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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

Britannia To Rule The Waves


It’s safe to assume that when Queen Elizabeth christened the P&O Oriana in 1995, when she was a mere child of 69, that nobody imagined two decades later she’d be christening Royal visit to Hertfordshireanother P&O ship, the Britannia.

It happens tomorrow.

This is the biggest ship ever built for Brits. It weighs 141,000 tons, carries 3,647 passengers and has the largest Union Jack ever seen painted on her bow. Under the circumstances, it’s a wonder they didn’t called her the Royal Ship Britannia…an upgrade on the Queen’s long-time Royal Yacht of the same name.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will take place in Southampton, the new ship’s permanent home. It will be live-streamed at live.pocruises.com, an Internet event that the cruise line has been counting down by the second for days now. On board are 13 bars and 13 restaurants — good thing nobody’s superstitious — and a million Britannia-artpounds Sterling ($1.5 million US) worth of art.

Passage on the Britannia has been available for a year and the chance to be first on her disappeared quickly. After hanging around Southampton to celebrate her arrival, the Britannia leaves Saturday on the historic maiden voyage. The first cruise with space still available leaves two weeks later, on March 28, and the prices aren’t outrageous.

For a two-week cruise to Spain and back, prices start at the equivalent of about $3,000, or $212 a day. 

There has been no word whether Queen Elizabeth II plans to go on a Britannia cruise, but she probably will.

In another 20 years. After all, she’ll only be 109.

Today at portsandbows.com: Oceania expanding fleet and itineraries

Costa Fascinosa
7 nights
May 3, 2015
Savona (return): Rome, Palermo, La Valletta, Palma De Mailorca, Barcelona
Inside: $399
Cost per day: $57

Queen Mary 2's Moving Bag Of Soil 

Today, probably by the time you read this, the Queen Mary 2 will arrive in Southampton with a special cargo — one bag with a little bit of Flanders, as in Flanders Field. It’s soil that will be used to create a Flanders Field Memorial Garden in England (Flanders is in Queen MaryBelgium).

The idea is for memorial gardens at The Guards Museum in London to have soil from every battlefield where British soldiers from seven regiments died in World War I. For decades, soil was never allowed to leave the battlefield cemeteries. That changed last year. School children collected 70 sandbags full of soil.

Still with us?

The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Laurent of Belgium attended a ceremony last November when all the sandbags were gathered, placed on a frigate and taken up the Thames, then moved onto a gun carriage for the trip — with a mounted escort — to Wellington Barracks, home of the Flanders Field Memorial Garden, which will be opened by Queen Elizabeth next month.

Did we miss something?

This is a touching story with a lot of “moving” parts, but if 69 bags of soil were transported to the museum (below) last November, what happened to the 70th? Did somebody leave one behind? The most historic words at Flanders Field are “Lest we forget.”

Flanders Field MuseumHonoring men who gave their lives in the fight for freedom should never be forgotten, but if somebody did forget bag 70, why would it take almost a year?

This is 100 years from the start of the “war to end all wars” and any reason to re-visit it is noble, but when bag 70 did make the trip across the channel was an enormous cruise ship necessary? How big is this bag?

Yes, yes…of course we know the answers. They have something to do with the British pomp and pageantry.

Today at portsandbows.com: Who’s offering what for CLIA Cruise Week

Norwegian Pearl
4 nights
November 4, 2014
Miami (return): Grand Bahamas, Nassau
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $37

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