(1:19 p.m. EST) -- Silversea's 36,000-ton, 540-passenger new-build, Silver Spirit, has been officially handed over to the company by the Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy.
Although there was a ceremony to commemorate the event last Saturday, and Silversea's own blog suggested that the official date was December 12, the actual contract was only signed this morning. A Silversea spokesman declined to comment on the delay.
The ship is now en route to Monaco, where it will arrive on Saturday, on schedule for three days of presentation to the travel trade and media (and yes, we'll be onboard to report on the event). The inaugural sailing, from Barcelona to Lisbon on December 23, has sold out, as has the first transatlantic.
The ship will be christened on January 21 in Fort Lauderdale before embarking on its maiden Grand Voyage, 91 days around South America.
Silver Spirit is the second ultra-luxury ship to launch this year -- Seabourn Odyssey was the first when it debuted in June. Silversea's new-build is also the first vessel of its kind built by Fincantieri's Ancona yard, so all eyes will be on the finishes and decor on Sunday.
We'll be publishing our first impressions of the vessel once we're on board, so keep checking back! If you've got questions about the new ship, ask them here.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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Silver Spirit Handed Over to Silversea
December 17, 2009