Classy AntoinetteMay 13, 2011 By: Susan Young Travel Agent
|Antoinette is the longest cruise ship plying European rivers.|
Head for either the top or the bottom of Uniworld’s newest European river boat, the 164-passenger S.S. Antoinette to see just how far the river cruise industry has progressed in developing its onboard product. This amenity-laden river vessel certainly appeals to a much broader client base than any new river ship launched in the last few years.
Atop the ship, a sparkling pool awaits. Ringed by comfortable loungers, this covered aft structure has a skylight, wall mosaics and a stunning view to the water below. The smell of fresh flowers wafts through this spa-like area, with a massage room just steps away.
On the lowest public deck, movie buffs chow down on popcorn while watching their favorite flick in Le Cinema Pigalle, the river cruise industry’s first dedicated 20-seat movie theater with Dolby surround-sound.
A Trend Setter
At 37.5 feet wide and 443 feet long, the S.S. (Super Ship) Antoinette is the longest plying European rivers.
Upon boarding, all eyes can’t help but gravitate to the ship’s spectacular 10-foot, blue sapphire Baccarat chandelier. Now the centerpiece of Antoinette’s two-story atrium, it originally hung in New York’s famous Tavern on the Green restaurant.
Quality oozes from this ship. Designed by Antoinette “Tony” Tollman, the ship has rich appointments, 18th-century French design and a comfortable country estate feel.
Honeymooners definitely will feel they are sailing on a luxurious vessel with fine appointments. Brazilian marble adorns Antoinette’s atrium walls and floors, and a 19th-century Venetian glass mirror graces the area above the reception desk. Yet, the overall design isn’t stuffy.
Decorated in a palette of cream, greens and touches of blue, the comfortable Salon du Grand Trianon features multiple seating areas, full bar service, fine fabrics and cozy nooks. This lounge’s panoramic windows create just the atmosphere for sightseeing in style.
Antoinette also has an upscale shop, a fitness center with the latest equipment and floor-to-ceiling river views, and a guest laundry. The top deck also features plenty of comfortable loungers with plush cushions and umbrellas, as well as shuffleboard and a humongous chessboard with life-size pieces.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner is open seating in the upstairs Restaurant de Versailles. Expect elegant white tablecloths, glass bowls with fresh cut tulips or other flowers, candlelight service at night, and attentive wait staff. Lunch and breakfast are buffet style, while dinner is table service with cuisine that reflects the best of Europe.
For those couples who enjoy a late night cocktail, the Bar du Leopard (or Leopard Bar) is an intimate lounge with animal print decor and jungle-like touches. It’s atop the ship.
Accommodations are found on three decks. Most staterooms measure 196 square feet, quite roomy for a river vessel; 20 staterooms are 163 square feet. Eight suites are more spacious at 294 square feet and the top-of-the-line Royal Suite is 391 square feet.
The lowest La Countesse deck consists of staterooms with a long, rectangular window across the top of the sea-facing wall. While those are certainly nice accommodations, honeymooners and those celebrating a wedding anniversary should opt for accommodations with better views delivered by electronic technology; those are found on the middle La Duchesse deck or the upper La Princesse deck.
The La Duchesse deck boasts French balconies. Guests just push a button in their cabin to lower the glass and convert the floor-to-ceiling windows to half-glass, half-open ones. Adjacent to the windows are two upholstered chairs and a table—perfect for a couple to sit, converse, enjoy the fresh air and take in the scenic views up close, all in the comfort of their private accommodations.
La Princesse deck accommodations take that concept to an even higher level. This deck has actual walk-out private balconies with upholstered furniture; the balconies convert to glass-enclosed conservatories at the push of an electronic button. So rain or shine, honeymooners and couples have the views on demand.
All staterooms and suites boast handcrafted Savoir of England beds, draped in fine linens. Staterooms on La Duchesse deck, for example, have two French-style sitting chairs with a table between them. Two end tables and lamps flank the beds.
The separate marble bathroom has a shower compartment with rainforest showerhead and a strong water flow. Bath amenities are by L’Occitane en Provence.
Staterooms also have a desk area with a mirror backdrop, tucked away along one wall. There is a small stool, but no light for writing. Above the desk is a wall-mounted flat-screen TV viewable from both the chairs and the beds. The ship has multiple types of electrical plugs for an international clientele.
Complimentary bottled water is provided in all guest accommodations. Guests may access Wi-Fi for an additional fee. Staterooms have direct-dial phones and hair dryers. Nine suites have additional amenities and butler service. The Royal Suite has a king bed but all other suites have queen beds.
Itineraries and Inclusions
Homeported in Amsterdam, the Antoinette has European officers and crew. Through November 13, it sails seven-night “Castles along the Rhine” cruises between Basel, Switzerland and Amsterdam. Later in the year, it also sails seven-night “Rhine Holiday Markets” between Basel, Switzerland and Cologne, Germany.
Uniworld’s inclusive fares pay for, among others, all meals onboard, complimentary European wines, choice of beer and soft drinks during dinner, bottled water in the stateroom, and complimentary 24-hour specialty coffee and tea bar.
On Antoinette’s “Castles along the Rhine” itinerary, for example, the fare also includes six shore excursions hosted by English-speaking local guides and use of Quietvox portable audio headsets, as well as use of bicycles during port calls and the signature lecture on this itinerary, “The European City from the Middle Ages to the Present.”
Guests will also be treated to the captain’s welcome gala and farewell dinners in addition to an “Epicurean Adventurer Program” that encompasses Castle Vollrads wine tasting, Black Forest chocolate cake-baking demonstration and tasting, and a special wine and food pairing dinner. All transfers are included on arrival and departure days.
|Fine European cuisine and attentive service are hallmarks of the Antoinette’s Restaurant de Versailles.|