Lyon, France - On a beautiful sunny day in Lyon, France, Uniworld's newest sparkling gem, Super Ship, S.S. Catherine, was christened in an elegant ceremony in front of over 150 guests.
Attending the intimate ceremony were travel agency owners and executives; local dignitaries; journalists from around the world; Guy Young, President and CEO of Uniworld and his wife, Melissa; and three generations of the Tollman Family (Uniworld's parent company, who celebrates their 10 year anniversary owning and operating Uniworld) and their friends.
The ceremony opened with Brett Tollman, CEO and President of The Travel Corporation saying, “This is a most wonderful day to christen this most gorgeous and glorious ship on the rivers.” Making her home on the Rhône and Saône rivers in Burgundy and Provence, the S.S. Catherine has been styled and fashioned to reflect these breathtaking regions of France.
The celebration continued with the customary tradition of the S.S. Catherine's ship builder, Erik Rietfelds from Shipyard de Gerlen van Tiem from the Netherland, giving a key to the S.S. Catherine's Captain Pascal Rech.
Mr. Denis Trouxe, President of the Grand Lyon Tourist Office, took to the podium and thanked the Tollman family and Uniworld by saying, “This is the type of magnificent ship we like to see on the rivers.”
He then introduced Mrs. Beatrice Tollman, President and Founder of the award-winning Red Carnation Hotels, Uniworld's sister company.
Mrs. Tollman welcomed the honoree dignitaries and then in a most heartfelt speech, Mrs. Tollman shared the history of how she and her husband, Mr. Stanley Tollman, have spent the last 60 years in the hospitality industry owning and operating five-star luxury boutique hotels with one goal in mind “to please their guests and exceed their expectations.”
Mrs. Tollman preceded to say, “Life keeps very busy, very creative, and very exciting; I get so emotional as we put so much love and passion into our hotels and Uniworld ships because it means something to us to please our guests and make them feel extra special, and these principles have stayed the same for over 60 years.”
She thanked her daughter, Mrs. Antoinette Tollman, and their Project Manager, Mr. Brian Brennan, for creating a new masterpiece in Uniworld's collection of one-of-a-kind luxury boutique cruise ships.
Mrs. Tollman then introduced Ms. Catherine Deneuve, France's legendary actress and the Godmother of the S.S. Catherine. “It is my pleasure to be here today celebrating the ship that bears my name. My complements to Mrs. Tollman for the beauty and elegance of this ship. May God bless her,” stated Ms. Deneuve.
Captain Pascal joined Ms. Deneuve for the cutting of the blue ribbon that triggered the smashing of a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne against the vessel's hull. Once the official ceremony was over, an orchestra played timeless classics, such as Moon River, and movie themes, including the score from the Godfather and Pink Panther, in honour of Ms. Deneuve.
All guests joined in a champagne toast before boarding the ship to enjoy the S.S. Catherine for a special four-day inaugural sailing.