Last month we reported on the line's hunt for a U.K. lady to be godmother to its latest Freedom-class ship, 160,000-ton, 3,634-passenger Independence of the Seas, which launches at the end of April. The line received more than 1,500 nominations through its dedicated site, www.searchforagodmother.co.uk. Sir Steve Redgrave, five-time Olympic gold medalist, assisted Royal Caribbean in narrowing down the candidates -- and there are now four finalists.
Most cruise lines choose celebrities to christen their ships, but for its last few new-builds, Royal Caribbean has reached out to the cruising community to pick ordinary women -- in this case a "British woman who has done extra-ordinary things" -- to join the ranks of past RCI godmothers like Whoopi Goldberg and Steffi Graf.
Nominees have to have dedicated time to helping improve the well-being and future of young people under 18-years-old in their community. So who made it through this far and why are these people so special? The finalists and the reasons they were nominated are:
Finalist: Barbara Natasegara from Cardiff
Nominated by: Her son, Philip Ward
Barbara has worked with many young people in inner city Manchester and recently in Cardiff, where she has set up Safer Cardiff, now Safer Wales, which is a charity that helps communities in the region by creating safety projects. The charity supports victims of various crimes.
Finalist: Elizabeth Hill from Chesterfield in Derbyshire
Nominated by: Her daughter, 12-year-old Alice Hill
Elizabeth set up a charity for young people who have failed in school and are in danger of exclusion. Alice would like to see her mum win because she wants her to be acknowledged for her good deeds. Plus, taking holidays on a cruise ship would mean that she would have to take a break from work and enjoy herself.
Finalist: Madeleine Henry from Southampton
Nominated by: Her niece, Wendi Crop
Madeleine has spent her entire teenage and adult life teaching thousands of disabled children to swim.
Finalist: Sue Stones from Bakewell in Derbyshire
Nominated by: Mark Roberts, former member of the Bakewell Youth Theatre
Sue set up the Bakewell Youth Theatre and works as a special needs teacher in a local secondary school. She has also helped people with learning and personality disorders integrate with other teenagers in their community.
All four ladies will travel out to Finland for a sneak preview of the ship this week before it sets off for Southampton, where it will be homeported. The worthy winner will be announced on April 18 -- so stay tuned!
--by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor