A Firsthand Look at Uniworld’s New S.S. Maria Theresa
Thursday, March 26, 2015
It’s been a busy week of river cruising here in Amsterdam, and we’re still very much playing catch-up. But even as I write this at 2:44 a.m. in the morning, I have to skip ahead a bit to show you one of the most striking ships on the waterways of Europe: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s S.S. Maria Theresa.
The brand-new 443-foot long ship was christened this morning in an understated ceremony at the Port of Amsterdam, and we were on-hand to experience both the festivities and the S.S. Maria Theresa herself. Capable of carrying 150 guests and a staff of 37, Uniworld’s latest-and greatest is as much a floating work of art as it is a river cruise ship.
Believe it or not, after years of writing about the line this is the very first Uniworld ship I’ve physically stepped on board. With an all-inclusive product, I have certain elevated expectations, and Uniworld has not only met but exceeded them: luggage was brought to my Category 2 Stateroom on Deck 3 promptly, and my cabin stewardess explained the myriad of electronic doodads in the stateroom to me. If you think you don’t need the explanation, you do: this ship does things very differently when it comes to accommodations, from the way you open your stateroom door (pull towards you, then push inward), to the way you control you cabin lighting via a digital dimmer.
Christening ceremonies for the new ship began this morning at 10:30 a.m., with an understated pierside ceremony in Amsterdam. Although chilly, guests assembled on the red carpet didn’t seem to mind, and at a few points the sun even poked through the grey blanket of clouds that has enveloped the city since yesterday.
Guy Young, President and CEO of Uniworld, began the proceedings by introducing Beatrice Tollman, President and Founder of Uniworld’s sister company The Red Carnation Hotel Collection. Tollman also leads Uniworld’s design team and provides input to the cruise line’s superb food and service standards across all its boutique ships.
“Launching this ship has been one of the delights of my life,” said Tollman. “I hope everyone here today, and each and every guest to come, will be touched by the incredible beauty, attention to detail and personal service they will experience on board. Creating wonderful memories for our guests is absolutely at the heart of everything we do.”
Young also introduced the ship’s Godmother to the crowd.
“It is my great pleasure to welcome Princess Anita von Hohenberg as Godmother of the S.S. Maria Theresa,” said Young. “As a direct descendant of the ship’s namesake, and as Managing Director and owner of Artstetten Castle, where she has been welcoming Uniworld guests for many years, she is the perfect fit to christen our new masterpiece.”
“I’d like to thank the Tollman family for your generosity in extending this honor and responsibility to me,” said Princess Anita, “and for your ideas and entrepreneurship in creating this beautiful tribute to Maria Theresa, who left such a strong legacy across Europe. This new magnificent vessel, with her Captain, staff and family, is in the very best hands. It is truly a floating castle.”
The concept of a ‘floating castle’ is quite appropriate for the S.S. Maria Theresa. Ornate and opulent, she channels a bygone time. I’m a huge lover of classic ocean liners, and to me, her Baroque interiors recall some of the great German transatlantic liners of the early 20th Century. In fact, while the love-it-or-hate-it interior décor that Uniworld has become known for is remarkably polarizing in modern times, it’s not all that out of place with the kind of custom fit-and-finish you’d see on a classic transatlantic ocean liner.
While there’s more to come here, including a full deck-by-deck photo tour of this incredible vessel, let’s take a look at Uniworld’s new S.S. Maria Theresa – in pictures!
Our Live Voyage Report from the christening of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s S.S. Maria Theresa will continue with a full photo-tour of this striking ship! Be sure to follow along on twitter @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.