Norwegian Gem Makes Tricky Rite of Passage

September 18, 2007

In a sign that Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Gem is inching ever closer to its planned launch, the ship departed its yard at Meyer Werft, in Papenburg, Germany, Saturday. Currently taking part in sea trials in the North Sea, the ship will wind up docking at Eemshaven, Netherlands, where it will undergo various final stages of construction and outfitting.

Norwegian Gem is officially slated to debut in December -- mark your calendars for the christening ceremony on December 18 in New York. Before that, the ship will sail a whole series of inaugural events, and even some Mediterranean cruises, before heading across the Atlantic.

What's particularly interesting about ships being built at Meyer Werft is that the yard is some 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) away from the sea. (Click map for larger image of the route.) Most other shipbuilding facilities, like Aker Yards France, are at least located on a major river that's easily accessible to the sea. In this case, Norwegian Gem and other ships that are built at Meyer Werft, including Norwegian Jewel, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, Celebrity Century, and AIDAdiva, among others, have made the similar journey.

The already challenging transit -- not only because ships move, with the aid of tugboats, both forward and aft, but also because the River Ems has a pretty shallow draught -- may become even more so, Cruise Business Review's Teijo Niemela tells us. That's because Celebrity's biggest-ever Solstice is being built there now -- and it will also earn biggest-ever honors for ships built at Meyer Werft. It's the yard's first-ever post-Panamax-sized vessel.

It took Norwegian Gem 10 hours to make the transit.

Stay tuned for up-to-the-minute coverage on the first sailings of Norwegian Gem in Europe in early October ....

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor