I don’t think the VIPs attending the double-naming ceremony of the Costa Pacifica and the Costa Luminosa in Genoa on Friday night expected to be quite so blown away by the spectacle.
But a chill wind off the Ligurian Sea had the audience fleeing for the comfort of the cabins before the show was half way through, and there were acres of empty seats by the time Israeli singer Noa and Italy’s world fencing champion, Valentina Vezzali, cut the ribbons which sent two bottles of Aneri Prosecco crashing simultaneously on the ships’ bows.
Low cloud and high winds had earlier caused the cancellation of a parachute drop onto the Luminosa, although the Frecce Triccolori – Italy’s equivalent of the Red Arrows – did manage to put on a spectacular salute (above).
The bottle-smashing, which has proved so problematical for a number of ships, actually went perfectly. It was about the only thing which did.
Italians can’t grasp the meaning of a prompt start, and the audience was still streaming into the specially-constructed arena between the two ships on Genoa’s Andrea Doria pier long after the appointed time of 10.30 pm, even though most of them only had to walk a few metres from the ships’ gangways.
Other audience members who had been in their seats for over an hour were getting restless by the time proceedings got under way at 11.00.
There was an hour of music and an acrobatic aerial ballet from a bizarre inflatable white lobster suspended by crane over the crowds’ heads – a perilous performance in the wind which had sent hundreds scurrying back to the shelter of the ships.
By the time the serious part of the proceedings began the wind was causing havoc with the unprotected microphones, and the crowd had thinned out even further – causing ironic smiles among members of the world’s media, who had been told at the last minute that they would have to stay on the ship because their seats were needed for dignitaries.
I was able to watch from the comfort of my Deck 7 balcony as a blizzard of red, white and green ticker tape blasted over the pier and the ships’ hooters sounded a deafening fanfare. But there was no sign of the fireworks and light show over Genoa which we had been promised – presumably another casualty of the weather.
Instead, the partying continued back on board until the small hours and later – the Italians are not only good at late starts, they do late finishes as well.
More on the ships themselves, together with some pictures, later in the week.