So what is MSC going to do to step up the Christening game? This is the first time an MSC ship has ever been christened outside of Italy, and the 89,600-ton, 2,550-passenger ship will be given the Royal seal of approval with Prince and Princess Michael of Kent attending the April 5 event. Hollywood icon and MSC's stylish spokesperson Sophia Loren will perform godmother duties -- for the fifth time -- at a midnight christening.
And let's not forget the impressive entertainment that’s been lined up for the evening: Italian opera legend Andrea Bocelli and Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall, whose hits include "Suddenly I See," will both be performing, along with 20-year-old jazz sensation Peter Grant and the renowned Ronnie Scott Orchestra. After hours, Radio One DJ Fearne Cotton will spin the decks (the musical kind!).
The christening ceremony is rooted in tradition (a Champagne bottle is broken against the hull for good luck), but cruise lines have been throwing huge bashes of late to celebrate their newest ships. Italian line Costa Cruises, one of MSC's closest competitors, is famous for over-the-top christenings. Last June, for example, fireworks lit up the French sky as celebrities, executives and guests boarded Costa Serena in Marseille for a swanky soiree. In December, Norwegian Cruise Line pulled out all the stops for Norwegian Gem, throwing a party in New York City that was more like the Grammys than a cruise ship naming ceremony, with celebrity lookalikes (Mariah Carey and P. Diddy to name two) and the New Jersey-based Dem Boyz Step Team taking to the stage.
It remains to be seen how much bigger these ship launches can get, but we'll have our cameras and autograph books ready. On April 16 actress Dame Helen Mirren will christen P&O Cruises' latest ship, Ventura, joining a long list of Oscar winners-turned-godmothers such as Judi Dench, Mira Sorvino, Julie Andrews and Whoopi Goldberg. Also, Royal Caribbean International has enlisted U.K. indie band Scouting For Girls to rock the launch party for Independence of the Seas on April 26.
--by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor