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What Is a Cruise Ship Godmother (or Godfather)?

What Is a Cruise Ship Godmother (or Godfather)?

Did you know most cruise ships sailing today have a godmother? Find out what being a cruise ship godmother is all about, and who is chosen for this honor.

A cruise ship godmother (or godfather or set of godparents) symbolically names and blesses a new ship at a christening ceremony.

The title often goes to a famous person—Olympic athletes, royalty, astronauts, and film actors have all become cruise ship godparents. But not every ship’s godparent is a household name!

Read on to find out the answers to everything you’ve ever wondered about cruise ship godparents, and find out who the godparent is for your favorite ship.

Why do cruise ships have godmothers?

Since ancient times, people have held ship blessing ceremonies to ensure good fortune and to keep sailors safe during sea voyages.

The first recorded ceremony to name a ship was in 1418, when King Henri V of France paid the Bishop of Bangor five pounds to christen his largest warship, Henri Graze à Dieu.

For centuries after, many ships were named and blessed by both a godmother and a godfather. But by the 19th century, having a man christen a new ship was considered bad luck.

When ocean liners began transporting guests across the seas, shipping companies would invite a woman—often a member of royalty or daughter of a prominent family—to christen a new ship as its sponsor or patroness.

By the advent of the modern cruising era in the 20th century, the tradition still remained, and most cruise lines chose a notable godmother for each new ship.

In the new millennium, we’ve seen the godmother tradition expand to see men and mixed-gender groups serving as cruise godparents. There are even a couple of fictional characters who have christened cruise ships!

You may also like: 29 Weird Cruise Ship Superstitions Cruisers Should Know

What do cruise ship godmothers do?

A cruise ship godmother serves as the honored guest at a ship’s naming and blessing ceremony. After speeches by cruise line execs and the captain (and often live music and dance performances) in celebration of the new ship, the godparent says a few words in blessing. It’s often something along the lines of “I christen thee (ship’s name). May God bless this ship and all who sail in her.”

Then the godparent pulls a lever to smash a huge bottle of champagne on the hull of the ship for good luck.

After a post-ceremony reception, the godparent’s role is essentially over, though some cruise ship godparents do stay on for the ship’s inaugural sailing.

Cruise ship godparents usually receive a gift, often a piece of jewelry, in return for their participation. Some godparents also select a charitable organization for the cruise line to make a substantial donation in their honor.

On your next cruise, see if you can spot your ship’s godparent’s photo on the wall! Most ships honor the godmother or godparents with a framed portrait and plaque commemorating the christening.

Are there any cruise ship godfathers?

Although cruise ships traditionally have been christened by women, in recent years several men have been chosen for the honor.

In 2006, Senator Daniel K. Inouye christened NCL’s Pride of Hawai’i (the ship now known as Norwegian Jade) but he was known as the ship’s sponsor, not its godfather.

The first cruise ship godfather to ever hold the title on his own, rapper and producer Pitbull, became the godfather of Norwegian Escape in 2015.

Rapper Pitbull is the godfather of Norwegian Escape (cropped image via Wikimedia Commons)

In 2018 Elvis Duran, host of the syndicated radio program “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show”, became the godfather of Norwegian Bliss.

The rebranded ship Margaritaville at Sea Paradise also has a new godfather. In 2022, philanthropist and former NFL player Shaquem Griffin christened the ship at her renaming ceremony.

In June 2023, comedian and TV host Jay Leno became Carnival’s first cruise ship godfather, blessing the Italian-themed Carnival Venezia.

Read more: Comedian Jay Leno Will Be Godfather of Carnival Venezia

In December 2023, Royal Caribbean announced that soccer star Lionel Messi would become the “Icon” of Icon of the Seas. The cruise line chose to use a different name for the traditional godfather title, but the honor and duties remain the same.

The most famous celebrity cruise ship godmothers (and godfathers!)

Some of the world’s most famous celebrities—TV personalities, recording artists, and movie stars—currently serve as cruise ship godparents.

