I name this ship . . .

//I name this ship . . .

eclipseribbon.jpgIt was emotional. Less than 24 hours earlier, Celebrity Eclipse had returned from a rescue mission to bring stranded British holidaymakers home from Spain. In the morning, almost a thousand people had taken part in a charity walk and many were now in the ship’s theatre to watch breast cancer survivor Emma Pontin name the vessel.
Introducing Emma, a courageous yachtswoman who has fought the sea as well as the Big C, Celebrity’s president, Dan Hanrahan, was close to tears as he mentioned that his own family had been touched by breast cancer.
Then a pink ribbon was delivered to the stage by an aerial dancer suspended from the ceiling by wire. The ceremonial scissors were handed to Emma by Daily Mirror Pride of Britain winner Nina Barough, who last year was godmother to sister ship Celebrity Equinox. Emma spoke the words “I name this ship . . .” and the ribbon was cut.
It snaked through the ship to release a big blue champagne bottle – blown in the vessel’s own glass studio – which smashed against the funnel.
With the help of a rabbi and a chaplain, the pipes and drums of RAF Halton, and the singers of Only Men Aloud – winners of TV’s Last Choir Standing – Celebrity Eclipse was named.
Celebrations carried on through the weekend, with VIPs and guests sailing for two days, and getting accustomed to the minor tweaks which have been made to meet the demands of the UK market – Eclipse will be sailing from Southampton throughout the summer.
There’s “proper” back bacon at breakfast, as well as the thin, crispy American variety; there’s Boddington’s beer in the bars; and most importantly, there’s a kettle and teabags in every cabin. No coffee, though – passengers have to order that from Cafe al Bacio, and it will be delivered by room service if required.
UK managing director Jo Rzymowska told me that, like others in the cruise industry she expects to see a spike in bookings for ex-UK, no-fly holidays as a result of the air shutdown caused by Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud. But she thinks it will be short-lived: just as well, because although Celebrity and parent company Royal Caribbean have 13 ships in Europe next year, only two – Eclipse and Independence of the Seas – will be based in Britain.
She also forecasts that by 2020, as many as three million Brits will be taking cruise holidays each year – double today’s number.
“There is no reason why we should not match, and even exceed, the sort of market penetration achieved in the US. We are an island, after all; we have longer holidays, and unlike Americans, most of us have passports.”
It would be difficult to argue with Jo’s vision of the future. She has presided over a 28 per cent increase in business; an impressive figure compared with the average of eight per cent growth in the rest of the UK market.
And if any measure of her popularity were needed, it came when she was given the loudest cheer of the day as the company’s executives were introduced to the naming ceremony.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:29+00:00 25 April 2010|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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