Celebrity Cruises caters to cruise lovers, and today, the line launched a sweepstakes for an experience that is the stuff of dreams for any cruise enthusiast. Celebrity’s “Eclipse of a Lifetime” sweepstakes, running from today through January 14, 2010, will entitle 10 winners and their guests to be the first individuals outside of the line’s employees to board Celebrity Eclipse when it sets sail for the very first time; the first to have exclusive, up-close-and-personal views of the construction process of Celebrity’s fourth Solstice Class ship in Germany at Meyer Werft, one of the most modern shipyards in the world; first to be led and hosted throughout Celebrity Eclipse by Celebrity's President and CEO Dan Hanrahan; first to nestle into the ship’s AquaClass staterooms; first to sample the ship's innovative cuisine created by the line’s VP of Culinary Operations and Chef Jacques Van Staden, and the first to have the chance to interact with the ship’s senior officers.
All this will take place surrounding an experience that will occur only once in the ship’s life, and only once in the lives of the winners: the “conveyance” of Celebrity Eclipse. Scheduled for March 13, 2010, the conveyance marks the occasion when Celebrity Eclipse departs Meyer Werft shipyard for the first time, and navigates the narrow River Ems – backwards – from Papenburg, Germany, to Emshaven, Netherlands, prior to embarking on sea trials.
During the "conveyance" through Germany's River Ems, more than 75,000 residents are expected to line the river banks – in cars, on bikes, on horseback and in RVs – to watch and cheer as one of the largest ships ever to transit the river meanders past charming villages and quaint farmlands. An indisputable rarity in cruising, the conveyance takes the ship along a truly challenging course: At its tightest points along the way, there will be as few as two feet between each side of the 1,040-ft-long, 121-ft-wide Celebrity Eclipse and the locks. The depth of the river and the draft of the ship allow for mere inches – or less – beneath the ship. Celebrity and shipbuilder Meyer Werft have essentially created a science all their own, to closely and carefully monitor the position of the moon and tidal conditions to pinpoint the precise moment when the depth of the river is ideal for the ship to depart the shipyard.
“The science and precision of the process is actually more complex than transiting the Panama Canal,” said Hanrahan. A railway bridge must be completely dismantled, and normal train schedules adjusted, to allow for the ship’s passage at one point on the course, among other narrow passages. The journey will take between 12 to 15 hours to complete, and is likely to be the most challenging ride the ship will encounter in its life. Only one captain in the world – who sweepstakes winners will have the exclusive opportunity to meet – is licensed and qualified to take the helm during the conveyance. The limited space available for navigation, the nature of sailing in reverse, and the number of narrow passages and bridges to transit are factors cruise ship captains normally don’t have to deal with; but, it provides the chance for them to test the ship’s maneuverability at slow speeds.
In addition to the series of 'first-ever' experiences, Celebrity's "Eclipse of a Lifetime" prize package includes a night in Dusseldorf, one of the hippest cities in Germany, prior to boarding the ship, and a night in freewheeling Amsterdam after departing the ship. Each “Eclipse of a Lifetime” prize package also includes coach-class air for two from each winner’s nearest major gateway to Dusseldorf, Germany; hotel accommodations and meals prior to boarding Celebrity Eclipse; all meals and activities onboard the ship; all pertinent gratuities; ground transfers to and from airports, hotels, and Celebrity Eclipse; the exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the Meyer Werft shipyard, and coach-class air from Amsterdam to the U.S.