What does Queen Latifa and Queen Elizabeth have in common?
....cruise ship “Godparents” are usually women, even animated ones like Tinkerbell who was named Godmother to Disney Cruise Line’s Wonder—although rapper Pitbull was selected as Godfather of Norwegian Escape. The notion of a ship godmother had its origins hundreds of years ago where ceremonial launching of seagoing vessels took place in various forms, either celebratory or religious, depending on local custom, but generally to bestow the ship and crew with well-wishes and safe travels.
Often cruise lines select celebrities for the role of christening a new ship. In addition to the aforementioned, Godmothers have included Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Whoopi Goldberg, Reba McEntire, Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey and many more that are well-known to most of us. Sometimes the choice of a Godmother is associated with a cause that the cruise line chooses to support. In 2001 following the terrorism of September 11, as a tribute to New York City first responders, Royal Caribbean selected four representatives of the New York Fire and Police Departments as Godparents of Adventure of the Seas. In 2012 Celebrity Cruises
named four employees, all of whom were either survivors of breast cancer or whose mothers had breast cancer, as the Godmothers of Celebrity Reflection....
....Elizabeth heard again from Royal Caribbean. The list of potential Independence Godmothers was down to four, and Elizabeth was asked to come to the airport with her passport and a ballroom gown in a couple of days. Then the four potential godmothers were flown in a private jet in the company of Richard Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean to the Aker ship yard in Turku, Finland where the finishing touches were being applied to the dry-docked Independence. Elizabeth had flown before—though certainly not in a Lear jet—and in any event she is not a happy flier. The Godmother finalists toured the massive structure; already in a state of awe—the last several days since hearing from Royal Caribbean had been a whirlwind and she had just gotten off a Lear jet—Elizabeth was amazed taking in the sights of the massive, gorgeous structure, unlike anything she had ever seen before. After the tour the finalists then went to their suites to change into their formal outfits to attend the Independence “hand over ball,” where the Finnish shipbuilders formally convey the ship to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The ceremony was in the Independence main dining room, where the potential Godmothers and dignitaries dined at an enormous table in the center beneath a grand chandelier. After speeches and congratulatory applause, celebrations continued with music, dancing, and lots of champagbne. The following day the finalists returned to the UK and were interviewed by a panel lead by Sir Steve Redgrave....
Read the complete modern day fairytale of The Godmother:Elizabeth Hill in Chapter 4, The Joy of Cruising. Available now....
The voice, the easy going pace, great production values, and the thoughtful, in-depth, reflective commentary of Jim Zim’s videos have contributed to Jim becoming one of the top cruise video channels on YouTube. His channel has over 205,000 subscribers, is comprised of almost 375 videos, and has garnered 200 million views including one—the Green Thunder waterslide onboard the Carnival Spirit—with nearly 100 million views....
....Besides that voice, Jim Zim’s background—the journalism education and experience in radio
announcing—along with his hobbies of photography, videography, computers, video editing, and
electronics serve him well in his YouTube career. I can imagine the hardware—audio/visual,
photography, computers and more Jim must have at his house. He brings much of it on cruises
with him—several cameras, including his primary shooter, a Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR, wide
angle lens, and tripod among them. If you are ever on a cruise with Jim Zim, just look for the
guy who carries around a giant professional-quality broadcast microphone so he can do voice-
overs on his YouTube videos.
....in 2012 things change dramatically when Jim uploaded a video about the first of its kind vertical-drop waterslide to be installed on a cruise ship. It was the Green Thunder waterslide, then the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea, with a 100 feet drop, through a trap door and entirely vertical for the first third of the way propelling thrill seekers at speeds of 20 feet per second. In 2012, Jim and Kellyn boarded Carnival Spirit for the fourth time in the past three years but this time it was like an entirely new ship as it had just undergone a multi million-dollar refurbishment, or dry dock in cruise parlance, and the Green Thunder was the featured upgrade. Jim posted the video to YouTube much in the way he had posted his other cruise videos: he thought it was interesting. He had no illusions about the video becoming a hit on YouTube. In fact, he never even checked his YouTube channel metrics after posting his previous cruise videos, and it was months after uploading the slightly over one-minute long Green Thunder video before Jim visited his channel. To Jim’s astonishment he discovered that his video on the Carnival Spirit had two million views! Jim was shocked! Of course there was that feeling of pride that comes with something you did being acknowledged and validated by others. But the popularity of the video spurred another thought in Jim. Being only vaguely aware of YouTube monetization—whereby video creators meeting certain benchmarks can earn money as a result of advertisements accompanying their videos—Jim conferred with his son who concurred regarding the monetization potential, and Jim researched the process. Fairly soon Jim’s Carnival Spirit Green Thunder video was generating advertising revenue for YouTube which they shared with Jim. Now the pride that came with discovering that he had a viral video had risen to yet another level as Jim Zim was now an official YouTube Partner. The promise of a new income source lay ahead, although Jim lamented the fact that he had not become a YouTube Partner prior to the Green Thunder video accumulating two million views. Jim was worried he was “too late to the party.” Most of the people who wanted to see the video had probably already done so, and it would quickly cool off and stop getting views on YouTube. That worry turned out to be unfounded. The Green Thunder video is approaching 100 million views on YouTube!
