(2 p.m. EST) -- Carnival Panorama, the newest cruise ship from Carnival Cruise Line, will depart Long Beach, California, on its first sailing on December 11. The 4,008-passenger ship is the first Carnival new-build to homeport year-round in California in more than 20 years.
Iconic TV personality Vanna White, known for her decades on "Wheel of Fortune," served as the ship's godmother in a naming ceremony December 10. Before the christening, Cruise Critic sat down with White to talk about cruising and "her ship." (Note: The conversation has been condensed for clarity.)
Cruise Critic: So tell me, have you cruised before?
Vanna White: Yes. Yes. I love cruising. I really do. I think it's the best. It's the best because you come, you unpack one time, you go to many locations, the ship is filled with things to do, and there's good food to eat every single day. It's a chance to have the whole family together too. You bring your whole family in, and you can share with them all of the experiences that you have on the ship.
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CC: Oh, that's great. So where have you cruised before?
VW: I've cruised to Alaska, Caribbean, France.
CC: Oh wow. What was the France trip?
VW: That was a river cruise. I had never done that before. I just did that last year for the first time.
CC: Oh, fantastic. Who did you cruise on that with?
VW: That was Emerald Waterways. ... I feel like I'm cheating saying that!
CC: All right. We'll get back to Carnival, then.
VW: I've been with Carnival as well, too, but now I'm the godmother of this beautiful, amazing ship -- and I am thrilled.
CC: What do you like most about the Carnival brand and cruise line?
VW: Just how they know what they're doing, and they offer so much. From all the kids' activities and especially on my ship, the culinary experiences that they're having, with cooking classes and famous chefs and great food. (Carnival Panorama is the first Carnival ship to offer a culinary studio for classes.) So, that's really special for me. I call it my ship. I can't help it.
CC: Well, you should call it your ship.
VW: I should, right? It's going to be my ship for the whole time it sails. I mean, it has everything -- from a casino to a spa, to the pools to all the kids’ stuff to restaurants ... you name it. It has everything.
CC: It doesn't have "Wheel of Fortune."
VW: But it could.
Carnival staff member: There are "Wheel of Fortune" slots in the casino.
VW: So we do have "Wheel of Fortune" here! "Wheel of Fortune" is on this ship.
CC: That's fantastic. Since it is your ship, is there anything else that you would tell our readers -- who are all cruisers -- reasons why they should pick your ship over any other ship out there?
VW: Well, all of Carnival's ships offer so many great things. But as I mentioned before about this culinary experience (Culinary Kitchen), that's all new. And that's pretty exciting because I think all of us have this little secret passion of being a great chef, right? We all want to be good cooks.
CC: In our own kitchens, we all are, right?
VW: We are. We are. And now, I don't know, it just gives you a little extra. It almost makes you feel like you're at home or something. There's something about that that I think is special. That's a small thing, but if you see this ship, you can see why you would want to be on it. Look around. It's absolutely beautiful. It's beautiful. It's gorgeous. It's big. It offers everything. So just come see it!
In remarks later, White noted that another one of the reasons why Carnival Panorama was such a good fit for her is because Carnival Cruise Lines supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as its company charity. St. Jude is dear to White's heart; the avid crocheter also supports the center through her yarn line, Vanna's Choice.
Duties at "Wheel of Fortune" mean that White will not be on Carnival Panorama's inaugural voyage this week. Look to Cruise Critic for live coverage of the ship, both this week and next.