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Uniworld's newest river cruise ship to be floating 'Baroque castle'

Uniworld lays on the luxury and the history in its newest ship, SS Maria Theresa, which sails in March.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's newest ship, the Maria Theresa, promises to take visitors on a trip through time as well as through Europe.

Uniworld announced details last week about the Maria Theresa but didn't release many photos or renderings. Still, the announcement says the river ship's interior is meant to evoke 18th century Habsburg elegance and luxury, something that's become a hallmark of Uniworld's newer river cruise ships too.

"Our aim is to transport each guest into experiencing the fantasy of living in an 18th century Baroque castle," designer Toni Tollman says in a statement.

Named for the 18th century Habsburg ruler, the ship will be christened March 26 by godmother Princess Anita von Hehnberg. She's a descendant of Maria Theresa and great-granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne whose assassination precipitated World War I.

According to Uniworld, step into the three-tiered lobby and you'll see a marble staircase as well as walls paneled with antique mirrors. A Murano glass chandelier hangs from the ceiling, which is decorated with a hand-painted trump l'oeil mural.

In the entryway you'll also meet Maria Theresa, in the form of a 10-foot oil painting. The Habsburg Salon allows guests to spend tea time looking at five murals of the Austrian countryside circa 1800s. You'll also see the family symbol -- a coronet -- painted in 22-carat gold leaf on accents.

Custom furniture, silk-covered walls, wood paneling, carved columns and other details have been handled by a team of artisans, the statement says.

The ship also hosts an authentic Viennese cafe, Leopard Bar and a Lipizzan Cinema for movie-watchers. In a nod to the modern era, there's also a fitness center, swimming pool and Serenity River Spa.

The Maria Theresa has 64 staterooms, 10 one-bedroom suites and one royal suite. It will accommodate 150 guests and 57 crew members.

The ship's maiden voyage sails March 28 from Budapest, Hungary, to Amsterdam.

Info: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, (800) 257-2407

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