Following an ambitious makeover that not only reimagined its purpose, overall design and aesthetic but also enhanced its structure, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection debuts its newest Super Ship, the transformed S.S. Bon Voyage. After a meticulous eight-month renovation that took place in the small shipbuilding village of Druten, The Netherlands, the S.S. Bon Voyage has now returned to France, setting sail on her maiden voyage.
Offering three itineraries along the Garonne, Dordogne and Gironde rivers, the ship features four spacious new suites, four dining and beverage venues and the spectacular Soleil Deck, featuring panoramic views of the countryside, an 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 travelling.
According to Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld’s President and Chief Executive, 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.”
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 on 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.
In addition to common areas, every guest room and suite has received an exquisite redesign with cool marble bathrooms and unique features.
Immersive offshore excursions and an integrated wellness programme also distinguish the S.S. Bon Voyage. New guest opportunities 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.
“The S.S. Bon Voyage’s debut not only represents a new marvel on the river, but the continued, industry-leading transformation of the entire Uniworld fleet,” added Ellen. “Her arrival sets the scene for the anticipation of planned Super Ship launches in 2020 and beyond.”