4 Perfect Places for a Romantic Getaway

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March 9, 2017

Meet Our Godmothers

Avalon Envision – 2019

Godmother: Liz Gilbert, acclaimed author of the award-winning, New York Times-bestselling EAT PRAY LOVE

About Liz: Elizabeth Gilbert was born in Waterbury, Connecticut and grew up on a small family Christmas tree farm. She attended New York University where she studied political science by day and worked on short stories by night. After college, she spent several years traveling across the country, working in bars, diners and ranches, collecting experiences to transform into fiction before working as a journalist in New York City.

In 2000, Ms. Gilbert published her first novel, which became a New York Times Notable Book. She received worldwide attention in 2006 for her award-winning memoir EAT PRAY LOVE which chronicled her journey alone around the world, looking for solace after a difficult divorce. The book became an international bestseller, translated into more than 30 languages with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. In 2010, EAT PRAY LOVE became a film starring Julia Roberts, causing Time Magazine to name Ms. Gilbert as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.  That year, she also published a follow-up to EAT PRAY LOVE titled, COMMITTED.

Her latest manifesto about creativity, BIG MAGIC, invites readers to live a life guided more by curiosity than by fear.  And in June, her new novel, CITY OF GIRLS, will make its debut.

In Her Words: “Let every curious soul who steps foot upon this vessel have a safe and blessed journey. May we all be changed for the better by what we discover along this river. And may this boat herself know that she is loved and revered, and that we are grateful to her for her strength and beauty.”

Avalon Passion – 2016

Avalon Passion Christening

Godmother: Jill Ellis, Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

About Jill: Jill Ellis was named the eighth head coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history on May 16, 2014. In her first year at the helm, Ellis led the U.S. Women’s National Team to the Algarve Championship and the 2015 FIFA World Cup. Prior to taking the reins of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Ellis served as the development director for the U.S. Women’s Youth National Teams. Ellis joined U.S. Soccer after a highly successful 12-year run as the head women’s soccer coach for the UCLA Bruins.  There, Ellis lead UCLA to eight NCAA Final Fours, including seven in a row from 2003 to 2009, and won six straight conference titles from 2003 to 2008.  In addition, she was the NSCAA National Coach of the Year in 2000 after leading the Bruins to the NCAA Final.

In Her Words: “I am truly honored to be offered such a unique experience. Passion is such an important part of my life, so to be asked to be the godmother of the Avalon Passion is one of the coolest things I have ever been invited to do. I hope all who travel aboard her have a world-class adventure!”

Avalon Imagery II – 2016

imagery two small

Godmother: Judy Bailey, New Zealand Broadcaster

About Judy: A journalist for more than 40 years, Judy Bailey fronted prime time news in New Zealand for 26 years and has won numerous journalism awards. Most recently, she has fronted a number of television travel programs including Judy Bailey’s Australia. One of the nation’s most recognized faces, she has long been an advocate for children and holds roles with a number of charities including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Brainwave Trust and the National Collective of Women’s Refugees. Judy was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting and the community in 2010.

In Her Words: “It’s an honour to be asked to christen this beautiful ship. May she bring peace and happiness to all who journey with her.”

Avalon Tapestry II – 2015


Godmother: Diana Gabaldon, author of the No. 1 New York Times-bestselling OUTLANDER novels

About Diana: Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, No. 1 New York Times-bestselling OUTLANDER novels and is described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ’Scrooge McDuck‘ comics.”

A scientist with a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology and a specialty in scientific computation, Ms. Gabaldon jumped the academic rails in 1991, when the adventure began with the classic OUTLANDER, and has continued through seven more New York Times-bestselling novels, with 26 million copies in print worldwide, in 40 countries and 36 languages. In 2014, STARZ created a popular television series (also called “OUTLANDER”) based on Ms. Gabaldon’s books.  The series is filmed in Scotland and is [presently] distributed in 87 countries.

In Her Words: “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 will be a new and fabulous experience!   I’m looking forward to new adventures – and doubtless good food – while exploring the history-lined rivers of Europe!”

Avalon Tranquility II – 2015

tranquility two small

Godmother: Jann Arden, Canadian singer and broadcaster

About Jann: Alberta-born Arden has released 12 albums with 19 top ten singles, is an eight-time Juno award winner and a proud recipient of a star of Canada’s Walk of Fame. She is also author and broadcaster of note.

In Her Words: “It felt like winning a lifetime achievement award – so surreal and so humbling.”

