There is nothing in the cruising world quite so exciting as the christening of a brand new boat.
The christening ceremony of the Scenic Eclipse was especially highly anticipated – not just because the ship is revolutionary and ultra-luxurious. Not just because it has two helicopters and a submarine. Not just because it is drop dead gorgeous.
Those are all true and compelling reasons for excitement. But the reason we are all a bit giddy is that the godmother who will christen the ship is one of the best loved figures in stardom – Dame Helen Mirren.
When we clustered in the boarding area of Pier 88, on the morning of the christening, the chatter level was high. A harpist, and then a string quartet played music, and champagne was freely passed. The little hors d’oeuvres matched the sophistication of the event . Everything mini – baby bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, tiny avocado toasts, little bite-sized fillet mignons and lobster rolls. My favourite was a micro egg roll in its own take away box, complete with Scenic Eclipse insignia.
But those were just teasers. The real event began when owner Glen Moroney accompanied Dame Helen into the boarding lounge.
Owner Moroney spoke first about his inspiration for the building of a luxury discovery ship. “I was sitting in my office and saw out the window a billionaire’s yacht arriving in harbour and I thought – wouldn’t it be a good thing if everyone could have the experience of sailing like a billionaire!” So he built the Scenic Eclipse, an ultra-luxurious adventure yacht that speaks of privilege and exclusivity, yet is available to anyone. He gave credit to his wife Karen for her design of the interiors of the ship, emphasizing how she had scrutinized every detail.
When Dame Helen Mirren took the podium, it was clear she was the perfect godmother for the Eclipse. She was even dressed in the same style as the ship – in a trim grey pantsuit with a narrow red windowpane design, and bright red shoes – unfussy, clean-lined and elegant.
Earlier, in a press conference, the star had spoken about her motivations for taking on the role of godmother to the Scenic Eclipse. She had agreed to be godmother to this particular ship, she explained, because it touched many of the areas that were important to her. It was ecologically sensitive, built to cause the least disturbance to the places it would visit. It was designed to be green, with strict control over emissions, making it one of the greenest ships afloat. It was adventurous and would travel to exotic corners of the world, and it would provide education for guests about the landscape, history, birdlife and fauna of all the places they visited.
“Being a godmother is an important job. I bring a blessing to the ship, and wish it good luck in all its journeys, and I know we will have a special relationship. I have never cruised before, but when I do, it will be on this ship!”
“I would love to sit on deck and watch an iceberg.”
When the speeches concluded, we followed the dignitaries out to the pier, and Dame Helen uttered the traditional words – “God bless this ship and all who sail in her!” – and pressed the button to release the bottle of champagne. The Scenic Eclipse was officially welcomed into the roster of cruise ships in true traditional style.
With a godmother like Mirren, the Eclipse is destined to be a seagoing classic.
Shortly after the christening ceremony concluded, I boarded the ship for a five day cruise. Stay tuned for details and a comprehensive review of this newest ship, the first ultra-luxury discovery yacht, and, I suspect, the inspiration for many more like her.
Story and photos courtesy of Barbara Ramsay Orr.