(1:35 p.m. EDT) -- Silver Moon officially became the newest ship to join the Silversea Cruises fleet Wednesday, as the ship was christened in a ceremony onboard the vessel while it was docked in Piraeus, the port for Athens.
The ship, which brings the luxury brand's fleet count to nine, began sailing earlier this month from its new European homeport; it will sail Mediterranean itineraries through November, when it heads to Asia. Cruise Critic is onboard for the naming ceremony as well as a 10-night cruise around Greece and Cyprus.
Winemaker Gaia Gaja served as the ship's godmother for the christening ceremony, fitting as Silver Moon is the first Silversea ship to be fully outfitted with the cruise line's S.A.L.T. program, an immersive new culinary concept that aims to provide travelers with a curated gastronomic experience that emphasized local dishes and ingredients both onboard and ashore. Silver Moon includes a S.A.L.T. Lab (a hands-on cooking experience), S.A.L.T. Kitchen (a restaurant) and S.A.L.T. Bar onboard, and offers S.A.L.T. experiences ashore.
Gaja is the fifth generation to own and manage the Gaja winery, located in the Italian town of Barbaresco. The family-run business has been around since 1859.
Silver Moon's naming ceremony took place in the ship's main theater, the Venetian Lounge, and passengers were allowed to view it from there at physically distanced chairs and tables, or from their TVs in-cabin. It also was livestreamed over the internet.
Master of Ceremonies and longtime journalist Peter Greenberg kicked off the event Wednesday, welcoming guests including passengers, media, cruise line executives, Greek dignitaries and VIP partners of Silversea and parent company Royal Caribbean Group.
The event began with bagpipers leading a procession that included RCG President and Chairman Richard Fain, Silversea President and CEO Roberto Martinoli and RCG CFO Jason Liberty.
Fain started off the speeches, acknowledging the long pause the industry has endured during the pandemic and acknowledging the significance of the naming of a new ship, that is both a symbol of newness and rebirth.
"Frankly, it's very emotional," Fain said.
As is often tradition with a naming ceremony, speeches and thank yous were plentiful, as was entertainment from the ship's Silver Voices, who performed several opera numbers as well as national anthems of the three countries associated with Silver Moon (the U.S., Italy and Greece; Royal Caribbean Group is headquartered in the U.S., the ship was built at Fincantieri in Italy and, of course, the ceremony took place in Piraeus).
Martinoli was the one who welcomed Gaja to the stage for her naming duties.
"I name this ship Silver Moon. Bless her and all who sail on her," Gaja said, then triggering the launch of a Champagne bottle, which successfully smashed against the hull of the ship.
Cruise Critic is onboard the 596-passenger vessel to check out the brand-new ship and experience the S.A.L.T. program. Stay tuned for more live coverage from onboard Silver Moon.