This Week in Cruise: Three Big River Christenings in Europe

maria theresa christening ceremonyWith spring almost upon us, European river cruise lines are expanding their fleets with a slate of christening ceremonies for their newest ships. 

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection held a christening ceremony in Amsterdam for the new Maria Theresa, with godmother Princess Anita von Hohenberg.

Princess Anita, a direct descendent of Maria Theresa, the ship's namesake and the Archduchess of Austria during the Baroque period, was joined by Guy Young, president and CEO of Uniworld; the Tollman family, who have owned and operated Uniworld for more than 10 years; and approximately 120 guests.

The new ship is fashioned in the spirit of her namesake and will cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Her inaugural voyage departed March 28, with guests experiencing Belgium and the Netherlands on a nine-day “Tulips & Windmills” itinerary.

Viking River Cruises hosted a simultaneous christening ceremony in Amsterdam and Rostock, Germany, for 12 new river ships.

The new vessels included 10 Viking Longships and two custom vessels for the Elbe River. This event officially brought Viking's total river fleet size to 60 and came just one year after the company set a Guiness World Record for the most new ships launched in a single day. 

All 10 of the new Viking Longships will be deployed on Viking's itineraries in Europe, including three of the most popular itineraries – "Grand European Tour," "Romantic Danube" and "Rhine Getaway." Also, as a result of high consumer demand for the "Elegant Elbe" itinerary, the two new specially designed ships will double the company's capacity on the Elbe River for 2015.

In Les Anelys, France, Avalon Waterways christened its ninth Suite Ship, the Avalon Tapestry II.

Acting as the ship’s godmother, Diana Gabaldon – author of the award-winning, No. 1 New York Times-bestselling Outlander novels – led the christening ceremony.

After reciting her blessing, Gabaldon cut a rope tethered to Moet, causing the bottle to break against the newly named ship’s bow. Onlookers included Captains Laurent Taupe and Rudy Villard; Avalon Waterways’ Patrick Clark and Burghart Lell; the ship builder Jacque Den Breejen; the Tapestry II crew; as well as 150 townspeople of Les Andelys and their Mayor Fredric Duchet.

After the christening ceremony, the 361-foot, 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II welcomed travelers aboard for "Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches" and northbound and southbound "Grand France" itineraries. 

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