Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Equinox, has arrived in Southampton ahead of almost two weeks of inaugural celebrations.
The 3,000-passenger ship will be the only new cruise ship to be launched in the UKthis year.
On Wednesday it will be officially named by founder of the breast cancer charity Walk the Walk, Nina Barough CBE.
The line estimated the celebrations and the knock-on effect will boost the local Southampton economy by £20.5 million.
Next year a sister ship to Equinox, Eclipse, the third Solstice-class ship with their trademark real lawn on the pool deck, will be based in the port for the summer.
RCCL’s UK & Ireland managing director, Robin Shaw, said: “For the UK to be hosting the inaugural celebrations of Celebrity Equinox demonstrates the importance of the British and Irish markets.
“New cruise ships have a proven track record in stimulating the market, and driving people who have never considered a holiday at sea before to give it a try.
“Celebrity Equinox is designed to set new standards in the type of service and facilities found onboard larger cruise ships.
“The reaction of UK consumers in terms of bookings is strong, with sailings during all peak holiday periods sold out.”
Equinox has cost £700 million to build and Celebrity said it is aimed at experienced cruisers who want to try a new experience.
As well as real grass lawn on which guests can play croquet, boules or just relax, there is a glass blowing museum and demonstration area.
July 25 will see the first Pro-Am croquet match at sea take place as part of the inaugural celebrations.
On Sunday the PSA Equinox will hold its annual dinner and the previous nightTTG’s Face of Travel finalists will be crowned after the final onboard.
Celebrity Equinox’s first sailing with paying guests departs Southampton on July 31 for an eight-night Norwegian Fjords cruise.
The ship will then leave Southampton August 8 for a 10-night “Best of Europe” itinerary to Rome, calling on ports in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well asGibraltar.
The ship then will sail a series of 13 and 14-night “Ancient Empires” cruises until October, featuring two new ports of call: Haifa and Ashdod in Israel.
Prices for a 13-night Ancient Empires fly/cruise start from £1,531 per person (based on two sharing an inside cabin) including flights to Rome from Heathrow.