Under sunny skies on Saturday, Uniworld christened its new 164-passenger Antoinette pierside in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Crew members lined the Antoinette's upper deck holding flags from countries around the world. They also held white balloons, which also decorated the bow of the ship and the gangway.
Guy Young, president and CEO, the Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, welcomed VIP guests, travel industry partners and media guests and praised Uniworld's parent company, The Travel Corporation, for its investment in the Uniworld brand. This year Uniworld is launching three new ships and refurbishing three others.
Stanley and Beatrice Tollman and other members of the Tollman family, owners of The Travel Corporation, attended. Toni "Antoinette" Tollman, the ship's designer and godmother, took the podium to describe her passionate vision for the new vessel and her desire to deliver a five-star boutique hotel experience for river cruise guests.
She designed the ship to reek of class with fine fittings, furnishings and design elements. Her goal was to get away from the plastic, mass-market look of some other river vessels of the past, and to use high quality materials combining the elegance of Versailles with the comfort of a French country estate.
When the moment arrived for the christening, Tollman pulled the string that sent the champagne bottle crashing down onto the ship's bow. While the bottle didn't immediately break -- as happens from time to time at cruise ship christenings -- Tollman was immediately assisted by a crew member on the ship who gave the bottle a second "swing" and presto, it popped.
It was a festive occasion, as Tollman and Captain Frank Versluis poured champagne over the Antoinette's official bell. At 443-feet-long, Antoinette is the largest river boat now sailing on any European waterway; it will sail throughout the year on seven-night voyages in The Netherlands and Germany.
Antoinette has many unique features including a 20-seat movie theater, the first ever on a river boat; French balconies and full balconies with glass windows that drop or rise with the push of a button; pampering suites; and a pool.
Travel Agent will report back about the onboard experience in an upcoming issue of the print magazine.
Photos courtesy Susan J. Young