try any of them if I had unlimited time... It's great to have all these nice choices.

 

Please feel free to ask any questions about the stops along the Rhine; happy to help you if I can.

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Just found this thread last night by accident. WOW!! Read till I couldn't keep my eyes open, finished this morning. Couldn't put it down! Can't believe how much wonderful info I have gained from this one thread. Really appreciate the links from other posters also, that are helping me with research for our late April 2016 Viking cruise from Basel to Amsterdam. Our first ever river cruise, going with 2 other couples and looking forward to a great time. I'm sure I'll have lots of questions in the next few weeks, but am so excited right now that I can hardly think of ALL THE OTHER WORK I HAVE TO DO(!!) before I can really concentrate on this cruise.

 

JP, I loved your pictures and narrative. So easy to read and follow, and the pictures were so clear. Felt like I was right there.

 

I know everyone has their favorites, but can any of you share why you use your particular river cruise line?

Wandb

Lots of info on the Viking Rhine Getaway on the 2015 shared roll call. It might help for your 2016 planning. There are also some great picture reviews for the Viking Rhine Getaway. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1952390

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Wandb

Lots of info on the Viking Rhine Getaway on the 2015 shared roll call. It might help for your 2016 planning. There are also some great picture reviews for the Viking Rhine Getaway. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1952390

 

That is exactly where I found this fantastic thread---on page 2, as a link in one of your posts!!!:):)

 

Plan to continue reading the 2015 shared roll call as time permits. First have to finish Cousins Camp---4 grandchildren for the next 10 days! After July the 4th I will be on line constantly, researching places to go.

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That is exactly where I found this fantastic thread---on page 2, as a link in one of your posts!!!:):)

 

Plan to continue reading the 2015 shared roll call as time permits. First have to finish Cousins Camp---4 grandchildren for the next 10 days! After July the 4th I will be on line constantly, researching places to go.

Fantastic. At least you have a year to research! I have spent almost a year doing so myself and these photo reviews were so helpful. JP did a great job!:)

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JP and Chris Thank you for your thoughtful travel journal...it has been fun and helpful to read! :)

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Hi JP and Chris. Not sure if you are still following this thread, but hope so! In the wonderful photo review of your Rhine Castles cruise on Uniworld, you spoke of your time in Lucerne, and mentioned the hotel you stayed in, but did not name it. I have read in reviews (Trip Advisor, I think) that the hotel we are staying in also has its entrance down a side alley and was a bit hard to find. Wondering if you happened to also be in the Hotel Zum Weissen Kruez. If so, I'd love to ask you a couple of questions about it.

 

LOVED your photo review on your Rhine Castles cruise. Ours is less than 3 months away, and I am giving that link to everyone in the group we are cruising with!

 

Barb

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Yes, still following along, and nice to know that people still enjoy this blog.

 

We stayed at the Renaissance by Marriott in Lucerne. Your hotel is on the opposite bank of the river. How will you be arriving in Lucerne, and how do you plan to get to the hotel? It looks like it would be an easy 1/2 km walk from the train station.

Edited by jpalbny

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Yes, still following along, and nice to know that people still enjoy this blog.

 

We stayed at the Renaissance by Marriott in Lucerne. Your hotel is on the opposite bank of the river. How will you be arriving in Lucerne, and how do you plan to get to the hotel? It looks like it would be an easy 1/2 km walk from the train station.

 

That is one of the questions I have. Four of us (2 couples) would have no trouble with the walk from the train station, and that was the plan from the beginning. However, we have two ladies traveling with us (in their 80's) and I'm not sure if they will want to walk that far with luggage (even though we are all "traveling light"). Since our hotel is in the historic old town, which is a no car zone, how do folks get to their hotels? Are taxis allowed to drop folks off---or maybe at least get them closer than the train station?

 

Thanks for any insight you might have on this. Have not yet contacted the hotel about this. It seems my Cruise Critic friends always come through with the info I need!

 

Barb

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I'd definitely contact the hotel. If I were doing this, I'd walk from the train station. IME, taxis are allowed into most old parts of town to do hotel dropoffs and pickups, but best to know in advance.

 

Can't help much with the trains, as both of our Lucerne visits were via car.

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From the hotel's website:

 

 

Arrival by train – Main Station

 

As soon as you leave the railway main station, you are only a few steps away from the Hotel zum Weissen Kreuz. After crossing the very first bridge, called "Seebrücke" please turn left and follow the river until shortly before the "Town Hall Brewery". On your right you will find the entrance to Badergasse and therefore the Hotel entrance.

