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Cruise Ship Information
Facilities onboard the comfortable River Tosca include:All beautifully appointed suites feature a French balcony, and custom-made beds draped with the finest bed linens. Added conveniences include a vanity and make-up mirror, generous built-in closets, a hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat for air conditioning, direct-dial telephone, iPod® docking station, and flat-screen television with satellite channels. Private bathrooms have both a bathtub and shower, and are stocked with thick towels, cozy robes, his and her slippers, and soothing bath amenities.Atmosphere on boardA Nile River cruise has long served as a bucket-list fantasy; even Cleopatra enjoyed her time lolling in splendor as her barge passed her kingdom's already ancient wonders. And, now that Uniworld has brought its brand of luxury cruising to the already-crowded Nile riverboat field, you too can feel like a pasha as experienced tour guides show you the best of Egypt. Walking into River Tosca, you immediately sense that she's a step up from the other 399 ships licensed to ply the Nile. Beyond the marble floors and chandeliers, there's a rich attention to detail that's carried through all of the public rooms. Shishas (water pipes), lanterns and colonial-era prints add an exotic flair to Uniworld's usual tasteful, upscale decor.Outside the ship, Egypt can assault your senses; unlike most river cruising destinations, the country is poor, and vendors can be aggressive, which is why the River Tosca offers a welcome respite from the chaos. The mostly Egyptian staff is eager to please, and your Egyptologist guide is always on hand to explain the intricacies of the country, both ancient and modern.With a packed itinerary, however, you won't be spending too much time onboard. Each of Uniworld's Egypt offerings is heavy on sightseeing trips that are included in your package, and the staff get you up early to avoid the midday heat. You could stay in your room and miss a temple (or two), but you may kick yourself later. Plus, the hot afternoons are a perfect time to unwind, either in the small pool or with a cup of mint tea under the covered portion of the top deck. Most of River Tosca's affluent clientele have put in as many miles on their body as stamps in their passports; many preferred to nap or get massages in the ship's compact spa. Outbreaks of "mummy tummy" were not uncommon; taking the time to rest, along with some pills from the front desk, restored most passengers within a day or two. And having that type of service available while navigating Egypt is what sets River Tosca apart from the competition. As the country's revolution continues, travel in Egypt comes with a certain amount of unpredictability -- so it's nice to know that your River Tosca experience will remain smooth sailing.Fitness And SpaAs on most Europe riverboats, River Ambassador's gym facilities are token and compact, featuring a couple of machines and a fitball. Yoga was offered each morning on the sun deck.
The ship has a tiny spa, in a converted cabin, offering surprisingly adventurous treatments; a display in the reception promised massages using chocolate or honey products, for example. A 50-minute massage costs €60. The ship carries a fleet of bicycles which are lined up in port for individual use; on one occasion, a guided bike tour was offered and was quickly over-subscribed, so more bikes were quickly hauled in from a local rental shop. There are Nordic poles, too, for keen walkers.Food & DiningAll meals take place in the Restaurant, forward on Moselle deck. It's an elegant room, all done in white and flooded with light. All meals are open seating, although people tended to head for the same places every evening. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style. Breakfast, served from 7 to 9 a.m., is an impressive spread, with eggs cooked to order, as well as egg and bacon on the buffet, fresh fruit, cheeses, cereals, pancakes, waffles and juices. Coffee comes from espresso machines; there's one in the lounge, too, with a regular supply of mini-muffins and doughnuts.Lunch was always a reflection on the region in which we were sailing, in my case, the Rhine, with assorted sausages, German-influenced salads featuring potato and cabbage, schnitzels, black breads and hearty soups. This was presented alongside lighter dishes of salads, pasta, cheeses and cold cuts, as well as a hot dish of the day with vegetables. There's a choice of desserts, as well as fruit and a cheeseboard.Tea (and pastries) is served midafternoon (usually around 3:30 p.m., depending on the day's tour schedule) in the lounge. Dinner is usually at 7 p.m. and goes on till 9, although in reality, most people go to eat as soon as the cruise manager has finished their presentation of the following day's events. In Europe, the food has Mediterranean influences; chicken wrapped in prosciutto, or fish with a cheese risotto. There