Crystal Bach – first of four ground-breaking Rhine-class ships to be built for Crystal Cruises, was christened in Rudesheim-am-Rhein on Sunday – in the middle of the town’s annual Wine Festival.
The godmother was renowned soprano Anna-Maria Kaufmann, reportedly a favourite of German Chancellor Angele Merkel. She gave a spirited rendition of the German national anthem at the start of the brief ceremony, and performed a version of J S Bach’s Air on a G-String for which she had written lyrics dedicated to Crystal and the ship.
It was the conclusion of a hectic eight days for Crystal CEO Edie Rodriguez, following the launch of the company’s Boeing 777 luxury jet, Crystal Skye, and the Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, where Crystal was recognised for “Best Dining.”
Bach is the first of four identical ships being built by MV Werften in Wismar. Crystal Mahler follows next month. Debussy and Ravel join the fleet next spring. Each carries 106 passengers in all-balcony, all-suite accommodation.
Rodriguez said the vessels “raise the bar for cruising in the region and for river cruising in general,” adding: “This ship is more than just a new river vessel. It brings luxury amenities and décor that surpass anything seen so far on the rivers of Europe, a standard of luxury and elegance that had been missing until the launch of Crystal Mozart last year.”
Guests at the event included local mayor Volker Mosler and Port Director Gunter Dries. They were joined by passengers from Bach’s inaugural two-week cruise, which left Amsterdam on August 13.
Also there were Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman of Crystal’s parent company, Genting Hong Kong, and group president Colin Au.
Officers and crew lined the sun deck as Fr Waldemar Eichholz blessed the ship with holy water.
Before releasing a bottle of German Szigeti sparkling wine to smash against the bow, Kaufmann said: “Despite the fact that I live in this region, I am still awestruck by how much beauty there is to discover on a river cruise.”
She went on to add: “I christen this ship Crystal Bach and I wish smooth waters for all who sail on her.”
Guests then boarded the ship for a reception in the Palm Court lounge, where Rodriguez presented Kaufmann with a Tiffany Note necklace to mark the occasion.