Celebrity Eclipse, the latest premium cruise ship from Celebrity Cruises, returned yesterday to her homeport in Southampton from Bilbao, Spain, where she welcomed approximately 2,200 holidaymakers stranded by the travel disruption caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland. The sailing replaced the previously-planned 2-day promotional cruise for travel partners and press from April 22-24.
Dan Hanrahan, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, said, "We're proud of our tradition of planning and implementing meaningful and memorable ship launches, but the launch of Celebrity Eclipse is truly unique. The atmosphere has been fantastic amongst the guests and our crew. Everyone feels they are part of something truly special."
Celebrity Cruises worked with tour operators Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook, Travel Counselors and the Co-operative Travel Trading Group to repatriate as many of their customers as possible. "We appreciate everything Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook, Travel Counselors and the Co-Operative Travel Group did to make the very quick turn around in Bilbao work so well," added Hanrahan. In addition, Celebrity made 50 staterooms available to Britons identified as having an urgent need to return to the UK. The travelers were organized with assistance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's crisis team in Madrid.
Launch plans for Celebrity Eclipse are now continuing as planned with naming ceremonies in Southampton presided over by Godmother Emma Pontin, ocean-racing yachtswoman and breast cancer survivor, today. The naming celebration will coincide with a power walk to raise funds for the breast cancer charity Walk the Walk. The Celebrity SunWalk will see men and women in decorated bras walking a 5km and 10km route through Southampton, culminating in front of the new ship, all to raise both awareness and money.
Celebrity Eclipse is the first of Celebrity Cruises' ships to be based out of Southampton, and will welcome its first paying guests on 26 April 2010 prior to offering cruises through the summer to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands.