Find Out How An Ordinary Woman Became Godmother To A Cruise Ship

April 15, 2015

With Anthem of the Seas set to launch next week, we took a look at the launches of previous Royal Caribbean ships – and their godmothers!

Kristin Chenoweth was godmother to Quantum of the Seas, Princess Fiona christened Allure of the Seas, and Elizabeth Hill is godmother to Independence of the Seas…

Don’t know who Elizabeth is? Then read on for our interview with her – and find out how an ordinary woman received the honour of becoming a cruise ship godmother!


So how did you end up being named godmother to Independence of the Seas?

My then 12 year old daughter Alicia was off school and saw Sir Steve Redgrave on Loose Women. He was looking for a woman who had done something good for the community. I was a founder of a charity on our farm for people with learning disabilities, children excluded from school and people with mental health problems. They did land-based activities and we helped many of them to gain qualifications and into employment.

My daughter, unknown to me, entered a 100 word essay about why she thought I should be godmother. I received a call and thought my daughter had entered me into a reality television programme. Finally they convinced me otherwise and I and three other prospective godmothers were flown in a private jet to see the ship in its final stages in the shipping yard in Turku. We were then interviewed by a panel including Sir Steve and were told that we would receive a call the following day.


What did you think when you heard the news that you’d got the role?

I honestly couldn’t believe it! They had to check I was still on the other end of the phone as I literally couldn’t speak. I was so surprised as the other godmothers were all wonderful and just as deserving as I was. I had just had the time of my life the last three days and that would have been a lovely memory in itself.


What was the ceremony like?

The ceremony was lovely. They had a priest and a Rabbi and two professional singers performing the British and American national anthem. There were speeches made by some very important people in the company. Unknown to me I had to make a speech too, it was absolutely terrifying to stand up there and speak without any preparation or prior knowledge. I can’t for the life of me remember what I said but apparently it was good (so my husband and daughter tell me) as there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I was presented with a gift from the chair of the company and my daughter received a gift as well as she was 13 on the day of the ceremony.

 Bottle breaking on Independence

Did the champagne bottle smash okay?

There was a bit of a controversy as to whether the bottle did smash or not, however we had previously done a rehearsal where the bottle clearly smashed so it had really already been named! However later we were shown a film of the second bottle breaking so all was well.


What did you gain from being godmother? Have you got free cruises for life now?

The deal was I received a free 10 day cruise every year for 10 years. I also get treated rather well while on-board, my daughter even got to sing on the ship for her 16th birthday.


What do you think of the Queen naming Britannia?

I think it’s wonderful. Seeing as she had to let go of her own Britannia I think she should be godmother, a lovely gesture.


How does it feel to know you’re in the company of royalty? Have you got a favourite Godmother?

I feel very honoured to have the role of being godmother to a ship. The Queen [is my favourite] of course!


Would you ever sail with anyone but Royal Caribbean?

Why would I? I have only ever been on Independence of the Seas. I am loyal to my ship.

Independence godmother 


What do you think of the travel agent Louise Hunt being named as Godmother of Britannia? Do you think we need more “ordinary” godmothers?

I do believe we should have more ordinary people being godmothers. However, all the prospective godmothers had touched other peoples’ lives in some way, they are special and I’m glad that was celebrated by Royal Caribbean.


Have you always loved cruising? Where is your favourite destination?

I had never been on a cruise until I became godmother. Now I think it is a wonderful way to see new places (seeing as I am terrified of flying). I have been round the Mediterranean and absolutely loved Vigo in Spain.


What is the best cruise you’ve ever been on?

As a special treat we went on a four day cruise to Cork with my son, his girlfriend, their two children, my daughter and my husband. We stayed in the Presidential suite. I was so glad I could share that with all my family and my grandchildren. It isn’t the destination, it’s the people that you share those memories with that make a holiday special.


Tell us a bit about your charity work with Gamelea.

The charity was based on our farm and we delivered land based qualifications for people with learning disabilities, children excluded from school and people with mental health problems. We had a wood workshop, mechanic workshop, pottery, digital music as well as all the animals. We also had a farm shop, plant nursery and tea room where students could learn customer service. We no longer have the farm now, because of my husband’s illness. However I am a founder and trustee of a new charity – The Serikos Foundation, bringing the arts (mainly music and drama) to disadvantaged people in the community.


You read our blaggers guide to becoming a godmother – what tips would you give on becoming/being a godmother?

Three things: never call a ship a boat, as Sir Steve did (oops!), take an interest in the ship and crew and always be humble, I never took anything for granted while I was on board and I think that is why I was chosen as godmother.


So there you have it!

Anthem’s godmother has been announced as Emma Wilby, as 27-year old travel agent from Sunderland. She will christen the vessel in front of 1,300 special guests and dignitaries and will also perform a song at the ceremony.

Would you like to be a cruise ship godmother? Do you think we need more “ordinary” godmothers like Emma and Elizabeth? Let us know in the comments below!