The exciting launch of our new ship on the Douro River
When a new ship is added to the fleet, it is always a very special moment. It's almost like a new family member being born. And of course you also celebrate this family member, after all you are proud of the offspring and would like to welcome them duly.
We are also quite proud of A-ROSA ALVA. It has not only become visually really damn beautiful, but at the same time also the starting signal for a new sailing area, the Portuguese Douro. Therefore numerous guests travel to Porto for the 30th of April to celebrate A-ROSA ALVA. And you will come on board with this article and be part of all the experiences!
A-ROSA ALVA on her first arrival in Porto
In this report you will learn how difficult it really is to organize such a baptism and get to know the people who are responsible for the whole event. Together we take a look behind the scenes and accompany the team throughout the day of the christening - starting with the entrance of A-ROSA ALVA in Porto, through the ceremony to the sunset party on board. What of course should not be missing? An interview with godmother Yvonne Catterfeld!
Months of christening preparation - that's what it's all about!
Such a christening is of course not organized within a few days. Such an elaborate event requires months of preparation and meticulous planning. Therefore I asked around the responsible persons of A-ROSA in advance and found out what was really made possible, so that the christening of A-ROSA ALVA can take place today.
How do you organize a ship christening?
First I ask Mandy Wittig, the Senior Marketing Manager of A-ROSA and the main person responsible for this event. I learn that she and her team have been working on the planning for this day for almost a year: "In Rostock, many departments were involved, from press to sales to management. There was also an event company and an extra film team. There were easily about 50 people. But also here on site we got a lot of support from our partners, who surely helped us with 20 people to get this event off the ground". She explains that it is of course much more difficult to organise a baptism in Portugal than to plan the same event in Germany. She herself hopes that the guests will be amazed when they arrive at the jetty how beautiful the new ship really is.
Where and how can you follow events and travels?
So that all A-ROSA fans can see and be amazed at home, Tobias Brüggemann travelled to Porto. As head of the customer dialogue, he will be on site to ensure that, for example, the LIVE stream is perfectly sent to you and that you can experience as much of the event as possible. He assures me that nothing will change in these numerous LIVE impressions for you in the future: "Everyone who is online can be sure on our social media channels or on the homepage that many exciting experiences and moments will follow from many journeys in the future". So our tip for you: Subscribe to A-ROSA also on Facebook and Instagram, so that you won't miss any more posts in the near future!
What is so special about A-ROSA ALVA?
For Sebastian Stöbe, today's christening of A-ROSA ALVA marks the beginning of a whole new chapter. For many years he was a hotel manager on A-ROSA MIA, New Year's Eve we celebrated together in Vienna a few months ago. It was his last trip on the Danube, because from now on he will accompany all guests on the Douro as Cruise Director. As an A-ROSA expert, he can also explain to us exactly where the differences between A-ROSA ALVA and the previous ships in the fleet lie. On the one hand, of course, it is the new sailing area that makes a trip here so exciting. The design of the ship is also very interesting: it is more modern and innovative and offers the possibility of a new gastronomic concept. Every evening on the Douro voyages, the main course is served on the square, which makes for an even more relaxed pleasure. While all other meals will continue to be served at the buffet, there will be a very special Farewell 5-course menu on the last evening of the trip.
Sebastian Stöbe visited Portugal for the first time in February to get to know the area and his future job. Now he has been there for more than 3 weeks and had enough opportunity to explore the country and the ship. When asked about his favourite place on board, however, he has to think for a moment. Actually, he would always call the gym his favourite place. On A-ROSA ALVA, however, the Panorama Lounge is something very special for him. With a bow that is designed in such a way that guests can enter it, one would have a particularly great view of the passing landscape.
And then everything comes in a different way...
Now we know with how much effort the christening event was organized. But even with perfect preparation, you are absolutely powerless against a cause. I'm talking about the weather, which couldn't have been worse last week. Actually A-ROSA ALVA should have been transferred from the shipyard to Porto a few days ago. But meter-high waves made a trip over the sea impossible, a delay of the baptism seems to be announced. Such a thing is called "force majeure". Now we have to improvise and do everything we can to make sure that the baptism can still take place somehow and does not completely fall into the water. I'm quite honest, I really don't want to change places with the organizers and responsible persons on this day. They certainly didn't get much sleep in the night before the baptism, but they managed to do what wasn't quite sure in the meantime: A-ROSA ALVA can be baptized and will officially receive her blessing and name with only a few hours delay.
The day of the christening
Preparations for the baptism begin early on 30 April. Both on board and at the jetty in Porto, helpers have their hands full. Confetti cannons are installed, huge flower arrangements are brought on board - I don't think I've ever seen so many red roses at once. Also the kitchen crew has a lot of work to do and prepares the baptismal barbecue, which will be served to the guests later on the sun deck.
A stage is set up at the pier and the red carpet is laid. So much has to be thought of and the devil is in the detail. This starts with the sound system, goes on to the installation of the technology for the LIVE transmission and on to the distribution of blankets on deck in case it gets a bit windy in the evening.
The naming ceremony
Around 16 o'clock all invited guests arrive at the ship. Champagne is served and an expectant tension is in the air. This time A-ROSA has come up with something very special as the starting signal for the ceremony: A daily firework, consisting of red and white columns of smoke, indicates that it can finally start. The whole crew of A-ROSA ALVA has gathered at the bow and seems to be as excited as we guests. After the official greeting by Managing Director Jörg Eichler, the ship's management, consisting of hotel manager, cruise director and captain, is introduced.
