Kenneth Shapiro, editor-in-chief of TravelAge West, sailed on the S.S. Catherine’s inaugural voyage with his son. // © 2014 Kenneth Shapiro
With cruise customers always looking for something new, attention has turned to European waterways beyond the Danube. In particular, the Rhone River seems to have a lot of potential to wow passengers, with ships taking guests through France’s legendary countryside.
In this consumer landscape, Uniworld’s Super Ship S.S. Catherine was christened last month in Lyon, France.
More than 150 guests attended the ceremony, including travel agency owners and executives; local dignitaries; journalists from around the world; Guy Young, president and CEO of Uniworld; and three generations of the Tollman family, who have owned and operated Uniworld Boutique River Collection for the past 10 years.
The ceremony opened with remarks by Brett Tollman, global CEO and president of The Travel Corporation.
“This is a wonderful day to christen the most gorgeous and glorious ship on the rivers,” he said.
French Style and Flair
Set to homeport on the Rhone and Saone Rivers in Burgundy and Provence, the S.S. Catherine has been styled and fashioned to reflect these storied regions of France. Much of the ship’s decor is owed to the vision of Beatrice Tollman, president and founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection, Uniworld’s sister company. Tollman, along with her daughter Antoinette Tollman and projects director Brian Brennan, not only designed a ship that reflects the ambiance of the region, but one that is unique from other ships in the industry.
At the ceremony, Beatrice Tollman seemed truly moved by the completion of this project.
“Life keeps me very busy and very creative, and this is very exciting,” she said. “I get emotional as we put so much love and passion into our hotels and Uniworld ships. It means so much to us to please our guests and make them feel extra special, and these principles have stayed the same for more than 60 years.”
Tollman then introduced Catherine Deneuve, legendary French actress and the Godmother of the S.S. Catherine.
“It is my pleasure to be here today celebrating the ship that bears my name,” said Deneuve. “My compliments to Mrs. Tollman for the beauty and elegance of this ship. May God bless her.”
Captain Pascal joined Deneuve for the cutting of the blue ribbon, triggering the smashing of a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne against the vessel’s hull.
The S.S. Catherine offers 80 staterooms, five suites and one Royal Presidential Suite. In 2014, from April to November, the ship will sail the line’s Burgundy & Provence eight-day itinerary from Avignon to Lyon and, from April to October, the Grand France 15-day itinerary from Paris to Avignon.