Normally, an eclipse is seen when the moon is blacking out the sun. On a one-time occasion in Rotterdam, I found that it can be possible for an eclipse and a moon to accompany each other in a totally different way.
Celebrity Eclipse is the thirth ship of the Solstice-class, named after the first of the five ship class. These ships are the biggest ships in the fleet of Celebrity Cruises, and were constructed at the Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. This wharf has built most of the ships of Celebrity Cruises, with the exception of the Millennium-class. Because of the problems created with this class and the displeasement by the newbuilding department of Celebrity at the time, the choice for Meyer werft again was not surprising. When the first ship of the class Celebrity Solstice was launched in 2008, it was the largest ship ever to be constructed in Germany. This record was broken again one year later when the Disney Dream was launched for Disney Cruise Line from the same wharf.
Celebrity Solstice was followed by Celebrity Equinox in 2009. The keel for the thirth ship, Celebrity Eclipse, was laid at the 23rd of january 2009 and she was floated into the drydock for outfitting on the 28th of february 2010. The ship has a tonnage of 122.000 and her lenght is 314,80 meters. She is 36,80 meters wide and her draft is 8,30 meters. She was designed for 2852 passengers and they are served by 1271 crewmembers. So the crew to passenger ratio is quite high, especially for a ship of this size. The ship normally sails at a speed of around 24 knots, very normal for a cruiseship.
As seen from the top of the Euromast, the newest skyscrapers of Rotterdam are dwarved by the Celebrity ship. Euromast itself, with a height of 185 meters (yes, New Yorkers, I know it's nothing) would easily dissappear in the hull of the ship.
At the 15th of april 2010 the ship was delivered to the company and she was christened by Emma Pontin at Southampton on the 24th of april. Emma Pontin became known as a ocean-race yaughtswoman who sufferes from breast-cancer. Celebrity Cruises wanted Pontin to be the godmother of the new ship, because of her possitive and empowering fight against the disease, from which both her aunt and grandmother had died.
The official maiden voyage of the Celebrity Eclipse started at the 29th of april 2010, departing from Southampton to Cobh, Ireland. But just before this journey, another voyage was planned in the aftermath of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Iceland. Because of this eruption, all airtraffic across the Atlantic Ocean and in western Europe came to a halt and thousands of people were stranded. Nice fact to name also, is that because nobody knew how long these problems would last (the last big eruption in Iceland took some one and a half years), suggestions were made to install a renewed transatlantic passenger service with cruiseliners between the United States and several ports in Europe. How great would that have been?
Celebrity Eclipse was used to sail from Southampton to the Basque port of Bilbao departing at the 21st of april to take on around 2000 English tourists stranded there purely as an act of goodwill of the company. I think Celebrity got some new fans out of this... The ship returned back in Southampton at the 23rd of april, one day before she was named. A rather strange maiden voyage that was.
The Solstice-class can be called one of the most environmentally friendly classes of cruiseship in the world. She is equipped with a so-called photovoltaic system, a system that directly uses energy from solar-panels. Also, the lighting systems onboard use only LED (lighting emitting diodes) lighting, that saves energy too. Next to that, the hull design is super-efficient and highly efficient coating is used for the hull also. Because of all these feautures, the Solstice-class of ships save up to 30% more energy then cruiseships of the same size.
At the top deck of the ship, there are some other innovations. Where Royal Caribbean comes with an outdoor central park, the Solstice-class feature a real lawn that is cut almost every day so its as smooth as the cruise itself. On this lawn, miniature golf, giant Jenga and jeux de boules can be played. When its raining and you do not want to be at a grassland at sea, you can always go to the Hot Glass Show, just next to the lawn. Here, hot glass is blown by professionals from the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York and shows are given at no extra cost to the passengers. As a novelty in glass-blazing, the studio is almost all electric, so that there will be no flames used that could burn down the ship. Nice things on board are also the Martini Bar, thats totally made out of ice and an art gallery where art and of course the glass from the Hot Glass Show are auctioned.
The Solstice class ships are so to say a very innovative kind of cruiseships, and I really like their looks. Again, like the Disney ships and the Holland America Vista-class they are topped by two funnels, the general proportions are, although huge, imposing and not unattractive in my opinion. In 2011, the fourth ship of the class started her sailings under the name Celebrity Silhouette and a fifth ship, Celebrity Reflection, slightly larger then her sisters, came in 2012. Although the names raises some eyebrows by some shipping enthousiasts, I am only glad that we are not fully surprised by a Celebrity Freedom, Celebrity Liberty and Celebrity Pride. I think Celebrity is a company that has a very strong own image. Although some of the ships of Celebrity are based on other hull designs, there is always something different about them that makes them a Celebrity-ship. Also, with this naming tradition the company uses, they are a little less standard. Little point of shame is the addition of the Celebrity name again, because without that the names would be superiour in the cruising industry in my opinion.