LYON, France — French actress Catherine Deneuve held court over the christening ceremony of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s newest vessel on Thursday, inaugurating her namesake, the S.S. Catherine, into the Uniworld fleet.
The launch of the 159-passenger S.S. Catherine marks Uniworld's first expansion of its European fleet since 2011, when the S.S. Antoinette set sail. The S.S. Catherine will sail France’s Burgundy and Provence regions along the Rhone and Saone rivers.
Uniworld has come to be known for building ships with lavish interiors, and the S.S. Catherine is no exception. The vessel is flush with elaborate interior design details, including endless mirrors reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, and an over-the-top atrium complete with a Murano chandelier, horse statue and water feature streaking down the side of the elevator.
From the patterned carpets to the motif-filled wallpapers, from the lush upholstery fabrics to the elaborate floral arrangements, the vessel is a bit like a floating Versailles, seemingly trying to encapsulate a certain Louis XIV style. The French theme abounds in artwork adorning the walls as well as in the cuisine served onboard.
The S.S. Catherine features a 410-square-foot royal suite; five suites at 305 square feet each; 61 cabins at 194 square feet; and 13 cabins at 162 square feet. In an addition to the main dining room and lounge, there is a Leopard Lounge at the aft of the vessel with safari-themed touches, including a mosaic-tiled pool area.
The design of the vessel was overseen by Beatrice Tollman, president and founder of Uniworld’s sister company, the Red Carnation Hotel Collection; her daughter Toni Tollman; and Brian Brennan, projects director for Red Carnation.
During the christening ceremonies, Eric Rietveld, managing director of the Dutch shipyard Gierlien van Tiem that built the S.S. Catherine, announced that the shipyard was in the process of building an additional Super Ship for Uniworld, the S.S. Maria Theresa.
The 155-passenger S.S. Maria Theresa will be a sister ship to the S.S. Catherine and S.S. Antoinette and will sail the Danube River.