Princess Cruises has christened its newest ship, the 3,660-guest Sky Princess, at a ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, using the occasion to honour several women who advanced the field of space exploration.
Former NASA engineer Frances ‘Poppy’ Northcutt and former NASA astronaut Captain Kathryn ‘Kay’ Hire served as the vessel’s godmothers, blessing her and all who sail aboard her, and releasing a bottle of champagne to smash against the side of the ship.
Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer when NASA made history with its mission to the moon, while Hire served as Captain in the U.S. Navy reserve before joining NASA in 1989 as an engineer.
Northcutt earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom after her team’s calculations brought the crew of Apollo 13 home safely after they became stranded and Hire flew to space for the first time in 1998 as a mission specialist on the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ and for the second time in 2010 on the space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ to help assemble the International Space Station.
“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 ground-breaking women of the US space programme,” said Jan Swartz, President, Princess Cruises.
“As we celebrate our newest, most technologically advanced ship – one whose spirit of adventure and discovery match the grandeur of her name, #SkyPrincess, we also applaud the groundbreaking women of the US Space Program,” said our President Jan Swartz. pic.twitter.com/oqld17GHFO
— Princess Cruises (@PrincessCruises) December 7, 2019
“And our godmothers, Captain Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt, remind us all of what we can achieve when we aim for the sky,” she added.
Sky Princess Captain Heikki Laakkonen also recognised two British officers who have achieved success in their leadership positions: chief security officer Susan Morgan MBE, who prior to joining Princess was the longest-serving female in the Royal Navy at 34 years; and second officer Kerry Ann Wright, who is also the ship’s ‘Madrina’, meaning she officially marked the first time Sky Princess touched water while under construction.
Sky Princess is an evolution of the design platform used for its three sister ships: Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. Her new features will also be on another sister ship, Enchanted Princess, which launches in Southampton in June, 2020.
The new features include two ‘Sky Suites’, which have the largest balconies at sea and are centrally located on the top decks with 270-degree panorama views; the Phantom Bridge escape room; an enhanced Princess Theatre featuring production shows ‘Rock Opera’ and ‘5-SKIES’; and the ‘Take 5’ jazz lounge.
Sky Princess is the first purpose-built ship to offer the wearable OceanMedallion device to all guests. The Medallion, which is the same size as a 10p piece, delivers an entirely new level of service and creates a holiday that is more simple, effortless and personalised.
Its enhancements include an expedited check-in process; touchless stateroom entry; the ability to order drinks, food and retail items from almost anywhere onboard; and a family and friends locator.
Additional women of NASA recognised at the ceremony included:
Dr. Mae Jemison – the first black woman to travel to outer space
Dr. Ellen Ochoa – Director of the Johnson Space Center and the first Hispanic woman in space
Eileen Collins – the first woman to command a space shuttle
Peggy Whiston – the first woman to command the International Space Stations
Kathryn D. Sullivan – the first woman to join a spacewalk