The fifth and final sister ship in the Celebrity Solstice class is the largest and most exciting vessel in the family.
Refection was floated out on August 13th Celebrity Reflection just made its way down the Ems River in it "conveyance" to the North Sea. Conveyance s the word that has been coined by the Meyer Werft shipyard for the process of getting a brand new ship down the very narrow river where the shipyard is located.
The Meyer Werft Shipyard is now one of the most popular shipyards in the world, since the competition between shipyards has escalated post-recession. In the past many ships were built at the STX shipyards in France and Finland, and at the Fincantieri shipyards in Trieste and Genoa, but since competition has heated up between shipyards the number of ships being built at the Papenburg yard has been getting busier, and the ships have gotten larger.
At 130,000 tons Celebrity Reflection is among the largest ships yet to be built in this shipyard that is located more inland than it is on the sea. In order to accomplish the "conveyance" the ship had to wait for high tide on the Ems River, and it had to back out of its dock and it had to make the 30-mile journey to the North Atlantic Sea.
Other ships have come close, including the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, not to mention the four sister ships to Celebrity Reflection, but those four ships are all slightly smaller and less wide in the beam than Reflection (by two feet).
Reflection was "floated out" on August 12. A ship is floated out when the dry dock where she has been constructed is filled with water and the lock-style gates of the dock are opened to outside water level and the ship is taken out of its dock for the first time. At the Papenburg Meyer-Werft plant the dry dock is inside one of the largest covered structures in all of Europe. The ship emerges from the dock stern first (backwards) and because there is no place to turn around that is the way in which the ship must sail the entire length of the Ems River to the sea.
One can't help but wonder why they don't build the ship facing the opposite direction - although I am sure they have a good reason. The work continued on the ship outside of the dry dock, where she stayed anchored for over a month. Some of the final details included installing the two smokestacks and any other structures that require very tall cranes, like satellite dishes (called the signal tower).
To read more about this ship see our recent Celebrity Reflection overview.
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Down the River
To get the ship down the river, the company not only had to wait for a high tide, but they often need to dam the river to raise the surface by a few feet. Bridges for cars and pedestrians and train trestles also need to be dismounted so the ship can pass. They have done this a few times before, so they know all the tricks.
Hundreds of people will line up along the entire banks of the river to watch the ship go by. In the case of Celebrity Reflection they timed the floatout (in August) so the ship could serve as a backdrop for the Papenburg Festival 2012 which took place on September 8th. As soon as the floatout was complete the first crewmembers came aboard to take up residence.
The ship was "conveyed" down to the city of Eemshaven (in the Netherlands) which is the place where the ship was "delivered" to Celebrity Cruise Line. This means the cruise line does not officially "take delivery" of the ship until it has been successfully conveyed down the river.
Celebrity Reflection is the fifth and the last ship in the family of Celebrity Solstice sister ships. She is slightly larger, has an extra deck and can accommodate an additional 144 passengers. The ship will boast three new classes of suites not offered on other Solstice-class ships - including the massive 1950-square foot "Reflection Suite" with the cantilevered shower to be placed on the corner of one forward deck.
Are you fan of the Solstice class? Tell us here: Celebrity Cruise ForumA Map of the Em River from Papenburg to the North Sea