In a celebration of all things fun and family, Carnival Cruise Line christened its newest ship Carnival Radiance last night in a naming ceremony in Long Beach, Calif., with the ship’s Godmother Dr. Lucille O’Neal and her son, Carnival Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal as featured guests of the event.
Carnival Radiance underwent a $200 million bow-to-stern makeover and is Carnival’s third ship sailing year-round from Long Beach, joining Carnival Panorama and Carnival Miracle.
The heartfelt naming ceremony began with a “We Are Family” video of Carnival Radiance crew members preparing the ship for guests.
“Carnival Radiance features all of Carnival’s fan favorites and more, so we are beyond excited to finally welcome her to the West Coast and to our fleet,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “And having Shaq’s mom, Lucille, an accomplished speaker who donates her time and talent to a wide range of charitable organizations as the ship’s Godmother has made it even more special.”
Duffy presented Lucille with a $25,000 donation to the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund that honors the lifetime accomplishments of Lucille’s mother who worked in the medical field as a nurse. The fund’s primary mission is to provide financial contributions to help support students seeking a career in nursing and education.
As part of the ceremony, Lucille and Shaquille helped pour champagne atop a traditional ship’s bell, officially naming the ship. The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir from Gardena, Calif. rocked the house with a gospel rendition of “We Are Family” as event guests waved light sticks during an emotional grand finale.
“What a special evening it was to celebrate the debut of Carnival Radiance with my son by my side in what truly felt like a “We Are Family” event,” said Lucille. “It has been such a pleasure to be included in these exciting festivities, so I can only imagine how incredible it will be for guests to sail aboard this spectacular ship – they’re going to love it.”
Prior to the naming ceremony, the evening kicked off with the mother-son duo cutting a ribbon to officially open Big Chicken, the second seagoing restaurant created by Shaquille, which debuted on Mardi Gras earlier this year, featuring dishes based on his family’s recipes.
The ship departs today from the Port of Long Beach on its inaugural four-day cruise. Carnival Radiance’s West Coast-based itineraries include three-day voyages to Ensenada and four-day sailings calling at Ensenada and Catalina Island. She joins Carnival Panorama operating week-long Mexican Riviera cruises and Carnival Miracle sailing four- and five-day Mexico voyages
In addition to Big Chicken, new offerings added to Carnival Radiance include Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse created by Food Network star and longtime partner Guy Fieri; Heroes Tribute Bar saluting those that serve in the Armed Forces; Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant; Bonsai Sushi; and the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub. All of the ship’s public spaces have been transformed as well – including the water park, youth facilities, retail shops, Cloud 9 Spa and a new Liquid Lounge home to Carnival’s award-winning Playlist Productions shows. The exterior of the ship has also been adorned with the line’s new red, white and blue hull livery fashioned after its flagship, Mardi Gras.