Ambassador Cruise Line, a British start-up led by many of the same executives from Cruise & Maritime Voyages, has christened its first ship.
Ambience was christened in London by godmother Sally Gunnell at the Tilbury cruise terminal on Tuesday.
The cruise ship formerly sailed as Pacific Dawn for P&O Australia, but was called Regal Princess when she was launched in 1991, with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as her godmother at that time.
Sally Gunnell, a former British athlete and Olympian named Ambience as Ambassador’s first ship at a ceremony with 500 guests, partners and suppliers.
There was also a nine-course meal including Ambassador’s signature “Baked Alaska” parade, and guests were able to celebrate at various entertainment venues across the ship.
“Nearly 25 years ago on this day, I joined my first cruise ship as a bar waiter,” said Ambassador Cruise Line CEO, Christian Verhounig. “While I instantly fell in love with the cruise industry, I could never have imagined that one day I would be the CEO of a brand-new cruise line and witness the naming its first ship.”
“Launching a cruise line during the pandemic shows our belief in and commitment to the cruise and travel industry,” he added. “Sustainability is also important to us. We have invested significant amounts into upgrading Ambience, including making the ship IMO Tier III compliant, making it possible for Ambience to sail in the most environmentally protected areas around the world.”
Verhounig was the CEO and Chairman of Cruise & Maritime Voyages from 2011 to 2020, managing itsextensive fleet of cruise ships and over 4,000 employees, before the pandemic forced the cruise line to suspend operations and ultimately shut down permanently.
The demise of the cruise line, which catered to the older cruising crowd and offered a range of no-fly roundtrip cruises from British ports, created a gap in the market that Verhounig has said he wants to fill with Ambassador.
However, Verhounig has noted that while there are many familiar faces in management, Ambassador Cruise Line will be a new and exciting product for the industry.
“We do have the benefit that we have experience in this area and have managed to build something that unfortunately didn’t make it through COVID,” he said last year. “But [Ambassador Cruise Line] is very new; we set a new vision behind it with new values. And I think it’s extremely exciting.”
While Ambience is the cruise line’s first ship, it has already acquired a second, the former AIDAmira, which will be refurbished and re-named Ambition.
Ambition sailed as Costa neoRiviera prior to her purchase by AIDA, and homeported in Dubai until 2017. She was deployed to South Africa by AIDA Cruises before the pandemic, which ultimately saw her join Ambassador.