Princess Cruises has this week officially named its newest ship, the 3,660-guest Sky Princess, at a ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Former NASA engineer Frances ‘Poppy’ Northcutt and former NASA astronaut Captain Kathryn ‘Kay’ Hire served as the vessel’s godmothers.
Northcutt and Hire blessed Sky Princess before signalling the release of a champagne bottle which smashed against the ship, officially welcoming the vessel into the line’s fleet.
Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer when NASA made history with its mission to the moon. She earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom after her team’s calculations brought the crew of Apollo 13 home safely after they became stranded.
Hire served as Captain in the U.S. Navy reserve before joining NASA in 1989 as an engineer. She flew to space for the first time in 1998 as a mission specialist on the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ and for the second time in 2010 on the space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ to help assemble the International Space Station.
Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “As we celebrate our newest, most technologically advanced ship – one whose spirit of adventure and discovery match the grandeur of her name, Sky Princess, we also applaud the groundbreaking women of the U.S. space programme.
“And our godmothers, Captain Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt, remind us all of what we can achieve when we aim for the sky.”
Sky Princess Captain Heikki Laakkonen also recognised two British officers who have achieved success in their leadership positions: chief security officer Susan Morgan MBE, who prior to joining Princess was the longest-serving female in the Royal Navy at 34 years; and second officer Kerry Ann Wright, who is also the ship’s ‘Madrina’, meaning she officially marked the first time Sky Princess touched water while under construction.
The ship is an evolution of the design platform used for its three sister ships: Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess. Her new features will also be on another sister ship, Enchanted Princess, which launches in Southampton in June 2020.