 

 

 

In order to simplify the arrival, you will find several taxis right in front of the railway station. ( 3-5 minutes to the hotel)

 

The site goes on to say that cars *are* allowed to drive to the hotel in order to pick up or drop off guests. So you should be all set.

 

http://www.altstadthotelluzern.com/Location/Location/Location?nav=4,19&lang=en

 

We have walked from the Bahnhof area to the Rathaus Braueri, and can confirm that (1) even a Braueri is ridiculously expensive in Switzerland, and (2) it's not far. :)

Edited by jpalbny

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JP and Chris and others. Our favorite cruise line is Silversea, but we've traveled on some of the other brands (small ships) as well. Tried a river cruise from Bucharest to Budapest a couple of years back on Viking and hated it. It felt like a bus tour on the river and would never sail with Viking again for various reasons. But we are thinking of trying a river cruise again with another line. How would the experience of Uniworld compare with Silversea. And would AMA or Scenic compare favorable with a Silversea experience? I am enjoying this thread so much and all the great photos so thinking of taking a chance on another river cruise. Thanks for sharing.

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JP and Chris and others. Our favorite cruise line is Silversea, but we've traveled on some of the other brands (small ships) as well. Tried a river cruise from Bucharest to Budapest a couple of years back on Viking and hated it. It felt like a bus tour on the river and would never sail with Viking again for various reasons. But we are thinking of trying a river cruise again with another line. How would the experience of Uniworld compare with Silversea. And would AMA or Scenic compare favorable with a Silversea experience? I am enjoying this thread so much and all the great photos so thinking of taking a chance on another river cruise. Thanks for sharing.

 

Our favorite cruise line is Crystal which is bigger than Silversea but would be in par in terms of service. We did our first river cruise last October. We choose Uniworld. It had its pros and cons. But the most notable complaint we had was the 1 dining venue for dinner. It was tiring to have a long drawn out dinner every night. Some days we just wanted a quick bite. Luckily, we were in town a few evenings so we were able to do this. The quality of food was above average. A few superb dishes and a few misses. In terms of service, they were very good but not as personalized as Crystal. It being a small boat. Many of the staff had to double up on duty serving other purposes in the boat. The entertainment could be better.

 

But on the other hand, the cruise director was excellent. The cabins were beautiful and designed very well. TV/ entertainment system was excellent. The staff very friendly and welcoming. And I loved the fact that you didn't have to plan any tours. It was all taken cared of depending which you wanted to do. During disembarkation; they just call a cab for you and not make money on any of the transfers.

 

Crystal starts it river cruises this July. I would look into it. Haven't seen if they have many dining venues at night.

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JP and Chris and others. Our favorite cruise line is Silversea, but we've traveled on some of the other brands (small ships) as well. Tried a river cruise from Bucharest to Budapest a couple of years back on Viking and hated it. It felt like a bus tour on the river and would never sail with Viking again for various reasons. But we are thinking of trying a river cruise again with another line. How would the experience of Uniworld compare with Silversea. And would AMA or Scenic compare favorable with a Silversea experience? I am enjoying this thread so much and all the great photos so thinking of taking a chance on another river cruise. Thanks for sharing.

 

I can only speak to my experience on Uniworld (never having taken a river cruise with anyone else) but our experience was probably the best in regards to comparing the service and quality of any hotel/restaurant/staff we have ever encountered to Uniworld. We have several friends that have taken Uniworld and are also repeat customers. The SS Antoinette, only has a capacity of around 160 passengers, so I guess it would be a bit difficult to offer more than one dining experience in the evening. Interesting that we found the time relaxing - with most going to the lounge to listen to music, and have a drink before retiring for the evening. The days are pretty well packed with things to do.....

 

From war stories I have heard both here and from friends regarding Viking, I think I share your sentiment.

 

Anyway...as I qualified my posting .... Uniworld is the only one I tried...but found it OUTSTANDING !!! Interestingly our travel agent also mentioned her favorite River Cruise line...and yep Uniworld was it !!

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The original is 2 years old. But you will notice many recent postings to the thread - even as of yesterday !!! In fact the OP posted here a little over a week ago. Info is still applicable I believe.

Edited by Buck1949

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JP and Chris and others. Our favorite cruise line is Silversea, but we've traveled on some of the other brands (small ships) as well. Tried a river cruise from Bucharest to Budapest a couple of years back on Viking and hated it. It felt like a bus tour on the river and would never sail with Viking again for various reasons. But we are thinking of trying a river cruise again with another line. How would the experience of Uniworld compare with Silversea. And would AMA or Scenic compare favorable with a Silversea experience? I am enjoying this thread so much and all the great photos so thinking of taking a chance on another river cruise. Thanks for sharing.

