Carnival’s newest cruise ship is on course for her maiden voyage on June 3 after breezing through its sea trials – as it should have given that its name is . . . Carnival Breeze. But unusually, the ship won’t be officially named for several months.
The 3,690-passenger vessel is a sister to last year’s newcomer, Carnival Magic, and the 2009 introduction, Carnival Dream, whose launch I attended in New York.
In the final stages of construction at a shipyard in north-east Italy, Breeze was put through her paces in the Adriatic, with technicians testing the ship’s navigational, technical and mechanical systems. The ship will spend summer in the Mediterranean before the christening takes place in America in November.
The Breeze launch tops off a busy few weeks for new cruise ships. First off the blocks was Costa Fascinosa, whose launch in Venice on May 5 was an understandably low-key affair after the tragic events of Costa Concordia.
Oceania’s new Riviera – an almost identical twin to highly-praised 2011 debutante Marina was named last weekend in Barcelona. Appropriately for a vessel which contains a Culinary Arts Centre alongside a selection of quality restaurants, the godmother was American celebrity chef Cat Cora, a regular on Iron Chef, and presenter of reality TV show Around the World in 80 Plates.
Riviera will spend the summer completing 20 cruises in the Mediterranean and Aegean, and also to the Canaries, before setting out across the Atlantic to set up in Miami for a season of Caribbean cruises.
Also at the weekend, German party ship AIDAmar was christened in Hamburg, with three sister ships alongside, and a claimed 1.4 million people in attendance for the ceremony and to line the River Elbe in celebration of the German port’s 823rd anniversary.
Not quite as many people visited West India Docks in east London last week for the debut of Caledonian Sky, but this is not quite a new ship. Carrying 114 passengers, the vessel was formerly the Hebridean Spirit, and has spent the last two years as the private yacht of a middle-eastern sheikh.
After a short season in northern Europe, the ship will head to the Pacific, and will sail cruises to Alaska, the Russian far-east, as well as to Sumatra, Easter Island, and Antarctica.
Next up is MSC Divina to be named in Marseille on May 26; no need to ask who the godmother is this time – if it’s MSC, it’s always Sophia Loren. I will be there for the ceremony, and less than three weeks later I’ll be on Carnival Breeze’s second cruise. So watch this space.