As we walked through the sprawling Fincantieri Shipyards in Genoa, I felt like a small ant picking my way around a giant’s workshop. Around me were enormous warehouse buildings, an almost complete cruise ship and a vast dry dock with other partly assembled ship structures piled high around it. Our destination was a group of three vast cranes soaring into the sky, each had chunky chains attached to a slice of the Silver Muse’s hull (pictured above). This was the spot where its keel laying ceremony took place.
Seeped in superstition and history, the event is a key milestone in a ship’s creation. Dating back to Viking times, the keel always should have a coin attached to it which brings safety and luck to the crew and passengers. A formal blessing by a priest ensures another layer of protection.
While I have been to naming ceremonies of completed ships, this was my first keel laying. I was swept up by the significance and felt privileged to be part of the relatively small group of media attending alongside representatives from Silversea and Fincantieri.
Eight coins were sealed into a box on the slice of the hull in front of us by Mr Enzo Visone (Silversea CEO) and Raffaele Davassi (Fincantieri Shipyard Director). One was a specially commissioned coin, which we also received, along with coins representing the seven continents Silversea sail to. These were a South African Rand, Australian Dollar, US Half Dollar, Brazilian Real, Italian Euro, Singapore Dollar and commemorative Antarctica trust coin. Once the Priest had done his blessing, the three cranes lifted the hull piece into the air and along tracks to place it into the dry dock so the assembly of the ship could begin.
Below are photos documenting the event, a time-lapse video showing the hull section making the journey into the dry dock and an audio podcast featuring the speech Mr Visone gave about the history of the keel laying and the ship, followed by an interview.
The three cranes holding Silver Muse’s keel for the ceremony
Silversea Silver Muse keel section being lifted into the dry dock
Mr Enzo Visone, Silversea Cruises CEO
In this you will hear the speech he gave at the ceremony, which included the history and significance of the keel laying ceremony, and then extracts from the press conference where he answered questions about cruising, ship building, Silversea and trends in the market.
See all my photos from the Silver Muse Keel laying ceremony in my Silver Muse Flickr Album