24th January 2018: Having never been on board a river cruise before, Irene, Travel Specialist at our Monmouth branch, wasn’t too sure to expect. Having read about Uniworld and the itineraries they provide, Irene was yet to see one of their ships for herself. So, when she stepped on board the SS Catherine to try Uniworld's Burgundy and Provence itinerary for herself, she had no idea what was waiting for her...
SS Catherine - First Impression
As soon as I stepped foot on board, I was taken aback by this magnificent vessel. The perfect word to describe what I was looking at was simply, 'wow'! The SS Catherine has a wonderful ambiance to it; elegant, comfortable, and luxurious. We were welcomed on board with a glass of champagne and we had the opportunity to get familiar with the ship’s lobby.
Not only does the SS Catherine have an impressive lift on board, its lobby is also home to a fantastic waterfall and life-sized Murano glass horse. Elaborate décor such as this is prevalent throughout each ship in the Uniworld fleet. Unlike most other cruise lines, every single one of Uniworld’s ships are unique, specially designed to reflect the destinations they sail to.
Restaurants & Lounges
That evening, we had a private welcome dinner at the Bar Du Leopard. Decorated in a safari-style, the room featured luxurious leopard-print seating and even had a swimming pool encased in glass located in the corner of the room.
We were served a superb taster-menu featuring three small starters, main courses and desserts. From that moment on, I knew I was going to thoroughly this fully all-inclusive cruise. Not only are gratuities and excursions included, so too are all meals, quality wine and spirits, exercise classes and Wi-Fi. During my time on board we were even offered champagne with breakfast!
Next, we retired to the Van Gough Lounge, a lavish area with a bar and an abundance of comfortable and stylish seating. Here, we enjoyed performances from a classically trained singer and pianist. This lounge is also used during the day for activities such as exercise classes, cooking demonstrations and wine tastings to name just a few.
The sun deck on board is a brilliant place to soak up not just the sun, but also the stunning every-changing views along the River Rhone.
There are 80 rooms on board the SS Catherine, situated across three decks. Suites and category one rooms are situated on the upper deck, all of which are completed with balconies. My room was in category two and was located on the Avignon deck, these rooms are completed with French balconies.
Most cabins on board are between 162-194 square feet. The Royal Suite however, measures almost double this at 410 square feet. Standard room amenities include a marble bathroom with heated floor, towel warmer, bathrobe and slippers, hair-dryer and L’Occitane products. Each stateroom is beautifully decorated and has good wardrobe and drawer space.
Excursions with Uniworld are varied and there’s always a choice of gentle, intermediate or more strenuous activities. During my time on board, I chose a bicycle tour and a visit to local markets at one of our ports-of-call. This itinerary was also great for foodies as it included both wine and chocolate tasting as well as a lovely trip to a local vineyard. You’ll definitely never be bored!
All-in-all, my time with Uniworld was amazing. The crew on board SS Catherine were very friendly and attentive; nothing was too much trouble. The atmosphere on board is also very relaxed as the dress code is smart/casual, this is great as during your time on board you feel comfortable despite the luxurious surroundings.
For me, Uniworld differs from most other cruise lines as every ship has its own unique personality. Full of quirkiness and character, Red Carnation Hotels are also part of the same travel group as Uniworld and this is reflected in the style and comfort of its ships. It’s honestly as though you’re floating along the river in a beautiful country house hotel.