De­sign Time

Uni­world’s S.S. Joie de Vivre re­flects the French joy of liv­ing.

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Contents - BY FRAN GOLDEN


128-pas­sen­ger S.S. Joie de Vivre she had some of her fa­vorite things about Paris in mind. As the Di­rec­tor of De­sign and Projects at Uni­world Bou­tique River Cruise Col­lec­tion, she wanted the new river ship to em­brace the Golden Age of French ship­build­ing, the elegance of a grand Parisian ho­tel, the am­bi­ence of a lux­u­ri­ous pied-à-terre, and a touch of clas­sic chateaux — all circa 20th cen­tury. “I was think­ing, for in­stance, about cruis­ing in the 1930s, when peo­ple got dressed up for din­ner with di­a­monds and went out on the town,” Tollman said. “It’s the genre of go­ing back in time.” The re­sult is a chic, four-deck river ship de­signed to de­light Fran­cophiles as she cruises the Seine CUL­TURAL IN S P I R A T I O N_ S.S. Joie de Vivre de­buted in the spring, with Bri­tish ac­tress and un­abashed Fran­cophile Dame Joan Collins as god­mother. In­clude Collins among those who were im­pressed that you’d know where you’re cruis­ing on this ship even if you didn’t see the Eif­fel Tower out the win­dow. She said she was blown away by the ship’s beauty.

“All the ship is French cul­ture, in the fab­ric, the art, ev­ery­thing,” said Tollman, adding that the joie de vivre — joy of liv­ing — is re­ally what they wanted to bring in. For the de­signer, whose fam­ily owns the river line and par­ent com­pany, The Travel Cor­po­ra­tion, lux­ury was a fo­cus, but so was not go­ing too much over the top.

Sa­lon Toulouse, the ship’s win­dowed main lounge, is el­e­gantly invit­ing, done up in rich and col­or­ful Pierre Frey fab­rics and silk wall cov­er­ings with yacht-style high-glossed wood and brass ac­cents. It’s a won­der­ful place to watch the views while you sip free-flow­ing cham­pagne (drinks are in­cluded in your cruise fare). Orig­i­nal ar­chi­tec­tural hand en­grav­ings of Paris in the early 19th cen­tury adorn the back wall and add a sub­tle his­tor­i­cal el­e­ment.

The lobby’s sig­na­ture fea­ture is a dou­ble wrought-iron stair­case in­spired, Tollman said, by a stair­case at the Hô­tel Plaza Athénée in Paris. There’s also a glass el­e­va­tor with a wa­ter­fall fea­ture. Fly­ing on the re­cep­tion desk are bronze but­ter­flies, a mo­tif that Tollman bor­rowed from the Château de la Croë, the villa on the Côte d’Azur where The Duke and Duchess of Wind­sor lived for a time. ( It’s now owned by Rus­sian busi­ness­man Ro­man Abramovich.)

In Le Pi­galle restau­rant, Tollman went with her dream vi­sion of what a clas­sic post-war Parisian restau­rant should look like. Guests sit in cream- col­ored leather chairs or on semi- circle salmon- col­ored ban­quettes be­neath a tufted vel­vet ceil­ing. Vin­tage lights and fresh flow­ers dec­o­rate the white table­cloths. It’s the per­fect set­ting for gen­er­ous pours of lo­cal wine and clas­sic French cui­sine (and an amaz­ingly sump­tu­ous cheese se­lec­tion at the lunchtime buf­fet).

Up­stairs, the more ca­sual Le Bistrot is de­signed as the per­fect lit­tle Parisian side­walk café — com­plete with lit­tle half cur­tains, tiled floor, café ta­bles and chairs, red ban­quettes, and red-and-white-check­ered table­cloths. Tollman said she had no spe­cific in­spi­ra­tion for Le Bistrot, but cre­ated a space based on “what a French bistro should look like.” French onion soup, per­fect roast chicken, and duck cas­soulet are on the menu. In fact, you could Face­book or In­sta­gram this venue and your friends would think you made a real Paris find. ART,DÉ­COR, AND MORE_ Toll man let her cre­ativ­ity run wild with Club L’Esprit, an in­door well­ness oa­sis with a pool and juice bar. The room is fur­nished with cush­ioned wicker chairs and Tollman her­self cre­ated the hand­painted leaves on the walls — in­spi­ra­tion from the works of French artist Henri Rousseau. At night, the space mag­i­cally trans­forms (thanks to a nifty pool cover and a mood ceil­ing with clouds and twin­kling stars) into Claude’s, a sexy sup­per club named for artist Claude Monet. Live jazz is per­formed while you dine or en­joy drinks. On some nights, the space also morphs into a movie the­ater show­ing French clas­sics. At the aft end of Club L’Esprit is a lit­tle Win­ter Gar­den with a ceil­ing and win­dows that open in nice weather, a de­light­ful spot for af­ter­noon tea or a ro­man­tic din­ner. Nearby is a small fit­ness cen­ter and massage room.

Orig­i­nal French posters are part of the ship’s art col­lec­tion and in­clude a par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive one of Josephine Baker in an elab­o­rate feath­ered head­dress, which you’ll find in the club. Car­i­ca­tures of Parisians by Belle Époque artist Sem (Ge­orges Gour­sat) fes­toon hall­ways named for French writ­ers. You’ll find your cabin on the Vic­tor Hugo, Balzac, or Jules Verne decks.

Tollman adorned the cab­ins with more lush fab­rics from Pierre Frey. Up­hol­stered head­boards top the hand­crafted Savoir of Eng­land beds. Bath­rooms are mar­ble and fea­ture a shower, and most cab­ins have French bal­conies.

Eight ju­nior suites are each in­di­vid­u­ally dec­o­rated as in a bou­tique ho­tel, but with added sit­ting ar­eas. Two op­u­lent Royal Suites come with sep­a­rate liv­ing rooms, large onyx bath­rooms (with tub and shower), and the clever fea­ture of a TV that comes down from the bed­room ceil­ing. They also con­nect to a sec­ond bed­room if de­sired — through a se­cret door hidden in a mir­ror.

Up on the sun­deck, big, cir­cus-like redand-white um­brel­las pro­vide shade and a touch of play­ful­ness. And food­ies will love La Cave du Vin, a first-of-its-kind wine room with bot­tles on dis­play in cool­ers and a mar­ble­topped ta­ble for 12. Here, chefs lead cook­ing ses­sions fol­lowed by a seven-course tast­ing meal (for an ad­di­tional fee). From one venue to the next, this river ship

is joie de vivre in­deed.

For the de­signer, lux­ury was a fo­cus, but so was not go­ing too much over the top.

Parisian in­flu­ences can be seen in suites and the lobby (op­po­site page) as well as (L-R) Le Pi­galle restau­rant, Club L’Esprit, and Le Bistrot.

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