London, United Kingdom (PressExposure) July 15, 2009 -- Celebrity Cruises (http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/) Celerity Equinox had less than six metres "breathing room" on either side, the 2,850-guest Celebrity Equinox - the eagerly anticipated sister ship to the widely heralded Celebrity Solstice - left shipbuilder Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, to make the 42 km transit - an event known as the "conveyance" - down the River Ems...backwards.
At its tightest point along the course, there are as few as four metres - not even adequate room to park a London black cab - between each side of the 317 metre-long, 37 metre-wide ship and the riverbank.
During Celebrity Equinox's transit from Papenburg to Eemshaven, Netherlands, the ship has navigated the passing of a railway bridge in Weener, a highway bridge in Leer, and a lock in Gandersum. The journey takes between 12 and 15 hours to complete, and is likely the most complicated ride the ship will encounter in its life. Due to the size and scale of the ship, the transit can take place only during absolutely ideal weather conditions: when the river is at high tide, when winds are extremely calm, and when tidal barriers are closed, in order to ensure there is enough water to accommodate the draft of the ship.
"The conveyance is an interesting challenge for any Captain," said Celebrity Equinox's Captain Apostolos Bouzakis. "The limited space available for navigation, the nature of sailing in reverse, and the number of locks and bridges to traverse are all factors that cruise ship captains normally do not have to contend with. But, a real benefit of this event is the opportunity to test the manoeuvrability of the ship at reduced speeds. With an average channel breadth of 111 metres it is a bit like taking a brand-new sportscar down winding country lanes: It's exhilarating, but not without its share of trepidation."
Tens of thousands of spectators are estimated to have lined the banks of the River Ems to watch Celebrity Equinox make its challenging and historic transit. Together with sister ship Celebrity Solstice, the two are the largest ships ever to have sailed on the River Ems.
The 122,000-gross-registered-tonnes Celebrity Equinox is scheduled to enter service July 31 from Southampton, England, on an eight-night cruise through the majestic Norwegian Fjords, followed by a series of romantic Mediterranean sailings from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, beginning 8 August.
For more information see http://www.celebritycruises.co.uk/