Golden treasure, spilled champagne and a ship gets its name

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A glowing treasure chest was placed onto the open deck holding a golden gift for the ship’s special guests, a pair of famous ladies dressed in haute couture for the splendid evening.

Night had fallen and the treasure chest contained the key implement needed to touch off the raison d’être for the evening festivities, the formal naming of the ship on which a host of celebrants had gathered in happy anticipation. Many more were gathered shoreside, most looking up at the lights and sounds and activities on and around the ship at Hamburg’s heavy industrial Container Terminal Burchardkai.

A pair of lithe acrobats rose high above the deck, suspended from a container crane, performed an elegant aerial dance and returned to the deck to open the chest. They withdrew a golden scepter, traditionally an ornamental symbol of royalty. It may have been a nod to Royal Caribbean, half owner of TUI Cruises, which was christening its newbuild, Mein Schiff 1.

Whatever the symbolism, this scepter was rigged for magic and the women – the ship’s ceremonial godmothers, Olympic beach volleyball champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst – knew how to use it.

They triggered a pyrotechnic burst that released a suspended bottle of Champagne – a fine French Pommery, for the record – and sent it swinging down to break on Mein Schiff 1’s bow. And so it was christened.

At the same time fireworks and a light show brightened the night sky over the port and ship, which was framed by five enormous shipping container cranes equipped with hundreds more bright lights to give a party flavor to their industrial mien.

“We were really looking forward to today,” Walkenhorst said. “This is our first time doing this and to do it in our hometown of Hamburg makes it very special.” Ludwig added, “Today, we swapped the sand for the ship’s deck, and I have to say it feels good.”

It was also the Port of Hamburg’s 829th birthday, and TUI Cruises CEO Wybcke Meier said the industrial backdrop for the event was calculated. “The container cranes represent the true essence of Hamburg,” he explained. “Our naming ceremony brings together the industry of the port and the enthusiasm that exists for cruise travel.”

The all-new Mein Schiff 1, which replaces the original of that name, includes all of the “well-being” elements – and more – that the cruise line has used in marketing to the German-speaking world.

It’s longer and roomier than its older namesake and has, among other enhancements, TUI Cruises’ first open-air fitness area built on Deck 15, including a climbing wall and a graded and lighted jogging track for nighttime trots. The area is covered for all-weather activity.

And like RCL, TUI Cruises is dedicated to the environment. Its newbuilds include innovative technology that reduces Sulphur emissions by up to 99 percent and particulates by 60 percent.

After its May 13 inaugural cruise to Norway, Mein Schiff 1 looked to an itinerary of seven-day cruises that includes Nordland and the Baltic Sea, the Canary Islands, Madeira and Morocco.