Guy Young of Uniworld (left), Beatrice Tollman of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection (center) and Princess Anita von Hohenberg, godmother of the S.S. Maria Theresa // © 2015 Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Feature image (above): Viking recently named 12 employees as godmothers of company ships. // © 2015 Viking River Cruises
The recent launches of river cruise ships throughout Europe bring exceptional new vessels into operation. The ships are named by godmothers who reveal a great deal about the cruise lines’ focus.
For one, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s new 150-passenger Maria Theresa was named after the 18th-century Austrian archduchess and Holy Roman Empress of the Habsburg Dynasty, who was also the mother of Marie Antoinette. The ship, with magnificent Habsburg-themed decor, was christened by godmother Princess Anita von Hohenberg, who is a direct descendent of Maria Theresa herself.
Breaking a pattern of honoring very well-known figures in various specialties, Viking Cruises honored its own this year. The 12 godmothers were some of the longest-serving Viking employees. They are Viking Skirnir godmother Donora Anderson, senior director of operations; Viking Mani godmother Julie Rosoff, senior director of marketing services; Viking Eir godmother Clare Armitage, senior operations executive; Viking Astrild godmother Sinemie Bakker, program director; Viking Vili godmother Henrieta Balisova, program director; Viking Beyla godmother Adriana Filkaszova, receptionist; Viking Mimir godmother Jana Hudakova, chief receptionist; Viking Ve godmother Miriam Kajuchova, housekeeper; Viking Lofn godmother Karoline Landa, controller and hotel manager; Viking Vidar godmother Kornelia Pfeiffenberger, hotel manager; Viking Modi godmother Faye Pirie, specialist cruise consultant; and Viking Gefjon godmother Verona Thiele, concierge.
On a different note, Avalon Waterways’ ninth Suite Ship, the 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II, was christened by its godmother Diana Gabaldon in Les Andelys, Normandy. Gabaldon is the author of the New York Times bestselling “Outlander” novels, now going into its second year on television.
“I’ve been invited to do everything from leading parades to being installed as a Lady of the Quebec Garrison of the 78th Highlanders — but being godmother to a lovely ship has been a new and fabulous experience,” Gabaldon said.
Another popular author, Kathy Lette of Australia, has been named godmother of Scenic Cruises’ Scenic Jasper. In April, she christened the 169-passenger river cruiser in Vienna, Austria, before it commenced a full season sailing the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Lette’s novel, “Puberty Blues,” was made into a major motion picture and a TV miniseries. She has written 11 international bestsellers.
Drawing from the travel advisor community, AmaWaterways named Michelle Fee, CEO and co-founder of Cruise Planners, godmother of the new 164-passenger AmaSerena. Fee, who serves on industry advisory boards — including American Express Travel, Royal Caribbean International and Cruise Lines International Association — will christen the ship at the end of its July 29 sailing in Vilshofen, Germany.