Pop star and American Idol judge Katy Perry is the godmother of Norwegian Prima (cropped image via Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a short list of the most famous celebrity cruise ship godmothers and godfathers of today:

  • Dame Judi DenchCarnival Legend (2002)
  • Kim CattrallNorwegian Dawn (2002)
  • Whoopi GoldbergSerenade of the Seas (2003)
  • Katie CouricCarnival Valor (2004)
  • Rosie O’Donnell – Norwegian Pearl (2006)
  • Martha StewartCrown Princess (2006)
  • Reba McEntireNorwegian Epic (2010)
  • Jennifer HudsonDisney Dream (2011)
  • Mariah CareyDisney Fantasy (2012)
  • PitbullNorwegian Escape (2015)
  • Queen LatifahCarnival Horizon (2018)
  • Dame Helen MirrenScenic Eclipse (2019)
  • Oprah Winfrey – MS Nieuw Statendam (2019)
  • Vanna WhiteCarnival Panorama (2019)
  • Kelly ClarksonNorwegian Encore (2019)
  • Katy PerryNorwegian Prima (2022)
  • Jennifer Lopez – Virgin Voyages’ fleet
  • Sophia Loren – MSC Cruises’ fleet

Royal cruise ship godmothers

During the age of luxury ocean liners and the dawn of cruising as we know it, many members of Europe’s royal families have been honored as godmothers or sponsors of passenger ships.

The famed Cunard ship RMS Queen Mary, now moored in Long Beach, California, was named in honor of its sponsor, Britain’s Queen Mary (the former Princess Mary of Teck), the wife of King George V.

The late Queen Elizabeth II has been sponsor or godmother to several ships, beginning in 1947. While still known as the Princess Elizabeth, she launched the Cunard White Star Line’s Caronia.

The late Queen Elizabeth II was godmother to several cruise ships and ocean liners (cropped image via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1967, she named the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, informally known as the QE2. The ship is actually named for her mother, the Queen Mother.

In the modern cruise ship era, the convention of having an official godmother (not just a patroness, sponsor, or ceremonial ship-namer) became very popular, even with royals.

Diana, Princess of Wales served as godmother to Princess Cruises’ original Royal Princess ship, which she christened in 1984.

In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II named another Cunard ship, Queen Mary 2. Just like the original Queen Mary vessel, this ship was named after her grandmother.

Queen Elizabeth also served as godmother to two P&O cruise ships: Oriana and Britannia.

Catherine, Princess of Wales (the former Kate Middleton), became godmother to Princess Cruises’ new Royal Princess in 2013.

HRH Catherine, Princess of Wales is godmother to Royal Princess (cropped image via Wikimedia Commons)

But being a royal cruise ship godmother isn’t just limited to the British royal family!

Holland America Line boasts several members of Dutch royalty as godmothers to its ships. Princess Margriet christened both MS Oosterdam in 2003 and MS Rotterdam in 2022, and the late Queen Beatrix became godmother to Eurodam in 2008.

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is godmother to two HAL ships: MS Koningsdam and MS Nieuw Statendam.

Monaco’s Princess Charlene is also a cruise ship godmother. She christened Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Explorer in 2015.

Are cruise ship godmothers always famous?

Although many cruise ship godmothers are celebrities, a surprising amount of godparents aren’t household names. During the ’90s and early 2000s, many cruise lines chose the wives of top executives or major shareholders as their ship’s godmothers.

But in recent years, cruise lines have honored many people who’ve made outstanding contributions to a specific field.

In 2021, Princess Cruises chose Captain Lynn Danaher, Dr. Vicki Ferrini, and Jenifer Austin as the godmothers of Enchanted Princess. The three women have worked for ocean conservation and stewardship as members of The Explorers Club.

Captain Lynn Danaher, Dr. Vicki Ferrini, and Jenifer Austin became the godmothers of Enchanted Princess in 2021 (image courtesy of Princess Cruises)

But even “everyday” people can be chosen as cruise ship godmothers! In 2006, Royal Caribbean held a contest to find a non-famous person who was extraordinary enough to serve as godmother to Freedom of the Seas.

