Julie Andrews Christens Crystal Serenity

July 3, 2003
Despite some last minute havoc caused when Crystal's new Serenity was launched late from the shipyard at St. Nazaire -- causing the line to offer fare-paying inaugural passengers a free cruise -- the ship's debut went off as planned in London today.

Legendary actress Julie Andrews, known in this part of the world as "Dame Julie Andrews," handled the ceremonial breaking of the bottle, a six liter bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal. While Crystal's announcement alluded to the tradition of the ceremonial smash of a bottle of champagne's origins dating back to 17th century England, today's method is a tad more sophisticated. In this case, Andrews tugged on a cord and the bottle smashed against the ship.

It was Andrews' first-ever new-ship inauguration, and also a first for Crystal president Gregg Michael.

Crystal Serenity departs Southampton on July 7 for its first cruise; as covered here previously, passengers booked on the inaugural have been offered a free cruise or full refund as company executives fear its late departure from the shipyard has precluded some finishing touches on common rooms, not to mention proper staff training. A Crystal source says very few passengers booked on the inaugural actually opted out when given a chance -- and chose the free cruise option.