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Gwen Stefani names Carnival Jubilee in Galveston festivities

Godmother Gwen Stefani and the Champagne smash for Carnival Jubilee's naming festivities at the Port of Galveston
Carnival Jubilee became the first cruise ship ever named in Galveston when pop superstar Gwen Stefani did the honors Saturday.

In a sparkly gold and black mini-skirt suit, Stefani pulled a lasso roped around a lever that sent the Champagne smashing on the bow.

She was cheered by Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy who introduced the three-time Grammy Award winner by saying: 'You've been honored in so many ways ... and now you have a ship,' adding that serving as godmother is 'for a lifetime.'

'Texas is her forever home'

The festivities had a strong Texas spirit for a ship that has the Star of Texas on its bow. 'Texas is her forever home,' Duffy said. 'She ain't goin' anywhere ... We're fixin' to be here a long time.'

Galveston Mayor Craig Brown presented Duffy a key to the city and proclaimed Feb. 24 as 'Carnival Jubilee Day.'

Carnival initiated cruising from Galveston

'We hold a very warm place in our heart for Carnival because they are the cruise line that initiated [cruising in] the city of Galveston,' the mayor said.

That was 23 years ago and Duffy noted that by the end of 2024, Carnival will have carried 10m guests from Galveston.

This, its 26th ship, is joined by several others there. And Duffy recalled how she'd been in Galveston on July 3, 2021, when Carnival Vista became the first Fun Ship to return to service after a 16-month pandemic pause. She called the Galveston community 'good partners in good times and not so good times.'

Saturday's festivities opened with a video of a boots-eye-view of Carnival Jubilee from Cruise Director Kyndall Magyar, a Fort Worth native, touring the ship to the tune of 'These Boots Are Made For Walkin'.' Cowboy Will Fitzpatrick, a roping artist, dazzled the crowd with a display of ropesmanship.


Top bidder Emerson Hankamer will be getting a pair of custom-made red, white and blue boots from Houston-based Parker Boot Co., designed by Carnival's Petu Kummala

Support for partners Operation Homefront and St. Jude

Duffy announced the top bidder ($25,000) in a charity auction of handcrafted boots from Houston-based Parker Boot Co. was Emerson Hankamer, CEO of Houston-based Vacations To Go. Hankamer had told Duffy she needed boots for a Texas ship and made the introduction to Parker for the custom-designed pair she wore at Carnival Jubilee's inaugural embarkation from Galveston. 

Auction proceeds will go to benefit military families for Carnival partner Operation Homefront.


Christine Duffy presents a $50,000 check to St. Jude Children's Hospital, in Gwen Stefani's honor

Duffy presented a $50,000 check to another Carnival partner, St. Jude Children's Hospital, in Stefani's honor and said the cruise line and its passengers had donated $33m for St. Jude and pledged to raise $50m by 2030. President/CEO Richard Shadyac Jr. of St. Jude's fundraising/awareness arm called Stefani 'part of our family' and said the singer's husband, Blake Shelton, had performed several times for patients.

Ted Arison's 100th and salutes to audience members

Duffy noted the festivities were taking place on what would have been the 100th birthday of Carnival founder Ted Arison.

She introduced audience members including Carnival Corp. CEO Josh Weinstein and former CEO Arnold Donald, and thanked shipbuilder Meyer Werft, Port of Galveston Director/CEO Rodger Rees and the Galveston Wharves board, University of Texas medical staff who helped Carnival's pandemic restart and Carnival Jubilee's officers, newbuild team and Carnival brand leaders including Ben Clement, Lars Ljoen and Sarah Beth Reno. Chefs Rudi Sodamin and Emeril Legasse were acknowledged, too.

Duffy called it a 'remarkable period of growth and success' for the brand.

Fourth of five new ships in less than 20 months

Carnival Jubilee is Carnival's fourth of five new ships in less than 20 months, starting with Carnival Luminosa, Carnival Celebration, Carnival Venezia and, next up, Carnival Firenze, to debut at Long Beach, California, in April.

As announced last week, Carnival Jubilee will be getting an Excel-class sister in 2027. Before that, in 2025, the first Fun Ships are due to begin calling at the line's first private destination, the $600m Celebration Key on Grand Bahama Island.