Live: Carnival Christens Carnival Splendor in Dover

July 10, 2008
Morning grey skies gave way to blue, and with Dover's cliffs and castle to the portside and the open sea starboard, Carnival Cruise Lines christened its newest mega-ship, Carnival Splendor. Genre-bending classical musician cum popular TV personality Myleene Klass performed the duties as godmother from the Lido Deck, with help at sea level from the Royal British Navy.

Ms. Klass smiled broadly as she prayed for fair winds and smooth seas, before taking her seat at a piano and launching into a classical rendition of Rod Stewart's "Sailing." With the music as cue, out of the water emerged petty officer Christian Rumming looking like a secret agent. Decked out in full dive regalia -- mask, fins, wetsuit -- Rumming proceeded to scale Splendor's hull, up some 60 feet of rope to the ship's name. There he produced a bottle of 1994 vintage Nyetimber English sparkling wine, smashing it confidently against the hull. Fireworks erupted, confetti streamed down, the ship's horn boomed, and the onlookers, including international press, specially invited Splendor crew, favored passengers and CEO's from all eight of Carnival Corp's brands, cheered wildly.

In tune with Carnival's laid-back style, the occasion was loose and breezy -- with Ms. Klass' dress threatening to fly up in the wind on several occasions. "It only worked for Marilyn," she quipped to the crowd's approval, one hand keeping her attire in place. Held on the midship Lido deck in front of Splendor's giant outdoor movie screen, the event opened with energetic renditions of wedding party standards such as "Hot, Hot, Hot" and "Great Balls of Fire," as well as acrobatic performances (flipping on springing stilts and break dancing) by G-force, Carnival's newest production team.

Drinks were served, and with no actual seating, the event felt like a huge cocktail party, with guests crowding around the stage when the time to name the ship arrived.

It was also very much a British affair: Instead of smashing French Champagne against the hull, as is cruise ship naming convention, a bottle of British sparkling wine was selected. Famed Carnival blogger John Heald served as master of ceremonies, and will hold the position of cruise director onboard Splendor. And the setting -- the chalky white cliffs of Dover -- a decidedly romantic image of Britain, couldn't have been more fitting.

Fancy having a firsthand look at the event? The christening was taped live, and is available for download on the Carnival Web site.

Splendor will depart this evening for a special three-night party cruise, before making several Northern Europe voyages out of Dover, becoming the largest cruise ship ever to sail out of the Southeast England port.

Stay tuned for our sneak preview of the ship, coming soon.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor