Cruising Along the Seine on the Inaugural of our Magnificent S.S. Joie de Vivre
Warm greetings from Paris. I spent the last few days on the magnificent new S.S. Joie de Vivre. Our family is immensely proud of this Uniworld Super Ship, which is one of the crowning glories of our 100 years of hospitality. Our outstanding Uniworld team members and our family worked tirelessly to create and achieve the most luxurious and spectacular ship to sail along the Seine. The ship was declared a ‘triumph’ by a top media publication who joined us on this voyage, amongst many superlatives mentioned during her maiden voyage.
It was very meaningful to experience this unforgettable inaugural with my family and close friends including my wonderful wife, Miranda, our sons Jake and Max, my two sisters, Toni (who designed and helped complete this “super yacht”) and Vicki, my cousins, Gavin and Michael, my beloved parents and my mother-in-law, renowned actress, Pippa Scott. Some of our many highly preferred travel trade partners also joined us since they are considered like family for the numerous decades that we have successfully worked together, and some of the world’s leading media as well.
We believe sincerely and accurately that the Joie de Vivre is one of the very best and most beautiful ships ever built by either a river or ocean cruising company. Our guests remarked that when they stepped onboard, they felt they were cruising on the most luxurious private super yacht. They also commented that it was the most elegant, finest and seamless inaugural, which they had ever experienced. Albert Herrera, Virtuoso’s Vice President of hotels, destinations and tours (the world’s best luxury travel advisors) commented that our Super Ship matches any one of the finest luxury hotels in the world. Now that is remarkable praise from one of the very best aficionados of luxury hospitality.
Christening Day – March 27th
Our Chairman, Mr. Stanley Tollman gave the welcome and opening remarks at the inaugural ceremony, under a perfect blue sky and crisp day in Paris. He spoke about the importance of having the inaugural in Paris. Our family wholeheartedly stands by The Travel Corporation’s firm commitment to help bolster the country’s recovering tourism industry, after the awful terror attacks over the past 18 months. We have been bringing millions of travelers to France for over 50 years. He acknowledged that France had challenges these past few years but Uniworld did not postpone nor cancel the launch of our finest ever Super Ship in “The City of Light”. He was also pleased to announce that this iconic destination is coming back and that the Joie de Vivre is nearly 90% booked for 2017.
Joie de Vivre’s Godmother, Dame Joan Collins
British Actress, Author and Producer, Dame Joan Collins was our beautiful, stylish, vivacious, elegant and unique Godmother for our Super Ship. This legend of the screen and stage brought a perfect element of glamour and her charismatic spirit reflects our ship’s name, “the joy of living”.
A Family Affair
I would also like to acknowledge the incredible work of three of our most talented, remarkable members of my family, who are deeply involved with leading our Red Carnation Hotels, and they are also the visionaries in creating these luxury floating boutique hotels, on our Uniworld ships.
My inspirational and unique mother, Bea Tollman, is the President and Founder of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection and is also Uniworld’s “celebrity” or in-house Executive Chef. During the inaugural festivities, guests’ feedback was that the cuisine was delicious, and the service was impeccable and flawless. They raved about the food served onboard, which includes a well balanced mix of elegant French cuisine, simple bistro fare, farm to table healthy options and some of her own famous home cooking dishes – a plethora of choice for all dining tastes on every ship.
Our culinary creations being served on board with our core farm-to-table commitment paired with wonderful local wines throughout the ship’s four dining venues, including Le Bistrot, Salon Toulouse, Claude’s and Le Pigalle. Le Cave des Vins is an intimate hands-on dining experience for 12 people where our chefs will provide culinary demonstrations and guests select the freshest ingredients at the market. A seven-course gourmet meal then follows with French wine pairings from our sommelier. Le Pigalle is an outstanding restaurant and our guests’ feedback is that it should receive three Michelin Stars. Our signature dessert onboard is a white chocolate sphere with a raspberry macaron and orange cake inside, with a hot dark chocolate sauce then poured onto the sphere at the table, and the sphere opens to reveal its delicacies inside.
My wonderful sister, Vicki Tollman is both the Director of our Red Carnation Hotels and the award-winning winery, Bouchard Finlayson, a boutique vineyard in South Africa’s Walker Bay region. She assisted us in having our wines delivered on time for our inaugural so that our guests can discover the wines of our homeland. We are pleased to be recognized as one of the best wineries in South Africa and we currently export to over 32 countries across the globe.
My other amazing and hugely talented sister, Toni Tollman, is Red Carnation’s and Uniworld’s lead designer. She did intensive research over 12 months to personally design every detail of the Joie de Vivre, to reflect a mix of the finest designs in Paris from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. She personally sourced all the Italian woodwork from Milan with a craftsman we work with there, the highest selections of Onyx and other marbles in our bathrooms and cabins, and the finest French fabrics from the family house of Pierre Frey, which was founded in 1935. Toni also designed the hand-painted leaves on the walls of the Club L’Esprit, the onboard spa and wellness including a heated pool with a hydraulic floor, which changes at night into Claude’s, a sexy, inviting Supper Club. (Claude’s will also show classic French films underneath the stars on some nights).
Our family is so proud of the Joie de Vivre ship we have created, and are equally proud to continue to support and contribute to France’s very important tourism industry, which represents almost 10% of her GDP and 9% of total employment in France.
It was a trip of a lifetime together, and the memories we created together onboard will stay with each of us forever. It was a powerful reminder of how travel and tourism is such a force for good, with the memories we create and share together on such trips, and how we benefit and touch local communities where we visit. It also reminded me how lucky and fortunate I am to lead one of the great travel companies in the world, with a very passionate dedicated team of professionals who are driven to provide remarkable experiences and memories of a lifetime, with great value, for every guest who travels with us, be it on one of Uniworld’s unique ships, or staying at one of Red Carnation’s jewels of a hotel, or traveling with Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, or Contiki, or any of our other brands.
Wishing you all the best,