A French Gastronomic River Cruise

05 Jan 2020

Highly regarded by discerning travellers and cruise industry experts, Uniworld claim themselves to be the world’s most luxurious all-inclusive river cruise line, featuring luxurious ships with an average capacity of 130 guests and one of the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the river cruise industry. With their Boutique River Cruise collection, guests enjoy well curated exclusive excursions and gourmet cuisine as part of truly all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cambodia, India, and Egypt, for a total of 23 rivers in 24 countries worldwide.

Following an ambitious makeover that not only reimagined its purpose, overall design and aesthetic, but also enhanced its structure, Uniworld debuted its newest Super Ship, the transformed S.S. Bon Voyage, as part of the Boutique River Cruise Collection. After an inspired and meticulous eight-month renovation that took place in the small shipbuilding village of Druten, The Netherlands, the S.S. Bon Voyage has returned to France, to set sail in full glory.

Offering three itineraries along the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde rivers, the ship features four spacious new suites, four dining and beverage venues and spectacular Soleil Deck featuring panoramic views of the countryside, infinity pool and Le Café du Soleil, offering light local fare and chef-led cooking classes. In addition to its impeccable design and fine craftsmanship, guests of Uniworld’s S.S. Bon Voyage may take advantage of new and immersive offshore excursions and Wellness on the Water, integrated-programming that honours the importance guests place on maintaining their healthy lifestyles while traveling.

According to Uniworld CEO and President Ellen Bettridge, the S.S. Bon Voyage was specifically designed to elegantly and comfortably immerse guests in French culture, art, wine and cuisine. “Like the finest couture, the S.S. Bon Voyage was built with a singular purpose, to share the marvels of this amazing destination with our guests and there isn’t another like it in the world. It is certainly more expensive to build [ships] exclusively for a particular destination, but we know our guests value authentic experience above all else,” says Bettridge.

Renowned and lauded for its boutique approach to interior design that combines fine antiques, original art and distinctive colour palettes, the S.S. Bon Voyage references its French heritage throughout from its stunning lobby clad in polished wood with subtle brass details complementing the magnificent hand-crafted balustrade to the stylish emerald tones found in bar Le Salon Champagne, inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s personal abode, Villa Majorelle.

Additional dining venues also capture the essence of France including the the quintessential Parisian La Brasserie with its natural green and pops of yellow décor inspired by the famous Bouillon Pigalle and serving traditional bistro fare; Le Grand Fromage, offering menus reflective of the cuisines of the featured itineraries and prepared from locally sourced ingredients; and La Cave des Vins, an intimate space where connoisseurs can gather for expert food and wine pairing dinners upon request.

Perhaps most striking of the design features is the Soleil Deck, a stunning platform awash with vibrant fabrics that contrast elegantly against a fresh blue and white palate and expertly appointed furniture. Here, the newly installed and only infinity pool on the rivers gives a splash of modernity and offers spectacular views of the French countryside. Poolside service at the Le Café du Soleil completes this delightful ambiance, offering a casual cuisine reflective of relaxed French culture, as well as open-air cooking demonstrations from specialist chefs.

Along with the common areas, every guest room and suite has also received an exquisite redesign with cool marble bathrooms and unique features.

Immersive offshore excursions and an integrated wellness program also distinguish the S.S. Bon Voyage. New guest opportunity experiences include a walking tour and wine tasting at Saint-Emilion, a key wine town in Bordeaux; exploring Libourne’s local farmer’s market to choose the freshest vegetables, fruits and cheeses; an artisanal wine tasting at Château de Cazeneuve; and a bike ride tour through the lush Médoc vineyards. Wellness on the Water integrates the ship and the diversity of the Aquitaine landscape to strive for a healthy lifestyle, which the French refer to as douceur de vivre, a sweetness for life. Activities include yoga in the heart of an iconic historical site, such as the Blaye fortress with 360° views over the Gironde estuary, guided trekking or Nordic walk with a naturalist from the Garonne river banks, through the Bastide of Cadillac or sunrise meditation on Europe’s highest sand dune, La Teste-de-Buch.

Bettridge expressed that the S.S. Bon Voyage represented a new marvel on the river, spearheading the way for a continued, industry-leading transformation of the entire Uniworld fleet, setting the scene for the anticipation of further planned Super Ship launches in 2020 and beyond.

The S.S. Bon Voyage sails on three itineraries through France, beginning with the introductory eight-day Brilliant Bordeaux, 15-day A Portrait of France, and 22-day Ultimate France. For more information, please visit www.uniworld.com.

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