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.
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.
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.
Here’s a short list of the most famous celebrity cruise ship godmothers and godfathers of today:
- Dame Judi Dench – Carnival Legend (2002)
- Kim Cattrall – Norwegian Dawn (2002)
- Whoopi Goldberg – Serenade of the Seas (2003)
- Katie Couric – Carnival Valor (2004)
- Rosie O’Donnell – Norwegian Pearl (2006)
- Martha Stewart – Crown Princess (2006)
- Reba McEntire – Norwegian Epic (2010)
- Jennifer Hudson – Disney Dream (2011)
- Mariah Carey – Disney Fantasy (2012)
- Pitbull – Norwegian Escape (2015)
- Queen Latifah – Carnival Horizon (2018)
- Dame Helen Mirren – Scenic Eclipse (2019)
- Oprah Winfrey – MS Nieuw Statendam (2019)
- Vanna White – Carnival Panorama (2019)
- Kelly Clarkson – Norwegian Encore (2019)
- Katy Perry – Norwegian 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 Monaco – Cunard Princess (1977)
- Diana, Princess of Wales – Princess Cruises’ original Royal Princess (1984)
- Princess Caroline of Monaco – Cunard’s Sea Goddess II (1985)
- Shirley Temple Black – Seabourn Pride (1988)
- Jimmy and Gloria Stewart – Royal Viking Sun (1988)
- Audrey Hepburn – Princess Cruises’ Star Princess (1989)
- Rosalynn Carter – Royal Caribbean’s Sovereign of the Seas (1988)
- Mary Tyler Moore – Crystal Harmony (1990)
- Margaret Thatcher – Princess Cruises’ original Regal Princess (1991)
- Lauren Bacall – Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas (1991)
- Kathie Lee Gifford – Carnival 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
|Carnival Venezia||Jay Leno||2023|
|Carnival Luminosa||Valentina Vezzali||2009 (renamed 2022)|
|Carnival Celebration||Cassidy Gifford||2022|
|Mardi Gras||Kimberly Jiménez||2021|
|Carnival Panorama||Vanna White||2019|
|Carnival Horizon||Queen Latifah||2018|
|Carnival Vista||Deshauna Barber||2016|
|Carnival Breeze||Tracy Wilson Mourning||2012|
|Carnival Magic||Lindsey Wilkerson||2011|
|Carnival Dream||Marcia Gay Harden||2009|
|Carnival Splendor||Myleene Klass||2008|
|Carnival Freedom||Kathy Ireland||2007|
|Carnival Liberty||Mira Sorvino||2005|
|Carnival Valor||Katie Couric||2004|
|Carnival Miracle||Jessica Lynch||2004|
|Carnival Glory||Dr. Sally Ride||2003|
|Carnival Conquest||Lindy Boggs||2002|
|Carnival Legend||Dame Judi Dench||2002|
|Carnival Pride||Tammy Jernigan||2002|
|Carnival Spirit||Elizabeth Dole||2001|
|Carnival Radiance||Lucille O’Neal||2021 (renamed)|
|Carnival Sunrise||Madeline Arison||1999|
|Carnival Paradise||Paula Zahn||1998|
|Carnival Elation||Shari Arison Dorsman||1998|
|Carnival Sunshine||Lin Arison||2013 (renamed)|
Celebrity Cruises’ cruise ship godparents
|Celebrity Ascent||Captain Sandy Yawn and Michelle Dunham||2023*|
|Celebrity Beyond||Simone Biles||2022|
|Celebrity Apex||Reshma Saujani||2020|
|Celebrity Flora||Yolanda Kakabadse||2019|
|Celebrity Edge||Malala Yousafzai||2018|
|Celebrity Xploration||none||(in service 2017)|
|Celebrity Reflection||Jovanka Goronjic, Megan Mathie, Helen O’Connell, and Rosey Rodriguez||2012|
|Celebrity Silhouette||Michelle Morgan||2011|
|Celebrity Eclipse||Emma Pontin||2010|
|Celebrity Equinox||Nina Barough||2009|
|Celebrity Solstice||Sharon L. Smith||2008|
|Celebrity Constellation||Jean Marie Arneberg||2002|
|Celebrity Xpedition||none||(in service 2001)|
|Celebrity Summit||Paulina Rider Wilhemsen||2001|
|Celebrity Infinity||Solveig Wilhelmsen||2001|
|Celebrity Millennium||Robyn Roux||2000|
Disney Cruise Line’s cruise ship godmothers
|Disney Wish||Make-A-Wish children||2022|
|Disney Fantasy||Mariah Carey||2012|
|Disney Dream||Jennifer Hudson||2011|
|Disney Magic||Patricia Disney||1998|
Holland America Line’s cruise ship godmothers
|MS Rotterdam||Princess Margriet of the Netherlands||2022|
|MS Nieuw Statendam||Oprah Winfrey||2019|
|MS Koningsdam||Queen Máxima of the Netherlands||2016|
|MS Nieuw Amsterdam||Queen Máxima of the Netherlands||2010|
|MS Eurodam||Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands||2008|
|MS Noordam||Marlee Matlin||2006|
|MS Westerdam||Renée Soutendijk||2004|
|MS Oosterdam||Princess Margriet of the Netherlands||2003|
|MS Zuiderdam||Joan Lunden||2002|
|MS Zaandam||Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen||2000|
