Celebrity Edge: Malala christens billion-dollar cruise ship
'Unexpected and extraordinary partnerships' can lead to change in girls' education, Nobel laureate says
Cruise ships are no stranger to the surreal.
Celebrity Edge, with a cantilevered 'Magic Carpet' platform moving up and down its starboard side, and performing artists in a restaurant claiming the "largest window to the world at sea", doesn't disappoint the tradition.
The sight of 21-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the new ship's theatre, however - sending a giant bottle of sparkling water smashing into the vessel by signing her name on a tablet, surely ranks among the most surreal cruise scenes of all.
Malala is 'godmother' to the 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge, and she stole the show (and several standing ovations) in a lavish naming ceremony last night in Florida.
She is also, surely, the first Nobel Prize-winner to christen a cruise ship.
"With its diverse crew and smart and strong women at its helm, this ship represents how unexpected but extraordinary partnerships can lead change for girls," Malala told a glittering audience of executives, crew and travel professionals.
Matching ships with 'godmothers' is an age-old maritime tradition, though by all accounts the activist icon took a fair bit of convincing to lend her credibility and star power to one of the world's biggest cruising brands.
Celebrity's partnership with her Malala Fund sealed the deal - however, further details of the arrangement were not disclosed.
Hailing from Pakistan, Malala began her activist career at the age of 11 by writing a secret blog about life under the Taliban. Targeted for her advocacy, she was shot on a school bus at the age of 15. Today, her Fund aims to secure 12 years of safe, free, quality education for 130 million "out of school girls" around the world (you can donate here).
An unlikely 'godmother', the 21-year-old struck a quietly dignified presence amidst the razzle-dazzle of a cruise ship launch that started with a Scottish Pipe Band, included performances by R&B singer Andra Day, and ended in a blizzard of confetti.
"Millions of girls that want to be doctors, CEOs or ship captains are stuck in situations they did not create, unable to realise their full potential," she said.
"Too often, I think the world sits back and relies on activists alone to work on solutions. For all girls to learn, a lot needs to be done and a lot needs to change... activists can't possibly do this alone."
Earlier, Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said that 30pc of Celebrity Edge's crew are female - 50pc higher than the industry average.
"As this ship travels around the world, I hope vacationing passengers will feel inspired to learn more about girls' education," Malala concluded. "And that they will use their expertise to create a more equal world for us all."
And with that, the tablet was signed, her name swirled across a big screen, the 18-litre bottle swung, the billion-dollar ship was christened, and the 21-year-old activist was swallowed up alongside Celebrity's top brass by a sinking stage floor.
A surreal show in Florida... for one-night only.
Read more:'Ireland is what they want' - Top cruise chief sets sights on Dublin