‘Stylish and opulent’ is how French America Line chairman Christopher Kyte describes the new boutique riverboat Louisiane. He also shared a soupçon of fresh details about the vessel and a new hire.
‘The fabrics are rich. The furniture and materials probably make it the most luxe riverboat in the world. We can’t take credit for the high ceilings; they were there. [Louisiane] will certainly set a new standard here in the US,’ Kyte said.
The vessel’s refit is complete and Louisiane is in New Orleans where sailings will start Oct. 22 from a dedicated pier, Quai Louisiane, on the west bank of the Mississippi near the Hilton Riverwalk.
Louisiane is the former Columbia Queen, the last vessel built by the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. and just redone from stem to stern during a multimillion-dollar docking. Sailing for French America Line, the vessel will have luxury touches like beignets from Café du Monde, Ladurée macarons from Paris and cuisine by the noted chef Regina Charboneau.
The first two cruises are charters, a four-night sailing for a ‘huge US tour company’ and a 15-night sailing for a ‘huge Asia Pacific tour operator.’
The vessel is ‘the perfect size for charters,’ Kyte said. ‘You only need 150 people, or 75 couples.’
Bookings, he added, are ‘phenomenally good’ for next year.
Exemplifying the caliber of entertainment is vocalist Barbara Rosene, renowned for interpreting the great music of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, who performs with The Harry James Orchestra and at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. She’ll be aboard for the first week.
Newly revealed, after 10 p.m. the brasserie-like Veranda will transform into a late-night spot called Bar Rive Gauche, with soft lighting, French jazz, carafes of red wine and onion soup gratinée. The inspiration was the chic late-night spot of the same name on the SS France, an ocean liner Kyte adored.
As for the new hire, Aidy Alonzo joins next week as director of marketing. Her prior cruise-related positions include senior director of marketing at American Queen Steamboat Co. and at Cruise Planners/American Express, director of on-board revenue management for Prestige Cruise Holdings and director of marketing for Oceania Cruises.
A couple other cruise figures will be signing on as well. Stay tuned, Kyte said.