|MS Volendam||Chris Evert||1999|
MSC Cruises’ cruise ship godmothers
|MSC Euribia||Sophia Loren||2023|
|MSC Seascape||Sophia Loren||2022|
|MSC World Europa||Sophia Loren||2022|
|MSC Seashore||Sophia Loren||2021|
|MSC Virtuosa||Sophia Loren||2021|
|MSC Grandiosa||Sophia Loren||2019|
|MSC Bellissima||Sophia Loren||2019|
|MSC Seaview||Sophia Loren||2018|
|MSC Seaside||Sophia Loren||2017|
|MSC Meraviglia||Sophia Loren||2017|
|MSC Preziosa||Sophia Loren||2013|
|MSC Divina||Sophia Loren||2012|
|MSC Magnifica||Sophia Loren||2010|
|MSC Splendida||Sophia Loren||2009|
|MSC Fantasia||Sophia Loren||2008|
|MSC Orchestra||Sophia Loren||2007|
|MSC Musica||Sophia Loren||2006|
|MSC Opera||Sophia Loren||2004|
|MSC Lirica||Sophia Loren||2003|
|MSC Sinfonia||none||2004 (renamed)|
|MSC Armonia||none||2004 (renamed)|
Norwegian Cruise Line’s cruise ship godparents
|Norwegian Viva||Luis Fonsi||2023*|
|Norwegian Prima||Katy Perry||2022|
|Norwegian Encore||Kelly Clarkson||2019|
|Norwegian Bliss||Elvis Duran||2018|
|Norwegian Joy||Wang Leehom||2017|
|Norwegian Getaway||The Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders||2014|
|Norwegian Breakaway||The Rockettes||2013|
|Norwegian Epic||Reba McEntire||2010|
|Norwegian Gem||Cindy Cardella||2007|
|Norwegian Jade||none||2008 (renamed)|
|Norwegian Pearl||Rosie O’Donnell||2006|
|Pride of America||Elaine Chao||2005|
|Norwegian Jewel||Melania Trump||2005|
|Norwegian Dawn||Kim Cattrall||2002|
|Norwegian Sun||Brooke Burke||2001|
|Norwegian Star||Angela Perez Baraguio||2001|
|Norwegian Sky||ship’s crew||1999|
|Norwegian Spirit||none||2004 (renamed)|
Princess Cruises’ cruise ship godparents
|Discovery Princess||Randy Fenoli, Alex Guarnaschelli, Adam Savage, and Page Turner||2022|
Jenifer Austin, Lynn Danaher, and Vicki Ferrini
|Sky Princess||Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt||2019|
|Majestic Princess||Yao Ming and Ye Li||2017|
|Regal Princess||Fred Grandy, Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, Gavin MacLeod, Lauren Tewes, and Jill Whelan||2014|
|Royal Princess||Catherine, Princess of Wales||2013|
|Ruby Princess||Trista and Ryan Sutter||2008|
|Emerald Princess||Florence Henderson, Marion Ross, Erin Moran, and Susan Olsen||2007|
|Crown Princess||Martha Stewart||2006|
|Caribbean Princess||Jill Whelan||2004|
|Diamond Princess||Yoshiko Tsukuda||2004|
|Sapphire Princess||Nancy Murkowski||2004|
|Island Princess||Jaime Sale and David Pelletier||2003|
|Coral Princess||Mireya Moscoso||2003|
|Grand Princess||Olivia de Havilland||1998|
Royal Caribbean’s cruise ship godparents
|Wonder of the Seas||Marie McCrea||2022|
|Odyssey of the Seas||Erin Brown||2021|
|Spectrum of the Seas||Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy||2019|
|Symphony of the Seas||Alexa, Carlos, and Ocean PenaVega||2018|
|Harmony of the Seas||Brittany Affolter||2016|
|Ovation of the Seas||Fan Bingbing||2016|
|Anthem of the Seas||Emma Wilby||2015|
|Quantum of the Seas||Kristin Chenoweth||2014|
|Allure of the Seas||Princess Fiona||2010|
|Oasis of the Seas||Gloria Estefan, Michelle Kwan, Dara Torres, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Shawn Johnson, Jane Seymour, and Daisy Fuentes||2009|
|Independence of the Seas||Elizabeth Hill||2008|
|Liberty of the Seas||Donnalea Madeley||2007|
|Freedom of the Seas||Katherine Louise Calder||2006|
|Jewel of the Seas||Kathy Mellor||2004|
|Mariner of the Seas||Jean Driscoll||2003|
|Serenade of the Seas||Whoopi Goldberg||2003|
|Navigator of the Seas||Steffi Graf||2002|
|Brilliance of the Seas||Marilyn Ofer||2002|
|Adventure of the Seas||Tara Stackpole, Kevin Hannafin, Margaret McDonnell, and Richard Lucas||2001|
|Radiance of the Seas||Margot L. Pritzker||2001|
|Explorer of the Seas||Jackie Joyner-Kersee||2000|
|Voyager of the Seas||Katarina Witt||1999|
|Vision of the Seas||Helen Morin Stephan||1998|
|Enchantment of the Seas||Colleen Fain||1997|
|Rhapsody of the Seas||Bodil Wilhelmsen||1997|
|Grandeur of the Seas||Aviva Ofer||1996|
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!
- Oceania Cruises Announces First Annual Culinary Masters’ Cruise - November 27, 2023
- Princess Cruises Begins Countdown to Inaugural Season from Port Canaveral - November 27, 2023
- Royal Caribbean Transatlantic Cruise Compass – Rhapsody of the Seas - November 26, 2023