Friday, 22 July 2011

Morgan christens Celebrity Silhouette in moving ceremony

Morgan christens Celebrity Silhouette in moving ceremony

By Donna Tunney
MichelleMorgan-CelebritySilhouette-namingceremonyHAMBURG, Germany — The 2,886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette was christened July 21 at the Port of Hamburg, in an emotional ceremony that honored not only the new ship but also the efforts of its godmother, Michelle Morgan, to overcome breast cancer.

Morgan, the CEO of Signature Travel Network, is the first travel industry executive to serve as a ship's godmother.

Celebrity CEO Dan Hanrahan called Morgan an inspiration. Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (Celebrity Cruises' parent company), called her extraordinary, citing her many professional successes and her personal bravery in battling breast cancer.

"We’re fortunate to support a wide range of causes," said Fain, "and we are passionate about supporting this cause."

Morgan, he noted, has undergone chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgery, "and she has not let the disease define her life."

A 33-year travel marketing executive, Morgan joined Signature Travel in 1991, when the company had 30 locations in Southern California. Today, its membership has grown to 350 locations in 38 states and two provinces in Canada, with sales exceeding $5 billion.

Morgan was inducted into CLIA’s Hall of Fame earlier this year.

In a further show of support for breast cancer survivors, Fain surprised the hundreds of people who had gathered for the naming ceremony by bringing on stage the three godmothers of the other Solstice-class ships in service: Sharon Smith (Celebrity Solstice), Emma Pontin (Celebrity Eclipse) and Nina Barough (Celebrity Equinox). All three are breast cancer survivors.

Morgan, who was moved nearly to tears when she took the podium, said she "felt blessed" to be part of the Celebrity Silhouette’s launch into service. She referred to the other godmothers as her "Solstice sisters."

Morgan cut a ribbon to name the vessel. The ribbon had been draped through the ship from the bow, where it held a champagne bottle. When the ribbon was cut on stage, the champagne bottle crashed against the ship, as viewers watched on live video.

The Silhouette left Hamburg shortly after the naming, and operated a two-night inaugural cruise for press and other invited guests.

On July 23, the Silhouette will begin a series of 12-night Mediterranean/Holy Land cruises roundtrip from Rome, with calls at Santorini and Athens, Greece; Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel; and Naples.