I know just how astonishingly efficient shipyards are these day. I’ve seen it. As soon as one, assembled-but-not-kitted-out, ship is floated out of the Meyer Werft (Germany) dock, the first blocks for the next ship are already being laid, and at Fincantieri (Italy) there are several ships on the go at the same time!
But this is a nice example of that efficiency, played out yesterday (31 Oct) at Chantiers de l’Atlantique¹ in Saint-Nazaire (France).
At a handover ceremony at the yard, Celebrity Cruises took delivery of their latest ship, Celebrity Edge – the result of more than four years of planning and 23 months of construction (from Nov 2016) at the skilled hands of thousands of engineers, architects, artisans, designers, contractors, shipyard employees, and the new-build and Celebrity Cruises teams.
Then, no sooner had they completed the Celebrity Edge cheque-signing² and delivery ceremony, the Directors, VIPs and attendees made their way across the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard for the ceremonial keel laying of their next ship, Celebrity Apex, where a 762-ton block was lifted in the air and a lucky coin was placed on the dock before the block was lowered into position.
On Tuesday (6 Nov) Celebrity Edge will begin her transatlantic voyage to her home port at T25 at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Meanwhile work in the shipyard will power ahead on her sister ship, Celebrity Apex, for delivery in in 2020.
And there are two more Edge Class sister ships in the pipeline for 2021 and 2022.
¹ Chantiers de l’Atlantique became “STX Europe” a few years back, but in June this year they changed the name back as part of a deal in which Fincantieri took 50% ownership of the yard.
² The moment of handover is an enormously complicated process in itself, involving millions of dollars & euros whizzing about electronically in the background between dozens of accounts. Even though closely planned and co-ordinated it is invariably a piece of financial theatre, played out over an hour or so, through urgent phone calls and texts, documents signed, scanned and confirmed. I talked about it recently with a cruise line director who had just been involved in a delivery. I asked him if it ever went wrong. “Well,” he said, “we lost a million dollars for about 20 minutes, but that’s not unusual!”