|Left to right, Richard Fain, godmother Michelle Morgan, Dan Hanrahan and Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis listen as a rabbi, one of two clergymen, blessed the new Celebrity Silhouette in Hamburg, Germany on Thursday.// Image courtesy Susan Young|
Celebrity Cruises reinforced its commitment to the fight against breast cancer by bringing all the godmothers of its Solstice-class ships -- all breast cancer survivors and highly accomplished women -- onto Celebrity Silhouette’s stage Thursday as the ship’s new godmother Michelle Morgan, another breast cancer survivor and president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, cut a pink ribbon and christened the new ship in Hamburg, Germany.
Thousands of invited guests, VIPs, travel partners and news media, many from Germany, attended the black-tie event conducted in the ship’s theater. Standing behind Morgan as she did the honors in the ship’s theatre were previous godmothers Nina Barough, Emma Pontin and Sharon Smith.
As Morgan cut the ribbon, an aerial artist took the ribbon skyward, and then the audience saw an exterior shot of the smashing of a custom-made magnum of champagne against the ship’s mast. The bottle was created by the Corning Museum of Glass.
In his remarks during the colorful maritime event, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of parent Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., emphasized that the four godmothers were all courageous women who had risen above the disease.
“They have not allowed the battle to define them,” he stressed. A touching video about Morgan’s life, family and effort to fight the disease was shown on the theater’s large screen just prior to the christening.
The naming ceremony, a strong tradition in maritime circles, began dramatically with the entrance of VIPs to the strains of music by the Royal Air Force Halton Pipes & Drums. Several musicians, who are talented Celebrity management staffers, also emerged from a lift beneath the stage and sang and played the uplifting “On a Day Like Today.”
Celebrity has a strong Greek heritage given its original connection with the Chandris family, so in a poignant moment, Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis and his fellow Greek officers sang the Greek National Anthem, while the Greek flag appeared on the video screen behind them.
Because Celebrity Silhouette is also the first of RCCL’s 41 ships to be christened in Germany, the audience also sang along to a rendition of the German national anthem. The ship was built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. Fain introduced the shipyard’s chairman Bernard Meyer, who stood in the audience under a spotlight, and received strong applause from the predominantly German crowd.
The ship was blessed by both a rabbi and a pastor. And both Fain and Dan Hanrahan, Celebrity’s president and CEO, spoke to the audience. Celebrity’s brand continues to become more global in nature, and Fain noted that by 2012, the majority of customers will be sourced from outside North America. RCCL brands have had a presence in Germany for many years, but in the past few years, business has soared and Celebrity fits well with the affluent German market, Fain said.
Noting that Celebrity Silhouette is the fourth of the highly successful Solstice class, Hanrahan also emphasized to the crowd that Celebrity Solstice has many new features. “Whatever you do, don’t miss the Lawn Club,” he said.
Hanrahan described changes from previous Solstice-class vessels -- including the addition of a Lawn Club Grill restaurant and private cabanas to that top-deck grassy area – as “stunning.”
For a look at the Lawn Club, see our original slide show on the Lawn Club as well as the new Hideaway, another new area onboard Celebrity Silhouette.