Celebrity Eclipse Arrival
Our second new arrival of 2010 came on the 20th April.  I don't count MSC Magnifica because she was a caller.  However the brand new, 122,000grt Celebrity Eclipse was doing her maiden season from here and was due to return in 2011.  The third in the series, it was a big day for Southampton.  We'd missed having a glimpse of Solstice but had Equinox doing two cruises the previous year.  Unlike then, there would be no middle of the night arrival for this little lady.  A grand entrance for 9am which was much better.  She left Hamburg on the 18th at 9am and was going rather too fast, reaching Dover at 10pm the night before coming here.  By 4am she was off Selsey, despite not picking up the pilot until 6.15am so spent two hours off there.  We caught the 6.55am bus to Hythe, picked up some breakfast and a drink for me from Martins then headed to the marina.  A few people were waiting, one since 5.30am.  She was relieved when we told her the ship WAS coming because she was on the verge of going home.  Also a nice couple, one doing photos and the other video.  Sadly not many people came.  Perhaps they didn't know since may go by the provisional cruise schedule rather than movements.  Late the night before, Celebrity announced the two night jolly on the 22nd was cancelled.  Instead, at the request of tour operators, the ship would be going to Bilbao at 6pm to pick up tourists stranded due to the volcanic ash closing airspace since the 15th.  She would return sometime on the 23rd in time for her naming on the 24th.  It was quite mild and hazy, the morning sun in your eyes.  At 7.37am we saw her off Calshot beach - hooray!  As she passed Fawley, the lady with the video had been told by a man she had been diverted to Spain.  She soon corrected him.
The tug Svitzer Sarah made a move, followed shortly afterwards by Sussex, on its second wet job in two weeks, who came off the berth.  It was looking like a proper welcome for our newest girl!
The sun made it impossible to see anything but I did my best.  At this point she surprised us by blasting away.  Normally they do it passing the pier.  It's nearer so louder and they're entering the docks.
This photo would be ideal for her next sister, Celebrity Silhouette.  Maybe she was doing an impression of her or they swapped at birth.
By now, 8.30am, it was too damn cold to stay another half hour to watch her turn and return to City to see her dock.  What had started as a mild morning became bitter like January so we went home to warm up.  She sailed at 8pm for Bilbao, blasting merrily as she left the berth.  With no planes due to the volcanic ash cloud, it's been great hearing the ship horns instead of jet engines drowning them out. The following are the best of a blurry bunch.
To see photos of Eclipse sailing on her inaugural voyage, click here.  

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© Patricia Dempsey 20th April 2010
Not to be reproduced without permission