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Picking Cruise Ship Godmothers: from Queen Anne to Seabourn Pursuit


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It has been a long tradition for a cruise line to select a civilian woman to act as godmother for a newly built ship. The godmother attends the launch, names the ship (usually with Champagne), and often has a few more duties to fulfil over subsequent weeks or months. Seafarers hope their godmother will bring them good luck and protection. So, what does the process of having and picking a cruise ship godmother or godparent involve?

British cruise lines have been lucky enough to have sufficient clout to secure quite senior royals in godmother roles: Queen Elizabeth II was godmother to Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 and Queen Mary 2 (whilst her mother and grandmother launched Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary), and to P&O's Britannia. Princess Anne, the Princess Royal named P&O's Aurora, and also the tiny Hebridean Spirit (Edwina was there, on both occasions!).

The now Queen, then Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, named Saga's Spirit of Discovery, while Princess Kate (by which I mean of course Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge) did the honour for the Princess Cruises ship Royal Princess.

cunard's queen mary 2 in New York

Nowadays, though, we see cruise lines concentrate far more on the publicity and star power of their selected godparent, as they aim to build excitement ahead of launch with prestigious names such as actresses Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren, and singers Katy Perry and Mariah Carey.

Celebrity Cruises, known for their focus on inclusivity evidenced by the first all-female Bridge team on a cruise ship, have chosen high achieving women including Olympic star Simone Biles, and Malala Yousafzi, recognised around the world as the youngest UN Messenger of Peace and Nobel Laureate. Godfathers are beginning to get a look in too, such as the rapper Pitbull, or most recently, acclaimed footballer Lionel Messi for Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas.


Amongst all the glamour and pizazz, though, some very thoughtful choices are being made, and we loved the recent announcement from Seabourn that the Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners of a region in the Kimberley will be godparents of Seabourn Pursuit, the company's purpose-built expedition ship, which will cruise for several months of the year in that region.

Seabourn have said that the naming of Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners is a symbolic gesture of stewardship and responsibility toward the environment and the communities the ships visit. Interestingly, the relationship between the cruise line and the godparents is more substantial than most, representing as it does a partnership including support of the Wunambai Gaambera artists.


In a surprising break from tradition (or is there a back story here?), Cunard has named the City of Liverpool as godparent of its newest ship Queen Anne in recognition of the long-lasting bond with its spiritual home. The city and the British cruise line have a long history that stretches back 184 years, when Cunard launched its first transatlantic crossing in July 1840 from Royal Albert Dock.

In the naming ceremony, which took place in early June in Liverpool, Cunard revealed that the city will be the custodian of the long-awaited Queen Anne, with five Liverpudlian women chosen to represent the partnership. Spice Girl and author Melanie C, broadcaster and community leader Ngunan Adamu, local restaurant entrepreneur Natalie Haywood, Liverpool music and cultural legend Jayne Casey, and British Olympian heptathlon athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson were chosen for their significant contributions to culture at a local, national or international level.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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