(2:30 p.m. EDT) -- London basked in brilliant sunshine yesterday, perfect weather for the elegant, black-tie naming ceremony of the 32,000-ton Seabourn Sojourn by 60's icon Twiggy, who is godmother to the new ship.
Against a backdrop of historic Greenwich, Champagne corks popped around the ship's pool, and waiters in formalwear circulated with caviar and foie gras canapes. A poolside ice bar, engraved with the Seabourn logo, slowly dripped in the heat. Lavish flower arrangements adorned the deck and floated in the water, and buckets of dry ice tipped into the Jacuzzis gave the whole setting an ethereal look as the resulting cloud billowed over the assembled guests, among them Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison.
The ceremony itself was over in minutes. CEO and President Pam Conover made the briefest of speeches to introduce Twiggy, comparing her to the new ship as both possess "elegance, style, timeless beauty and an iconic presence." Twiggy, every inch the supermodel in a shimmery cerise dress by British designer Catherine Walker, quickly embraced the mood by greeting the crowd with the words: "Welcome to my yacht!" With no further ado, she pressed a button, and the bottle of Champagne zoomed down a zip line, across the pool, and smashed against the ship's superstructure.
As the days are so long at the moment, there was an interlude before fireworks for four courses of a magnificent five-course dinner in the ship's beautiful dining room. After sunset, guests gathered once more on deck for bite-sized desserts flavoured with chocolate, coffee and liqueurs, as a glamorous string quartet blasted out rousing classical tunes. Spectacular fireworks, set off from a barge in the Thames, lit the sky over Greenwich.
It was a perfect evening and a far cry from last summer's tense, uncomfortable media previews of Sojourn's twin sister, Seabourn Odyssey in rainy Venice; Odyssey was delivered from Italy's T Marriotti yard far from complete, with a half-built spa and engine trouble among its problems.
The 450-passenger Sojourn, in contrast, is looking spectacular, sleek and luxurious and is very much ready for her inaugural sailing to northern Europe on 6 June. Ironically, the voyage includes two calls in Iceland, the cause of so much travel misery early this year, and a volcanologist is being brought onboard specially to give talks to the guests. But, at last night's celebrations, the ash cloud was a distant memory.
Video: See Twiggy name Seabourn Sojourn.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
Images appear courtesy of Steve Dunlop.
Fan Cruise Critic on Facebook!
Follow Cruise Critic on Twitter!