Home News From Oprah to Queen Elizabeth: Who are cruise ship godmothers and why do they exist

From Oprah to Queen Elizabeth: Who are cruise ship godmothers and why do they exist

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From Oprah to Queen Elizabeth: Who are cruise ship godmothers and why do they exist

What do Queen Elizabeth II, Sophia Loren, Dora the Explorer, and rapper Pitbull have in common? They’re all ship godmothers and godfathers, following in the footsteps of ancient seafaring traditions.

From Oprah to Queen Elizabeth: Who are cruise ship godmothers and why do they exist

Human sacrifices are said to have been made in Viking times to please the gods and protect the ship and its crew. The Babylonians offered ox blood as payment. They’d put olive wreaths on their heads, drink wine, and bless the new ship with water in ancient Greece.

Nowadays, we usually celebrate by smashing a bottle of alcohol on the bow and then raising a glass. Although some ships’ bows have been doused in brandy, Champagne and wine are the most popular options. (In the United States during Prohibition, christenings were frequently performed with water, juice, and apple cider.)

When it comes to selecting a godmother, female royalty has traditionally been offered the position. However, cruise lines have become more creative in recent years. The right godmother will get people talking and generate a lot of free publicity, which is why celebrities, politicians, athletes, and even cartoon characters have taken on the role.

Some people join their godship’s inaugural cruise, while others are only there for the Champagne smashing and flashing cameras. Most don’t have ongoing roles on their ship after the ceremony, though some find ways to continue working with the cruise line.

What type of person is chosen to christen a ship? Let us explore.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Simone Biles, a 19-time world champion and seven-time Olympic medalist, will be the godmother of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Beyond in 2021. The line has frequently chosen transformational and brave godmothers who are breaking down barriers and championing change in their respective fields. Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and the Marshall Plan for Moms, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai are also Celebrity godmothers.

Jennifer Lopez

In keeping with its innovative approach to cruises, Virgin Voyages dropped the “godmother” moniker, instead naming actor and singer Jennifer Lopez “Chief Entertainment and Lifestyle Officer” for the line’s Valiant Lady. Lopez is more than just the ship’s face. She has collaborated with the company to develop wellness programs and beauty products that are available across the Virgin Voyages fleet.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry performs at Norwegian Prima’s christening ceremony. TRISTAN FEWINGS/NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Katy Perry, the latest in a long line of famous and attention-grabbing godmothers, christened Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima in Iceland in 2022, followed by a live performance and a short voyage on the vessel.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II attended the christening of Britannia in March 2015. JAMES D. MORGAN/GETTY IMAGES

Queen Elizabeth 2, or QE2, the ship named after the late British queen, is now a floating hotel in Dubai, but the queen was also the godmother of three ships that are still on the high seas.

The queen christened two Cunard ships, the Queen Mary 2 in 2004 and the Queen Elizabeth in 2010, and she was also the godmother of the P&O Cruises ship Britannia. Other members of the royal family who have served as ship godmothers include Diana, Princess of Wales, and Catherine, Princess of Wales (formerly known as the Duchess of Cambridge).

Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren has christened nearly two dozen ships in the MSC Cruises fleet, making her the godmother with the most vessels. Loren was the godmother of Princess Cruises’ original Crown Princess before becoming MSC’s godmother of choice, beginning with MSC Lirica in 2003.

Dame Helen Mirren

The world’s first discovery yacht, Scenic Eclipse, was named after British Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren. Glen Moroney, Scenic’s founder and chairman, said Mirren’s “style, beauty, and spirit of adventure” were a perfect fit for Scenic Eclipse. It wasn’t the first time she’d smashed Champagne on a ship. In 2008, Mirren also became the godmother of P&O Cruises’ Ventura.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey speaks during the Holland America Line and Nieuw Statendam dedication in 2019. JOHN PARRA/GETTY IMAGES FOR HOLLAND AMERICA

The world’s first discovery yacht, Scenic Eclipse, was named after British Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren. Glen Moroney, Scenic’s founder and chairman, said Mirren’s “style, beauty, and spirit of adventure” were a perfect fit for Scenic Eclipse. It wasn’t the first time she’d smashed Champagne on a ship. In 2008, Mirren also became the godmother of P&O Cruises’ Ventura.

Dame Judi Dench

Champagne bottles are designed to withstand extreme pressure. Unfortunately, when she christened Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Legend in 2001, Dame Judi Dench discovered just how difficult they can be. After three attempts, the bottle smashed and soaked her, prompting headlines such as “Dame Judi Drench” and photos of her covered in Champagne.

Martha Stewart

The celebrity lifestyle expert’s selection as godmother was a controversial choice in 2006, coming just two years after she was sentenced to five months in prison on felony charges. Stewart did the honors for Princess Cruises that year, christening the line’s new Crown Princess ship. Stewart is currently working with MSC Cruises to create exclusive culinary experiences both onboard and back to shore.

Malala Yousafzai

Malala-Yousafzai
Celebrity Edge naming ceremony. CELEBRITY CRUISES

Through the Malala Fund, Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate, continues her fight to ensure that every girl has the right to a safe, free education. She also marked a two-year partnership between the cruise line and her charity when she christened Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge with sparkling water rather than Champagne.

Priscilla Presley

Steamboats, too, have godmothers, and Priscilla Presley is the godmother of the largest and most luxurious one on the Mississippi. The American Queen appears to be an old-school showboat on the outside but has modern amenities on the inside. When it arrives in Memphis, guests are invited to the godmother’s home, Graceland.

Dora the Explorer

Dora the Explorer during the official naming ceremony of P&O’s Pacific Explorer in 2017. JAMES D. MORGAN/GETTY IMAGES

When P&O Cruises asked Dora the Explorer to be Pacific Explorer’s godmother, the Nickelodeon character was joined by SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the occasion. Shrek’s Princess Fiona is the fairy godmother of Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, and Tinkerbell is the fairy godmother of Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder.

Pitbull

Many people were surprised when Norwegian Cruise Line named Pitbull the godfather of Norwegian Escape in 2015. He turns out to be the godfather who never stops giving. Pitbull’s songs have appeared in Norwegian advertisements, he has entertained guests at a CruiseWorld event, and the video clip for his song “Freedom” is essentially an advertisement for the cruise line.

Since Pitbull was named godfather, NCL has had other men fill the role, including New York City radio personality Elvis Duran, who named Norwegian Bliss in 2018.

‘The Love Boat’ cast

The pilot for “The Love Boat,” which debuted on television in 1977, was shot on Princess Cruises’ original Pacific Princess.

Fast forward to 2014, when six of the main cast members became godparents to the line’s Regal Princess. Gavin Macleod (Captain Stubing), Fred Grandy (Gopher), Ted Lange (Isaac), Bernie Kopell (Doc), Lauren Tewes (Julie), and Jill Whelan (Vicki) reunited to pull a handle that sent 50 bottles of Champagne crashing against the ship’s hull before singer and comedienne Charo brought the house down with a flamenco guitar performance. That’s a party.

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