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 Edge).
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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