Riverside Mozart Named in Surprise Ceremony at ASTA's River Cruise Expoby Dori Saltzman /
"We are going to do something special tonight," Riverside Luxury Cruises CEO Jennifer Halboth told some 100 curious travel advisors packed into Riverside Mozart's main lounge. The advisors, all of whom had chosen the ship for their Friday night dinner at ASTA's River Cruise Expo in Budapest, had received notes telling them to arrive early for a "surprise."
"How many people in the room have ever been to a christening," she asked. "After tonight, the next time someone asks you that question, you'll be able to raise your hand."
Halboth's excitement was clearly visible, not only for the naming of Riverside Luxury Cruises' first-ever ship – the former Crystal Mozart, but for the line's overall debut at the River Cruise Expo.
“I’ve felt the love in this room, at the trade show, on the panel," she said. "On behalf of everybody at Riverside, I want to say thank you. You guys have been pure love and I’m in love with all of you."
In a nod to how important the trade is and will be to Riverside Luxury Cruises, Halboth chose an advisor, Tiffany Hines, owner of Global Escapes in Athens, Georgia, as the ships godmother.
"We were on the ship for the first time in October and someone said we need someone famous. I said, we do not need someone famous. We need someone fabulous. We need someone authentic. We need someone who represents this industry and that is Tiffany Hines."
After presenting Hines to the audience, everyone was invited outside for a few short speeches, including one from Anouchka Gerlach, one of the owners of the Germany-based Seaside Collection, which bought the ship last year, and the traditional shattering of a bottle of Champagne on the hull.
Riverside Mozart set out on its inaugural sailing Sunday, the 19th, with several dozens of travel advisors who attended the ASTA River Cruise Expo. Its first revenue sailing will be in April.