Malala Yousafzai named as godmother of new Celebrity ship

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Nobel Laureate and UN Messenger of Peace, Malala Yousafzai, has been named as the godmother of Celebrity Cruises new ship Celebrity Edge as part of a two-year partnership between the line and the Malala Fund.

The 19-year-old, whose mission is to secure 12 years of safe, free, quality education for every girl, will christen the ship in Fort Lauderdale on December 18.

Celebrity president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said the association with Malala Fund and choice of Malala as godmother for Edge “felt so right” for the brand, which shares a commitment to diversity, inclusion, gender equality and education.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Lutoff-Perlo said: “The tradition of Godmother is one of the purest in a commercial world.

“Who do you believe embodies what you want the ship to carry as its karma and who should be its guiding light. You get one chance to truly choose someone that epitomises what a ship stands for. Malala represents hope, gender equality, education and is a great equalizer. I am humbled by her own personal story and what she has done to raise awareness. As Richard [Fain], our chairman says, Malala is an honest-to-God hero, who will be an inspiration to our crew and to our guests.”

Malala began her life as an activist at 11 years old, writing a secret blog about life under the Taliban, who would not permit girls to go to school.

She was targeted for her advocacy and, at 15, was shot on her school bus. Malala survived the attack and continued her campaign for girls’ education around the world.

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In 2014, Malala became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient, donating her entire prize earnings to finance a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. With Malala Fund, she continues to fight for every girl’s right to education.

Lutoff-Perlo said that Malala’s dedication to girls’ education sets an example worth following.

“Partnering with Malala Fund was a natural fit as we share the same passion and commitment to an incredible cause,” she said. “We believe in opportunities for all, especially as our crew on-board represent more than 50 different cultures – and amazing stories of achievement, education and economic advancement.”

Lutoff-Perlo said Celebrity had been working on the partnership, which sees the line commit an undisclosed amount of money to the Malala Fund for two years, for some time.

“When we started this journey, we had a 50:50 chance that they would agree to partner with us and Malala be Edge’s Godmother, so we couldn’t be more honoured or thrilled that she has accepted.”

Lutoff-Perlo explained there would be many ways for crew and guests to get more involved in the partnership.

“There will be specially-commissioned Malala Fund/Celebrity merchandise which guests and crew will be able to buy on board, with all proceeds going to the fund. A documentary about Malala will be played on the in-cabin TV channels, and Malala’s book ‘I am Malala’ will also be on sale,” said Lutoff-Perlo.

And she confirmed that UK agents would also play a part.

“They will absolutely be invited to Florida next December to witness Malala naming Celebrity Edge,” he said.

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Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, said: “This young woman is on a powerful mission, and we support it 100 percent. We are deeply honoured to name Malala the Godmother of Celebrity Edge, and we’re excited to team up with her and the Malala Fund to champion the global right to education.”

Fain added: “Malala Fund also advances one of our company’s key philosophies: that education is a great equalizer, providing opportunities to people who need it most.”

Malala Fund interim chief executive Philippa Lei said: “We cannot get 130 million out-of-school girls into classrooms on our own. We are grateful to generous partners like Celebrity Cruises who support our work to help every girl learn and lead without fear.”

Celebrity previously partnered with breast cancer charities for its Solstice Class ships, inviting breast cancer survivors, who had done extraordinary things, to be the Godmothers.

1st Celebrity ships in new class to be named Edge and Beyond

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Celebrity Edge steel cutting ceremony

 Celebrity Cruises has named two new ships being built for 2018 and 2020: Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Beyond.

They will be the first two ships in a new class. Two additional Edge-class ships are due in 2021 and 2022.

It will be Celebrity’s first new ship class since the debut of Celebrity Solstice in 2008. There are five Solstice-class ships (Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette and Reflection).

Celebrity and shipyard STX France cut the first steel for the Celebrity Edge this week.

Wine and cruises an increasingly popular pairing

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightCruise lines and wine seem like a pairing made for each other. There’s plenty of time at sea to get to know more about grapes, vineyards and the wine-making process.MSC Cruises has wine blending courses that passengers can take to learn how various grapes change the flavor and texture of a wine. Princess Cruises has a collection of super Tuscan wines on the Royal Princess and Regal Princess. In the dining room of its Solstice-class ships, Celebrity Cruises has a two-story, glass-and-steel wine tower holding 1,800 bottles.

The latest entrant in the wine appreciation sweepstakes is SeaDream Yacht Club, which has expanded a series of wine voyages for 2015 and is inaugurating a certification course in which passengers can become accredited by the London-based Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET).*TomStieghorst

The course is being offered for the first time on SeaDream I’s April trans-Atlantic crossing, which will allow enough time for the course work needed to take a level 2 WSET exam.

The cost for the course and exam will be $1,500, which largely underwrites the cost of buying wines to study, said Erica Landin, a Swedish wine journalist who has organized SeaDream’s wine program.

“For what you get it’s quite well-priced,” Landin said.

SeaDream’s season in the Med next summer will feature nine winemaker’s cruises, giving passengers access to top-level winemakers who will come on board for tastings, and dinners that pair food and wine.

The ship will also have excursions to vineyards and wineries where tours will be led by the owner or top winemaker at the chateaux.

Cruise ships aren’t the only way, or even the best way, for real aficionados to visit the great wine estates of Europe, but for groups it certainly offers more style than a bus tour. Ships can move from region to region, country to country with ease. SeaDream’s 112-passenger yachts can assemble groups big enough to command attention, yet small enough to be manageable.

And cruises also offer flexibility, so if one partner in a couple isn’t interested in wine, the other can pursue their passion without feeling like their spouse is being left behind.

“It should be enjoyable for people who are just onboard and who love wine and food,” Langin said. “It should be approachable for everyone. You can be as involved or not involved as you wish.”

And wine generally makes for good company and fellowship, Langin noted, adding to the camaraderie that a good cruise engenders among its passengers.

“My hope is this group will enjoy each other’s company in the evening, they’ll maybe have dinner together and share bottles in a more relaxed way than in the class,” Langin said.