Honor. Family. Fun. The motto for Carnival Cruise Line's year-long salute to military families was the perfect theme for Carnival Vista's naming at Pier 88 in New York by Barber, the first Miss USA who's an active military servicewoman.
Hundreds of attendees at the lively Lido Deck festivities were families assisted by Operation Homefront, Carnival's partner in the military salute.
'We are the come-as-you-are cruise line ... friendly and fun. I like to think we are America's cruise line,' Carnival president Christine Duffy said. She told the military families who were invited on board: 'Because of you, we have the freedom to travel.'
Wearing her Miss USA sash but also pictured in her Army Reserve fatigues in a stirring video tribute, Barber gave a passionate boost to service people who suffer from PTSD, one of her personal causes on behalf of the soldiers she leads.
'It's nothing to be ashamed of. It is a human reaction to trauma,' she said, adding that when days get hard, organizations like Carnival and Operation Homefront have helped.
Barber urged everyone 'to appreciate the people to your left and the people to your right because tomorrow is never promised'—a lesson she learned from her mother, who died two months ago.
Following her eloquent remarks, when it came to the actual naming, the godmother paused before admitting she'd forgotten her lines, winning big laughs and applause when she grabbed the script for a peek. As she poured champagne on the ship's bell, a bottle of champagne was smashed on Carnival Vista's hull.
Carnival's senior cruise director John Heald told the godmother she could take home the bell, and anything else she wanted on her ship.
'One of the best godmothers ever,' said Uf Tukel of icruise.com and WMPH Vacations. 'She was so genuine and caring, the embodiment of what a Miss USA should be.'
Duffy gave a shout out to 'the fabulous Kathie Lee Gifford,' Carnival's original spokeswoman and a two-time Fun Ship godmother, who attended the ceremony with Carnival Corp. & plc chairman Micky Arison and wife Madeleine, ceo Arnold Donald, cfo David Bernstein and various Carnival family leaders including Stein Kruse and Orlando Ashford.
Carnival Vista Capt. Luigi De Angelis, Chief Engineer Cesare Boldrini, Hotel Director Pierre Camilleri and all the crew got thanks from Duffy, too, and she acknowledged Fincantieri for building a beautiful ship.
Before the naming ceremony, Carnival treated the Operation Homefront families to an hour and 15-minute concert by Grammy-winning superstar Carrie Underwood, who's been a part of the year's military salute.