Avalon Poetry II – 2014

Grainger SMALL

Godmother: Katharine J. Grainger, Olympic Gold medal-winning rower and author of Dreams Can Come True

In Her Words: In her blessing, she said in part, “May all who sail on these rivers in this vessel add their own tales to these fabled waters, and take from them the joy and friendship of a shared journey.  I christen this ship the Avalon Poetry II.  May her captain, her crew and her passengers be blessed and kept safe in their travels and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”

Avalon Impression – 2014

mara godmother small

Godmother: J. Mara DelliPriscoli, president of Travel Learning Connection, Inc. and founder of the Educational Travel Conference (ETC)

In Her Words: Her blessing read, May God bestow blessings and keep safe watch over you throughout all time, for your passengers and crew. May the currents be steady, the winds gentle and your course true.”

Avalon Illumination – 2014

Christening Illumination 2

Godmother: Deborah Hutton, Australian celebrity and television host

About Deborah: A former international model, Hutton has enjoyed a high-profile career as a television host on a range of top-rated programs. She is currently the host of Australia’s popular “Foxtel Movie Show.”  In addition, in 2012, Hutton founded “Balance by Deborah Hutton,” an online community designed to provide women practical advice to help them maintain balance in their lives. She has also served as a brand ambassador for iconic Australian companies like Qantas.

In Her Words: “I couldn’t be more delighted to be ‘godmother’ of such a magnificent ship. Avalon is known for offering a premium experience and I’m very much looking forward to spending time enjoying a world class holiday aboard the Avalon Illumination.”

Avalon Expression – 2013


Godmother: Patricia Schultz, author of the international bestseller books 1,000 Places to See Before You Die®

About Patricia: Patricia Schultz is the author of the international bestsellers 1,000 Places to See Before You Die® (now with over 3 million copies in print and translated into 25 languages) and 1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die®, books that reinvented the idea of travel book as both wish list and practical guide. A second edition of the original book came out in Fall 2011, with 200 entirely new destinations and more than 50% new material woven into the revised entries, emphasizing travel areas rather than single sites. A veteran travel journalist with 25 years of experience, Ms. Schultz has written for Wall Street Journal, Travel Weekly and Everyday with Rachael Ray. She also executive-produced a Travel Channel television show based on her book, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. Her home base is New York City.

In Her Words: “It is an honor, without doubt, but also a thrill and a delight to have this chance to christen the Avalon Expression. I know that countless adventurers will fill every departure, excited by the promise of exploring Europe’s history-lined rivers. Sailing through its most special corners on such a beautiful vessel is something that makes me exceptionally proud!”

Avalon Vista – 2012

vanessa lee

Godmother: Vanessa Lee, Canada’s travel industry leader insider

About Vanessa: One of Canada’s leading proponents and influencers within the cruise industry and a well known writer and speaker on cruising and travel, Vanessa Lee celebrates her 35th year in the travel industry this year.

Born and educated near Brighton, England, Vanessa moved to Canada in her late teens and later to Australia where she worked for tour operator Trafalgar Tours before returning to England and employment with Kuoni and Insight International. In 1980 she returned to Canada, spending 10 years with Paramount Holidays, and in 1991 became a founding partner of Encore Cruises, which went on to achieve enormous success as Canada’s pre-eminent cruise specialist tour operator.

Today Vanessa is owner and publisher of the upscale Cruise and Travel Lifestyles Magazine; president and CEO of Cruise Strategies Ltd. (a strategic sales and marketing organization promoting cruising and luxury travel) and a partner in Rising Tide Strategic Media, a multi-faceted travel media company encompassing television, web and print.  Additionally Vanessa is a regular columnist for the travel trade website Travel Industry Today; was voted one of Canada’s Top 20 “Industry Rock Stars” in a poll of her peers; and is a frequent motivational speaker on the joys of cruising and selling to the affluent.

Avalon Visionary – 2012

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Godmother: Nicole Mazza, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of TRAVELSAVERS and NEST Publisher

About Nicole: Nicole has been an integral part of The American Marketing Group family for the past 14 years. In her daily responsibilities she oversees all leisure marketing initiatives for The American Marketing Group’s agency distribution groups – TRAVELSAVERS, NEST and The Affluent Traveler organization worldwide and is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with preferred suppliers. Her focus is on establishing and implementing marketing programs that boost sales and maximize profits for AMG’s over 4,000 travel agency base and its preferred suppliers. She has extensive expertise in travel agency relationships, preferred supplier relationships, integrated marketing and promotions, strategic planning, and brand awareness.