Katherine Louise Calder of Oregon—who had been foster mother to 400 children with special needs—was chosen out of 6000 nominees on NBC’s The Today Show in 2006.

Norwegian Cruise Line held an online video contest in 2007 to choose a godmother for Norwegian Gem. Cindy Cardella, a mom from New Jersey who had taken 31 NCL cruises, was selected for the honor.

In 2022, Royal Caribbean held a contest on the social media platform TikTok to search for one amazing mom to be godmother to the largest cruise ship in the world, Wonder of the Seas. The lucky winner, Marie McCrea of Pennsylvania, christened the ship on December 9th!

Read more: Royal Caribbean Names Godmother of Wonder of the Seas

Are cruise ship godmothers always human?

You might be surprised that several cruise ships have a fictional character as godmother! Tinkerbell, the fairy from Peter Pan, is the godmother of the Disney Wonder.

Tinkerbell, the fairy from Peter Pan, is the godmother of the Disney Wonder (cropped image via Wikimedia Commons)

Princess Fiona from the Shrek movies is godmother to Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas.

Do any cruise ships have godchildren?

In 2015, six-year-old Kye Heald, daughter of Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald, was named the godchild of Carnival Vista. The little girl presided over a traditional maritime coin ceremony to mark the completion of the ship’s interior.

But there’s one cruise ship that actually has godchildren instead of a godparent!

In 2022, all of the Make-A-Wish recipients—past, present and future—became the godchildren of Disney Wish.

Related: Disney Wish: Everything You Need to Know About DCL’s Newest Cruise Ship

Who holds the record as godmother to the most cruise ships?

Italian actress Sophia Loren is godmother to almost the entire MSC Cruises fleet! Holding the honor for 18 MSC ships, Loren is by far the godmother to the most cruise ships.

Sophia Loren and Captain Francesco Veniero at MSC Virtuosa’s christening ceremony in 2021 (image courtesy of MSC Cruises)

Beginning in 2003 with MSC Lirica, she’s christened every new ship in the line, including the new MSC Seascape and MSC World Europa.

Ms. Loren also served as godmother to Princess Cruises’ original Crown Princess from 1990 until the ship was transferred to A’Rosa Cruises and renamed.

Notable cruise ship godparents of the past

The ships might not be around anymore—they’ve either been sold and renamed, or scrapped—but each had a famous godparent or two. Here’s a short list of some notable cruise ship godparents of the past:

  • Princess Grace of MonacoCunard Princess (1977)
  • Diana, Princess of Wales – Princess Cruises’ original Royal Princess (1984)
  • Princess Caroline of Monaco – Cunard’s Sea Goddess II (1985)
  • Shirley Temple BlackSeabourn Pride (1988)
  • Jimmy and Gloria StewartRoyal Viking Sun (1988)
  • Audrey Hepburn – Princess Cruises’ Star Princess (1989)
  • Rosalynn Carter – Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign of the Seas (1988)
  • Mary Tyler MooreCrystal Harmony (1990)
  • Margaret Thatcher – Princess Cruises’ original Regal Princess (1991)
  • Lauren Bacall – Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas (1991)
  • Kathie Lee GiffordCarnival Ecstasy (1991)
  • Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal – Princess Cruises’ Ocean Princess (2000)

Godparents of all the major cruise lines’ cruise ships

Have you ever wondered who your favorite cruise ship’s godmother or godfather is? Here are all the cruise ship godmothers and godfathers for all the major cruise lines’ active ships.