Read the complete chapter “Jim Zim” in The Joy of Cruising. Available now!
....in the ensuing years Joe became bored with just exercising and started running. By 2005, now down to 160 pounds, Joe ran his first marathon and a new passion for long distance running was born. Just as he traveled to pursue his bird watching passion, Joe traveled as part of his new passion, first visiting different states to run marathons and then establishing a goal to run a marathon in all fifty states. Eileen had also started running and sometimes traveled with Joe on his running trips; other times Eileen would leave Joe at home and join her siblings who liked to travel on cruise ships. Eileen sailed on three cruises without Joe, and of course she would rave to Joe about the wonders of cruising after each one. Eileen pointed out to Joe that each ship she had cruised on had a running track, so he would not have to miss his running if he joined her on a cruise. Joe reluctantly agreed to accompany Eileen if she acquiesced to one condition: on the first night of the sailing, he would get out of bed shortly after midnight and run the 26.2-mile marathon distance before the deck became populated with sunbathers, lounge chairs were moved into positions that can obstruct runners, and the running track became congested with casual walkers and joggers. Eileen was elated, and in January 2008, Eileen, Joe and some family members embarked on Joe’s first cruise, sailing Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas from Miami....
Late on the night of embarkation, Joe changed into his running gear, quietly so as to not disturb a sleeping Eileen, and at around 1:30 in the morning he went up to Deck 12 to the running track. Not that long prior the sports deck had been busy with first night cruisers milling about or lounging and enjoying the views of the ocean. Now chairs were strewn about with empty glasses and bottles sitting beside them, and the deck was stained where drinks had been spilled. The reddish-brown tinted, lightly padded, almost one-quarter mile running track circled the perimeter of the deck and offered exquisite ocean views—when the sun came up. Joe was not up there for the view.
Exactly four-and-a-half hours after stepping foot on the track in the darkness, Joe had finished his first cruise ship marathon-distance run. Joe had circled the track for 118 laps, and the “marathoner of the seas” legend was born. The sun had not yet risen.
...after several cruises, Joe began to entertain the notion of running a marathon-distance on all of the Royal Caribbean ships. Such an audacious goal was not uncharacteristic for Joe. After all, before he caught the cruise bug, he was on his way to running a marathon in every state. So, he and Eileen began planning Royal Caribbean cruises, especially paying attention to ship locations and ports of call—as that would influence what birds might be in the area that Joe could add to his sighting list. Joe lined up local bird guides in some of the ports; not only did he get his runs in, Joe saw many of the birds that are endemic to the Caribbean and Central America. How wonderful it must be to be able to meld multiple passions!
In the first four years of Joe joining Eileen to cruise on Royal Caribbean, they cruised eight times. Joe logged many more than the 210 miles resulting from running a marathon distance on those eight Royal Caribbean running tracks. He did not limit himself to only running the 26.2 miles on each cruise, usually choosing to run at least a few other mornings. Most of those eight cruises were in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. One of them, however, was an Alaskan cruise. Joe, Eileen and their son Mike flew to Anchorage. Prior to embarking on the Radiance of the Seas they spent a week visiting Denali before taking the train to Seward to board the southbound cruise. During that pre-cruise week, they each ran in a local marathon, Joe the full 26.2-mile distance, while Eileen and Mike ran a half-marathon. As opposed to Caribbean cruising, a cold water Alaskan cruise definitely presented some physical challenges for Joe’s cruise ship marathon-distance running...
....On another cruise, Legend of the Seas from Quebec to Florida, the winds and seas were such that the ship’s Captain shut down the running track for the first couple of days, disrupting Joe’s routine of doing his run on the first night of the cruise. One of the cruise ports of call was in Boston. The weather had calmed by the time Legend of the Seas ported in Boston. Instead of running in the middle of the night, while most of the passengers were touring Boston, Joe went up to the sports deck and ran his 26.2 miles. As best as can be determined, Joe is the only person who has run both the Boston Marathon and a Boston Harbor “marathon” on a cruise ship.
Read the complete chapter “Marathoner of the Seas: Joe Church” in The Joy of Cruising. Available in March; preorder soon!