In Her Words: “For more than 14 years with The American Marketing Group, I have established and implemented marketing programs to boost sales for our 4,000-travel agency base,” said Mazza. “And one of the most exciting – and inspired – areas of leisure travel sales is happening in river cruising. I’m thrilled to deepen my support of this travel style, by becoming the Avalon Visionary’s godmother.”

Avalon Panorama – 2010


Godmother: Lisa Wilkinson, Australian journalist and corporate presenter

About Lisa: Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of the Nine Network’s TODAY Show, is one of Australia’s most admired and respected journalists and corporate presenters. For the past two decades, she has successfully applied her journalistic talents to magazine publishing, television and radio. Lisa’s media career got off to an astonishing start when she was appointed editor of the national women’s magazine Dolly at age 21.

Four years later, on the recommendation of the late Kerry Packer, Lisa was offered the editorship of Cleo. Over the next decade, she oversaw Cleo’s rapid growth which resulted in a doubling of circulation, guiding it to become the No. 1 selling women’s lifestyle magazine per capita in the world. Later she became Cleo’s International Editor-in-Chief, running editions in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

In Her Words: “I am honored to be invited to be apart of an international christening ceremony. Launching the Avalon Panorama, a vessel that will be home to thousands of travelers in years to come, will be a special occasion for me.”

Avalon Luminary – 2010

Avalon Luminary; River Cruising; christening;

Godmother: Kristi Jones, President of Virtuoso

About Kristi: As the President of Virtuoso, Kristi Jones oversees the upscale travel agency network’s national team of executive vice presidents, who in turn manage Virtuoso’s corporate offices in Fort Worth, Seattle and New York. Before assuming the role of president and directing all the company’s operations, Jones developed Virtuoso’s consumer publications, direct mail campaigns, Web site and Internet marketing initiatives, advertising and public relations. Jones has received Travel Agent Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women In Travel” appointment for four consecutive years, 1999-2002.

In Her Words: Jones blessed the ship on July 30 with the following words, “May all who sail upon these rivers be transformed by the meeting of water, sky and history. May this vessel reflect the joy of travelers sharing a timeless journey.  For the song of the river ends not at her banks but in the hearts of those who have traveled her.  I christen this ship Avalon Luminary.  May God bless her captain and crew and keep them safe.  May the heavens smile upon all who sail with her.  May she always enjoy clear skies and calm waters.”

Avalon Felicity – 2010


Godmother: Measha Brueggergosman, Canadian Opera singer

About Measha: Noted by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a singer of rare gifts and artistic intensity” and by the Miami Herald for possessing “a superb voice capable of just about everything,” Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman has emerged as one of the most magnificent performers and vibrant personalities of the day. She is critically acclaimed by the international press as much for her innate musicianship and voluptuous voice as for a sovereign stage presence far beyond her years. Her extraordinary versatility, intuitive musicality, and radiant star quality have yielded an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Her first recording on the label, Surprise, was released in 2007 and garnered a Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year.

In Her Words: Brueggergosman blessed the ship with the following words, “May you traverse these great European river waters with grace and respect.  May you carry with you and edify within you, the laughter, joy and love of those seeking heartening vistas and enlightening experiences … May you, use the scope of the resources within you to promote harmony, diversity and understanding amongst all cultures and ethnicities …  It is with heartfelt Canadian pride and sincerest humility that I now christen you Avalon Felicity.  May you hold safe her crew, and all guests who sail on her.”

Avalon Creativity – 2009

Avalon Creativity; christening; people; Godmother; toasting; champagne

Godmother: Nancy Telliho, President of Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

About Nancy: Nancy Telliho was named president of Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc., in August 2008. She oversees all aspects of the Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel franchise including editorial, ad sales, marketing, circulation, production and digital, while leading business development initiatives like the burgeoning Girlfriend Getaways franchise. Publisher of Budget Travel since October 2000, her responsibilities encompassed all business-side operations of the magazine and its website, BudgetTravel.com.

In Her Words: “My career is full of many firsts, from leading the development of the burgeoning Girlfriend Getaways franchise to overseeing Budget Travel’s migration to the Web, but this ‘first’ – my first time as a godmother of a ship – is an experience of a lifetime.

Avalon Affinity – 2009


Godmother: Suzanne Hall, Senior Director an Ensemble Travel Group

About Suzanne: Suzanne Hall, senior director at Ensemble Travel Group became the first American to christen an Avalon Waterways ship.

The Event: After a speech by Hall and the christening of the Avalon Affinity, guests sipped champagne and witnessed a symbolic transfer of ownership from Dr. Ritter, president of Seehandlung to Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways as well as the Avalon Affinity’s new captain.  Attendees were then treated to a Gala dinner and an evening of entertainment onboard the new ship.