Experience the world of luxury river cruising on board SS Catherine - the second of Uniworld's Super Ships. From the Murano glass chandelier and life-size glass horse in the two-storey atrium to the ornate decor and high-tech innovations throughout; this ship will impress from the moment you step aboard. The flavoursome dining, luxurious riverview staterooms and suites, and friendly ambience also enhance your cruise experience. Setting sail with a maximum of 159 guests onboard; you'll soon feel right at home and get to know your fellow guests and crew. Unwind in the heated pool, before sipping cocktails on the Matisse Terrace. Keep in shape in the fitness centre; following up with a revitalising massage in the Serenity River Spa. The ship drops anchor in an eclectic mix of ports where you can explore independently or join an organised excursion.
Admire the ever-changing riverside vistas as you take your seat at mealtimes in the Cezanne Restaurant on Avignon Deck. Dine on a variety of destination-inspired, ‘Travelling Lite', and signature dishes served to your table from the multi-course menu. The restaurant's sommelier will help you select from the menu of complimentary local wines, sparkling wines, and Champagne.
Chill-out with your morning cappuccino in the peaceful surroundings of The Coffee Shop. Enjoy panoramic views from the stern of the ship as you enjoy a gin and tonic in Bar du Leopard. Savour after-dinner drinks in the opulent Van Gogh Lounge or take your drink outside onto the adjoining Matisse Terrace. You can choose from unlimited drinks onboard - including local wines, sparkling wines, Champagnes, craft beers, premium spirits, speciality coffees, fine teas, and soft drinks. There is also a 24-hour coffee and tea station where you can make a brew whenever you wish.
SS Catherine presents a varied line-up of daytime and evening entertainment. Take inspiration from the Signature Lectures by the Captain, visiting academics, historians and local experts. The low-key evening entertainment takes place in the Van Gogh Lounge and comprises live piano music and vocalists, and also occasional visiting artistes and dancers.
Day 1: UK to Avignon, France (Embarkation)
Fly or Eurostar from the UK to France, where you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to Avignon to board your ship, SS Catherine.
Day 2: Tarascon (Arles or Tarascon), France
Explore one of two sun-drenched Provençal towns today, Arles or Tarascon. Join a local expert for a stroll through Arles with its medieval houses, ancient structures, and the city gates. Pause before the town hall and the 12th-century Romanesque St Trophime Church. Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps past the cheery yellow Café de Nuit — still open and still the same shade of yellow it was when he painted it. During your free time after the tour, you can peruse the local shops, go olive tasting, or delve further into Arles’s stunning collection of architectural. Alternatively, explore Tarascon with your guide. The impressive castle walls rise from the Rhône and the castle was erected in the 15th century to defend valuable trade routes and was also used as a prison for centuries. Owned by the dukes of Anjou, it was transformed into a splendid Renaissance palace. As you walk from the castle through the little town, you’ll find wonderful examples of Provençal architecture—civic buildings, houses and churches, including St Martha’s Collegiate Church.
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 3: Avignon, France
The ship docks today in the walled city of Avignon in Southern France. You'll have the option of two Avignon walking discovery tours - visiting either the Palace of the Popes or Pont du Gard. On the first tour, your guide will take you through the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Avignon with its mighty fort, narrow streets, and Clock Tower Square before you climb the steps for a tour of the Palace of the Popes. Alternatively, your guide will take through Avignon to view the Pont du Gard - a tri-level bridge that spans the River Gardon and built as part of the system that carried water from Uzès to Nîmes. An expert guide will explain the techniques used to build this engineering marvel. View the notations the ancient Romans made in the stones as they cut and fitted them into place when you view the bridge itself, and learn about the entire project at the museum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is as beautiful as it is fascinating.
Day 4: Viviers, France
Today you can step ashore in Viviers and experience an exclusive and intimate 'Village Day'. A local expert will show you the fountain squares in Viviers' Old Town, which combine Roman and medieval influences, and cobblestone lanes so narrow you can stand in the middle and touch the medieval houses on either side. Viviers climbs a hill crowned by 12th-century St Vincent’s Cathedral, the smallest cathedral in France and home to a marvellous organ. Take a seat under the soaring vaults and listen to a local organist demonstrate this fine instrument before you meet some of the local residents. You might choose to learn how a local potter makes the attractive wares sold at Poterie; step into one of two homes — one a mansion, the other more modest; take a dance class; or sample the wares at a popular bar. Don’t feel that you must opt for the bar if you’d like a little refreshment; all visits include an aperitif. On your way back to the ship, stop to try your hand at a game of petanque which is played with steel balls.
