Celebrity Cruise’s newest ship Celebrity Edge has been officially christened by godmother and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
It was a ceremony with a difference, as Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd’s chairman Richard Fain noted, as he highlighted how the bottle being smashed against the ship’s hull contained sparkling water rather than champagne, in honour of Yousafzai’s Muslim faith. The smashing of the bottle was also triggered not by the cutting of a ribbon, as typically happens in ship christenings, but by Yousafzai signing her name.
“This is a christening with a difference, but this is a ship with a difference,” Fain said.
The ceremony focussed on diversity and equality, with Celebrity Cruises president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo telling the audience: “We believe that travelling enriches us. We also believe passionately in diversity and inclusion. And we’re equally passionate about advancing gender equality, which is why we’ve just hired our third female captain”.
Fain later added that Lutoff-Perlo had been pushing for opportunities for female crew onboard Edge. “She insisted that 30% of our crew be female. I’m proud to say that we’ve achieved more than 30%,” he said.
Yousafzai said it was because of the line’s focus on gender equality that she had said yes when asked to become the godmother of Edge. “I don’t know how I could have said no [after watching a video about Celebrity Cruises]”, she said. “I said yes straight away”.
“I have never been on a ship like this,” she acknowledged. “But I’m honoured to be here to mark its launch and thank Celebrity Cruises for your commitment to supporting girls education.”
In an impassioned and moving speech, Yousafzai reminded the audience that the fight for gender equality around the world is far from over, and she praised Celebrity Cruises for “stepping forward” to make a change.
“You see, as I do, that our world’s future is linked to ensuring all girls can learn and read,” she said. “Educating girls makes countries safer and healthier, and dramatically improves global economies. Yet millions of girls, aiming to be doctors, CEOs and ship captains are stuck in a situation that they didn’t create - unable to realise their full potential. I’m proud to dedicate my life to fighting for girl’s education, and knowing that girls everywhere, are fighting along with me, gives me strength.
“For all girls to learn, a lot needs to be done, and a lot needs to change,” she added. “Activists couldn’t possibly do it alone. It requires governments, companies and individuals – in every sector, to step up. We must all work together to support girls education and create better opportunities for women at work, just as Celebrity Cruises stepping forward in doing that… I hope passengers will feel inspired to learn more about girls education and will leave inspired to help change the world for all."