To celebrate the U.S. arrival of its newest, largest and most innovative ship, Carnival Cruise Line held an overnight gala event last week in New York featuring a concert for Operation Homefront military families by the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year and seven-time GRAMMY award-winning country music super star Carrie Underwood.
The event also included the ship’s official naming ceremony with Miss USA Deshauna Barber – the first woman serving in the U.S. military to hold the title – presiding over the ceremonies as godmother and releasing the ceremonial bottle of champagne that smashed over the hull of the massive 133,500-ton ship. In addition to the concert, the festivities included overnight accommodations, meals, activities and entertainment for hundreds of military families.
The festivities represent the culmination of Honor.Family.Fun., Carnival’s year-long celebration to support Operation Homefront and help the organization fulfill its mission of building strong, stable, and secure military families.
“Carnival Cruise Line carries more active and retired military personnel and I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce this spectacular vessel than by honoring and celebrating the sacrifices of our Armed Forces personnel,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. “Deshauna is the ideal candidate to serve as Carnival Vista’s godmother, embodying the spirit of commitment and sacrifice of those who protect our freedoms each and every day.”
Underwood performed an hour-long set for hundreds of military personnel and their families, many of whom were given the chance of a lifetime to meet the artist during various meet and greet opportunities during stops along her Storyteller Tour, and were invited to attend the festivities aboard Carnival Vista.
“It was truly an honor to perform aboard Carnival Vista today and celebrate the incredible sacrifices of the brave men and women of the Armed Forces,” said Underwood. “Throughout my partnership with Carnival Cruise Line we have recognized the efforts of our dedicated military personnel while raising funds for Operation Homefront. It is something I am very proud to be a part of.”
The daughter of a retired Army master sergeant who was a member of the Special Forces, Barber joined the Army Reserve as a quartermaster officer in 2011. After earning her bachelors in business management from Virginia State University, Barber went on to complete her masters in computer information systems from the University of Maryland University College. She currently serves as logistics commander for the 988th Quartermaster Detachment Unit in Rockville, Md.
“I’m honored to serve as godmother of the brand new Carnival Vista and join a long line of strong, successful women who have fulfilled this time-honored role,” said Barber. “In addition to serving as godmother, today was extra special as I had the opportunity to meet several Operation Homefront families and hear their stories. It is a day I’ll never forget.”
“We’re thrilled Carnival Cruise Line has honored those that do so much for the freedoms we enjoy daily – our service members and their families – with a truly memorable day onboard their newest ship,” said Brig. Gen. (ret.) John I. Pray Jr., president and CEO of Operation Homefront. “Like-minded partners, like Carnival and Carrie Underwood, clearly demonstrate, through their actions, their steadfast commitment to our men and women in uniform.”
As the line’s newest ship, Carnival Vista introduced a number of groundbreaking innovations including the first brewery on a North American-based cruise ship, the first IMAX Theatre at sea, the most elaborate water park in the fleet highlighted by the 455-foot-long Kaleid-o-slide, a groundbreaking bike-ride-in-the-sky aerial attraction called SkyRide, and the new Family Harbor with specially designed staterooms for families, a family concierge and more.
Carnival Vista will operate a pair of 11-day sailings from New York before launching year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean service from Miami beginning Nov. 27.