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The Business of Ship Godmothers


Is the whole Godmother thing wearing a little thin in the cruise world, are people getting tired of celebrities, or is there a shortage of “acceptable” celebrities?

The Godmother of Anthem of the Seas, the new Royal Caribbean ship that’s being christened in Southampton in two weeks, is Emma Wilby.

Emma Wilby?

She’s from the Wilbys of Kinloss, Scotland, where she sings in the Military Wives Choir. She’s undoubtedly a lovely lass, as the Scots would say, and when she christens the Emma WilbyAnthem she’ll sing an anthem, a special song written specifically for the occasion.

When all is said and done, she will be a celebrity of sorts…for singing, for christening and for being a ship’s godmother. She’ll join a Royal Caribbean list of godmothers that include Gloria Estefan, Whoopi Goldberg, Steffi Graf and Jane Seymour. Sophia Loren is also a Godmother, and so are Queen Elizabeth (not the ship) and her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Celebrity company that is, and if Emma feels a little out of place it’s easy to understand why. In addition to being a military wife — her husband is a royal engineer in the British Army — Emma is a travel agent.

And that is one of the pools of people into which cruise lines are dipping to find their godmothers now. She is not the first travel agent to be so selected, and one cruise line went in-house and picked employees to do the honors.

The conclusion to be drawn is that either celebrities bring too much “baggage” with them, making it more difficult to use them to market such a wholesome product as cruising…or maybe it’s just that travel agents just sell more tickets.

Today at portsandbows.com: Princess ship a bilingual experience in Japan

Holland America Eurodam
12 nights
May 8, 2015
Copenhagen (return): Kiel, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Berlin
Inside: $829
Cost per day: $69

A Quiet Princess Slips into Cruise Waters

If you do Google "Regal Princess" (as we did), you will find that most of the results on the first page are about a ship that "will" make its debut in 2014. Even Wikipedia writes of it in the future tense. So it may surprise you to learn that the Regal Princess is already here…here being the cruise waters of the world.

It happened last week. It happened in Italy. It happened quietly, or so it appears for everybody who couldn't hear the horn's first blast in Venice.

This is the 18th ship in the Princess fleet. It's a full sister to the Royal Princess, which means you can't tell them apart if you don't see the name. Ironically, the Royal Princess made her debut almost a year ago, also in Europe (Southampton), but to much greater fanfare which included the world's most prominent mother-to-be, the Duchess of Cambridge, who is more widely known simply as Princess Kate.

The new ship has everything her elder sister has…SeaWalk over the ocean, a bigger-than-ever atrium, the innovative Chef's Table Lumiere, the Princess Live TV studio, and Regal-WC-Scorcolano copyPhoto courtesy of Wikipedia Commons: Scorcolano

more. It carries 3,560 passengers, which means it takes a back seat there to its Royal sibling, which can handle 40 more passengers.

Together, they're the biggest Princess ships. They are not together these days, but they're at least in the same hemisphere. 

After spending the winter in the Caribbean, the Royal Princess is in Northern Europe for the summer and will return to North America — by way of Iceland and New York (25 days) — in late September. It will dock in Fort Lauderdale on November 4.

The Regal Princess is spending its inaugural months in the Mediterranean and will cross the Atlantic for the first time (Princess is calling this the ship's "Maiden Voyage") in October. This ship will arrive in Fort Lauderdale on November 3…the day before big sister.

At least then she'll be "first" for a day, and you can be sure more will be made of the "new" ship's North American debut.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas
5 nights
December 13, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Coco CayNassauGrand Bahama Island 
Inside: $299
Cost per day: $59

New Ship: Regal Princess

After a five-year building sabbatical, Princess Cruises conceived two sisters with the arrivals of the Royal Princess (June 2013) and the Regal Princess (May this year). The 17th and 18th ships in the Princess fleet are unlike any others, as new ships usually are, and the people at Fincantieri have made this baby "premature." It's due two weeks ahead of schedule and will sail a pair of Venice-Athens cruises before its original inaugural, a 20-day Mediterranean Escape.

