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Below Deck’s Sandy Yawn and Sister Michelle Dunham Chosen as Godmothers to Celebrity Ascent

Below Deck’s Sandy Yawn and Sister Michelle Dunham Chosen as Godmothers to Celebrity Ascent

Captain Sandy Yawn from Bravo’s Below Deck and her sister Michelle Dunham will be godmothers to the upcoming Celebrity Ascent.

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Celebrity Cruises has announced that Captain Sandy Yawn, best known for her appearance on Bravo TV’s hit series, Below Deck, alongside her sister Michelle Dunham, founder of the Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA), have been selected as co-godmothers of the upcoming ship Celebrity Ascent.

The sisters will now join the industry’s first sibling captains, Dimitrios and Tasos Kafetzis, who were announced earlier this year as the chosen duo to jointly command the new cruise ship.

Captain Sandy and Michelle will join an elite group of admired, purposeful, and inspiring women who serve as Godmothers for Celebrity Cruises ships.

Godmothers of previous Edge Series ships include Simone Biles, 19-time World Champion and seven-time Olympic medalist who christened Celebrity Beyond in 2022, Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of international nonprofit Girls Who Code who named Celebrity Apex in 2021, and Malala Yousafzai, Nobel laureate and activist, who introduced the ship class when Celebrity Edge launched in 2018.

“We are honored to have Captain Sandy and her sister Michelle join the legacy of Celebrity’s Godmothers, as they are both inspirational women who have dedicated their lives to making a positive impact in the world,” said Celebrity president Laura Hodges Bethge in a press release.

“Captain Sandy’s life story is one of resilience, leadership, and strength, as a pioneer in the maritime industry and as an inspirational role model for young women. Her sister Michelle is a tireless advocate for children with autism and shows us what is possible when you follow your vision for a better world. Both women live by Celebrity’s values, and we have no doubt they are the perfect choices for Ascent,” Bethge continued.

One of the most time-honored traditions at sea, a ship’s godparent is the spiritual embodiment of the vessel—someone who inspires, protects, and positively impacts the lives of everyone who sails onboard. During Ascent‘s official naming ceremony on December 1, 2023, both sisters will bless and christen the ship, bringing good luck and protection for the crew and all passengers.

Related: What Is a Cruise Ship Godmother (or Godfather)?

Celebrity Ascent‘s christening ceremony is scheduled for December 1, 2023, just ahead of the ship’s maiden voyage on December 3.

About Captain Sandy Yawn

Captain Sandy embodies resilience, having survived a life-threatening accident, cancer, and addiction issues before embarking on a career in the yacht industry. Her unwavering integrity and courage have earned her an outstanding reputation, and her remarkable leadership and bravery during a catastrophic fire and pirate threat off the coast of Yemen earned her the International Superyacht Society‘s prestigious Distinguished Crew Award in 2006.

Captain Sandy Yawn of Below Deck fame will be godmother of Celebrity Ascent along with her sister (image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Captain Sandy is a best-selling author and motivational speaker who is committed to sharing her life experiences to motivate others to overcome obstacles and follow their dreams. In addition to her successful sailing career, she actively contributes to philanthropy, ocean advocacy, and children’s education, displaying her devotion to making a positive impact on society.

“As I embark on this remarkable journey as a co-godmother of the Celebrity Ascent, I am deeply honored to represent not only the spirit of leadership but also the strength of women empowerment,” said Captain Yawn.

“This role serves as a reminder that women can steer their destinies with grace and determination, commanding the seas of possibility and inspiring others to follow their own paths with courage and conviction. I am so honored that my sister and I can share this distinction. She has always been my biggest inspiration in her selfless pursuit to help my nephew and other families impacted by autism,” Yawn continued.

About Michelle Dunham

Michelle Dunham is the co-founder of the Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA), alongside her husband Mark. Michelle created the JSA model to provide her son, Nicholas, with the best learning environment possible. JSA is a not-for-profit private school that was founded in 2005 as a full-service K-12 educational center for adolescents and young people with autism spectrum disorders, with a focus on whole child development and tailored programs that encourage both family and community involvement.

Michelle Dunham, co-founder of the Jacksonville School for Autism, will be one of Celebrity Ascent‘s two godmothers (image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

JSA’s approach is as unique as the children they assist, understanding the need for each student to acquire independence while improving the quality of their lives. The program aims to remove the layers of isolation to create an inclusive environment to educate, engage, and inspire.

in March 2020, JSA moved to a larger location that embraces nature and gives both staff and students numerous opportunities for outdoor involvement, including the development of a vocational gardening program.

“It fills my heart with immense pride to stand as co-godmother of the Celebrity Ascent, alongside my sister, Captain Sandy Yawn. As we embark on this journey, much like Celebrity Cruise’s commitment to delivering exceptional vacations and enriching lives, we embrace the same spirit of compassion and positive change,” said Michelle Dunham.

“Together, we aspire to elevate lives, create boundless possibilities, and set sail towards a brighter, more inclusive future for all who grace our path through the charities we founded, Jacksonville School for Autism and Captain Sandy’s Charities.”

Celebrity Ascent will debut later this year

Celebrity Ascent will be the newest ship based in South Florida during the 2023-2024 Caribbean season.

The new Celebrity Ascent will begin cruising from Port Everglades in December 2023 (image courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

From December 2023 to April 2024, the new ship will cruise from Ft. Lauderdale’s Port Everglades to some of the Caribbean’s most desired destinations, including the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands, before heading to Europe for a summer of Mediterranean cruises in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and France.

Related: Celebrity Cruises Reveals Details About New Celebrity Ascent

More news about Celebrity Cruises

Are you excited that sisters Captain Sandy Yawn and Michelle Dunham will be the godmothers of Celebrity Ascent? Do you have any plans to sail on this new Celebrity ship? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Carrie Ann Karstunen