Tui River Cruises has officially launched on the Rhine with the christening of the long-awaited Tui Maya.
The 79-cabin ship was christened during a glitzy ceremony by newly appointed godmothers Catherine Hawkins, a college exam officer, and Rosie Brooks, an illustrator.
The godmothers were appointed following a nationwide search by the travel firm last year, which attracted 750 applications.
The christening took place on the top deck of Tui Maya in a stylish ceremony with stilt walkers, pyrotechnics and a violinist.
Guests then embarked on an overnight sailing to hidden Rhine port of call Boppard, as well as passing through the Unesco heritage site the Rhine Gorge, known for its fairytale castles and dramatic views.
The launch of Tui’s new river cruise venture was paused for 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tui Maya is one of three adult-only ships and makes its debut ahead of sister ship Tui Skyla which will begin sailing later this year. Tui Isla will set sail in spring 2022.
The three ships were given a multi-million-pound revamp after being previously operated by Werner Tours and Reiseburo Mittelhurgau Fluss until October 2019. Every ship has two restaurants, two bars and deck areas.
Tui Maya is due to make its inaugural seven-night sailing on Sunday August 15 on the Moselle Valley itinerary, featuring Frankfurt, Koblenz, Trier, Piesport and Oberwesel.
Tui River Cruises offers itineraries featuring big-name cities like Vienna and Budapest, and lesser known stops such as Boppard and Rudesheim. The new cruise line offers an average of 14 shore experiences per itinerary, including walking tours and wine tasting.
Guests receive a £120 shore experience voucher for every seven nights as part of the holiday package. Popular upcoming itineraries include four themed winter sailings and 11 Christmas market tours.
Chris Hackney, Managing Director of Cruise Tui UK & Ireland said: “We are delighted to finally launch Tui River Cruises and had a fitting celebration to get Tui River Cruises sailing in style.
“The team have worked tirelessly to get to this launch, and they’ve done a sensational job. The initial feedback we’ve had has been incredible and we’re now all really excited to welcome our first customers this weekend.
“People have been impressed by the elegant design and contemporary feel and surprised by how spacious the ship is.”
“It was also a pleasure to have our amazing godmothers onboard to officially christen TUI Maya. Both Rosie and Catherine have a passion for exploration which made them top of the list and their desire to cruise truly came out making them the ideal godmothers.”
Godmother to Tui Maya, Catherine Hawkins said: “I still can’t believe I have been chosen to be a godmother for Tui River Cruises. I feel so proud and honoured – what a privilege! I love to travel, explore new places and embrace new experiences so I feel a new door of exploration is about to open. I can’t wait to get started cruising those rivers!”
Rosie Brooks, godmother to Tui Skyla said: “I am thrilled to become a river cruise godmother, it’s so exciting! After having been at home, dreaming of adventures, I can’t wait to get out and explore again. The chateaus and gateaux cruise looks phenomenal, I have been dreaming of it all throughout lockdown. I think that will be my next one. To be able to travel again will be incredible, I can’t wait to explore all the sights the rivers of Europe, it is going to be amazing!”