(11:15 a.m. BST) -- Marella Cruises celebrated the official christening of its newest and largest ship, Marella Explorer, in Palma last night with the help of popstar Craig David.
In front of an audience of travel agents, TUI executives, and press the event began with speeches from Marella Cruises Managing Director Chris Hackney and ship Captain Peter Harris. Two of the company's outstanding employees -- godmothers Sue Stewart (Marella Cruises Hotel Operations Manager) and Mandy Galloway (TUI Retail Advisor) -- were then invited to cut the cord to smash the bottle as part of the official naming ceremony.
R&B singer Craig David was flown in specially for the gig to an appreciative crowd. The 45-minute set hit all the right notes, with favourites such as '7 Days' as well as songs from his latest album 'The Time is Now'.
Marella Cruises took delivery of the 1,924-passenger Marella Explorer, previously Mein Schiff 1, on Wednesday. The ship features a number of new-to-the-fleet facilities including a link-up with the upscale health spa, Champneys. Several new eating and drinking venues take the total to 10 apiece and include Indigo, which combines bar, nightclub, and casino and features a state-of-the-art DJ Emulator system.
Managing Director for Marella Cruises, Chris Hackney, is already looking ahead to the next launch. "While we're not quite at a stage yet where we can announce them, plans have already started for Explorer 2," Hackney said. "In the next couple of months, we have to talk about some of the new concepts that we're going to add onto that ship, which will complement some of its adult concepts."
The event was also marked with a performance by Take That cover band Re-Take That, and continued late into the night while the ship departed Palma to arrive in Barcelona early the next morning. It will then return to Mallorca to pick up its first commercial passengers on May 26 for an eight-day Highlights of the Mediterranean itinerary.
--By Leon Beckenham, Cruise Critic contributor