Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words? I never have until now. I'm Angela and I teach house cleaning for a living - all over the world.
So when I stay at a hotel, or I go on a cruise - I can't help it. I notice the bits of dust on the lamps or the drapes or etched water stains on the shower glass.
THE WORST DAY TURNED INTO THE BEST
I hadn't been on board the S.S. Maria Theresa for more than a minute when my entire trip changed for the absolute best. Let me back up a sec.
My husband and I traveled from Charlotte, NC, USA to Passau, Germany by way of Munich. The Passau to Budapest river cruise was the celebration of our milestone birthdays.
Weather in Charlotte had steep flight delays and we missed our connecting flight to Munich. When we arrived four hours late, our luggage didn't. There we were in an unfamiliar place, no luggage and needed a means of transport from Munich to Passau two hours away.
PANIC TURNED INTO PEACE
No sooner had we filed a missing luggage report we came through the baggage claim doors. And waiting for us (much later than the pre-arranged time) is a Uniworld transport driver with a sign bearing our names.
She was delightful, charming, and put us right at ease as she drove us to the ship. I thought she was the best gem Uniworld could offer. I didn't know she was the portal to the spellbinding service we would experience all week aboard the ship. We arrived at the ship somewhere around 10:30 pm.
WELCOME TO S.S. MARIA THERESA
Tired, weary and hungry we checked in at the front desk picked up a room key. Paul, dressed to the nines, escorted us to our rooms. He spent a few minutes showing us the lights, ways to adjust the room temperature, and the plug situation. (Note: There is a USB port hiding under each of the room's outlets in the top right-hand corner to charge your phones.)
Then he invited us to the lounge where we could order some food. YES! At 10:30 at night they will bring you a menu, offer you drinks and cater to your every whim. I LOVE this place.
THEN IT HIT ME...
As I sat in the lounge waiting for them to bring our food my eyes scanned the room. Not in a judgmental way, just a way of familiarizing myself. The drapes in the lounge pooched up in Victorian scallops didn't have a speck of dust. How is this even possible?
As my eyes wandered to the mystery of dust-free drapes I noticed the walls adorned in carved flourishes. (Also, dust catchers, they too are free of dust.)
Am I dreaming? Sure, it's late, and my blood sugar is out of whack from no food and it's possible I am hallucinating.
MY SHOCK TURNED TO HORROR
The entry of the ship is glass. All Glass. Glass and Mirrors. And as my mind processed what I had seen a few minutes earlier passing through the lobby, it hit me that the lobby wasn't just mirrored. It was mirrors on top of mirrors. Mirrors made of flourishes attached to mirrors for decorations.
Cleaning those mirrors would have made any sane housekeeper flee in horror.
Now I sit in the lounge and there is a lavish bar filled with gleaming liquors, wines and drinks. Gleaming because every jar and bottle at the bar is spit-shined and polished. No dust.
The glasses hanging from the bar must have been brand new - as in purchased today because not one of them had a smudge. No dust, no water spots. Just new.
The thought of how much cleaning went into this "first impression" was horrifying to me. I KNOW CLEAN. And I've never in my life seen anything this clean.
I WANTED TO DANCE WITH JOY
The friendly staff, impeccably dressed served us as if we were royalty. Friendly, patient and attentive they brought us hot food and drinks.
Anxious, exhausted and starved I wanted to hug every one of them. And the place was so clean I wanted to dance with joy.
WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
Before going to bed the front desk, the crew gave us toiletries for the night and assured us, they would contact the airlines and trace our luggage.
I'd been on the ship less than 30 minutes and had already had the best trip of my life.
Hooray! And I get to stay another week.
ALL THE USUAL'S AND SO MUCH MORE
If you've ever been on a cruise your expectations are pretty high. You want great food, clean rooms, nice excursions, friendly staff, and fantastic entertainment.
Yes, yes, yes, this ship has all this.
AND SO MUCH MORE
Every corner of the ship is ornate. Carved flourishes, velvet walls, wrought iron stair railings, and Murano glass chandeliers. Mirrors, mirrors, and more mirrors. And marble floors.
