Conventional wisdom advises the use of special eye protection when viewing an eclipse. But none of that was necessary for the thousands of individuals who lined the banks of Germany’s River Ems today to see Celebrity Eclipse embark on a fascinating adventure in cruising.
The third of five in Celebrity Cruises’ stylish, $3.7-billion Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Eclipse today made her first departure from the innovative Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, to embark on what is very likely to be the most challenging ride of her life: an event known as the “conveyance.”
At the tightest points along the way, there are as few as two feet between each side of the 1,040-foot-long, 121-foot-wide Celebrity Eclipse and the locks. The depth of the river and the draft of the ship allow for mere inches - or less - beneath the ship. These factors and others led Celebrity Cruises and Meyer Werft to essentially create a science all their own, carefully monitoring the position of the moon and tidal conditions to identify the precise moment when the depth of the river is ideal for the ship to set sail from the shipyard.
“Cruise ship captains generally do not expect to encounter the challenges the conveyance presents,” said Celebrity Eclipse Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis. “Although I am accustomed to docking in tight ports, I prefer to be chasing sunshine in the open sea. Celebrity Eclipse is only a few feet slimmer than the narrowest lock we have to navigate, which isn’t much room, particularly when the president of the company is onboard, keeping a close watch! But we’ve done this twice before, and I am entirely confident of another smooth and successful passage.”
Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan and the Captain are far from alone on the ship. This year, among those experiencing the once-in-a-lifetime conveyance are a host of winners of the line’s global “Eclipse of a Lifetime” sweepstakes.
“This event is a vivid example of our ‘Designed for you’ brand platform, as it’s an experience ideally suited for discerning cruisers like those who entered our sweepstakes,” said Hanrahan. “Our sweeps in North America alone generated more than 200,000 entries, which attests to the appeal of this very unique experience.”
Before setting sail, the lucky winners - as well as a select group of travel agents and elite members of the press - had the exclusive opportunity to press the button activating the very first cuts of steel that will become a permanent part of the next ship in Celebrity’s Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Silhouette, during a customized, private tour at Meyer Werft shipyard.
After arriving in Emshaven, Netherlands, where those fortunate first few individuals to experience Celebrity Eclipse will depart, the ship will embark on sea trials, followed by a series of promotional events in Hamburg, Germany, and Southampton, England, where the vessel will be the first in the Celebrity fleet to be dedicated to the UK market. During her inaugural season, Celebrity Eclipse will offer cruises in the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Scandinavia and Russia, as well as short cruise options to Le Havre (for Paris), France, and Cork, Ireland, all roundtrip from Southampton. The ship will present Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami, Fla., after crossing the Atlantic in November.
Celebrity Eclipse will be the industry’s first to offer the “Celebrity iLounge,” complete with a retail area offering the latest products through Celebrity’s Authorized Apple Reseller status, and the first to present “Qsine,” a “uniquely unordinary,” interactive dining venue complete with wine menus on a personal touchscreen.
Like her sister ships - Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox - Celebrity Eclipse will present The Lawn Club, with real, growing grass; The Hot Glass Show, a glassblowing show and studio developed with The Corning Museum of Glass; 10 unrivaled dining venues, including Qsine; and widely varied entertainment, including shows with breathtaking aerial acts.