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.
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.
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.