There’s a big drama every time a new ship departs from the Meyer-Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, on its way to the North sea at Emden. A tidal barrage is closed, the River Ems is flooded, bridges are dismantled and power lines are pulled down to make room for vessels to pass.
They get bigger all the time, but yesterday’s conveyance of the 122,400-ton Celebrity Silhouette should not have resulted in anyone breaking sweat – the ship is the fourth in class and the three previous vessels have all made it 27 miles down the river without incident.
Shipyard owner Bernard Meyer remains unruffled when talking about the logistics of the exercise in this video, playing down the problems involved in getting a 36.8-metre wide ship through a 45-metre wide lock gate.
I’ve been on board ships squeezing through the lock, and it never looks like it the gap is wide enough – it certainly feels like a tighter squeeze.
Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis, who was at the helm as Silhouette was towed backwards down the river at a speed of about four knots, stayed calm as thousands of spectators gathered on the river banks.
I will be in Hamburg in just three weeks’ time when Silhouette is to be launched before setting out for the Mediterranean. Its journey along the River Elbe will be twice as long as down the Ems – but there’s much more room to spare.
- 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. (Fare based on 22 August 2011 departure).