In formal ceremonies today in the historic port of Southampton, England, before an audience of press, travel agents, and other special guests, Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship – Celebrity Equinox – was officially named.
After buglers and a bagpipe and drum corps opened the ceremony, followed by a piano rendition of the Beatles’ classic “Here Comes the Sun,” Richard D. Fain, Chairman of Celebrity Cruises and Chairman and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., delivered the ceremony address. Fain praised the ship’s Godmother Nina Barough, CBE (Commander of the British Empire), and founder of the breast cancer charity “Walk the Walk.”
“Her story, her outspoken devotion to breast cancer causes, and her day-to-day life is a compelling example of the need to take our health and well-being seriously,” said Fain. “And all this paints a lovely picture of why we are so honored to have her as our Godmother.”
Celebrity selected Barough in recognition of her fervent devotion to raising awareness of breast cancer and her tremendous success in raising funds for the cause – $85-million to-date – through her organization’s “SunWalks” and “MoonWalks.” The four annual marathon walks in London, Edinburgh, Bristol and Newcastle attract thousands of people typically clad in decorated bras – the signature apparel for most participants.
“As with our Godmother of Celebrity Solstice, we knew that for Celebrity Equinox, too, nothing less than someone genuinely devoted to the cause would do. And Nina exemplifies that exceptionally,” said Celebrity Cruises President & CEO Dan Hanrahan. “Her tireless efforts have benefited countless women battling breast cancer, and her personal triumph over it has inspired thousands of women, men and families in the UK and beyond.”
In addition to defeating breast cancer herself, Barough’s numerous other life achievements include receiving a CBE for her contributions to health care through the British “New Year Honours” in December 2006. More recently, she was recognized at the “Pride of Britain Awards” (September 2008), where she was named “Fundraiser of the Year.” And in October 2008, Barough was honored once again; this time, with the “Woman of the Year – Outstanding Achievement Award” in recognition of her willpower, spirit and courage.
At today’s naming ceremony on Celebrity Equinox, in what is believed to be an industry first, Celebrity invited sister ship Celebrity Solstice’s Godmother Sharon Smith to participate. Smith took the stage by surprise to Barough, and both joined Fain to cut the ribbon – symbolically, pink, in recognition of breast cancer causes. The ribbon threaded through the ship, ultimately releasing a large bottle of champagne that crashed against the stack atop the ship, signifying the official naming of the vessel.
The bottle, too, was symbolic, as it was created by The Corning Museum of Glass, with whom Celebrity struck an alliance in 2008 to create the industry’s first glassblowing show and demonstration at sea. Celebrity Equinox now joins Celebrity Solstice in presenting the typically standing-room-only Hot Glass Show onboard.
Celebrity Equinox enters service July 31 from Southampton on an eight-night Norwegian Fjords cruise, then returns to Southampton to embark on the ship’s official maiden voyage departing August 8 for the Mediterranean. The ship will present a series of Mediterranean sailings from Rome (Civitavecchia) through the fall and will offer Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., beginning this winter.