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The “Super Ship” Catherine is the
most extravagantly elegant and
luxurious river vessel in France – and
possibly in all of Europe. Uniworld
Boutique River Cruises only builds
one ship a year, so every tiny detail has
Uniworld is owned by the same
family that designed and manages
London’s Milestone and Egerton
House hotels, so its ships’ interiors
are similarly swish. Setting the scene,
the show-stopping lobby is centred
around a waterfall flowing down a
gold elevator and a life-size Murano
glass horse and green chandelier.
Specially commissioned artwork and
one-off pieces of furniture continue
the lavish theme.
Service is five-star, but the friendly
crew are never stuffy or formal. There’s
a great sense of community on board,
perhaps because of the family-run
boutique hotel vibe. Or it could be the
complimentary drinks – SS Catherine’s
all-inclusive fares include fine wines,
beer, spirits, specialty coffees, juice
and bottled water, as well as gratuities,
excursions, airport transfers, internet
and self-ser vice laundry. Top-category
suites also have butler services.
As glam as its godmother, French
actress Catherine Deneuve, this is a
ship for those who demand the best
but prefer a relaxed environment,
sailing with a mix of Australians,
Americans and Europeans.
DINING The food could not be any
fresher. Ingredients are sourced from
local farmers’ markets and delivered
to the ship daily, so ever y meal is a
mouth-watering feast of regional
specialties. Expect the best: truffles,
oysters, caviar and different French
cheeses every day.
Top of the class, or over the top?
is a seasoned
travel writer who
specialises in river
voyages. She won
the 2013 AFTA Best
Travel Writer award.
ACCOMMODATION No expense has
been spared on the finest furnishings,
linens and hand-crafted Savoir beds,
also made for the London’s Savoy
Hotel. Marble bathrooms, with heated
floors, are stocked with L’Occitane
or Hermés products. Top-deck
staterooms and suites have French
balconies that convert into enclosed
conser vatories at the touch of a switch.
HIGHLIGHTS $1.5 million worth of
art and antiques turn the ship into a
floating gallery. The swimming pool,
although small, is inside the safari-
themed Bar du Leopard. This dark and
cosy bar, with live music and animal-
print chairs, offers a funkier late-night
alternative to the main lounge.
BEST SUITED TO Luxury travellers
who are happy to spend more for the
best of everything.
UNIWORLD SS CATHERINE
SPECIALITIES Food and wine;
gentle and active shore excursions;
2015 DESTINATIONS France –
Burgundy and Provence, including
Lyon, Avignon, Arles, Viviers, Beaune
2015 PRICING 15-day Grand France
itinerary (Paris to Avignon) from
$9,139 per person, twin-share.
BOOKING Phone 1300 780 231
or see uniworldcruises.com.au.
old, joint Anglo-Indian enterprise that
specialises in small ship cruises on Indian
rivers, specifically the Ganges, Hooghly and
Brahmaputra in West Bengal and Assam.
The company has previously run two
quaint, classically styled vessels for fewer than
40 passengers, staffed by locals from some of
the minority ethnic groups representative of
the remote Assamese people.
The third, RV Rajmahal, a 51-metre,
40-passenger newbuild vessel, is a substantial
step up for the modest company, giving
it increased capacity on the Ganges and
Hooghly rivers. Designed specifically
for the range of conditions on these rivers,
RV Rajmahal will allow access to regions
beyond the capability of current vessels.
Modern and comfortable, décor is a
blend of Western and traditional styles, with
furniture made locally by specially contracted
artisans. Public areas such as the saloon and
sun deck offer ample space for the passenger
capacity with plush seating, lounges and
a small library with AV facilities. Daily
briefings take place here.
The rooftop sun deck is expansive with
a centrally located shaded bar for coffee,
tea and cocktails. It is the perfect spot to
relax as the landscape rolls past. Local
performers occasionally come aboard to stage
A small spa offers a range of treatments.
DINING Typically served in the lower-deck
dining room, the buffet selections are a
delightful mix of traditional and Western
dishes with an emphasis on vegetarian
and mildly spiced choices such as eggplant
and spinach. While the selection is not
particularly expansive, there is sufficient
variation daily to keep the gourmet
ACCOMMODATION While not luxurious,
cabins allow sufficient space and comfort in a
compact vessel. Full-height French windows
are a bit unusual for a cruise vessel, effectively
turning the cabin into its own balcony.
HIGHLIGHTS Assam Bengal Navigation can
be commended for assembling a fascinating
series of shore excursions that embrace
culture, history, architecture and a bit of
retail. Nemo, our travelling guide, displayed
a marvellous command of all subjects
with excellent English and the mandatory
patience for dealing with the inevitable
BEST SUITED TO Well-travelled, mature
couples and solo travellers with a taste for
the exotic and cultural.
2014/2015 DESTINATIONS (OCTOBER-
JANUARY) India – Ganges and Hooghly
rivers in West Bengal.
PRICING 14-day Slowly Along The Ganges
itinerary from $3,880 per person, twin-share.
BOOKINGS Phone 1300 783 188 or see
Ganges and beyond
No expense spared, this is the
ultimate choice for foodies and
luxury travellers who appreciate
attention to detail and the finer
things in life. This year’s introduction
of all-inclusive fares significantly
boosts its appeal.
ASSAM BENGAL NAVIGATION RV RAJMAHAL
prefers the path less
five-star hotels, he
is more comfortable
sharing a cup of
tea with reindeer
herders in Siberia
or stalking bears
with his camera
Exceptional cultural and historical coverage
with expert guide. Very good food and
comfortable, tasteful surroundings. Excellent
value for money. Cabins a bit plain – some
extra décor would help.
RIVER CRUISE THE VERDICT
RIVER CRUISE THE VERDICT
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