Independence Launch Party Rocks Southampton!

April 27, 2008

With the newest and biggest cruise ship -- Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas -- gracing the shores of Southampton this weekend, there was definitely reason to party.

The 160,000-ton, 3,634-passenger ship arrived in its U.K. homeport last Friday and is now in the middle of inaugural festivities prior to its naming ceremony this Wednesday. To celebrate in style, Royal Caribbean enlisted the help of national radio station Virgin Radio and rock band Scouting For Girls for a special Saturday evening event for around 1,500 party-goers.

As the band belted out its hit songs "She's So Lovely" and "Elvis Ain't Dead" to the guests onboard, Virgin Radio broadcast the performance live across the nation as part of its own 15th anniversary celebration. A helicopter flew overhead to video the crowds dancing away on the pool deck. Then in true rock fashion, the band members finished their gig by diving into one of the ship's pools. Thank goodness the cruise line chose to heat the pools for the ship's European tour!

Former Spandau Ballet lead vocalist Tony Hadley was also on hand to broadcast his "Saturday Night Party Classics" show live from the ship's Pharaoh's Palace bar. More than 300 Virgin Radio prize-winners were in attendance at this onboard VIP party.

Independence of the Seas will be officially named on Wednesday by its Brit godmum, Elizabeth Hill from Derbyshire. Hill beat out more than 1,000 hopefuls after being nominated by her 12-year-old daughter Alice in the line's "Search for a Godmother" competition. Candidates had to show they were ordinary people who'd done extraordinary work with young people in their communities. Hill proved a worthy winner, having set up the Gamelea Countryside Training Trust, a farm-based program that helps young people with physical or learning disabilities and those who have failed in school.

Independence of the Seas departs on its first cruise, a four-night sailing to Cork, this Friday, May 2.

--by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor