On the heels of her formal naming ceremony, Celebrity Eclipse today officially entered service, following pre-inaugural activities that “eclipsed” others.
Just prior to being named on April 24, Celebrity Eclipse – the latest in a series of five stunning Solstice Class ships from Celebrity Cruises – replaced a previously-planned two-day promotional cruise to instead transport from Bilbao, Spain, to Southampton, England, approximately 2,200 vacationers who had been stranded by the travel disruption caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
“What a rare and notable way for Celebrity Eclipse to begin her sailing career,” said Celebrity Cruises Chairman Richard D. Fain. “Who knew that a $700-million ship would start her career as emergency transport? One of the particular pleasures was seeing how responsive our exceptional crew was, and how much effort they contributed to make sure that these unexpected guests had the time of their lives.”
Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Dan Hanrahan shared a similar sentiment with the nearly 2,000 primarily UK-based travel agents, press and other special guests at Saturday’s naming ceremony in Southampton: “This truly has been a unique inaugural for Celebrity Eclipse. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we could be so impacted by a volcano whose name I can’t even begin to pronounce.”
Presiding over the naming ceremony was Godmother Emma Pontin, ocean-racing yachtswoman and breast cancer survivor. Prior to her remarks, Hanrahan shared an emotional and personal comment: “Like far too many mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, I, too, have lost a loved one to breast cancer. It is therefore especially poignant for me that we have such a noble champion in the fight against breast cancer serving as our Godmother.”
“We are indeed privileged to have someone as courageous and abundantly inspiring as she to serve in this revered, time-honored role,” said Fain. “In a lovely alignment with Celebrity Cruises, our Godmother, too, makes her living sailing across the world’s oceans. But, she does so as an adventuresome, ocean-racing yachtswoman.”
Fain described Pontin’s continued devotion to the sport, even in the midst of treatment for breast cancer, from which she emerged victorious: “Her determination to make every day count, her courage, and her positive attitude, even during times of adversity, are tremendously inspiring for everyone – whether battling this disease or overcoming other challenges large or small.”
Celebrity Eclipse Godmother Emma Pontin then took the stage, sharing with the audience how honored she felt to be invited to serve in the role, and the special connection she felt with the ship.
“As someone who has confronted her own mortality through breast cancer, life for me has become more precious than ever,” said Pontin. “Every moment counts. I now want memories, not just dreams. And memories are what will be created on this magnificent ship. One of the many dictionary definitions of ‘eclipse’ is a performance that outshines all that went before.’ And eclipse she will. She will unquestionably exceed the expectations of all those who step aboard, and she is without doubt a place where memories will be created by the millions of guests who will experience her delights.”
The Celebrity Eclipse naming celebration coincided with a marathon walk in Southampton, the “Celebrity SunWalk,” raising funds for the breast cancer charity, “Walk the Walk.” The charity was founded by Nina Barough, who served as Godmother of Celebrity Eclipse’s sister ship, Celebrity Equinox.
Celebrity Eclipse departed Southampton today on a three-night Paris (Le Havre) cruise. She returns to Southampton to embark on the ship’s official maiden voyage departing April 29 with a four-night cruise to Cork (Cobh), Ireland, followed by a series of Mediterranean and Russia and Scandinavian cruises throughout the summer. Celebrity Eclipse will offer Caribbean sailings from the Port of Miami, Florida, beginning this winter.