The 156-guest River Beatrice was launched by Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection in 2009, and the European river ship has received many accolades since her debut. In early 2018, the River Beatrice underwent a bow-to-stern renovation and was renamed the S.S. Beatrice. The renovated river vessel has a fresh look with a graceful bow, redesigned lounge, and an elegant grand staircase. Additional dining venues include a private space to replace the Captain’s Lounge and Library. Two new Royal Suites measuring 375 square feet and an additional Owner’s Suite have been created. Uniworld will also be adding several connecting rooms which are ideal for families traveling together.
The S.S. Beatrice is certainly a beautiful ship, with luxurious cabins and common areas. The S.S. Beatrice is named for Beatrice Tollman, the President and founder of The Travel Corporation, the parent company of Uniworld, so it's not surprising that Mrs. Tollman devoted a lot of personal attention to making sure the river ship was worthy of her name.
The Tollman family loves to collect art and exhibit it at their boutique hotels and river ships. The interiors of the S.S. Beatrice feature an interesting selection of original artwork, including sketches, lithographs, and oil paintings. These pieces add to the overall elegant atmosphere onboard the ship.
Entering the S.S. Beatrice on the Danube Deck (deck 3), the first thing you notice is the large, two-deck marble lobby with gleaming white Murano glass chandelier and white woodwork. This lobby has the reception desk and small boutique, and the exquisite attention to detail in the hand-crafted solid wood panels with antique beveled mirror insets sets the luxurious tone for the rest of the ship. The main dining room is forward on deck 3, and category 2 and 3 staterooms are aft.
Down the stairs from the lobby on the Moselle Deck (deck 2) are the category 4 and 5 cabins, a well-equipped fitness center, passenger laundry, and massage room. The fitness center is one the best on a river ship, and having a complimentary self-service laundry room and ironing board is welcome on any ship. With air travel weight limits becoming more and more restrictive, it's nice to be able to wash a few clothes along the way, especially on longer cruises. Passengers can also have their laundry done by the ship's staff for a fee.
Up the stairs from the lobby to the Rhine Deck (deck 4) are the suites, category 1 staterooms, Captain's lounge, library and computer center, and main bar and lounge. This observation lounge features wonderful views of the river scenery, a nice bar, comfortable seating, grand piano, and dance floor. Many passengers spend the day in the lounge reading their own books or browsing through one of the many coffee-table books scattered about. Or, they just visit with new (or old) friends. In the evening, either the onboard musician or local talent entertain the passengers. The small Captain's lounge and library/computer center aft on deck 4 are cozy spots to read or play games. The S.S. Beatrice has two computers with complimentary Internet access and WiFi throughout the ship for those who bring along their own computers. There's a small outdoor sitting area aft, which is out of the wind and features terrific views over the wake of the ship.
The sun deck includes the most comfortable lounge chairs I've ever encountered on a river ship. These lounges are well-padded and can be used to sit in the sun or the shade since there are plenty of umbrellas. Like all European river ships, the bridge is also on the sun deck. It can be retracted into the ship when the S.S. Beatrice needs to pass under low bridges.
One thing that cruisers will love about the S.S. Beatrice and other Uniworld ships is the all-inclusive policy. All shore excursions, dining venues, drinks, transfers, tips, WiFi, and the use of bicycles, the fitness center, and walking sticks are included in the basic fare.
Cabins and Suites
The S.S. Beatrice suite shown in the picture above provides extra space and amenities that will spoil even the most traveled.
All of the S.S. Beatrice cabins and suites are luxurious, with made-to-order English Savoir beds (designed originally for the Savoy and Claridges Hotels in London) draped in Egyptian combed-cotton linens, cashmere/wool blankets, and European duvets. All beds except those in the Owner's Suite (400), and Suites 402 and 405 can be set up as twin or queen-sized. Those three suites have fixed queen-sized beds, and the one in suite 405 is a four-poster. Passengers who think duvets are too warm can have the beds set up "American-style", with sheets and blankets.
The S.S. Beatrice cabin and suite draperies and wall coverings are heavy and expensive, and each room has hand-selected art. Additionally, all bathrooms have floor to ceiling marble and luxurious added amenities such as L'Occitane bath products, thick towels, and cozy waffle bathrobes. Every cabin and suite has its own individual thermostat for air conditioning/heat, flat screen television, internal telephone, small safe, complimentary bottled water, hair dryer, and umbrella. There are both 220-volt and 110-volt outlets. The suites have butler service.
Starting at the top, the owner's suite (#400) is 300-square feet. The furnishings are very luxurious and include a custom-made carpet, an antique Italian gilt headboard from the 1800's upholstered in cream Mohair velvet, Brunswig and Fils chairs from the 1930's, a sunburst mirror from a London auction house, an entertainment system with sub-woofer DVD with surround sound, two flat-screen TV's with satellite channels in the sleeping area and one in the bathroom, and art by the 20th-century English Impressionist Paul Maze. The bathroom has floor-to-ceiling snow-white marble, a separate rain shower and bathtub, a secluded toilet and bidet area, and towel warmer.
