One careful driver is currently breathing a huge sigh of relief after completing the first stage of a 26 mile reverse park of a £500 million luxury cruise ship. Longer than three football pitches, the new ship has less than 1.5 metres manoeuvring room in places. The challenging exercise, carried out by Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis, is necessary to move the new Celebrity Cruises ship, Celebrity Silhouette, from its inland ship yard in Papenburg, Germany to reach the open sea in Emshaven, Netherlands.
Celebrity Silhouette will take over 12 hours to complete its first journey, the most complicated it is likely to encounter. The scale of the ship and the geography of the shipyard forces the Captain to steer the ship backwards out of the yard, assisted by tugboats fore and aft, and along the River Ems.
Preparations for the journey – termed a ‘conveyance’ by ship owners Celebrity Cruises – include removing power lines and railway tracks that normally pass over the river to allow the ship to pass through. Plus, the journey must take place at high tide to ensure there is enough water in the river, and when weather conditions are perfectly still to prevent the possibility of any wind causing the ship to scrape its multi-million pound paintwork.
The route along the River Ems includes various locks and other tight squeezes, travelling on an aqueduct over an autobahn (motorway). In places the 36.88 metre wide ship will pass through gaps of only 38.09 metres.
Travelling at less than four miles per hour, Celebrity Silhouette joins three sister ships that were also built in Papenburg and made the same complex journey. After some finishing work is completed in Emshaven, the Netherlands, Celebrity Silhouette will sail to Hamburg where it will officially launch and be named on 21 July 2011.
Celebrity Silhouette is the fourth Solstice-class ship from Celebrity Cruises, and boasts a number of exclusive new features, including the Lawn Club Grill - the cruise industry’s first outdoor interactive grill; The Hideaway - a high-tech tree house-like location for guests to relax inside; the Alcoves - private cabanas overlooking a real grass lawn on the top deck; and the Art Studio - a space where experienced and aspiring artists can participate in hands-on instruction from experts in drawing and painting. The ship will also feature designer boutiques, exclusive restaurants and an Apple dedicated internet café – the Celebrity iLounge - offering guests classes in using iPads and iPhones.
Celebrity Silhouette will offer 12-night cruises from Rome (Civitavecchia) to the Holy Land calling at Santorini and Athens (Piraeus) in Greece and Haifa and Jerusalem (Ashdod) in Israel amongst other destinations. Prices start from £1,349 per person including return flights from the UK and all meals and entertainment onboard based on 22 August 2011 departure.