When she launches on March 26, 2015, S.S Maria Theresa will be the third ship to be based upon the same general design as Uniworld’s highly successful S.S. Antoinette, which was launched in 2011. Last spring, Uniworld took delivery of the S.S Antoinette’s first sister ship, the gorgeous S.S Catherine. The two newest vessels are similar but have several distinct differences.
A Look At The Sister, S.S. Catherine
I loved the posh feeling of S.S. Catherine when I sailed on her last year. A stunningly sophisticated vessel, the S.S. Catherine will no doubt appeal to anyone who has an eye for luxury (those who cruise Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal and the like) and the finer things in life (free-pouring champagne, gourmet cuisine, butler service and an all-inclusive environment). And as S.S. Catherine sails along the Rhône and Saône, the S.S. Catherine also appeals to Francophiles. C’est vrai.
The main dining room, in fact, resembles a fine French bistro, and the dining experience — particularly the quality of the cuisine — has a certain French flair. Breakfast each morning featured French yogurt, French-press coffee and croissants that were better than I wished they would have been, but then who is counting calories when we had complimentary bicycles to burn off the excess from a little morning decadence?
In France, champagne flows freely on S.S. Catherine (Sekt in Germany, Prosecco in Italy — all true to the sailing region where Uniworld vessels are operating), and as of last year, all wine and spirits flow at no extra charge as Uniworld is now all-inclusive.
S.S. Catherine carries 159 passengers. On decks 2, 3 and 4 are five categories of staterooms. The dozen staterooms on deck 2 (categories 4 and 5) are smaller (162-square-feet each) than the category 1-3 staterooms on decks 3 and 4, which measure 194 square feet each. The smaller staterooms feature similar amenities to the larger staterooms, but with windows only, whereas the larger staterooms have either a sliding glass window that lowers and raises with the push of a button — or a balcony.
Suites naturally come equipped with white-gloved butlers wearing tuxedo jackets with tails. They serve guests in Catherine’s six suites, ranging from 305 square feet to 410 square feet, all done in different styles. Suites also come with a one-per-person complimentary in-suite spa treatment and a mini-bar and bar set-up. No matter what category you book, all accommodations on S.S. Catherine feature handcrafted Savoir of England beds — among the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept on.
With 57 crew, S.S. Catherine has one crew member per 2.78 passengers, compared to ratios as high as one crew member per four passengers on other river cruise vessels. Does the more favorable crew-to-passenger ratio make a difference? When it comes to service, yes. Think of it this way: Ten crew members serve about 28 passengers on S.S. Catherine, compared to 10 crew members serving 40 passengers on some other ships.
Read more about our comparison between S.S. Catherine & S.S. Maria Theresa.