Launch date: May 20

Capacity: 3,560

Sister ships: Royal Princess

Maiden Voyage: Venice to Athens

Home Ports: Venice/Fort Lauderdale

Ships now in Princess fleet: 18

Interesting: All new ships have some kind of signature and, for the Regal Princess and her sister, that was the SeaWalk, a see-through walkway that extends 28 feet over the side, 128 feet above the water. A virtual twin to the Royal Princess, the Regal also has the Princess Live! TV studio and the cruise line's largest top-deck pool. All outside staterooms have balconies. No word yet on who will be the Godmother but "junior Princess" has a tough act to follow…the Duchess of Cambridge did the honors last June just a few weeks before delivering the royal baby and the ceremony was, as the Brits would say, smashing!

Carnival Fascination
5 nights
February 8, 2014
Jacksonville (return): NassauHalf Moon Cay 
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $49

A Royal Story Rich in Irony

Who writes this stuff? Really. Shakespeare or Monty Python? The Royal biographer, perhaps…

A cruise ship is called the Royal Princess. At an elaborate "naming ceremony" the ship will be christened by a young woman who used to be a Royal Princess but is now a Royal Duchess. Okay, technically, she never was "Princess" Kate…but once she became a Royal she was the "People's Princess" and since has grown into the most beloved young woman in Britain's Royal Family since the last People's Princess, whose name was Diana. Had she lived, Diana would today be Kate's mum-in-law. They remain linked by, among other things, the same engagement ring.

It gets better.

When Kate Middleton (aka, HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) officially becomes the new ship's Godmother, it will be at a ceremony on the docks of Southampton, which would be a short Tube ride from Buckingham Palace — if The Tube ran from Buckingham Palace to Southampton, which it doesn't. It's a fair hike in a carriage, the Royal Family's traditional mode of transportation, so we can assume that it will be a vehicle from the Royal Fleet that takes the Duchess to her appointed ship.

This isn't her first rodeo, although the Brits would have another name for that. Two years ago, she christened a lifeboat at the Trearrddur Bay Lifeboat Station in Anglesey, Wales. It was her first official engagement after becoming a Royal, and you could say that pouring bubbly on that bow was a dry run, except that this one will be, too…at least for her.


The Royal Duchess is about to be another kind of mother — the real kind. As Shakespeare would have put it, she is "with child" and is scheduled to become the Other Mother less than six weeks after christening the Royal Princess. And if the script writers have their way, that will be another "Royal Princess."

Holland America Ryndam
7 nights
September 21, 2013
Athens (return): Istanbul, Lesbos, Ephesus, Mykonos, Crete
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $114

Royal Baby Heads-up for Cunard?

Maybe Cunard knew all along about the Royal Baby. Maybe somebody in the palace tipped off the famous cruise line that the Duchess of Cambridge was with child. Maybe that's why the announcement that Will and Kate were going to be parents came a few days AFTER Cunard's announcement about the Duchess of Cornwall, who is not pregnant, by the way.

Until now, everybody knew that Cunard was all about Queens…Victoria, Elizabeth and Mary 2, currently the crown fleet.

Well, maybe they're all about duchesses, too.

In the scheme of all things worldly, Cunard's announcement about the Duchess of Cornwall — more commonly known as Camilla — was arguably more significant while drawing far less attention. The news from that duchess is that she'll be presenting certificates to a dozen apprentices who have participated in a Prince's Trust program to help disadvantaged young people get jobs.

The Duchess will make the presentation on board the Queen Victoria next week. She is the ship's godmother and next week the Victoria turns five. The timing for all of this was perfect until yesterday's news broke.

On a personal note, the news of the Royal Baby reached us as we were in Florida, getting on the new Celebrity Reflection. On the day that Will and Kate were married, we were in England, getting off the Celebrity Eclipse. So while nobody knows when the new-born will arrive, we know where we'll be that day…

We just don't know which Celebrity ship.

Carnival Miracle
15 nights
March 16, 2013
New York, Grand Turk, Cartagena, Panama Canal, Puntarenas, Puerto Quetzal, Cabo San Lucas, Los Angeles
Inside: $1,349
Cost per day: $89

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