Seeking Patricia, Finding MARIA!

Peter Knego pays a quick visit to Uniworld’s uber-luxe, brand new cruise ship S.S. MARIA THERESA in Amsterdam on the eve of the Super Ship’s christening by Princess Anita von Hohenberg.

Uniworld Cruises

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Wednesday, March 24, 2015

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S.S. MARIA THERESA at Amsterdam.

While in Amsterdam for the epic Viking Cruises christening of a dozen of their splendid Longships, I had hoped to rendezvous with my U.K.-based friend Pat Richardson, a fellow journalist that was attending the inaugural festivities for upscale boutique line Uniworld’s new “Super Ship” MARIA THERESA.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA at Amsterdam.

Unfortunately, our respective schedules were not conducive to even a quick hello but while in the process of trying to visit her, I had the opportunity to tour “her” ship.

In every decorative respect, the MARIA THERESA is radically different from the Viking Longships.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA night shot.

All European River vessels are limited in length, width and height to clear the locks and bridges of the rivers they ply. In the case of the largest ships, which include the Longships and Uniworld’s “Super Ship” class MARIA THERESA, which will sail along the Rhine, Main and Danube, those dimensions are 443 by 37.5 feet.

Like the Longships, the MARIA THERESA has four decks, from top to bottom: Sun, Hofsburg, Schonbrunn and Bavaria.  Joining the S.S. ANTOINETTE of 2011 and the S.S. CATHERINE of 2014, this latest Super Ship was christened by Princess Anita von Hohenberg, a descendant of the vessel’s namesake 18th Century Austrian Empress, on March 26, 2015.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Reception, facing aft from upper level.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Reception Desk.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Reception, facing aft from lower level.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Chandelier.

The first thing guests will encounter when boarding, either from Hofsburg or Schonbrunn Deck, is the lofty Reception area with its double helix grand staircase. An imposing life-size oil painting of Empress Maria Theresa looms behind an ornate crystal chandelier.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Men’s Room.

Unlike the clean, Scandinavian Modern styling of the Longships, Uniworld’s newest vessel is ornate, elaborate and unapologetically Baroque. Blue-veined marble, polished brass, filigreed mirrors and gold leaf grace every tangible surface. And that’s just the Men’s Room.

In the context of the regions S.S. MARIA THERESA visits, she may be the perfect luxury liner, artfully mimicking the grandeur of her surrounds. Regardless, any ship with a cinema dedicated to the ravishing Hedy Lamarr is more than alright in my book.

One thing is for certain, no expense has been spared in her fitting out and from the feedback I have been able to glean from fellow journalists, the Uniworld product, from the cuisine, doting service, attention to detail in the staterooms and even the shore excursions, is impeccable. For high seas travelers, Uniworld can be likened to an intimate, river cruising equivalent to Regent, Crystal or Seabourn.

Although I missed cavorting with Patricia, I enjoyed “meeting” MARIA. The following images are merely a visitor’s sampling of the amenities offered by Uniworld’s latest “Super Ship”:

Outer Deck Areas:

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Sun Deck checkers.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA shaded Sun Deck.

Sun Deck has collapsible rails and a telescopic wheelhouse to clear low-lying bridges.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Hofburg Deck terrace, facing port.

The next lower level, Hofburg Deck, features teak lined terraces at the fore and aft ends of the ship.

Interiors

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Hapsburg Salon, facing aft.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Hapsburg Salon nook.

The 152-seat Hapsburg Salon is located off the Reception on forward Hofburg Deck. It has full length windows, a bar, large dance floor and plenty of intimate nooks.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Bar du Leopard, facing aft.

The Bar du Leopard is at the aft end of Hofburg Deck and seats 48 guests when combined with the adjoining terrace aft.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA pool, facing aft.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA pool, facing forward.

On the port side of the Bar du Leopard, there is a wading pool enclosed in glass bulkheads that fog up when guests enter the pool.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Baroque Restaurant, facing aft.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Baroque Restaurant table setting.

On forward Schonbrunn Deck, the 152-seat Baroque Restaurant has picture windows from a near-river level vantage.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Bavarian Deck foyer, facing aft.

A mirrored foyer links several intimate venues on the lowest Bavarian Deck level.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Cafe Vienna, facing forward.

The Cafe Vienna is at the forward end of Bavarian Deck.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Gym, facing aft.

Unlike many river vessels, the S.S. MARIA THERESA has a well-equipped gym with cardio equipment and free weights.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Lipizzan Cinema, facing port.

A ten seat cinema is just aft of the gym.

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S.S. MARIA THERESA Hofburg Deck passage, facing forward.

I didn’t get to see any staterooms but am assured they are as posh as the public surrounds of the MARIA THERESA.

Special thanks: Susan Chou, Arnelle Kendall, Patricia Richardson

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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