Divine evening for MSC Divina

siphialoren.jpgacro.jpgThere was aerobatics and acrobatics, music and dance, and lots and lots of speeches at the spectacular christening ceremony of MSC’s newest cruise ship, Divina, in Marseille at the weekend.
There was excitement and thrills, and there were moments of blind panic as the organisers began to wonder whether it had been a wise decision to invite French actor Gerard Depardieu to take part in proceedings, and whether – as he prowled the stage like an angry lion – he would ever finish his lengthy oration.
The audience sat breathless in fear, but he eventually made it to the end, despite an attempted intervention by the MC and with the assistance of a woman from the front row of the audience who joined him on stage to help put him back on course.
The ceremony, which stretched over two-and-a-half-hours, was held in the French port in tribute to the country’s shipbuilders who had assembled the €550 million (£450 million) Divina in the STX yard at St Nazaire.
flypast.jpgThe evening began with two separate flying displays, though it was unfortunate that they were mostly executed in direct line of sight with the sun, which was still high in the sky.
fantasia3.jpgSister ship MSC Fantasia saluted the new arrival as she made a misty departure from the port amid a cacophony of salutes on the ships’ horns. In contrast, Costa Serena slipped quietly away without mention or fanfare – she had not been invited to the party.
A Divina production show featuring a piratical mixture of magic and spectacular acrobatics, and a performance by violin virtuoso and UNICEF ambassador Maxim Vengerov were among the musical interludes.
ponte.jpgThe highlight was allegedly an appearance by singer Paolo Conte, whose voice had been dredged up from the bed of the Mediterranean for the evening.
His contract stipulated that no-one was allowed to record or photograph the performance and a battalion of black-suited, shaven-headed security men patrolled the arena to prevent guests from taking pictures. They didn’t quite manage to stop me but in deference, I have pixellated his face; in this form it more accurately reflects his performance.
The sun had set before the cameras were allowed back to record the arrival of Sophia Loren, escorted by a phalanx of whiite-uniformed officers. She gave a speech in French before cutting the ribbon to release a bottle of champagne to christen the ship. A magical moment.
If you have time to watch the official video of the event, which was streamed live on the night, is still available on the internet. The pirate show starts about one hour into the show and Sophia Loren eventually arrives to christen Divina at about 157 minutes. You might want to skip over the contribution from the deputy mayor of Marseille and some of the other speeches. And Conte is nowhere to be seen . . .

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.

Leave A Comment