Celebrity Silhouette squeezes out of tiny Dutch canals


This £500m, 319-metre luxury cruise liner was not built to navigate narrow canals – and that is the reason why it took 12 hours to complete a 26-mile journey.

At times there was manoeuvring room of only 5 feet as it slowly made its way from Meyer-Werft port in Papenburg to Eemshaven in Holland, but it was the first time Celebrity Silhouette – which weighs 122,400 tons, can sleep 2,886 passengers and is longer than three football pitches – has been seen on the water.

Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis earned his money for expertly guiding the huge, multi-million pound ship on tiny waterways on the Ems River yesterday, which will probably be the narrowest the liner will have to negotiate in its career.

There were plenty of tight squeezes and locks to edge through – in places the 36.88 metre wide ship passed though gaps of only 38.09 metres – and the huge vessel even had to travel on an aqueduct over an autobahn.

In order for Celebrity Silhouette – helped by tugboats and travelling at just 4mph – to complete the perilous journey, German and Dutch authorities had to remove a number of power lines and railway tracks en route.

The timing of the trip was important, too, as it had to take place at high tide in order that the hull would not scrape along the river bottom.

The Celebrity Silhouette, which took two years to make, is the fourth of a fleet of five Solstice Class ships to be built by Celebrity Cruises and will remain in the port at Eemshaven, bar some test trips in the North Sea, until it heads back to Germany, when it will be formally named, in Hamburg, on July 21.

The cruise liner boasts a number of exclusive new features, including the Lawn Club Grill – the industry’s first outdoor, interactive grill.

On board there is also The Hideaway, a high-tech location reminiscent of a childhood treehouse for guests to relax inside, as well as The Alcoves – a luxurious, private cabanas overlooking the ship’s lush lawn on the top deck amid immense views of the sea.

In addition there is and the Art Studio – a space where experienced and aspiring artists can participate in hands-on instruction from experts in drawing, beading, sculpting and painting.

The ship also features top-tier designer boutiques, exclusive restaurants and the hip Celebrity iLounge, offering guests classes on the use of iPads and iPhones, among other products, which also are available for sale through Celebrity’s industry-first Authorised Apple Reseller status.

Celebrity Silhouette’s official maiden voyage will be on July 23 when it will set sail from Hamburg to Rome (Civitavecchia).
The ship will be based in Rome, and conduct her journeys from there.

On offer will be 12-night round trip cruises to the Holy Land through the summer, which will set you back a cool £1,349 per person.

And, later in the year, there are 12-night Caribbean cruise round trips from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, beginning in November.