Carnival Cruise Line has christened its newest ship, the Carnival Radiance, in a naming ceremony in Long Beach, California on Dec. 12. According to a press release, the ceremony featured the ship’s godmother Lucille O’Neal and her son, Carnival Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal.
The Carnival Radiance underwent a $200-million bow-to-stern makeover and is Carnival’s third ship sailing year-round from Long Beach, joining the Carnival Panorama and Carnival Miracle. The naming ceremony began with a “We Are Family” video of the Carnival Radiance crew members preparing the ship for guests.
“The 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 accomplishments of Lucille’s mother who worked in the medical field as a nurse. The fund’s primary mission, according to the press release, is to provide financial contributions to help support students seeking a career in nursing and education.
As part of the ceremony, Lucille and Shaquille O’Neal helped pour champagne atop a traditional ship’s bell, officially naming the ship. The City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir from Gardena, California performed a gospel rendition of “We Are Family” as event guests waved light sticks during a 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 O’Neal. “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 the 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 the Carnival Panorama operating week-long Mexican Riviera cruises and the Carnival Miracle sailing four- and five-day Mexico voyages.
In addition to Big Chicken, new offerings added to the 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, the Mardi Gras.