It wasn’t just all about the wine on the Douro last week – Avalon Waterways christened their newest ship, the Avalon Alegria.

Despite the rain, it was all smiles and sunshine from guests on the christening cruise.

Avalon Alegria is the 15th Suite Ship from the brand and with the ship’s godmother, Cheri Oteri in tow, the new Avalon Alegria’s launch was celebrated in style. 

“Today, I name this goddess of Portugal’s Douro River, the Avalon Alegria! Not only is she the newest, happiest ship in Portugal, she is one of the most sustainable vessels in Europe,” said Oteri, during her blessing.

“May her sunny disposition carry this ship, her captain, crew and guests, far as they set sail responsibly, together, through scenic landscapes, sloping vineyards and sleepy villages. Shine brightly on the ‘river of gold,’ Avalon Alegria!”

After reciting her blessing, Oteri cut a rope tethered to locally produced Cuvée – Marques de Marialva Cuvée Primitivo. The bottle smashing against the newly named vessel is a seafaring tradition to bring good luck for her future sailings. P

resident of Avalon Waterways Pam Hoffee, Captain Alberto Moreira and the ship’s crew of 33 and guests cheered the ship’s christening. KC and the Sunshine Band’s 1975 hit, “Boogie Shoes,” played over event speakers to add even more “happy” to the occasion. The song was a special request from the Alegria’s godmother, Cheri Oteri.

The evening was spent dancing the night away with fireworks lighting up the skies after dinner.

“In our search for the best godmother for the Avalon Alegria – our first ship in Portugal with a name that means “happiness” – we knew Cheri Oteri would be the perfect choice,” said Pam Hoffee, president of Avalon Waterways.

“As a difference-making entertainer – and one of the ground-breaking women who inspired modern comedy in America – Cheri has brought so much inspiration and joy into our lives. We are thrilled she chose to travel to Portugal to honour us the godmother of our newest, ‘happiest’ ship in Europe. It’s a joy to celebrate Cheri and her accomplishments as part of the Alegria’s christening.”

“We’ve waited a long time for the perfect opportunity to add Portugal to our robust holiday portfolio and that day has finally arrived,” said Hoffee. “Inviting our guests to sail the Douro for the first time, we’re bringing the Suite Ships of Avalon, the grandest views in cruising and whim-powered itineraries to Southwestern Europe. We’re thrilled to officially set sail on the Douro!”

The Avalon Alegria will invite her first, official guests on board to cruise Vida Portugal: Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro on April 3, 2024.

“For those lucky enough to join our new ship and crew her inaugural year, hillside vineyards and historic villages await them on an eight-day cruise the begins and ends in Porto,” said Hoffee.

“Like our cruises across Europe, this itinerary is filled with included “Classic,” “Active” and “Discovery” excursion choices that promise guests countless ways to enjoy the sheer splendour and cinematic scenery of the Douro Valley.”