Tight squeeze for giant cruise ship

(CBS/Reuters) A new luxury cruise ship caused a stir in northern Germany on Thursday as the giant vessel had to squeeze its way through a tiny canal at the start of its maiden voyage.

Not only did the Celebrity Silhouette's captain have to maneuver the ship through a gap about 5 feet wider than its hull - but the move had to be done in reverse.

The $801 million cruise liner, which is 120.99 feet wide, was precisely navigated along the River Ems from the dock at Papenburg through locks and openings which, at times, were just 124.96 feet wide.

In order to avoid disaster, the Celebrity Silhouette, was only able to travel at a snail's pace of four miles per hour. This meant that it took the vessel 12 hours to complete the 26 mile journey out to the open sea. The ship was assisted by tugboats.

It wasn't just the small gap which gave a cause for worry. The vessel also traveled along an aqueduct over a motorway. Power lines and railway tracks had to be removed to allow it to pass.

Luckily for those in the driving seat, the good weather allowed for a seamless transfer as high winds could have caused the ship to scrape its multimillion dollar paintwork.

The Celebrity Silhouette will to make its way to Emshaven in the Netherlands for the finishing touches and will then sail to Hamburg, Germany, where it will be officially launched on July 21, 2011.

It's not the first time that such an event has taken place. In 2010 Silhouette' sister Celebrity Eclipse also made the passage along the River Ems, successfully completing the voyage scrape free.

  • Natalie Jimenez

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