Carnival Cruise Line’s cruise ship godmothers

ShipGodparentYear Christened
Carnival JubileeGwen Stefani2024
Carnival VeneziaJay Leno2023
Carnival LuminosaValentina Vezzali2009 (renamed 2022)
Carnival CelebrationCassidy Gifford2022
Mardi GrasKimberly Jiménez2021
Carnival PanoramaVanna White2019
Carnival HorizonQueen Latifah2018
Carnival VistaDeshauna Barber2016
Carnival BreezeTracy Wilson Mourning2012
Carnival MagicLindsey Wilkerson2011
Carnival DreamMarcia Gay Harden2009
Carnival SplendorMyleene Klass2008
Carnival FreedomKathy Ireland2007
Carnival LibertyMira Sorvino2005
Carnival ValorKatie Couric2004
Carnival MiracleJessica Lynch2004
Carnival GloryDr. Sally Ride2003
Carnival ConquestLindy Boggs2002
Carnival LegendDame Judi Dench2002
Carnival PrideTammy Jernigan2002
Carnival SpiritElizabeth Dole2001
Carnival RadianceLucille O’Neal2021 (renamed)
Carnival SunriseMadeline Arison1999
Carnival ParadisePaula Zahn1998
Carnival ElationShari Arison Dorsman1998
Carnival SunshineLin Arison2013 (renamed)

Celebrity Cruises’ cruise ship godparents

ShipGodparent(s)Year Christened
Celebrity AscentCaptain Sandy Yawn and Michelle Dunham2023
Celebrity BeyondSimone Biles2022
Celebrity ApexReshma Saujani2020
Celebrity FloraYolanda Kakabadse2019
Celebrity EdgeMalala Yousafzai2018
Celebrity Xplorationnone(in service 2017)
Celebrity ReflectionJovanka Goronjic, Megan Mathie, Helen O’Connell, and Rosey Rodriguez2012
Celebrity SilhouetteMichelle Morgan2011
Celebrity EclipseEmma Pontin2010
Celebrity EquinoxNina Barough2009
Celebrity SolsticeSharon L. Smith2008
Celebrity ConstellationJean Marie Arneberg2002
Celebrity Xpeditionnone(in service 2001)
Celebrity SummitPaulina Rider Wilhemsen2001
Celebrity InfinitySolveig Wilhelmsen2001
Celebrity MillenniumRobyn Roux2000

Disney Cruise Line’s cruise ship godmothers

ShipGodparent(s)Year Christened
Disney WishMake-A-Wish children2022
Disney FantasyMariah Carey2012
Disney DreamJennifer Hudson2011
Disney WonderTinkerbell1999
Disney MagicPatricia Disney1998

Holland America Line’s cruise ship godmothers

ShipGodmother(s)Year Christened
MS Rotterdam Princess Margriet of the Netherlands2022
MS Nieuw Statendam Oprah Winfrey2019
MS KoningsdamQueen Máxima of the Netherlands2016
MS Nieuw AmsterdamQueen Máxima of the Netherlands2010
MS EurodamQueen Beatrix of the Netherlands2008
MS NoordamMarlee Matlin2006
MS WesterdamRenée Soutendijk2004
MS OosterdamPrincess Margriet of the Netherlands2003
MS ZuiderdamJoan Lunden2002
MS ZaandamMary-Kate and Ashley Olsen2000
MS VolendamChris Evert1999

MSC Cruises’ cruise ship godmothers

ShipGodmother(s)Year Christened
MSC EuribiaSophia Loren2023
MSC SeascapeSophia Loren2022
MSC World EuropaSophia Loren2022
MSC SeashoreSophia Loren2021
MSC VirtuosaSophia Loren2021
MSC GrandiosaSophia Loren2019
MSC BellissimaSophia Loren2019
MSC SeaviewSophia Loren2018
MSC SeasideSophia Loren2017
MSC MeravigliaSophia Loren2017
MSC PreziosaSophia Loren2013
MSC DivinaSophia Loren2012
MSC MagnificaSophia Loren2010
MSC SplendidaSophia Loren2009
MSC FantasiaSophia Loren2008
MSC OrchestraSophia Loren2007
MSC MusicaSophia Loren2006
MSC OperaSophia Loren2004
MSC LiricaSophia Loren2003
MSC Sinfonianone2004 (renamed)
MSC Armonianone2004 (renamed)

