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CFC’s Renaissance named by French actress Anne Parillaud in Le Havre

Among the attendees: Godmother Anne Parillaud (centre) beside Clément Mousset holding the ship’s mascot (his dog Patmol); to her right is Cedric Rivoie-Perrochat.
After two setbacks in the form of delays during renovation at Damen’s Brest yard, Compagnie Française de Croisières’ all-French first ship Renaissance was named June 28 at Le Havre, one of its two homeports.

Some 500 passengers sailed aboard the former Holland America Line vessel (ex Maasdam) prior to the festivities, during a test cruise June 23-26 calling at Zeebrugge. 

Emotional ceremony

As the Champagne bottle smashed against Renaissance’s dark hull – topped by its new tricolour funnel – both CFC President Clément Mousset and the line’s GM Cédric Rivoire-Perrochat appeared visibly moved following nine months of intense work instead of the four originally estimated. 

‘Renaissance is there, in a way, thumbing its nose to these atypical last three years, and also to those who didn’t believe in such an adventure,’ said Mousset. ‘It is a powerful symbol of the great entrepreneurial spirit so proper to the French maritime industry, marked by a strong capacity for resilience.’ 

'An act of faith' 

Rivoire-Perrochat described the venture as ‘act of faith and a huge risk taking to bring our project to life,’ adding that the venture required perseverance, commitment, financial and human investment. ‘It was also a vision which created jobs, which we are proud to have done. In Marseille, our office started with a staff of 10 people - we’ll soon be 40. The 560 crew members come from all over the world.’ He continued, ‘Heirs to a French maritime tradition, we also want to be pioneers,’ offering ‘a new creative and dynamic twist.’

Ambitions from Le Havre 

Jean-Baptiste Gastinne, first deputy mayor representing Edouard Philippe, former French prime minister and mayor of Le Havre, expressed praise at one of the ship’s homeports being Le Havre. ‘For 500 years, our port’s vocation has been to welcome all kinds of ships… We have great ambitions for our cruise terminal, set at the Pointe de Floride for the time being. Mostly a port of call for cruise lines, we aim to make Le Havre an embarkation port. This is something our new cruise terminal will allow.’ He stated that the port has ambitions for shore power at three berths in the near future. 

Summoning the art de vivre

Godmother Anne Parillaud, best known for playing the role of Nikita – the title character in her husband Luc Besson’s French cult movie by the same name – expressed joy at naming a ship representing ‘creativity, boldness and courage,’ and to have been chosen ‘to take on this symbolic role for a company with an authentic and timeless universe.’ She described Mousset and Rivoire-Perrochat as ‘just like film directors, conductors, choreographers. They set in motion [and] harmonise a whole range of ultra-diverse jobs, skills from all areas.’ 

She said the two ‘ensure consistency’ with a ‘care for details, an obsession with precision,’ adding, ‘the result is there, majestic, before our eyes… What attracted me most in this adventure is the point to which it summons this highly cultural collective imagination, where wanderlust becomes art de vivre.’ 

Richly decorated interiors 

Decks are named after French islands and multiple works of art can be seen scattered around the ship, including oil paintings along staircases. ‘We are very respectful of Holland America Line: we kept Maasdam’s soul, but gave it new youth,’ stated Mousset. 

The three-deck-high green glass sculpted centrepiece, Totem by Luciano Vistosi, can still be seen in the atrium foyer. 

Renamed La Belle Epoque, the theatre retains its Art Nouveau/Art Deco ambience. 

Spanning two decks and featuring a grand staircase, the main restaurant remains the same but has been renamed Vatel after the 17th century French chef François Vatel. 

Further upgrades made, mostly by adding new furniture, upholstery and fabrics in more contemporary colours, can be found throughout the ship, as well as a wide range of additional intimate spaces. An impressive library and spa can also be found aboard the vessel. 


CFC has listened to the French market and its demands: the 629-cabin vessel has 100 cabins dedicated to solo travellers year round, supplement-free. 

‘Our aim was – and is – to offer a revival of traditional long cruises in a French style, which meant a French flag and exclusively francophone cruises from three emblematic French ports, which are Le Havre, Marseille and next year Bordeaux,’ Mousset noted. According to the president, Renaissance 11- to 14-day voyages comprise ‘attractive itineraries and a high level of gastronomy,’ while Rivoire-Perrochat observed, ‘Our company and this ship occupy a premium segment hitherto unseen in the French cruise market. There is no intention to offer the same itinerary, season after season, year after year. Our long sea voyages also come with discovering a huge variety of sites and allow passengers to chain [together] several cruises, always with a departure from France.’  

After a cruise to the Scottish Highlands that kicked off June 29, Renaissance will chart the North Cape (July 9-23), Iceland (July-23/August 6), Denmark, and Sweden and Norway (August 6-20). These Northern cruises will be followed by a UK and Ireland itinerary (August 20- September 3) before the ship heads South to Portugal, Morocco, Gibraltar and Spain (September 3-14).

From Marseille, the ship’s Mediterranean cruises will include: Corsica and Sardinia (September 14-17); Italy, Turkey, Greece, Sicily (September 17-October 3); Spain (October 3-7) Algeria and Tunisia (October 7-21); Greece, Turkey, Sicily (October 21-November 4); Corsica (November 4-11); Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania (November 11-25); Spain, Morocco, Portugal (November 25 – December 9); Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt (December 9-23).