(12 p.m. GMT) -- The naming ceremony of Celebrity Cruises' new ship, Celebrity Apex, which was set to take place in Southampton on March 30, is being postponed, the line has revealed.
The second Edge-class ship will now be named in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in October 2020 by best-selling author, activist and CEO of non-profit organisation Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani.
A two-night inaugural sailing on Celebrity Apex departing from Southampton on March 28 will still go ahead, along with a short series of voyages out of the UK before the ship repositions to the Mediterranean for the summer to offer seven-night sailings out of Rome and Barcelona.
In a letter received by Cruise Critic, President & CEO of Celebrity Cruises, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said: "Those who know me, or even know of me, know that I’m not much of a traditionalist. One tradition I do cherish, however, is the tradition of launching a new ship with a groundbreaking naming ceremony, and a groundbreaking Godmother. I believe the karma and energy around the naming of a ship and its Godmother are important to its future, its guests and its crew.
"To that end, we believe that continuing with the naming ceremony in the current environment would be inconsistent with the spirit and intention of such an important and meaningful event. We have therefore made the difficult decision to postpone our formal naming ceremony until later this year and will name Celebrity Apex when she arrives in Fort Lauderdale to begin her Caribbean season."
This news comes just days after Virgin Voyages cancelled its two-day New York showcase event, while some cruise lines have been forced to cancel and modify itineraries -- particularly in Asia -- as coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) continues to spread.