Celebrity Cruises moves Apex’s naming ceremony from Southampton

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Celebrity Cruises has postponed the naming ceremony of new ship Celebrity Apex this month in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but two planned inaugural sailings are still to go ahead.

Apex was due to be named in Southampton on March 30 – the event would have been the first time Celebrity Cruises named a ship in the UK for ten years.

The Edge-series ship’s naming ceremony will be rescheduled to take place later this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from where it will sail to the Caribbean this winter.

The line’s two two-night inaugural sailing events, which around 1,000 UK and Irish agents have been invited to, are expected to go ahead as planned on March 28 and March 30.

A Celebrity Cruises spokeswoman said it would be insensitive to the wider industry for Celebrity to host the event when companies are dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.

She added: “We [the UK] are still getting the ship first out of the shipyard, and we can’t wait to show her off to all our trade partners.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate our ship in the UK market, but it’s times like these where we have to be sensitive to the environment the wider industry is working in.”

In a letter to guests due to attend the naming ceremony, Celebrity’s president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: “We always expected Apex to be an extraordinary ship, but the extraordinary times we’re living right now have come as a surprise.

“Those who know me, or even know of me, know that I’m not much of a traditionalist. One tradition I do cherish, however, is the tradition of launching a new ship with a groundbreaking naming ceremony, and a groundbreaking godmother [technology activist Reshma Saujani]. I believe the karma and energy around the naming of a ship and its godmother are important to its future, its guests and its crew.

“To that end, we believe that continuing with the naming ceremony in the current environment would be inconsistent with the spirit and intention of such an important and meaningful event. We have therefore made the difficult decision to postpone our formal naming ceremony until later this year and will name Celebrity Apex when she arrives in Fort Lauderdale to begin her Caribbean season.”

Additional health and safety measures have also been implemented on Celebrity ships, which have been subject to “special sanitising”, Lutoff-Perlo said.

Any guest, or crew member, who has travelled to, from, or through China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, South Korea, or Italy within 15 days of departure will not be allowed to board, including those who had connecting flights in affected countries.

For the inaugural sailings from Southampton, all guests and crew are to receive a pre-boarding health screening and anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will receive additional medical screening and/or be denied boarding.

Lutoff-Perlo added: “While we find ourselves in uncharted territory and, as our captains will tell you, sooner or later everyone who sails into rough seas eventually sails into calmer waters. I know we are all anxiously awaiting those calmer waters.

“The health and safety of our guests and our crew are now, and have always been, at the forefront of everything we do every single day. These protocols are attached for your reference.”

Malala Yousafzai Christens Celebrity Edge at Port Everglades

The Celebrity Edge was officially christened during a Tuesday ceremony pierside in Port Everglades by godmother Malala Yousafzai.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Yousafzai was joined by all on board to “bless this ship and all those who sail upon her.”

The naming event brought together more than 3,000 guests, employees, crew members and students to commemorate the debut of Celebrity’s first new ship in six years and first new ship series in more than a decade.

“We are honoured that Malala agreed to be the godmother of this ship, a role that reflects centuries of maritime traditions,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Celebrity’s parent company. “We are especially proud because Malala’s example of relentless persistence and achievement is an inspiration to our crew, who have all worked so hard and made real sacrifices to build better lives for themselves and their families.”

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, added: “I am so very proud to have Malala Yousafzai as the godmother of Celebrity Edge. Malala embodies our commitment to opening the world through education and gender equality. Seeing her aboard our ship sends a powerful message to our crew who represent over 70 diverse nationalities, and our guests who we sail all over the world. The ceremony today was both touching and symbolic of what Celebrity Cruises stands for. I am grateful to Malala, her family and Malala Fund for embracing today’s events and look forward to continuing our work together around the world.”

“I’m fighting to ensure millions of girls stuck in situations of poverty or war that they didn’t create can learn what they need to choose a future for themselves. But to continue making progress for girls’ education, we need support from leaders in every sector. I am so grateful to Celebrity Cruises for their generous support and investment in the potential of girls everywhere,” said Malala Yousafzai, co-founder of Malala Fund.

Photo: From left: Richard D. Fain, Malala Yousafzai, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo and Capt. Costas Nestoroudis, christen Celebrity Edge at the ship’s Naming Ceremony.

In an intricate spectacle, Harmony of the Seas christened

From left, Harmony of the Seas captain Gus Andersson, Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley and ship godmother Brittany Affolter.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Royal Caribbean International turned the Harmony of the Seas naming ceremony into a technology demonstration, using its robotic bartenders as part of the process.

The ship was christened at Port Everglades by Brittany Affolter, a 23-year-old Teach for America educator in Miami who won a contest for teachers that drew over 1,000 nominees.

Far from a typical christening, Royal Caribbean cooked up a Rube Goldberg-style procedure that started with Affolter and Royal Caribbean chairman Richard Fain on stage in the ship’s open-air Aqua Theater.

An aerialist descended from above on guide wires with a button to activate the process. When Affolter pressed the button, it sent a signal to the robot, which did a spin and punched a second button, which then released a bottle of champagne rigged to the ship’s zipline.

A 3-foot bottle of champagne smashes into the Harmony of the Seas.
A 3-foot bottle of champagne smashes into the Harmony of the Seas. 

The bottle, a 3-foot tall sovereign custom-made for Royal Caribbean by Veuve Clicquot, then whizzed down the zipline course and crashed into a steel nameplate above the ship’s pool deck.

Back at the Aqua Theater, a blizzard of blue confetti was unleashed and singer Jon Secada, who once performed on Royal Caribbean ships, gave a concert.

Witnessing all of the festivities via a giant TV screen in the ship’s Studio B ice skating arena were 500 travel agents from Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld conference, who were invited to participate in a launch viewing party onboard.

The Harmony entered service last May and spent its first few months sailing in Europe. It arrived in Fort Lauderdale earlier this month, and will sail seven-night Caribbean voyages from the port.