New-ship 'christenings' and naming ceremonies epitomize the glamour of cruising
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New-ship 'christenings' and naming ceremonies epitomize the glamour of cruising
Monarchs and heads of state have had the honor, as have legendary actresses of the stage and screen, world-class athletes, comedians, astronauts and even an animated film character. Traditionally, ships were "christened" - or named - by "godmothers" who launched the ships from their building blocks into the sea for the very first time. To mark these occasions, bottles of champagne or sparkling wine were broken against the ship's hull.

These ceremonies were - and are - meant to bring good luck to the ship and those who sail on it. This year, six new cruise ships from the member lines of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the chief marketing organization for 20 premier cruise lines and nearly 17,000 North American travel agencies, will be christened.

"Ship christening ceremonies and godmothers are as varied and exciting as each individual CLIA member-line ship," said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA ( "Christenings also evoke the sophistication and romance of ocean travel that are integral elements of the cruise experience."

Ship christenings date back at least 4,000 years. The Vikings marked ship christenings with human sacrifices and high priest charms designed to appease the Gods. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the French performed christenings featuring rites that were similar to marriage and baptismal ceremonies.
No bottles were broken against hulls. Instead, a priest blessed the ship and the godfather presented the godmother with a flower bouquet as both said the ship's name in tandem.

In the U.K., royalty have traditionally christened cruise ships. The 2004 christening of Queen Mary 2 by Queen Elizabeth II followed an established tradition under which a senior female member of the royal family names Cunard Line ships.
The original Queen Mary was named by Queen Mary, wife of King George V, in 1934. Queen Elizabeth was launched by the late Queen Mother, then Queen Elizabeth, in 1938. QE2 was named by the current Queen in 1967.

Following is a listing of some godmothers that have christened CLIA member-line cruise ships.

It took British actress Dame Judi Dench three attempts to smash a bottle of champagne against the hull of Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Legend. In her last attempt, she soaked herself, earning the nickname Dame Judi Drench. Actress Mira Sorvino, Newswomen Paula Zahn and Katie Couric, retired Army Pvt. Jessica Lynch and astronauts Tamara Jernigan and Sally Ride have been godmothers.

Patricia Barrett Carpenter, wife of astronaut Scott Carpenter, christened Celebrity Cruises' aptly named Mercury. Robyn Roux, wife of the line's Michelin-starred culinary consultant, master chef Michel Roux, christened Millennium. Godmothers have also included Paulina Rider Wilhelmsen and Jean Marie Arneberg, wives of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., board members, of which Celebrity is a unit. They are named Summit and Constellation, respectively.

For its part, Crystal Cruises chose legendary actresses as godmothers. Acclaimed singer and actress Dame Julie Andrews served as Crystal Serenity's godmother at a Southampton, England, ceremony in 2004. Angela Lansbury had the honor of christening Crystal Symphony in 1995. In 1990, Mary Tyler Moore named the line's Crystal Harmony, which has since been transferred to parent company NYK Line.

Cunard Line's QE2 and Queen Mary 2 were named by Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty used the same pair of gold scissors at QE2's christening as her mother and grandmother used for Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Cunard traditionally used sparking wine, but for Queen Mary 2 used Veuve Clicquot Champagne to celebrate a partnership with the venerable wine maker.

The godmother of Disney Cruise Line's first ship, Disney Magic, was Patty Disney, wife of Roy Disney, who is the nephew of Walt Disney. Tinker Bell christened Disney Wonder, marking the first time an animated character was named as a godmother. She not only released the bottle of champagne against the hull but also sprinkled pixie dust on the ship.

Holland America Line has capitalized on its Dutch heritage with Princess Margriet of The Netherlands christening three of its ships. Tennis great Chris Evert has served as godmother, as has broadcaster Joan Lunden. Famous actress godmothers have included June Allyson, Debbie Reynolds, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and actress Marlee Matlin, who did the honor for Noordam in February 2006.

In June, legendary Italian film star Sophia Loren will christen MSC Musica in Venice. Ms. Loren, who personifies Italian beauty, elegance and style, also is godmother of MSC Lirica and MSC Opera and acts as an official spokeswoman for MSC Cruises worldwide, reflecting the cruise line's identity as "Beautiful. Passionate. Italian."

Melania Trump, wife of Donald Trump; actress Kim Cattrall of "Sex in the City;" Brooke Burke of E! Entertainment Network; and 2002 Miss America Angela Baraquio have named NCL ships. Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Labor, christened Pride of America and Margaret Inouye, wife of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, named Pride of Aloha, both of which sail for NCL America.

Regatta, Oceania Cruises' first ship, was christened by Marcia Del Rio, wife of president and CEO Frank Del Rio, in Barcelona; and Insignia by Virginia Watters, wife of Oceania's chairman, Joe Watters, in Monte Carlo in the presence of Monaco's Prince Albert. Nautica was christened in Istanbul by Fana Holtz, Miami philanthropist and namesake of the University of Miami Children's Hospital.

Luminaries have christened Princess Cruises' ships, including the late Princess Diana of Wales, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, the first lady of Alaska, Nancy Murkowski and Mireya Mossoco, president of Panama. The cast of "The Love Boat" also served as godmother. The popular TV show was filmed aboard Princess ships.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Voyager was christened in Monaco, with His Royal Highness Prince Albert in attendance. Barbara Carlson Gage of Carlson Companies, which owns the line, was godmother. Maria Gauguin, great granddaughter of the famous painter, was on hand for Paul Gauguin christening ceremonies, while Carole Poylo, a relative of the ship's owner, Jean-Marc Poylo, christened the ship.

Royal Caribbean International, through a partnership with NBC's Today show, launched a national search for the godmother of its new Freedom of the Seas. The winner, Katherine Calder of Oregon, has served as a foster mother to over 400 children. Other godmothers have included Queen Sonja of Norway, Lauren Bacall, Whoopi Goldberg, Gloria Estefan and former first lady, Rosalynn Carter.

Godmothers for Seabourn Cruise Line's fleet of ultra-luxury yachts include none other than "America's Sweetheart," child star Shirley Temple Black, who christened Seabourn Pride. Seabourn Spirit was christened by Aagot Brynestad, mother of Seabourn's founder, Atle Brynestad. Sister ship Seabourn Legend, which briefly sailed as both the Royal Viking Queen and Queen Odyssey, was renamed by Atle Brynestad's wife Linn.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who gained legendary status after her debut as the Countess in "Le Nozze di Figuro" at London's Royal Opera House, served as godmother of Swan Hellenic's Minerva II. She named the ship on July 4, 2003, at the Tower Bridge on the Thames in London before a display of fireworks coordinated by the pyro-technician for Queen Elizabeth.

Windstar Cruises' Wind Star was christened by Louise Andren, wife of Karle Andren, the line's founder. Wind Spirit was christened in Monte Carlo by Clara van der Vorm, wife of Holland America Line's then chairman and CEO, Nico van der Vorm. At the ceremony were Prince Rainier, Prince Albert and Princess Caroline. Windstar is a unit of Holland America Line.

(Source: CLIA)

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