The great and the good of the cruise industry were on board Celebrity Equinox last night for the annual dinner of the Passenger Shipping Association. The event was just part of an extravaganza of inaugural celebrations leading up to the ship’s naming ceremony on Thursday.
Celebrity Cruise Lines’ president Dan Hanrahan was reluctant to put a figure on the cost of the eight days events showing off the $750 million ship to UK travel agents and media, With free food and drink flowing each day – until long into the night – and the ship sailing each evening, the cost must be considerable.
Hanrahan, as charming a man as you could wish to set sail with, argued that the expense was well worth the exposure the ship would be getting from members of the travel trade as he seeks to attract passengers away from more familiar British lines.
I’m sure he’s correct – I saw the bosses of P&O, Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Fred Olsen taking a close look at the innovative design features and facilities on Equinox.
The dinner also provided a rare treat in the form of a lifetime achievement award for two journalists. Husband and wife team Tony Peisley and Maria Harding have been writing and broadcasting about cruises for more than 30 years, and have earned the respect of their fellow hacks and industry bosses alike.
They were presented with the John Lancaster Smith Award by PSA director Bill Gibbons, who said: “Maria and Tony have made an invaluable contribution to raising the profile of both cruising and ferry travel. Their knowledge of the industry is second to none and over many years, they have provided numerous column inches within national newspapers and specialist publications.”
Sadly for Captain Greybeard, neither of them showed any hint that even after all those years, they are ready for retirement just yet