Celebrity Eclipse, the latest in a series of five stunning Solstice Class ships from Celebrity Cruises, today returned to her homeport in Southampton, England, from Bilbao, Spain, where she had welcomed approximately 2,200 vacationers stranded by the travel disruption caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
The sailing replaced the previously-planned two-day promotional cruise for travel partners and press from April 22-24.
"We're proud of our tradition of planning and implementing meaningful and memorable ship launches, but the launch of Celebrity Eclipse is particularly unique," said Celebrity's President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. "The atmosphere has been fantastic among the guests and our crew. Everyone feels they are part of something truly special."
"We are very appreciative of everything tour operators Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook, Travel Counsellors and the Co-Operative Travel Group did to make the very quick turn around in Bilbao work so well, and to help us repatriate as many of their customers as possible," added Hanrahan.
Celebrity also made 50 staterooms available to Britons identified as having an urgent need to return to the UK. The travelers were organized with assistance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's crisis team in Madrid.
Launch plans for Celebrity Eclipse will now continue as planned, with naming ceremonies in Southampton presided over by Godmother Emma Pontin, ocean-racing yachtswoman and breast cancer survivor, on April 24. The naming celebration will coincide with a marathon walk, the "Celebrity SunWalk," to raise funds for the breast cancer charity, "Walk the Walk." The Celebrity SunWalk will see men and women in decorated bras walking a 5km and 10km route through Southampton, culminating in Mayflower Park in front of the new ship, all designed to raise both awareness and charitable funds.
"We are eagerly preparing for Saturday's fundraising walk and formal naming festivities, and look forward to sharing all that with a large audience of primarily UK-based travel trade partners and press," said Hanrahan.