Celebrity Cruises’ latest £500 million luxury cruise ship, Celebrity Silhouette, passed through a tight space only 1.5m wider than its hull yesterday, before travelling 26 miles to the open sea.  The challenging exercise, carried out by Captain Dimitrios Kafetzis, was necessary to move the new ship from its inland shipyard in Papenburg, Germany to reach the open sea in Emshaven, Netherlands.

The ship, longer than three football pitches, faced locks, autobahns and an audience of local cattle, and performed the entire manoeuvre in reverse.

Celebrity Silhouette’s first journey, termed a conveyance, along the River Ems, has been by far its most challenging with the 36.88 metre-wide ship passing through locks and openings of only 38.09 metres in some places. That’s a mere 1.5 metres room for precise navigation. It meant the ship had to travel at a snail’s pace of less than 4 miles per hour, and took more than 12 hours to complete its first journey, the most complicated it is ever likely to encounter.

After some finishing touches at Emshaven, the Netherlands, the ship will set off once more to Hamburg where it will officially be named and then launch on 21 July 2011.

Celebrity Silhouette is the fourth Solstice class ship from Celebrity Cruises, and has exclusive new features, including the Lawn Club Grill, the cruise industry’s first outdoor interactive grill; The Hideaway a high tech tree house like location for guests to relax inside; the Alcoves, private cabanas overlooking a real grass lawn on the top deck; and the Art Studio, a space where experienced and aspiring artists can participate in hands on instruction from experts in drawing and painting. The ship will also feature designer boutiques, exclusive restaurants and an Apple dedicated Internet café, the Celebrity iLounge, offering guests classes in using iPads and iPhones.

Celebrity Silhouette will offer 12-night cruises from Rome (Civitavecchia) to the Holy Land calling at Santorini and Athens (Piraeus) in Greece and Haifa and Jerusalem (Ashdod) in Israel amongst other destinations. Prices start from £1,349 per person including return flights from the UK and all meals and entertainment onboard based on the 22 August 2011 departure.