Like other recent Celebrity godmothers, Pontin is both an extraordinary achiever in her own right and a survivor of breast cancer, which ties into the cruise line's long history of supporting breast cancer charities. You may remember that Celebrity Solstice was named by Sharon Smith, a marine biology professor who has defeated both breast and uterine cancer, while Nina Barough (like Pontin, a Brit), founder of breast cancer charity Walk The Walk, did the honours with sister ship Celebrity Equinox last year.
Emma Pontin's inspiring story is that she embarked on a Challenge Transatlantic yacht race in 2002 with only a week's sailing experience, got hooked and has since notched over 100,000 nautical miles and 15 transatlantic races, some of which are considered the most gruelling sailing challenges in existence. In 2006, Pontin's plans to skipper a yacht in a particularly tough transatlantic race were scuppered with the diagnosis of breast cancer. But throughout her chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which included a double mastectomy, she continued to sail, instruct and compete. In fact, during the year following her treatments, she skippered the Fastnet and the Sydney-Hobart race, among other competitions.
Pontin's next challenge ties her sailing experience to fundraising for breast cancer research. She's planning a full circumnavigation of the world (30,000 miles), sailing from London in October 2011, to promote global awareness of the disease, in addition to drumming up money for research. In addition to a small number of experienced sailors, Pontin will sail with a crew of 42 hand-picked members of the public, all of whom have been affected by breast cancer.
“We are honoured to have such a strong and energetic role model serve as godmother of Celebrity Eclipse, someone whose candid and open approach has helped so many others understand the day-to-day battle against breast cancer," said Celebrity Cruises president and CEO Dan Hanrahan in a press statement.
Cruise Critic will be in Southampton to attend the naming festivities, which will be preceded by the Walk The Walk Celebrity Sunwalk in Southampton's Mayflower Park in aid of breast cancer research. Some of the Cruise Critic team will be walking, so why not join us?
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor