Celebrity Flirts with Flowers

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As I sat in the conservatory aboard Celebrity Cruises' Infinity, watching the florist create a corsage of red roses, I was struck by the setting: Filled with fresh and silk flowers, bushes, orchids and magnolia trees, it was a place of beauty with a wonderful scent.

It's easy to see why the Infinity's conservatory has become a popular venue for weddings and renewal-of-vows ceremonies. This peaceful and attractive botanical environment is an ideal spot for romantic occasions and reflective moments.

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The conservatory was designed by Emilio Robba of Paris, who describes it as "a secret garden of the seas, designed to emphasize Infinity's magnificent surroundings and to present nature in a harmonious blend of sea and sky." With a background in landscape design and Ikebana Japanese flower arranging, Robba has both a technical and aesthetic appreciation for his work. Well-known for his stunning silk flower creations, his floral art designs are balanced and serene, sometimes dramatic but never disturbing. His silk roses are exquisitely realistic. His renowned magnolia flowers are coated with a special resin to preserve their shape. A phaelonopsis orchid bears his name in recognition of the work he has done to promote the flower. The boutique has many Robba creations in glass vases for sale, starting at $70.

Infinity has two full-time florists onboard to look after the conservatory and operate the full-service boutique. One of them, Pinky, explained that the florists create all the live flower arrangements on the ship, including the centerpieces for the captain's table. Passengers can buy a wide variety of floral items, as they would from a florist at home. Flower arrangements for cabins sell early in the cruise, while table centerpieces and corsages are popular for special occasions. Corsages range from $10 to $25, with a boutonniere costing $6. Table centerpieces range from $35 to $50. Bud vases start at $10 and a dozen roses sell for $55.

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Another advantage of having professional florists on board is that passengers can learn how to create corsages and table centerpieces at floral classes held during the cruise. You need to arrive early to get a good seat, so popular are the three floral demonstrations held during the week. For those sitting in the back, it helps that the florist's work is shown on a large screen above the display table. Each piece created at the demonstration is raffled off to a lucky member of the audience.

When Celebrity Cruises announced that the Infinity would provide a floral conservatory with a full-time florist, it raised a lot of interest. Since then the line has added a small boutique and conservatory to sister ship Millennium, replacing the little-used teen disco near the Cosmos Lounge with colorful floral displays. (This area is the Notes music library on the other three Millennium-class ships.)

Larger conservatories are featured on the other three Millennium-class ships -- Infinity, in service since March; Summit, recently delivered to Celebrity; and Constellation, which enters service next summer. On Infinity, Summit and Constellation, the conservatory is situated on Deck 12 adjacent to the mid-ship ocean-view elevators. (This area is the Extreme sports bar on the Millennium.)

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Around the ship, you will find Robba's work at every turn, in a wide variety of colors and designs, adding to the beauty of Infinity. Florist Pinky worked with Emilio Robba and a team of seven florists in Miami to create the floral arrangements for the new Summit. Each display is unique, with the work taking two months to complete.

Infinity's conservatory is a refreshing and delightful botanical area. Together with the floral displays of Emilio Robba around the ship, it adds to the serene character of this beautiful vessel.

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