Mr. Guy Young, President of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, began the christening program by thanking all of the special guests and Uniworld and shipyard employees who had worked so hard towards bringing the ship into service.
Mr. Young briefly discussed how the Travel Corporation first entered the river cruise business with their 2004 acquisition of Uniworld. Over the past several years, the ships have been refurbished to meet the standards expected by the Travel Corporation customers in their luxury boutique hotels, including many personal touches of Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, the founder and President of the company. This year Uniworld has acquired three new ships and is refurbishing three others.
Mr. Young then introduced Ms. Toni Tollman, the principal designer and godmother of the S.S. Antoinette. Ms. Tollman has closely worked on the decor and design of many of the Travel Corporation hotels, and now she is adding her expertise to the river vessels. Ms. Tollman thanked her parents for their confidence in her designs, and said she likes to think of Uniworld's ships as luxury boutique "boatels". Their goal is to give guests a 5-star experience, which means giving them everything they want through knowledge and endless effort.
The concept for the interior design and decor of the S.S. Antoinette started with a 2.5-meter tall chandelier that Stanley and Beatrice Tollman purchased from the famous Tavern on the Green Restaurant in New York City's Central Park. The Tollmans had dined many times under that chandelier, and when the restaurant closed, they purchased it for sentimental reasons, planning to use it somewhere in their company. Their daughter Toni appropriated it for the centerpiece of the new river ship, the S.S. Antoinette, and the spectacular chandelier now hangs in its 2-deck lobby. The ornate chandelier and the name of the ship led to its 18th century French decor. Although the ship is named for Antoinette Tollman (Toni), it also carries the name of a more famous Antoinette--Queen Marie Antoinette of France.
Ms. Tollman then proceeded to name the ship, first toasting her with a glass of champagne, and then cutting the cord that held a bottle of champagne. The bottle bounced against the ship, but didn't break. Not a problem for two crewmen on the bow above the bottle. They quickly retrieved it and broke it! Everyone cheered. The S.S. Antoinette was officially christened.
Following the naming of the ship, Godmother Toni Tollman and the ship's Captain poured champagne over the ship's bell. In addition, the president of the shipyard briefly spoke about the many innovations included on the S.S. Antoinette, and the challenges they faced in building a river ship with a swimming pool over the engine room and a retractable restaurant on top of the ship, just to name two of the innovations. He presented the ship's Godmother with a replica of the S.S. Antoinette, noting it took almost as long to create as the actual ship.
The Amsterdam harbormaster was the next speaker. She presented the Captain with a plaque and said the city was proud that Uniworld had chosen Amsterdam for the S.S. Antoinette christening. She also briefly discussed how Amsterdam had grown from about 200 ship visits per year in 1990 to over 1300 per year in 2011.
The final speaker was the CEO of the Amsterdam Convention and Vistors Bureau. He acknowledged the beautiful day, said he couldn't think of a better way to start spring two days early, and said he was delighted that Uniworld now had four ships calling on Amsterdam.
More on the S.S. Antoinette
The S.S. Antoinette is the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's most innovative, elegant, and expensive ship. The 443-foot-long ship is also Uniworld's largest, carrying 164 passengers on four decks, plus a sun deck. The ship is the first river vessel to feature an indoor swimming pool with a sun roof and a large retractable window that opens to allow fresh air into the pool area.
Like most river vessels, the S.S. Antoinette has a large glass observation lounge forward on one deck with the main restaurant below. However, this ship also has an indoor/outdoor restaurant on the sun deck that can be retracted to allow the ship to pass under low bridges. The luxurious lounge chairs on the sun deck are well padded, perfect for watching the river scenery slide by. Also on the sun deck is a small lounge, the Leopard Lounge, complete with leopard print decor and a large leopard statue. It's the only public room on the ship that doesn't look like something from an elegant 18th century French chateau. In addition to these areas, the ship has a massage room, movie theater, fitness room, boutique shop, and guest self-service laundry room.
The S.S. Antoinette accommodations are in seven categories, including the 163-square-foot category 4 and 5 staterooms, the 196-square-foot category 1, 2, and 3 staterooms, eight suites measuring 294-square feet, and a Royal Suite that measures 391 square feet. All the S.S. Antoinette cabins have luxurious bedding, a large marble bath with glass door shower, and a picture window across the entire width of the room that will open with the touch of a switch. It's like having an open air cabin. The cabins and suites on deck 4 (La Princesse Deck) have full open-air balconies that can be closed (with a touch of a switch) to create a completely enclosed conservatory.
The new river vessel will begin regular 8-day cruises of the Rhine River between Amsterdam and Basel on March 27.
S.S. Antoinette Photo Gallery - 36 photos of the new Uniworld Boutique River Cruises' ship
Chandelier in Lobby of S.S. Antoinette (c) Linda Garrison