Day 5: Tournon (Tain-I’Hermitage), France
If you love wine, you'll be in your element today at the twin villages of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage. Whether you opt for a guided walk or a more vigorous 'Let's Go' Hermitage vineyard hike, you’ll also have a chance to taste the local wines made from Syrah grapes. Join your guide to explore the twin cities of Tournon and Tain-l’Hermitage which nestle on opposite sides of the river. Tournon has a 10th-century castle on the hilltop complete with two 'new' towers built to defend against Protestant attacks in the 16th century. Admire the handsome houses constructed by wealthy merchants and garrison officers when you walk through the Rue de Doux area, pass the 14th-century church and the oldest secondary school in France. Cross the pretty flower-decked Marc Seguin suspension bridge to Tain-l’Hermitage to visit local wine cellars, where you’ll taste the region’s famous Côtes du Rhône, Saint-Joseph, and Crozes-Hermitage wines. After your wine tasting, you’ll have time to browse through the shops; the Valrhona chocolate factory is always a popular stop.
Alternatively, explore the steepest vineyards on the Rhône on a vigorous hike. The vines producing the world-famous Hermitage wines grow on steep slopes above the river, requiring terracing to make the process easier. Hike along the paths that run parallel to the rough courses of stone through the vineyards, each one situated to catch the afternoon sun. After you’ve seen how the grapes are grown, taste the fruit that has been transformed by the expert vintners into legendary wine.
Day 6: Lyon
The fascinating city of Lyon, sitting at the confluence of the Rhone and Saone rivers, is today's port of call. You have your choice of ways to explore this city of contrasts: Sample its culinary riches with a visit to the market hall or follow in the footsteps of the silk weavers in the old quarter. For a more active option, see the city from its extensive and lovely bike paths. The exclusive 'Do as the Locals Do' walking tour starts with your guide explaining Lyon’s important gastronomic history, as he shows you the city’s bouchons and speciality food shops and takes you into the legendary main market, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse. Here you’ll find stalls brimming with local produce, fish, game and cheeses, all beautifully displayed on black marble countertops — and you’ll also have a chance to taste some of these delicious offerings. Don’t miss the macarons! On the way to these fabulous culinary destinations, you’ll see some of Lyon’s historic old quarter, with its many spectacular examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture, and les traboules, the city’s old passageways.
Alternatively, get out and about with a bike ride along the river. Your route takes you over the new Raymond Barre Bridge, past the spectacular new Museum of Confluences (named because it sits at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône) and along the peninsula, a strip of land with the Saône on one side and the Rhône on the other. Here, houseboats tie up along the banks, swans float on the water, and locals take advantage of the lovely park-like setting. You’ll also have a great view of the Old Town on the other side of the river. This outing gives you a little taste of what it is like to live in Lyon, as well as a little exercise.
Day 7: Macon (Beaune)
Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Mâcon, a Saône River port, is your gateway to walled city of Beaune. Step ashore and choose from either the Burgundy wine landscapes, Beaune, Hospices de Beaune with open-air farmers’ market visit or the Mâcon walking discovery tour. Join your guide to explore Beaune which brims with history, a wealth of splendid regional architecture, and incredible food. It is best known for two magnificent sights: the Hospices de Beaune and the open-air market. You’ll recognize the Hospices de Beaune (also known as Hôtel-Dieu) immediately by its fabulous multi-coloured tile roof. Over the centuries, the hospital's monks were given wine and vineyards, and they began selling the wine at auction in order to support their charitable work. The wine auction is now world-famous, and the institution remains a working hospital for the poor, with modern facilities standing alongside the historic Hôtel-Dieu. After seeing Hôtel-Dieu, check out the farmers’ market, which spills from street to street in the Old Town. Cheeses, fruits, vegetables, local sausages, and breads are all on colourful display here. Browse and assemble your own picnic lunch or take advantage of one of the many delightful sidewalk cafés for lunch.
Alternatively, join your guide on a tour of Macon. Alphonse de Lamartine, a great supporter of France's famous tricolour flag, was born in Macon a year after the French revolution began and became the country’s first Romantic poet, a celebrated man of letters, and a founder of the Second Republic. You’ll spot his statue opposite Mâcon’s city hall as you stroll from the ship through this historic riverport city. The Romans built a bridge across the Saone here, and you’ll have a great view of its 16th-century successor, the multi-arched St Laurent Bridge, from the square. Ramble down Rue Monrevel for a look at the twin towers of St Peter’s, the church that replaced Mâcon’s medieval cathedral, and then along bustling Rue Carnot, lined with shops and cafes, to a curious wooden house: Maison de Bois’s facade is decorated with carved figures of men and monkeys. It’s the oldest house in Mâcon, built around the year 1500, and one of just a few remaining examples of rustic medieval-style architecture.
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 8: Lyon (Disembarkation)
Disembark the ship and be transferred to the airport or train station for your journey to the UK.