Anyone who’s ever squeezed into the tightest of car parking spaces at the supermarket might have some inkling of how the captain of new cruise liner Celebrity Eclipse was feeling yesterday as he negotiated the Papenberg lock in Germany with just a couple of feet to spare on either side of the vessel.
The mammoth ship, which measures 1,040 feet in length and weighs a whopping 122,000 tonnes, was making its way from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg to start on her maiden voyage.
At one point it was such a narrow fit the 121-foot wide ocean liner had as few as two feet on either side of her as she eased through, during a rite of passage known as the conveyance.
What’s more the depth of the river and the draft of the ship allowed for mere inches – or even less – beneath her.
With such a narrow margin for error the makers of the ship and the shipyard owners had to carefully monitor the position of the moon and tidal conditions to identify the precise time when the depth of the river would be sufficient for the ship to pass through.
Captain Panagiotis Skylogiannis said: ‘Although I am accustomed to docking in tight ports, I prefer to be chasing sunshine in the open sea.
‘Celebrity Eclipse is only a few feet slimmer than the narrowest lock we have to navigate, which isn’t much room.
‘But we’ve done this twice before and I am entirely confident of another smooth and successful passage.’
The ship is the third of five from Celebrity Cruises’ $3.7billion Solstice Class fleet and features a ten restaurants and even a glass blowing studio.
The company’s fleet sail in Alaska, California, Canada/ New England, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America and the Caribbean.