(10:30 a.m. EDT) -- The 500 million or so viewers who watched the Miss Universe pageant on TV on Sunday were the first to learn that the godmother of Carnival Cruise Line's much-anticipated Mardi Gras will be Kimberly Jimenez, Miss Dominican Republic.
During the broadcast, Christine Duffy, president of Carnival, presented Jimenez with a “Sprit of Carnival” award and announced her godmother of the 5,282-passenger ship, which could set sail from Florida this summer.
However, much is still dependent on whether the CDC gives cruising the greenlight to restart in the next few weeks.
"Kimberly is a role model for female empowerment and has a passion for so many worthwhile causes, particularly those that assist women, children and families," Duffy said. "It is such an honor to present Kimberly with the 'Spirit of Carnival' award and an even bigger thrill to announce that she's going to be the godmother of our newest ship, Mardi Gras."
Puerto Rico-born Jimenez was raised in the Dominican Republic, where she is "a champion for at-risk youth and an advocate for adoption," according to the cruise line. She has volunteered at Los Ninos de Cristo orphanage, a nonprofit foundation that serves abused and abandoned girls, and is a founding member of the Dominican Republic Women's Club, which provides services for indigenous women suffering from breast cancer.
Jimenez and her own family were left homeless after Hurricane Maria ripped through the Dominican Republic, causing widespread destruction in 2017.
Mardi Gras' Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries include a call at Amber Cove, a port developed by Carnival, in the Dominican Republic.
Mardi Gras is Carnival's largest ever ship and the first cruise ship in North America to be powered by liquified natural gas. The ship also debuts the first roller coaster at sea.
As godmother, Jimenez will preside over the ship's naming ceremony. Sailing on the ship, too, will be Andrea Meza, Miss Mexico, who was named Miss Universe 2021. Carnival's Duffy served on the selection committee for the competition.
The ship is expected to launch from Port Canaveral this summer, John Heald, Carnival’s brand ambassador, said during a live Facebook chat on Monday. In announcing the godmother for the ship, the line only committed to a debut "later this year."