On what was a magnificent Spring afternoon on the Danube, Avalon Waterways 13th European Suite Ship – Avalon Envision was officially christened by Godmother and author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert.

I had the honour and privilege of attending the christening as part of the three-day celebrations with over a hundred global media and travel aficionado’s in attendance.

The sun shone, the champagne flowed, and the party and dancing went on late into the night onboard the Avalon Envision with a fifteen-minute firework display over the Danube marking the ship’s arrival into a life of service on one of Europe’s most historical and celebrated waterways.

The New York Times best-selling author’s ship blessing was, of course, a beautiful thing. Here’s what Elizabeth Gilbert wrote and recited on the day.

“We come from the water, we are made of the water, we are drawn to the water. Our lives are rivers meant to be explored and enjoyed. Let every curious soul who steps foot upon this vessel have a safe and blessed journey. May we all be changed for the better by what we discover along this river. And may this boat herself know that she is loved and revered and that we are grateful to her for her strength and beauty. Onward! I christen thee the Avalon Envision.”

After reciting her blessing, Ms Gilbert cut a rope tethered to a bottle of Torley – Hungary’s most famous sparkling wine, causing the bottle to smash against the newly named ship’s bow.

And ‘Smash it’ she did, with rapturous applause to follow and the ships horn letting everyone in Budapest know that there’s a new Queen in town.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Captain Remus, Pam Hoffee, Burghart Lell

Elizabeth Gilbert, Captain Remus, Pam Hoffee, Burghart Lell

Managing Director of Avalon Waterways Pam Hoffee, Captain Ralf Remus and the ship’s crew of 47 – as well as a hundred invited guests that included journalists, travel agents, local dignitaries and tourism boards from all over the world – cheered the ship’s christening in front of a crowd of local onlookers.

“From Eat, Pray, Love to Big Magic, as an author, Ms Gilbert has invited her readers to envision something different; a hint of life or journey outside their comfort zone. She has inspired transformative travel experiences,” said Hoffee.

“An inspired choice as the godmother of the Avalon Envision, she has helped us embrace curiosity each day in search of extraordinary; something we ask our travellers to do with Avalon. And we couldn’t be more grateful to her for blessing our new Suite Ship.”

Managing Director of Avalon Waterways Pam Hoffee

The 166-passenger-carrying Avalon Envision features two full decks of award-winning Panorama Suites, featuring wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling Panoramic windows that slide back fully to transform the living space into a stunning open-air balcony.

The wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows open 11-feet wide in Europe and 14-feet wide in Southeast Asia – wider than any other balcony in the industry.

The impressive doors actually open up to 2.1 metres wide in Europe and 3.35 metres in SE Asia to invite the outside-in, without compromising any room space.

Avalon Panorama Suites

Beginning this week, the Avalon Envision will cruise the Danube River on such popular cruise itineraries as 10-day Danube Dreams, 10-day The Legendary Danube and 12-day The Blue Danube Discovery.

In addition to launching the Avalon Envision on the Danube, the river cruise company has also announced plans to launch another ship – the Avalon View which will begin sailing up the Rhine in 2020.

The Avalon View will mark Avalon Waterways’ 14th Suite Ship in Europe and its 17th Suite Ship worldwide.


The Club Lounge, Avalon Envision

Find out more: Avalon’s 2020 deals are out now: Book a 2020 Europe cruise early and SAVE up to AUD$4,600 per couple on select sailings.

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