Cruise liner set to break length record

Records are made to be broken.

When Voyager of the Seas berthed on November 17, the vessel set two port records when it became our largest visitor at 137,276gt, and longest, with an overall length of 311.12m, including bulbous bow.

At the time, I mentioned the latter record would be short-lived, as it will be eclipsed when Celebrity Solstice makes its first visit on Saturday.

Although considerably smaller at 121,878gt, the overall length of this vessel (including bulbous bow) is 317.19m. This vessel, with its 19 decks, has 2850 passenger berths and carries a crew of 1500.

Propulsion is from two Azipod units, with power supplied from four Wartsila diesel-electric units having a total output of 91,364hp that gives a speed of 24 knots.

The vessel was built at the Jos. L. Meyer (Meyer Werft) shipyard at Papenburg on the River Ems in Germany. Willem Rolf Meyer first established the shipyard early in 1795 for building small wooden vessels.

While there were once 20 shipyards in the Papenburg area, Meyer Werft is the only remaining one, and is still a private, family-owned company.

Today, the yard is one of the largest and most modern shipyards in the world.

Since 1987, all shipbuilding has been undertaken in its covered facilities.

Its first 170m long, under-cover building dock was commissioned in 1987, then extended by 100m in 1990-91.

In 2000, the second building dock, 504m long and 125m wide, was constructed.

Ships are assembled like a giant Lego set with individual blocks weighing 600-700 tonnes.

A world leader in building luxury cruise ships - now usually three annually - the yard completed the first of these in 1986 and has now delivered 34.

Celebrity Solstice will be the sixth cruise ship built there to visit Port Chalmers.

The first block in its construction was laid down on March 17, 2007.

It was floated out of its building dock on August 16, 2008, for final fitting out before being completed on October 24.

The new ship was then towed down the River Ems to the North Sea.

When new it was the largest vessel to have been built in Germany, and the first of the five Solstice class ships ordered by Celebrity Cruises for service under the Maltese flag.

In July 2009, it was joined by Celebrity Equinox, and by Celebrity Eclipse in April 2010, both of 121,878gt.

The slightly larger 122,210gt Celebrity Silhouette followed in July 2011.

Larger again, the fifth ship, Celebrity Reflection, was completed a couple of months ago on October 9.

At 125,366gt, it is 2m longer, has an extra deck and 3048 passenger berths.

It is interesting to note that on October 30, Meyer Werft laid down the 630-tonne Block 34, the first of 73 blocks that will eventually form Norwegian Getaway. Due to enter service in April 2014, it is a sister ship to Norwegian Breakaway, down for delivery next May.

Ordered by the Norwegian Cruise Line, they are 146,000gt, 4028-berth vessels, the largest yet built by Meyer Werft.

Also on order there for completion in 2015 is a 163,000gt vessel for the same operators.

As for the Celebrity Cruise Line, it was founded by the Chandris interests of Piraeus in April 1988, and since 1997 has been a member of the Royal Caribbean group.

Celebrity vessels still display the Chandris markings on their funnels, and Celebrity Solstice has twin athwartship funnels to show them off.

Units of this fleet only started calling here in December 2007, and up to now three ships have made a total of 23 calls.


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