Avalon Waterways unveils 13th European suite-class ship
Avalon Waterways christened its 13th suite-class ship in Europe last weekend.
Avalon Envision was officially named and welcomed onto the water by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert during a sunset ceremony in Budapest, surrounded by international media, agents and travel partners.
The New York Times bestseller cut a rope tethered to a bottle of Torley, Hungary’s leading sparkling wine, which smashed against the newly-named ship’s bow.
In her blessing, Gilbert said she hoped the ship would encourage more travellers to enjoy river cruising.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Beginning this week, the new 443-foot, 166-passenger Avalon Envision will cruise the Danube River on popular itineraries including 10-day Danube Dreams, 10-day The Legendary Danube and 12-day The Blue Danube Discovery.
The vessel sports Avalon's trademark Panorama Suites, featuring view-facing beds and wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows which open 7ft wide to double up as balconies.
The cruise line said new custom-made features on the fleet’s latest ship will also help overcome high and low water on the river, which were at record levels last year.
Managing director Pam Hoffee said: “There are some unique features that will help us in low and high water situations – new ballast tanks will allow us to change the draft of the ship in a more efficient way.
“This ship was purposefully placed on our Nuremburg route because the [trickiest] part of the river is between Passau and Regensburg.
“That will help us a lot; that little section won’t be such a challenge.”
Hoffee also revealed Avalon will be offering more agent fam trips this year, after conceding the group hadn’t supported the trade “enough” in previous years.
The cruise line will reportedly host “multiple” fam trips across three ships on the Active & Discovery routes, which sail on the Rhone, Rhine and Danube rivers.
The news follows the expansion of Avalon’s trade sales team last year, which saw the company recruit three regional sales managers and a new business manager.