Discover how a longstanding naval tradition has enhanced our AmaWaterways family.

The tradition of christening a new ship for good luck and safe travel goes back thousands of years. Up against the unpredictable perils of mother nature, the ancient Greeks wreathed their heads with olive branches, drank wine to honor the gods and poured water on the new vessel as a symbol of blessing.

While today’s ceremonies have moved from “godfathers with wine” to “Godmothers with Champagne,” they still provide a blessing and celebrate a very special moment recognizing the hard work, creativity and attention to detail by those who design and build a vessel entrusted with the safe carriage of goods and people across our oceans and rivers.

"We choose the Godmothers for our ships very carefully. It is essential to us they share our passion for growing the river cruise industry and our commitment to providing the most memorable vacations for our guests," said Kristin Karst.

Though Godmothers were initially chosen from among women within AmaWaterways’ founding families, more recent years have highlighted influential leaders in travel, including AmaMagna’s Emmy®-winning Godmother, travel expert and TV show host Samantha Brown.

Honor, Tradition and Fanfare

Ship christening ceremonies typically take place in intimate villages along one of the rivers each ship will sail, creating a welcome spectacle for local residents, the talents of which are often showcased as part of the fanfare. Whether it’s a German “oompah” band in Lahnstein or Bavarian folk dancing in Vilshofen, Godmothers and the ships for which they serve as goodwill ambassadors are greeted like royalty by the town.

"I cannot be grateful enough to our founders for believing in me and letting me be part of so many wonderful memories. These joyful moments have helped build not just the most wonderful river cruise company but a true big family. Ama really means love and I have had the privilege to be there from the very beginning and can attest so." – Leo Starico, Manager of European Operations.

Testaments to the Tradition

A full christening ceremony includes speeches given by AmaWaterways executives, the ship’s Godmother and local government representatives, as well as an official blessing by a priest and the breaking of a Champagne bottle against the ship’s hull – a Godmother’s responsibility. Here’s what some of our Godmothers had to say about the honor, their ships and the event.

"AmaMora is a beautiful ship, but the culture of the team that’s on board and the connection they make with people are so much more meaningful to me." – Libbie Rice, Godmother of AmaMora (2019)

"I will never forget standing out on the pier in Vilshofen, Germany watching the ship coming in before her christening. A lot of the guests were up on the top deck waving and screaming. It’s a memory I will never forget." – Jackie Friedman, Godmother of AmaViola (2016)

"I cherish every new ship we christen, but AmaKristina will always have a special meaning to me, as it not only bears my name but also marked AmaWaterways’ 15-year anniversary." – Kristin Karst, Godmother of AmaKristina (2017)

"Although I will always have a special place in my heart for AmaSonata, as part of the AmaFamily, I also have 23 other equally beautiful children to take care of now – and more on the way!" – Brenda Kyllo, Godmother of AmaSonata (2014)

"I was overwhelmed when I found out I was chosen to be Godmother of AmaSiena. It was humbling and unexpected – a total surprise to me. I never imagined I would have such an honor. In preparation, I think I will need to practice the blessing over and over again. And smash a few Champagne bottles, so I get it right!" – Debbie Fiorino, Godmother of AmaSiena (2020)

AmaWaterways Godmothers

2006 - AmaDagio – Sheila Murphy, wife of our late Co-Founder Jimmy Murphy

2007 – AmaLegro – Julie Schreiner and Isabel Karst, daughters of Co-Founders Rudi Schreiner and Kristin Karst

2008 – AmaCello – Susan Murphy, daughter of our late Co-Founder Jimmy Murphy

2008 - AmaDante – Louise McGeary, daughter of Geoff McGeary of APT, our Australian partner

2009 – AmaDolce – Travel advisors Karen Broadhurst and Joanne Morgan (serving as proxies for Godmother Anne McGeary)

2009 – AmaLyra – The late Michelle Morgan, President and CEO of Signature Travel Group

2010 – AmaBella – Sharon Murphy, daughter of our late Co-Founder Jimmy Murphy

2011 – AmaVerde – Judy Vanrenen, partner of APT Botanic World Discoveries

2012 – AmaCerto – Christine Duffy, former President of Cruise Lines International Association

2013 – AmaPrima – Valerie Wilson, Founder of Valerie Wilson Travel

2013 – AmaVida – Sharon Stone, actress and producer

2014 – AmaSonata – Brenda Kyllo, Former Vice President of CAA National and now AmaWaterways’ Vice President of Strategic Alliances

2015 – AmaSerena – Michelle Fee, CEO Cruise Planners

2016 – AmaViola – Jackie Friedman, President of Nexion

2016 – AmaStella – Carole Smethurst, owner of top Virtuoso agency in Perth, Australia

2017 – AmaKristina – Kristin Karst, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of AmaWaterways

2018 – AmaLea – Filomena Andre of AAA Travel

2019 – AmaDouro – Julia Lo Bue-Said, Advantage Travel Partnership Chief Executive Officer

2019 – AmaMagna – Samantha Brown, travel expert and Emmy® Award-winning television host of Places to Love

2019 – AmaMora – Libbie Rice, former President of Ensemble Travel Group

2021 – AmaSiena – Debbie Fiorino, Senior Vice President and COO of Owned Brands for World Travel Holdings

2021 – AmaLucia – Godparents Riley and Will Farmer

Learn more about your AmaWaterways' family here and see how our story began.

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