Princess Cruises christened its newest ship the Sky Princess today in a tribute to the pioneering women of the U.S. Space Program.
Princess Cruises chose the theme of Reach for the Sky for the occasion and honoured two women of NASA for their achievements in the U.S. space program: Captain Kay Hire, and engineer Frances “Poppy” Northcutt, who served as the godmothers of the Sky Princess.
Captain Hire began her 30-year NASA career as a mechanical systems engineer, helping to launch more than 40 space missions. Then, as an astronaut, she logged 700 hours in space, flew over 12 million miles, and orbited the earth 475 times. She was the first female assigned to a military combat flight crew while serving in the U.S. Navy. And, she retired from the U.S. Navy with more 35 years of service. Poppy Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer when NASA made history with its mission to the moon. When the crew of Apollo 13 became stranded in their service module, it was her team’s calculations that brought them home safely – a feat of heroism that earned the entire mission operations a Presidential Medal of Freedom Team Award.
“As we celebrate our newest, most technologically advanced ship – one whose spirit of adventure and discovery match the grandeur of her name, Sky Princess, we also applaud the groundbreaking women of the U.S. Space Program,” said Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz. “Our godmothers, Captain Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt, remind us all of what we can achieve when we reach for the sky.”
Sky Princess Captain Heikki Laakkonen also recognized two Sky Princess female officers who embody the Reach for the Sky theme, striving for success in leadership positions –Kerry Ann Wright, who started working in the cruise industry as a spa technician and went back to school to rise through the ranks to become a Second Officer working on the bridge; and Chief Security Officer Susan Morgan, who is the longest-serving woman in the British Royal Navy.
Captain Hire and Poppy Northcutt, recited the traditional cruise ship blessing before pushing a NASA-style “launch” button releasing and smashing a 15-litre bottle of champagne, officially naming Sky Princess.
Additional women of NASA recognized in a tribute video, included:
• The first woman of colour to travel to outer space, Dr. Mae Jemison.
• The first Hispanic woman in space who later became Director of the Johnson Space Center Dr. Ellen Ochoa.
• The first woman to command the Space Shuttle Eileen Collins.
• The first woman to command the International Space Stations Peggy Whiston.
• The first woman to join a spacewalk, Kathryn D. Sullivan.
The ceremony featured entertainment adding to the exciting bottle break moment, including Princess Cruises Celebrations Ambassador and Love Boat actress Jill Whelan, serving as ceremony co-host with Sky Princess Cruise Director Alexander Yepremian; and performance of Dream On from America’s Got Talent Alum, Brian Justin Crum. The finale of the naming ceremony included a performance of This is Me from The Greatest Showman and featured in the cruise line’s new production show Rock Opera.
The new Princess ship is now sailing on voyages to the Caribbean through spring 2020.