was a vegetarian dish every night, as well as some always-available items, chicken or steak, for those who prefer their food plainer. Because my cruise was a special family departure, the chef had drawn up a healthy children's menu, with some genuinely creative dishes on it; child-friendly crab cakes, and vegetable tempura, for example.Waiters pour wine from the region with lunch and dinner and on one night, there was a superb wine-pairing dinner which really showcased the diversity of German wines, from delicate, spicy whites to punchy reds and a magnificent dessert wine. Uniworld's wine buyer was on board and delivered a short presentation about each wine before we tasted it.Beer and sodas are also offered complimentary for those who don't drink the wine.Room service is offered only as continental breakfast in the suites; the cabins don't have suitable space for dining.EntertainmentAlmost all shore excursions are included in the price and sometimes there's a choice, so the ship empties during the day. Uniworld uses the Quietvox portable lightweight audio headset system, through which the tour guide communicates via microphone to individual headphones, which means you can wander around and still hear. The excursions were of excellent quality and often included extra treats –- ice creams in Koblenz, a tasting in a local sausage shop, a wine tasting in a winery attached to a castle.Every evening, the cruise manager gave a talk about the following day and took the time to make sure everybody was happy with their plans. One day, we had a trio come onboard to play light classical tunes after dinner, which was well attended – the only evening people really stayed up.During the day as the ship was sailing, various events were laid on; informal German lessons one day, and a kaiserschmarrndemonstration on another, the chef assembling a vast pan of pancake pieces fried in butter, tossed in icing sugar and served with plum jam. It's a classic dessert in Germany and Austria. One cabin had been turned into a Wii room for the children on board, with a steady supply of chocolate bars and fruit. On the sundeck, people played giant chess and shuffleboard and on one cloudy afternoon, we lounged in our cabin watching movies from a vast selection.StateroomsCabins come in three categories, and there are four suites. Categories 2 and 3 are on the lower deck (Moselle) and have a picture window, while category 1 cabins are on the upper deck (Rhine) and like the suites, have French balconies. Regardless of category, all accommodation has Savoir of England beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, pillow menu, built-in closets, hair dryer, individual climate-control thermostat, direct-dial telephone, ‘infotainment' centre with flat-screen TV and complimentary movies, bathrobes, bottled water, and safe. Marble-lined bathrooms have power showers with L'Occitane en Provence products.Additional goodies in the suites include a daily fruit and cookie plate, evening canape; slippers; DVD; iPod docking station; Nespresso coffee machine; bathroom towel warmers; refrigerator; bottle of wine upon arrival; morning coffee and tea; continental breakfast; shoe shine; and free laundry service. Furnishings in all cabins are bold and lavishly luxurious, mixing textures and rich, jewel-like colours of scarlets and turquoises with more subtle bronze and grey. The result is stunning. But there were some elements of style over substance. In my suite, there was no wardrobe space to hang a dress (with an upper and lower rail, the lower one got in the way). So I hung my dress inside the bathroom door on a hook helpfully attached to the full-length mirror. There was no soap dish in the shower, either. There are no extra berths; although the staterooms are in no way lacking in facilities, there isn't room for a third bed in any. Bring luggage that fits under the bed, as there isn't much spare space unless you opt for a suite.TippingTips and gratuities including the customary end of trip gratuities/tip for the cruise/tour manager, crew onboard and local guides for the included shore excurions are included in the price of your trip (excluding Optional Extensions)Fellow PassengerPassengers are mainly North American with a handful of Brits and Antipodeans. Most were well-travelled and many had never cruised but were regulars on the escorted tour circuit. Uniworld does a couple of family-friendly cruises every year and I was on one of these, so there were a lot of families on board.Our recommendationCruised from Yichang to Chongqing so spent 4 nights on the ship. The ship was new (a year old) so expectedly - everything on board was clean and in good condition. The room was a good size with comfortable beds, a small couch and a balcony. The bathroom was large by cruise ship standard and even had a small tub. Good water pressure too. Room had all the usual amenities except no free wifi. Paid wifi is very slow so just plan on having no wifi and you will be fine.