“Malala is the perfect godmother for Celebrity Edge,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises about the inspirational Oxford University student who is the co-founder of Malala Fund, advocating for a world where every girl can learn and lead by investing in local education activists, holding global leaders accountable and amplifying girls’ voices around the world.
Long the domain of royalty and dames (Queen Elizabeth II has been a godmother three times), cruise lines are thinking creatively and changing up this maritime tradition of who will bestow a vessel with good luck, a custom which stems back to the Viking Age when blood was spilt during a ship launch as an offering to appease the gods. Thankfully that blood has now been replaced by a bottle of champers, or in Malala’s case, sparkling water.
For Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the choice of Malala as godmother to the visionary vessel that is Celebrity Edge was a given.
“When we were thinking about this ship and we were thinking about the fact that it’s really transformative and heroic we then decided that we needed to think about a godmother who is equally transformative and equally heroic and when the team was thinking about who could that be, the first name that came to everyone’s lips was Malala Yousafzai,” she said.
And this is a godmother that can genuinely make a difference. Celebrity has partnered with the Malala Fund supporting them in their mission to see the 130 million out of school girls around the world get the 12 years of free, safe, quality education they deserve.
“I’m fighting to ensure millions of girls stuck in situations of poverty or war that they didn’t create can learn what they need to choose a future for themselves,” said Malala Yousafzai at the launch of Celebrity’s first new ship in six years and first new ship series in more than a decade.
“But to continue making progress for girls’ education, we need support from leaders in every sector. I am so grateful to Celebrity Cruises for their generous support and investment in the potential of girls everywhere.”
Other cruise lines are shaking things up, introducing godfathers and even godfamilies into the mix. Choosing a highly marketable brand ambassador is a golden opportunity for increased publicity around the launch of a new ship. Take Pitbull for example.
For Norwegian Cruise Lines, the rapper, real name Armando Christian Pérez, who in 2015 became godfather of Norwegian Escape is the gift that keeps on giving. This year, at the CruiseWorld 2018 event hosted by Norwegian he entertained guests, and his songs feature in Norwegian’s ads. The cruise line says the choice of Pitbull as a godfather reinforces Norwegian’s reputation for “non-traditional cruising that focuses on freedom and flexibility for guests.”
Oprah is another coup. Not only is she godmother of Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam, the media mogul, together with bestie and Editor-at-large of O Magazine Gayle King will be hosting a Three-Day Girls’ Getaway Cruise departing from Florida in January. Demand was so high from cruisers excited about gaining some of Oprah’s energy and inspiration, the cruise sold-out straight away.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean have just christened the new Symphony of the Seas with the first godfamily of a ship. Actors — and keen cruisers — Carlos and Alexa PenaVega and their aptly named son Ocean did the honours. It’s a break from maritime tradition and one Royal Caribbean say reinforces their promise to deliver unforgettable experiences to guests of all ages.
The PenaVegas may be the first godfamily but there has been a television family who christened Regal Princess in 2014; cast members of Love Boat led by Captain Stubing (actor Gavin MacLeod). It makes sense, the popular TV show was based on Princess ships and those that sail on Princess still hear the feel-good theme song via the ship’s horn as they set sail.
Animated characters get a look-in too with Nickelodeon character Dora the Explorer the godmother of P&O’s Pacific Explorer. “She’s a family favourite, enjoys adventure and trying new activities, and is a perfect fit to help showcase all that our ship has to offer”, said P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell.
But it’s not all celebrity influencers. Bestowing the honour is also a way to thank those that are influential within the industry. The recently launched Azamara Pursuit has two godmothers, Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio from AFAR Media, and Lucy Huxley, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly UK. They are seasoned travellers with almost 50 years of combined expertise in travel media.
“Ellen and Lucy’s fearless dedication to adventure, and respect and admiration for different cultures, aligns with Azamara’s commitment and passion to Destination Immersion experiences,” said Larry Pimentel, president and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.
That’s not to say that longstanding traditions haven’t stuck around. Cruise lines still align themselves with royalty, dames, legendary actresses (Sofia Loren, for example, is godmother to not one but eight MSC Cruises ships) and shipping family members. On Silversea, female relatives of owner Manfredi Lefebvre serve as godmothers, highlighting the cruise line’s emphasis on family values.