Adventures of a ship’s godmother

***This story was created in partnership with our sponsor, Avalon Waterways***

Australian personality Deborah Hutton takes on two new challenges in her life – godmother of a river cruising ship and wasting champagne by smashing it on the bow of a ship. International Traveller went along for the ride. 

“I told Stewart [Avalon Waterways managing director Australasia Stewart Williams] I have a reputation of leading godchildren astray, do you really want me to be the godmother of a ship?” laughs Australian personality Deborah Hutton.

We are enjoying a cheeky afternoon schnapps on the top deck of the Avalon Illumination on its maiden voyage. The famous and majestic blue church of Durnstein, Austria drifts past.

International Traveller was lucky enough to accompany Deborah on this journey of firsts – the first time she had been on a river cruise and first time she had wasted a drop of champagne – smashing it on the bow of a ship.

“It’s amazing, I love it. I have already called many of my mates and we are planning on coming back next year,” she tells us.

And what’s the attraction?

“It is sooooo relaxing. You drift effortlessly from amazing European town to another outstanding destination,” she beams with genuine enthusiasm. “The Avalon ‘Suite Ships’ have been designed with Australians in mind, so it will be an absolute pleasure for me to represent Australian travellers.”

And what does “designed for Australian travellers” look like? Well, the huge queen beds are all facing the window to make the most of the stunning river scenery. The bathrooms are swing-a-tiger large and come with a private bath.

The food is quality and mostly locally sourced from the many great riverside providores – it’s this freshness that sets Avalon apart from many of its competitors in the market.

Two mornings later, Hutton and I are standing on the bow of the Illumination as she sails into Budapest. The ship’s steady pace reveals the seductive city inch by inch. We both smile and acknowledge that this is truly magic.

Hutton walks over to Stewart and in a show of gratitude pats him on the shoulder. He has given us an experience to truly cherish.

Later that day, Stewart reveals to International Traveller “our guests are sophisticated travellers who are quite savvy and look for a river cruise that is contemporary in style. Deborah is an excellent representative of that traveller and is a great asset in communicating to our guests.”



Avalon Waterways operates the most modern river cruise fleet in Europe, with 15 luxury ships to choose from in 2015.
Offering 200 square-feet Panorama Suites with the bed facing the window (not the wall), floor-to-ceiling glass doors that slide open to transform the suite into an amazing Open-Air Balcony®, L’Occitane premium bath products and Egyptian cotton linens (to name a few), the time to set-sail on a European river cruise is now.