On a sunny April afternoon in Budapest and with the city’s landmarks as its setting, Elizabeth Gilbert smashed the champers and christened Avalon Waterways 13th River Ship in Europe.

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.

Given the great honour of being the ship’s godmother, Elizabeth Gilbert – acclaimed author of the award-winning, New York Times-bestselling EAT PRAY LOVEled the christening ceremony.

Elizabeth Gilbert, Captain Remus, Pam Hoffee, Burghart Lell

Elizabeth Gilbert, Captain Remus, Pam Hoffee, Burghart Lell

I sat down with the Avalon team and Elizabeth Gilbert the day after the big occasion to find out more about why Avalon chose to give the celebrated American author the great honour.

“In general, when we choose a Godmother for a ship, our process is always an individualised one. We look at the ships name – so for instance, in this case, the Avalon Envision and we create a wish list of people who we think would be someone that fits that word or that meaning,

Sometimes our wish list has only a few people because not everybody will say, “Yes, I would love to do this”. But for the Avalon Envision, Liz was at the very top of the list,


The Avalon Waterways Envision

We thought that this is someone who in everything that she does, really does envision the best of people.

“Liz envisions the best of what a great life can look like and what we can explore and imagine as individuals,”

She then helps inspire others to think outside that comfort zone and imagine something different for themselves. She’s been this beacon of the Envision idea since any of us probably heard her name,

So, we reached out and asked her, and it was essentially an immediate yes and that only reinforced everything we thought about Liz,

I’ve done most of our christenings, and I have never experienced the joy and light that Liz brought to that day and this ship, and for that, we’re so thankful.”

Pam Hoffee, Managing Director of Avalon Waterways

For Elizabeth Gilbert, it was her first ever river cruise. We asked her what she thought about the whole experience.

“This is not just the Envisions maiden voyage. It’s my maiden voyage which is another reason why I said yes to it because it’s something that I’d never done,

Now that I’m a ship godmother and a river cruise convert; I want to cruise the Ganges. India is the only country in Eat Pray Love that I haven’t gone back to yet. And I’m going back to a festival in January, so hopefully, we can make it work. That’d be something extraordinary.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author

Below is Elizabeth Gilbert’s blessing she wrote and recited at the christening.

“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,” said Ms Gilbert, during her blessing. “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.”

Avalon Panorama Suites

The Avalon Envision is now cruising the Danube River on itineraries such as the 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.

Find out more: Avalon’s 2020 deals are out now.

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