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Celebrity Ascent is named in chic poolside party at Port Everglades

Jason Liberty holds an 85-pound nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot with Celebrity Ascent godmothers Sandy Yawn and sister Michelle Dunham, with, at left, Capt. Dimitrios Kafetzis and at right, Laura Hodges Bethge and Capt. Tasos Kafetzis
Celebrity Ascent was named in chic poolside festivities at Port Everglades, with its pair of godmother sisters escorted in on the arms of the ship's pair of brother captains.

Capt. Sandy Yawn, best known for Bravo's 'Below Deck,' and her sister Michelle Dunham, an autism advocate, arrived with Celebrity Ascent's brother captains, Dimitrios and Tasos Kafetzis.


Godmother Michelle Dunham on the arm of Capt. Tasos Kafetzis. Behind them is Jason Liberty, who escorted Laura Hodges Bethge

And Celebrity Cruises President Laura Hodges Bethge, presiding at her first ship naming, was accompanied by Jason Liberty, president/CEO of Royal Caribbean Group.

White balloons floated atop the pool in the shape of an X, the Celebrity symbol, and guests crossed glow sticks to form Xes. DJs spun music atop one of the giant Champagne-glass hot tubs and added a contemporary beat to the pipe and drum corps, a Royal Caribbean tradition. Dancers got the crowd moving to 'Dancing on the Ceiling.'


Celebrity Ascent crew dancing at the naming festivities

Celebrity Ascent's sister ship Celebrity Beyond and Jeff Bezos' super-yacht Koru were parked across the channel, and the orange sunset glowed through the orange frame of Celebrity Ascent's Magic Carpet.

'The best day by far'

Hodges Bethge, seven months and one day into her presidency, said: 'This is the best job ever and the best day by far,' adding: 'Celebrity Ascent will provide the best premium vacation ever, full stop.'


'This is the best job ever and the best day by far,' Celebrity Cruises President Laura Hodges Bethge said

She credited her mentors, Liberty and Royal Caribbean's Michael Bayley, for their counsel and inspiration, and thanked the newbuild team led by Harri Kulovaara and Kelly Gonzalez, shipbuilder Chantiers de l'Atlantique and GM Laurent Castaing and Celebrity partners Nate Berkus, the noted designer, and Daniel Boulud, the star chef, who were on hand.  

And the crew — 'the heart and soul of our success.'

For his part, Liberty called Hodges Bethge's journey through the ranks of Royal Caribbean Group 'an incredible success.'

He noted Celebrity Ascent is the group's 65th ship and said: 'This day is a symbol of triumph, success and the sign of what is to come at Royal Caribbean. Our future is on the ascent.'


Capt. Sandy Yawn, left, and sister Michelle Dunham

Nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot

Before Yawn and Dunham did the official naming, Liberty hoisted a nebuchadnezzar of Veuve Clicquot, weighing 85 pounds and equal to 20 standard bottles, that was at center stage. Minutes later, its twin was smashed on the hull.

Laura Hodges Bethge was profiled in the September issue of Seatrade Cruise Review