I honestly wasn't sure if I'd like the décor on Uniworld's new vessel Antoinette - like it as in want to spend a lot of time in it.
It is very heavy; certainly not the light, bright look that more and more ship designers are going for.
Having been on for three nights, for the naming and a short cruise over the IJselmeer to Hoorn (a man from there named Cape Horn apparently) I am in two minds.
When I joined Antoinette in Amsterdam, it was moored right up against River Queen, another of Uniworld's boats, and it was right outside my window. What with the heavy upholstery and lack of light, my cabin was like the black hole of Calcutta.
These pictures of the cabin, above, were taken at 3.30pm when it was broad daylight outside. I certainly didn't want to spend time in it.
But when we set sail and the sun came shining through the window it was a completely different room. It was lighter and altogether more appealing. For seven nights? Absolutely I'd like it - it really is so very different - but always keeping my fingers crossed that my side of the ship was never moored to another boat.
The beds are super-soft and the bathroom is sumptuous, with gorgeous fluffy towels. Just a shame the floor floods big time every time I shower because there is only a very small seal - not up to the job - to hold back the tide.
Antoinette has gone back to the shipyard as it is very unfinished in places and there's time to do something about that as the first paying passengers don't come on until March 27.
I imagine flooding bathrooms is one of the things they will try to rectify, as well as filling nail heads and hopefully fixing the cracked mirror in my bathroom and getting the bedside lights to work.
I don't have a balcony, but I have a large floor-to-ceiling window that opens half way from the top down. And all I have to do is push a button for it to happen.
Very nice but I'm not convinced it's better than having the traditional French windows opening to a Juliette balcony (that is one you can't stand on).
It's also not as unique as they say as I have been on another river cruise boat with a window that opened half way before. The difference was that the window was smaller and I had to open it manually.
In the suites, there is a French window and a piece of room that looks like a balcony with a wooden floor instead of the carpet and then the half-opening window. It's a sort of balcony lookalike as it's totally enclosed on the top.
What was different on Antoinette was the Leopard Bar, a great venue on the sun deck that was rocking with a live singer and late-night revellers after dinner on Saturday, the plush cinema, which I believe is a first on a river cruise boat, and the gorgeous spa pool, in a room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows so you get the warmth and the view - and there are cushioned loungers to make it perfect.
The same cushioned loungers are on the top deck which is a very luxurious touch.
There are also two massage rooms - or at least there will be when the vessel is finally finished (at the moment one is being used as a store room, as is the small gym).
I had a one-hour full body massage courtesy of Ionela from Romania and it was lovely. There were no price lists but she tells me it's roughly €1 per minute so the treatments are not cheap but at least she didn't waste time as they do in the big spas, asking daft questions ("have you had a massage before?" "have you tried these [expensive] products?") and arranging the room to look beautiful, so I felt I got my money's worth.
Importantly, the food and service on Antoinette was first class and definitely lived up to Uniworld's five-star claim. One waiter in the dining room quickly remembered I liked sparkling water, another waiter fetched the Pinot Grigio white wine when he saw me.
I've was also impressed at how easily the chef was able to provide alternative meals - and really tasty ones at that - because I couldn't eat the fish dishes (usually there is a choice but we had two celebration fixed menus).
"It's easy to claim five-star but not so easy to deliver," Toni Tollman said.
Surely no river cruise operator would do that. Would they?
Antoinette will be sailing a seven-night Castles of the Rhine cruise between Amsterdam and Basel starting on March 27. Click here for more information.