Norwegian Cruise Line’s cruise ship godparents

ShipGodparent(s)Year Christened
Norwegian VivaLuis Fonsi2023
Norwegian PrimaKaty Perry2022
Norwegian EncoreKelly Clarkson2019
Norwegian BlissElvis Duran2018
Norwegian JoyWang Leehom2017
Norwegian EscapePitbull2015
Norwegian GetawayThe Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders2014
Norwegian BreakawayThe Rockettes2013
Norwegian EpicReba McEntire2010
Norwegian GemCindy Cardella2007
Norwegian Jadenone2008 (renamed)
Norwegian PearlRosie O’Donnell 2006
Pride of AmericaElaine Chao2005
Norwegian JewelMelania Trump2005
Norwegian DawnKim Cattrall2002
Norwegian SunBrooke Burke2001
Norwegian StarAngela Perez Baraguio2001
Norwegian Skyship’s crew1999
Norwegian Spiritnone2004 (renamed)

Princess Cruises’ cruise ship godparents

ShipGodparent(s)Year Christened
Sun PrincessHannah Waddingham2024
Discovery PrincessRandy Fenoli, Alex Guarnaschelli, Adam Savage, and Page Turner2022
Enchanted Princess
Jenifer Austin, Lynn Danaher, and Vicki Ferrini
Sky PrincessKay Hire and Poppy Northcutt2019
Majestic PrincessYao Ming and Ye Li2017
Regal PrincessFred Grandy, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, Gavin MacLeod, Lauren Tewes, and Jill Whelan2014
Royal PrincessCatherine, Princess of Wales2013
Ruby PrincessTrista and Ryan Sutter2008
Emerald PrincessFlorence Henderson, Marion Ross, Erin Moran, and Susan Olsen2007
Crown Princess Martha Stewart2006
Caribbean PrincessJill Whelan2004
Diamond PrincessYoshiko Tsukuda2004
Sapphire PrincessNancy Murkowski2004
Island PrincessJaime Sale and David Pelletier2003
Coral PrincessMireya Moscoso2003
Grand PrincessOlivia de Havilland1998

Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship godparents

ShipGodparent(s)Year Christened
Icon of the SeasLionel Messi2024
Wonder of the SeasMarie McCrea2022
Odyssey of the SeasErin Brown2021
Spectrum of the SeasHuang Xiaoming and Angelababy2019
Symphony of the SeasAlexa, Carlos, and Ocean PenaVega2018
Harmony of the SeasBrittany Affolter2016
Ovation of the SeasFan Bingbing2016
Anthem of the SeasEmma Wilby2015
Quantum of the SeasKristin Chenoweth2014
Allure of the SeasPrincess Fiona2010
Oasis of the SeasGloria Estefan, Michelle Kwan, Dara Torres, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Shawn Johnson, Jane Seymour, and Daisy Fuentes2009
Independence of the SeasElizabeth Hill2008
Liberty of the SeasDonnalea Madeley2007
Freedom of the SeasKatherine Louise Calder2006
Jewel of the SeasKathy Mellor2004
Mariner of the SeasJean Driscoll2003
Serenade of the SeasWhoopi Goldberg2003
Navigator of the SeasSteffi Graf2002
Brilliance of the SeasMarilyn Ofer2002
Adventure of the SeasTara Stackpole, Kevin Hannafin, Margaret McDonnell, and Richard Lucas2001
Radiance of the SeasMargot L. Pritzker2001
Explorer of the SeasJackie Joyner-Kersee2000
Voyager of the SeasKatarina Witt1999
Vision of the SeasHelen Morin Stephan1998
Enchantment of the SeasColleen Fain1997
Rhapsody of the SeasBodil Wilhelmsen1997
Grandeur of the SeasAviva Ofer1996

Who are your favorite cruise ship godmothers (or godfathers)? Have you ever sailed on a cruise ship with an interesting or notable godparent? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Carrie Ann Karstunen