Also very important today: a priest who gives his blessing to the ship. And then he came, the great moment we all waited so long for. Yvonne Catterfeld enters the stage. She feels honoured to be able to baptize this beautiful ship today and reveals that she sees herself almost as a "guardian angel" for A-ROSA ALVA. For her it is also the first time that she christens a ship live on location. She speaks her baptismal motto:
...Along lively cities, blooming landscapes and fertile hills you may glide safely.
Herewith I christen you with the name
Together with the captain, Yvonne cuts the ribbon and the champagne bottle bangs against the red kiss on the bow. Everyone cheers, confetti rain flies into the air and Yvonne is presented with a christening gift.
After this exciting ceremony we go back on board, where snacks are served, the Portuguese live band Flor Batom plays and the buffet already smells seductive.
A Portuguese barbecue awaits us today, which we can enjoy on the sun deck with a view of Porto. Numerous specialities are prepared by A-ROSA ambassador Oliver Edelmann. Mediterranean salads, Iberian ham, salmon in salt crust ... I could now continue this list of delicacies forever.
While I'm taking my photos and looking for beautiful perspectives, I always pick up a few scraps of conversation from the guests. What is it almost all about? The unbelievably beautiful panorama from on board to the city of Porto! Everyone is simply thrilled, because this berth is really unique.
The buffet makes you want more... I can hardly wait to finally go on a journey with A-ROSA ALVA!
Everyone looks up in amazement: For the first time A-ROSA ALVA drives through the famous bridge Ponte Dom Luis.
So we help ourselves to the buffet and while we are still eating we hear "Following my heart" for the first time. And so we start for a little tour on the Douro. For the first time we experience A-ROSA ALVA during the trip - a very special moment.
Interview with Yvonne Catterfeld: "I'm in love with this city"
After dinner I even have the opportunity to ask a few questions to godmother Yvonne Catterfeld. What does it feel like to christen such a beautiful ship? I'm a bit excited when we settle down on the pool deck for a chat. Of course I've prepared some questions I'd like to ask her, but actually this interview turns out to be much more than a casual chat. I could almost say that we are actually on holiday. I quickly realize that Yvonne is just as enthusiastic about a river cruise with A-ROSA as I am. We get into raptures...
With this dream backdrop, an interview isn't that difficult, is it?
No, it's soo beautiful - really! I'm just overwhelmed and so we could do an interview for one hour. After all, we have now eaten super tasty.
Yvonne, what was it like for you to baptize a ship live for the first time?
It was already exciting, because I know how important this is, for the captain, but also for all other participants. It has a big meaning. I didn't know beforehand that the ship would not only be given its name, but that the baptism would also protect the ship and the crew. So it's a very important act and that's why I was a bit excited and it was a great honour. I felt a bit like a guardian angel.
So A-ROSA ALVA now has not only the blessing of the priest, but also your blessing?
Yes, exactly - totally beautiful! and we also come here privately and will make this journey. I'm really looking forward to it, because I think it's the most beautiful trip so far. I usually love the Danube trip, but for me this is something where I think: this is another dimension.
Why do you think that a river cruise is your perfect family holiday?
Really, I don't know what better way to go than to go somewhere with your family! There are also extra family trips, but you can also travel without a family trip. Especially if you are travelling with friends and maybe you have a similarly old child with you, then they can play together and it can't be more ideal. Being in one place for too long isn't my thing anyway and that's why this is ideal. You slow down, but still you see a lot and experience a lot. You only have to pack once as a family and not pack and unpack every time. It is simply the most relaxed form of travelling. The ship is on the move all the time, the locks - I rarely come down so fast. I just have to be on the ship and all the stress of everyday life is gone.
So just go up to the sun deck once and everything is forgotten?
Yes, or just up to the room. You know, the window and in front of it you only see water. Or when you sit in front of the window in the evening and just look out. And something happens all the time. You are never at a standstill, even when the ship is standing. Then you look up at the sun deck or look into the city - there's always something going on and you can always see something new.
From the setting sun, sweet port wine and the longing for...
While we drive back to our jetty in Porto we can marvel at a beautiful sunset. Not only the journalists and photographers on board pull out their cameras and don't want to stop taking pictures of this fantastic panorama. The colourful old town of Porto, the juicy green vineyards - everything is bathed in a fine golden light and surrounded by pale fog. The seagulls scream loudly above our heads. "...port wine?" I am torn from my thoughts. Oh yes, I like to have a glass of port wine, it belongs here somehow. Sipping the sweet wine I stand at the railing and wish that this moment would never end.
Well, do you now also have a little longing for Portugal, the Douro and A-ROSA ALVA? Then come and have a look at the trips, maybe there is still a cabin available at your desired date! Or you can read a few more articles and see for yourself how versatile a trip on the Douro can be. Hiking through the vineyards of Pinhao, sightseeing in the "golden city" of Salamanca or maybe you prefer an exciting story in one of Portugal's oldest villages? I am eager to read what your next adventure will be!
In this video our River Cruise Blogger Anna-Maria shows you the newest pride of our fleet: The A-ROSA ALVA on the Douro in Portugal.
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