We have learned a lot of new things on this trip to the Netherlands … We have learned that being “smart” by Amsterdam standards isn’t necessarily a good thing (although it depends who you speak with), we have learned that flies and dinner can be an amazing combination (thank you Five Flies restaurant for a unique look into Amsterdam’s rich history – culturally and from a gastronomical standpoint) and we have learned that a ship is just an unnamed vessel until it’s christened. Unnamed, however, in no way means unremarkable … At least by Avalon standards.
This weekend, we enjoyed our first river cruise ship experience – from boarding a beautiful, new innovative vessel (you think a new car smells great, try something 110 meters in size) to taking part in the 4,000-year-old ship christening tradition.
The day began in the quaint fishing village of Hoorn as Leon, our Local Guide, shared insight into the history of the waterways of the Netherlands: They have always acted as the lifeline of this unique country’s cultural makeup. This insight, perhaps, made the day’s premier event – the christening of the Avalon Creativity – even more special.
Before the ship became the “Creativity,” we enjoyed a creative lunch on her sky deck. An interesting touch of this ship’s dining options is the addition of an outdoor grill (a feature that was added to the Avalon Affinity – a sister ship christened in June of this year). Our fellow christening companions, made-up of U.S., Canadian and Australian journalists and their guests, as well as various members of the Avalon Waterways executive team, enjoyed a homestyle barbeque lunch on the top deck of the ship which made us feel on top of the world, as Volendam, another charming fishing village and the site of the christening, came into view.
After some free time to explore Volendam, we anxiously awaited the moment we had all anticipated … Nancy Telliho, president of Newsweek Budget Travel Inc., and consequently the ship’s godmother, blessed the vessel with the following words, “May you ply these great rivers of Europe with respect and grace … May you serenely carry the merriment, laughter, joy and creativity of those travelers seeking new and enriching vistas … And may you fulfill your responsibility to promote understanding and harmony amongst all cultures. I now christen you Avalon Creativity. May you hold safe her crew, and all guests who sail on her.”
After reciting the christening speech, Telliho cut the rope tethered to a bottle of Champagne. The Avalon Creativity’s 39 crew members cheered from the ship’s sky deck as the bottle shattered against the vessel’s newly painted exterior.
Post christening, we enjoyed commemorative speeches by Dr. Thomas Ritter and Helge Jansen of Seehandlung, the financing company for the Avalon Creativity; the ship’s Captain Istvan Fckete; Jacque Den Breejen, owner of the Den Breejen Shipyard in Holland, the builders of the new vessel; Burghart Lell and Patrick Clark of Avalon Waterways.
The evening was topped off with an eight-course gala dinner in the distinct dining room (Hat’s off the chef for an amazing meal. Jen especially loved the white tomato soup.) and entertainment in the lounge. And, although the ship was less than 24-hours old, its staff – and the attention to detail and service they provided – was nothing less than amazing (Cruise Director Isabel was AWESOME!). They were all truly exceptional (it might seem as if we’re biased, and maybe we are, but we couldn’t have imagined a more professional crew).
We both retired to our 172-square-foot staterooms (ah!) at about 1 AM knowing it had been a day we will remember forever. And as we sailed into Amsterdam, the Creativity met her sister ship, the Affinity for the first time. A perfect end to a perfect day.
Thank you to the Avalon Creativity (a name befitting this ship, really) and everyone involved in taking a unnamed ship into uncharted waters. As we leave Amsterdam and think of the sold-out inaugural cruise departing this beautiful city tomorrow, we can’t help but remember Nancy Telliho’s christening blessing … “May you hold safe her crew, and all guests who sail on her.”
For those of you reading this blog, details of the christening can be found in our press release at http://www.groupvoyagers.com.
Jennifer Halboth (director of marketing) and Melanie Gravdal (public relations consultant) for the Globus family of brands