Under a bright blue Bratislava sky, next to the sparkling blue Danube, TV personality, journalist and original “The View” co-host Meredith Vieira officially named Avalon Waterway’s newest Suite Ship. As the bottle of Slovakian sparkling wine smashed against the hull, the ship transformed from lot number 02338024 to Avalon View.
“Such beauty as this magnificent vessel now begins its river journey… May all aboard her travel safely with eyes wide open to the wonders that await… I now christen thee, the Avalon View,” Vieira said before cutting the rope that held the bottle high above the ship’s bow.
Joining Vieira were Pam Hoffee, the newly named president of Avalon Waterways; Steve Born, chief marketing officer of the Globus family of brands; executives from the Den Breejen shipyard where Avalon View was built; and a contingent of Globus employees, travel advisors, and media from around the world.
“A christening symbolizes a new beginning and 2022 is a new beginning for all of us,” Hoffee said during opening remarks before the crowd moved outside for the breaking of the bottle. “It’s a chance to get back to the world and all of its wonder. A chance to say yes to adventure and life-enhancing memories. We’re thrilled to be here in Bratislava.”
Saying yes, Hoffee added, is what Avalon Waterways is asking travelers to start doing again. “That’s our mantra for 2022. Just say yes to travel, to new ideas, to exploration. That’s really been at the heart of this event.”
Two Year Wait
Originally scheduled to debut in April 2020, Avalon View has been in wet dock for the past two years awaiting its debut.
“The waiting for the two years for everything has been painful in many ways,” Hoffee told Travel Market Report. “But there were good things that came from waiting. It makes everything so much more special once it happens. And there were chances to do things in a different way as we made our plans.”
The scheduled 2020 naming was set to take place in Vienna, but during the pause, Avalon changed direction and chose to hold it in a city they’d never named a ship in before.
“We chose to do it in Bratislava. And, when we were picking the docking location, we picked to have it in the new part of the city, which is symbolic of emerging and something new,” Hoffee added.
Vieira, too, has been waiting for her role as godmother to begin, having been named to the position in 2019.
Vieira, who is traveling onboard Avalon View for a four-day preview sailing with her daughter and future son-in-law had never been on a cruise before. Neither ocean nor river.
“My first impression of the ship was it’s beautiful. It’s striking,” she told Travel Market Report. “It’s very classy and elegant, yet warm.”
After a few days on board, she’s sold on the idea of river cruising and has already started looking into her next sailing.
“I think it’s fabulous,” she said at a small gathering with the media. “It’s so warm and inviting. I love the size of the ship. You feel like you’re part of a family. There’s an intimacy to it that’s really lovely. I use this word immersion a lot, but I really feel like I’m immersed in the culture around me because of the fact that we’re constantly stopping in these wonderful little towns along the way and you have an opportunity to do so many different things.”
The 16th ship in Avalon’s fleet, Avalon View is nearly identical to its fleet mates. The 443-foot, 166-passenger vessel has 83 cabins, 80% of which are Panorama Suites. Unique to Avalon, Panorama Suites feature an 11-foot-wide wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling window with a door that opens a full seven-feet, turning the entire suite into an open-air balcony.
Avalon View will spend all of its 2022 season on the Danube River offering six- to 22-day itineraries including “Taste of the Danube,” “Danube Symphony,” “Active & Discovery on the Danube,” and “Gone Girl!” (a storyteller sailing with celebrity host, Gillian Flynn).