 

Hi APFBarb, thanks for your question.

 

We have done a number of SS cruises and find that Uniworld compares favorably. It's (nearly) all-inclusive, except for some optional tours. Great service from the staff, IME. These qualities will remind you of luxury ocean cruising.

 

The differences you'll find are related to dining. We find the food of similar quality, but options are more limited. Some Uniworld ships offer alternative dining a few nights during the cruise, where you have to sign up in advance. We haven't tried it yet, but it sounds nice.

 

The food and included wine is local, which is a great thing IMO. There won't be as much variety as you'd find on a SS ship but we've never been wanting for something nice to eat or drink. The food is fresher, as they reprovision frequently along the way. And they will grab local delicacies to serve onboard which is nice.

 

AMA receives high marks as well from a number of CC posters and I'd try them some day if the itinerary fits. Caviargal or someone else can correct me if I'm wrong but I think that the two main differences are that drinks are only included at meals, and that AMA seems to include more tours than Uniworld. Some also say that AMA has better food.

 

I've never sailed Viking but I've read the boards here for a few years and it does not generate a favorable impression. I suspect you'll like a river cruise with a more luxurious line a whole lot more. Look at Scenic and Tauck as well; they have devoted followers here on CC and it's for a good reason, it seems.

 

Also, see the sticky at the top of this thread where they compare river lines to comparable hotels and ocean cruise lines. Viking would be considered by most to be a downgrade from SS.

 

Regarding your comment about a bus tour, remember that you do NOT have to take any of the ship's tours. You are free to do your own thing. Just let the staff know in case they have to contact you to return early. Ships sometimes move unexpectedly.

 

Hope you find a cruise that you enjoy!

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Our favorite cruise line is Crystal which is bigger than Silversea but would be in par in terms of service. We did our first river cruise last October. We choose Uniworld. It had its pros and cons. But the most notable complaint we had was the 1 dining venue for dinner. It was tiring to have a long drawn out dinner every night. Some days we just wanted a quick bite. Luckily, we were in town a few evenings so we were able to do this. The quality of food was above average. A few superb dishes and a few misses. In terms of service, they were very good but not as personalized as Crystal. It being a small boat. Many of the staff had to double up on duty serving other purposes in the boat. The entertainment could be better.

 

But on the other hand, the cruise director was excellent. The cabins were beautiful and designed very well. TV/ entertainment system was excellent. The staff very friendly and welcoming. And I loved the fact that you didn't have to plan any tours. It was all taken cared of depending which you wanted to do. During disembarkation; they just call a cab for you and not make money on any of the transfers.

 

Crystal starts it river cruises this July. I would look into it. Haven't seen if they have many dining venues at night.

 

Glad you came back to share your perspective. Just wanted to ask a question about the dining. On our last two Uniworld cruises, they had an alternative dinner menu a few times during the week, served in a small venue. Was that offered on your sailing?

 

One trick we found to have a quicker dinner is to sit near the entryway of the main restaurant. Usually, everyone else passes by looking for a better table. So we'd end up with a table for 2, leading to faster service. Still not fast, but not slow and drawn-out.

 

Regarding the fact that there is only one dining venue, that may be due to the size of the ship limiting available space, and is probably not unique to Uniworld. River boats can't be any bigger than they currently are, otherwise they wouldn't fit through the locks.

 

So adding a reasonably sized second dining venue, and the galley space to support it, would necessitate removing something else. If passenger cabins were removed, that would cut revenue and possibly raise the price point. I suspect the lines don't want to risk that.

 

It will be interesting to see how Crystal compares to the current luxury options. Hope to hear about your experience, should you go.

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RE: alternate dining, lest I bring up the despised (by some) Viking name, but don't the longships have an area in the bow of the ship that serves lighter (and presumably) quicker lunches and dinners?

 

There have been postings from folks who mentioned they ate there several times because they wanted something quicker and lighter than the drawn-out dining room fare?

 

Now if one wants multiple fine dining venues, then maybe a river cruise is not for you?

 

Haven't done a river cruise yet (will when I retire in 1.5 yrs) but religiously read these boards.

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Glad you came back to share your perspective. Just wanted to ask a question about the dining. On our last two Uniworld cruises, they had an alternative dinner menu a few times during the week, served in a small venue. Was that offered on your sailing?

 

 

On our Budapest to Amsterdam Uniworld cruise last summer, they offered a chef's table once each week - all you had to do was sign up for one of the 20 places. It was held up on deck (we were on the River Princess and River Empress due to a ship swap because of low water) in the area right behind the bridge while the ship was sailing. The setting was lovely, the service impeccable, and the food outstanding.

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