By Michael Coleman
The shiny new Celebrity Silhouette will welcome passengers for the first time later this month in Germany but that’s the easy part for one of the world’s premium cruise lines.
Silhouette departed the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany for open seas this week but not before completing a 26-mile navigation of the River Ems where she had less than five feet of room to maneuver at certain points.
Adding to the drama as the multi-million-dollar vessel inched its way along the river: Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis guided the ship in reverse.
Preparations for the journey — termed a ‘Conveyance’— included the removal of power lines and railway tracks that normally pass over the river to allow the ship to traverse through. The journey was also precisely timed to take place at high tide to ensure ample depth beneath the hull and when weather conditions were calm enough to avert the possibility of wind causing the ship to run aground.
The route along the River Ems included various locks and other tight squeezes, even traveling on an aqueduct over an autobahn. The vessel cruised at less than four miles per hour.
After finishing work is completed in Emshaven, the Netherlands, the 2,886-passenger Silhouette will sail to Hamburg where it will be named during formal ceremonies on July 21.
The vessel is the fourth of five stylish Solstice-Class ships from Celebrity — Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse preceded her – and she boasts a number of exclusive new features, including the Lawn Club Grill, the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill; The Hideaway, a high-tech location reminiscent of a childhood tree house for guests to relax inside; The Alcoves, luxurious, private cabanas overlooking the ship’s lawn on the top deck amidst spectacular views of the sea; and the Art Studio, a space where experienced and aspiring artists can participate in hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, beading, sculpting and painting.
The ship will also feature top-tier designer boutiques, exclusive restaurants and the hip Celebrity iLounge, offering guests classes on the use of iPads and iPhones, among other products, which also are available for sale onboard.
When the christening ceremonies are completed, Silhouette will sail from Hamburg to Rome where she will offer 12-night roundtrip cruises to the Holy Land through the summer. Look for 12-night Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Cape Liberty, NJ, beginning in November.
One of the world’s top premium cruise lines, Celebrity sails to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Galapagos Islands. The line also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America.
One of the fastest-growing major cruise lines in the world, Celebrity’s fleet consists of nine ships, with one additional Solstice-Class ship (Celebrity Reflection) scheduled to sail in the fall of 2012.
On the web: www.celebritycruises.com