For centuries, the naming of a new ship has been an occasion for special rituals. Ancient civilizations poured water and wine, installed onboard shrines, and even performed blood sacrifices to ask their gods to protect new ships and those who sailed them.
Today, all that gets sacrificed upon the naming of a new
cruise ship is a bottle of champagne, wine or even whiskey, which is
ceremoniously smashed against the ship’s hull as cameras capture the moment. The
honor of christening the ship goes to the ship’s godmother or godfather – most
often, a celebrity or other well-known person who brings attention and excitement
to the occasion.
Current cruise ship godparents are a diverse and
accomplished group. They include singer and actress Jennifer Hudson (Disney
Cruise Line’s Disney Dream), Olympic Figure Skating Champion Katarina
Witt (Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas), movie star Sophia Loren (godmother
to 14 ships over the years, including MSC Cruises’ Bellissima), rapper
Pitbull (Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape), and female education
activist and Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity
Some godparents are royalty. Appropriately, Queen Elizabeth
II of the United Kingdom is godmother to Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth
and Queen Mary 2. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is godmother to
Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam, and Catherine, Duchess of
Cambridge, is godmother to Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess.
Some ships have more than one godparent. The six main cast members
of the 1970-80s TV series “The Love Boat” first served as godparents of
Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess, and are currently godparents of the Regal
Princess. The Rockettes, the precision dance troupe based at New York’s
Radio City Music Hall, are godparents of the Norwegian Breakaway, while
the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders fill the role for the Norwegian Getaway.
Godparents can even be animated characters. Tinkerbell
became the first animated godmother with the launch of Disney Cruise Line’s Disney
Wonder in 1998. Princess Fiona of “Shrek” fame was named godmother of Royal
Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas in 2010.
But not all cruise ship godparents are widely known. When it
was time to select a godparent for Freedom of the Seas, Royal Caribbean selected
Katherine Louise Calder, a woman who served as a foster mother to 400 children
over more than 27 years.
While godparents don’t usually sail on the ships they
sponsor, they certainly add a touch of glamour, fun, kindness and even social
conscience to cruising. To plan your next cruise, talk with Anita, your
professional travel advisor.
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