Like the suite shown in the photo above, the 14 suites on the Rhine Deck (deck 4) are each 225 square feet. The wall-coverings, drapes, and carpet are elegant and look expensive. These suites have French balconies and another floor-to-ceiling window, filling the suites with light and providing excellent views. The suites have plenty of storage space, with built-in closets and drawer space. The two chairs are comfortable, and my friend loved having the deluxe coffee maker. The bathroom is very bright and has a spacious shower.
The category 1-5 cabins all have 150 square feet. Seventeen category 1 staterooms are on deck 4 and the other 49 are on decks 2 and 3. All the cabins on decks 3 and 4 have French balconies, those on the lower deck 2 have a large window high across the outer wall. Like the suites, the cabins have marble baths, luxurious amenities, and elegant decor and furnishings.
Dining and Cuisine
Like most river ships, the S.S. Beatrice has open seating for all meals at tables set for 4, 6, or 8. Meals are relaxed, and the dining room is beautiful and elegant. Breakfast and lunch are sumptuous buffets, and dinner is served from a menu, with selections of appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. Ice water, ice tea, and hot coffee and tea are also complimentary at meals.
Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, the ship's namesake, has added some of her favorite dishes to the ship's menus, which I thought was a nice special touch. It makes you feel like a guest in someone's home when dining.
Breakfast time on the S.S. Beatrice is determined by the ship's daily activity or port. Most days, coffee and pastries are available in the Captain's club lounge from about 6:00 am to 7:00 am and again from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. Full-service buffet breakfast starts in the dining room at 7:00 am and runs until 9:00 am. Breakfast features most English, Continental, Australian, and American favorites. The chef had both very crispy and limp bacon. Made-to-order omelets or fried eggs were available from the chef's station along with baked beans and cold cuts. The ship even had a jar of Vegemite for the Australians.
Lunch is also served buffet-style and usually occurs right after the morning tour ashore. A light lunch is served in the lounge for those who don't want to be tempted by all the dining room choices. Lunch includes delicious fresh salads, a pasta station, and a selection of hot main courses and sandwiches. Of course, a variety of delectable desserts are also available, as is ice cream.
Dinner on the S.S. Beatrice follows the evening shore talk and lounge cocktail hour and usually starts about 7:00 pm and runs until 9:00 pm. Most passengers all dine about the same time when the dining room first opens. The dinner menu has an international theme, with local dishes interspersed. For example, if your cruise embarked in Budapest, you might have traditional (and yummy) goulash soup, chicken with paprika, and spaetzle on one night's menu. Each dinner usually includes starters such as salads, pasta, or shrimp cocktail; a selection of two soups, one creamy and the other clear; three main dishes, one of which is vegetarian, the second fish, and the third either beef, pork, chicken, lamb, or a local dish like Wiener Schnitzel. Dessert is also varied each evening. One night on the Danube might include Linzer cake (a Linz, Austria favorite), another night Sacher Torte (a Viennese favorite), and a third might have Mrs. Tollman's favorite honeycomb ice cream sprinkled with caramel sauce. The last dinner onboard might include baked Alaska, always a cruise favorite. A selection of cheeses is also available for those who don't like sweets.
The second night onboard is the Captain's welcome dinner, and the last night is the Captain's farewell dinner. Guests dress up a little more on those evenings, with men in jackets (with or without a tie) and women in smart casual attire. Shorts are not allowed at dinner.
One evening is an Epicurean dinner, with a special drink in the lounge before dinner, and a special wine paired with each course.
The S.S. Beatrice also has a 24-hour coffee/tea station, which usually has delicious cookies set out on a plate for those who need a little something to snack on before the next meal.
For a change of scenery, intimate dinners are also served in the small aft Captain's lounge, and a burger/hot dog lunch is served outdoors on the sun deck while the ship is sailing through the Wachau Valley.
Onboard the S. S. Beatrice
The S.S. Beatrice visits a different port of call each day on its Danube River itineraries. So, most days are spent ashore. Each village or city has an included walking tour with a local guide, using audio headsets. The ship has bicycles and Nordic walking sticks provided for those who want to use them. Most nights, the ship is either sailing to her next Danube River port of call or is docked so that guests can go ashore for late-night entertainment.
Although guests spend a lot of time ashore, there are some hours spent each day onboard the ship. The most popular daytime activity onboard the S.S. Beatrice is watching the spectacular river scenery slide by the forward observation lounge, aft lounge, or the French doors of a cabin. However, the S.S. Beatrice also has a morning exercise class in the lounge, and guest speakers come onboard to speak on the culture or politics of the neighboring countries. The chef demonstrated how to make apple strudel one afternoon during the daily tea time in the lounge, and there's always the before dinner port talk with the cruise director to discuss the next day's schedule.
Evenings are usually quiet, with after-dinner music in the lounge played by the onboard musician, who was excellent. We also had local entertainment come onboard in Vienna and Linz, which was fun. Since we were in port most days before 8:00 am and off the S.S. Beatrice on a tour by around 9:00 am, guests were content to have a leisurely dinner, enjoy a little music after dinner, and go to bed early, anxious to see what delightful sights the new day would bring.