March 22, 2014
The line's first UK godmother, London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Katherine Grainger did the honors for Avalon Poetry II, and J. Mara DelliPriscoli, US-based founder of the Educational Travel Conference christened Avalon Impression.
"With great pleasure and privilege, I christen this the Avalon Poetry II," Grainger said sending a magnum bottle of bubbly crashing into the side of the 128-passenger Poetry II's hull.
Grainger's broke on the first go, but DelliPriscoli's bottle required two drops after it bounced off the 166-passenger Impression without breaking -- a bad omen according to some superstitious mariners.
The gala event came near the end of the ships' inaugural sailings, and involved speeches by the captains, cruise directors, godmothers, CEO of the shipyard where the ships were built and the US-based President and managing director of Avalon Waterways, Patrick Clark, who announced this week that the line would be building more ships in 2016.
Clark acknowledged that river cruising is a niche market when compared with ocean cruising, but said the sector's growth gave Avalon the confidence to continue to invest.
"Modern river cruising is still a fairly new concept," Clark said, citing sales of more than 90 percent of capacity for both ships in 2014.
"Those figures underscore our belief in river cruising – in how popular it is and how well it's received by passengers."
Later in the evening, at a gala dinner, the godmothers were presented with silver bracelets to signify a lasting link to their respective ships.
--by Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor