courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line
The Queen of England does it all the time. Whoopie Goldberg has done it twice, Sophia Loren three times. Julie Andrews did it, Kim Catrall did it, even Tinkerbell did it. And now it was Rosie's turn to "bless this ship and all who sail upon her."
Norwegian Pearl, NCL's newest, biggest and most innovative cruise ship yet left Southamption, England, on December 2 for its maiden transatlantic voyage, and in Miami, on December 16th, was christened in a ceremony featuring O'Donnell, NCL's President and CEO Colin Veitch, and the chairman of Star Cruises (NCL's parent company), Tan Sri KT Lim.
|©Jana Jones 2006|
O'Donnell, selected last October as Norwegian Pearl's Godmother, has worked with NCL since 2004 when R Family Vacations
chartered Norwegian Dawn for the first ever gay family cruise. Since then, four ships have been chartered by the organization, including Norwegian Jewel for an R Family cruise in January, 2007.
The festivities actually started on December 15th, when NCL donated the use of the new ship for a one-night charity cruise for Rosie's For All Children Foundation, a charitable organization benefitting low-income children across America. Because of NCL's generosity, the For All Children Foundation received over $600,000 in funds. Not a penny was taken out for expenses: Norwegian Cruise Line donated the ship, its staff, food and bar service, entertainment and facilities. The fundraiser also featured an evening of Broadway tunes, Rosie-style comedy and a special performance by Chicago's Second City Troupe.
|©Jana Jones 2006|
At the end of the performances, Rosie showed a documentary video of the work she and her partner, Kelli O'Donnell, and their staff had accomplished in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to help relocated victims of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA trailers, lined up like cars in a muddy parking lot, house hundreds of Katrina's refugees but offered no safe place for children to congregate or play. Rosie's group built a playground for the children and a clubhouse for the parents, set up counselling centers for adults and daycare/after-school care centers for the kids. They also purchased land to create a neighborhood, building affordable housing for a range of income levels; the average cost per house will equal $55,000 once the infrastructure is in place. An emotional Rosie introduced a couple in the audience who had just pledged a full $55,000 to "build one house."
The culmination of the evening's entertainment was an auction and raffle (a first-class round trip ticket for two to Los Angeles on American Airlines and a walk-on part on the FX Channel's "Nip/Tuck" was auctioned for $20,000); guests then had the rest of the night to enjoy the facilities and entertainment available on Norwegian Pearl, including the first bowling alley at sea.
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