The house cleaner in me cringed with delight. Everywhere I looked, there was excellence in cleanliness. Every nook and cranny were shiny and polished. Not a hair out of place, not a speck of dust, not a smudge, smear, fingerprint or spot.
EVERYONE KNOWS MY NAME
Walking through the lobby at any time of the day or night during the entire week cruise every person on staff addressed me by name.
Whhaat? There were 132 passengers on board. How did they learn everybody's names? Surely it wasn't just me. Can they really be that good? YES, THEY CAN!
And not only did they greet me but they all knew our luggage hadn't arrived and they volunteered to get us anything we needed.
Stephania and a young helpful team (whose names I'm ashamed I don't remember,) tracked our luggage down and had it shipped from Munich to Lenz. We didn't need to follow up with anybody - they took care of it all for us.
YOUR EXPECTATIONS EXCEEDED
The cruise was spectacular in every way with delicious and healthy food. Lavish entertainment. Walking tours with local tour guides who were friendly, articulate and informative. And the beds provide the best night’s sleep you've ever had. (They are Savoir of England) Comfort takes on a whole new meaning on the S.S. Maria Theresa.
And did I mention they have a menu of four different types of pillows? The ones on the bed are pretty amazing one being a down feather soft pillow and the other a supreme fiber comfort pillow.
I know what you’re thinking - I didn't want to leave my room either.
UMBRELLAS: The ship has umbrellas. If you're off to an excursion during the rain, they have an umbrella for you. (We used them a couple of times.)
MAPS: And they provide city maps for you each day as you leave for your daily activities.
BICYCLES: There are bicycles you can borrow (which we did three of the days of our trip) to go sightseeing on land.
INTERNET: And of course, they have free internet in every room. If you have special internet needs (I have a YouTube channel) they have a special modem you can rent at the front desk.
WASHERS & DRYERS: Oh, and did I mention that they have washers and dryers and an iron for your personal use in a public laundry room on the ship? It's true. You don't need to bring an iron or steamer on this cruise with you. Yay!
All this and SO MUCH MORE.
BEHIND THE MAGIC CURTAIN
By Friday my observation of the cleanliness of the ship had turned to an obsession. I know how dust works. It comes in with opening and closing doors, and the AC units kicking on. And I'm on a ship for 5 days and every corner of the ship looks brand-spankin new.
It was then I met Nicoleta the Housekeeping Guru who runs the place. Her specialty is in the systems she creates to get the work done on time to turn the rooms between meals and excursions.
THE WIZARD OF NICOLETA
She has systems for the laundry room where the guest towels and linens get washed.
They label every type of linen to keep the turnover service running at optimal speed.
She has systems for the uniforms the crew wear. Where it goes when it comes off and a system for its cleaning and ironing.
There are systems for dishes and turning a banquet room.
Systems for cleaning the common areas of the ship and hallways. And it's no surprise there are systems for cleaning the deck of the ship and removing seat cushions at dusk.
The systems she has created for crew scheduling include "to do" lists as well as built-in breaks and time off for the crew.
JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I'D SEEN AND HEARD IT ALL...
I took a cruise on the S.S. Maria Theresa - a Uniworld sensation. My expectations and hopes were illuminated with the impossible.
Imagine me at my age - thinking I'd seen and heard it all - and now this! Awe, wonder, magic, and delight - all in a week on this ship.
If you're ready for the time of your life - Choose this cruise. And prepare to be outrageously impressed.
The room we stayed in was quite large, felt spacious. The beds were incredibly comfortable. Blackout curtains. Desk for the computer, drawers for the clothes. Huge area under the bed for luggage storage.
We went to the church to hear an organ concert - it was fascinating and informative.
The tour guide was informative, articulate and entertaining.
We borrowed bikes from the cruise ship and explored the town on bikes. It was awesome fun.
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We took buses from the cruise and went to the Parlament building on a tour. Then we drove to the Statue of Liberty with a tour guide who pointed out historical monuments all over the city. The tour lasted about 4 hours and was fascinating and entertaining in every way.View All 70 The Castle District Reviews