Ladies who launch

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

TO be a cor­po­rate god­mother is rather dif­fer­ent to be­ing a fam­ily god­mother. I have two grown-up god­chil­dren, Laura and Se­bas­tian, and my (very wel­come) du­ties have in­cluded remembering their birthdays, ar­riv­ing (in ear­lier times) at their homes with the sort of teeth-rot­ting treats their moth­ers had banned and so would promptly con­fis­cate and (sup­pos­edly) be­ing avail­able, if re­quired (which I wasn’t), to di­vulge the ins and outs of birds and bees.

Pub­lic god­moth­ers are brand am­bas­sadors and they are ter­ri­bly pop­u­lar in Europe, sought by op­er­a­tors of ocean lin­ers and river cruise boats to do the launch, swing the cham­pers and pose for the press.

Vik­ing River Cruises chooses its ladies from the realms of busi­ness, academe, phi­lan­thropy and even roy­alty. Lady Carnar­von, chate­laine of High­clere Cas­tle (Downton Abbey), re­cently launched Vik­ing Skadi in Amsterdam. Uni­world Bou­tique River Cruises has gone for a splashier ap­proach — its Queen Is­abel, fit­ted with ‘‘re­gal fur­nish­ings’’ and a he­li­pad, was chris­tened by ac­tor Andie Mac­Dow­ell on March 22 in Por­tu­gal. Ita But­trose is a brand am­bas­sador for Tauck and tele­vi­sion host Lisa Wilkin­son has launched river­boats for Avalon Wa­ter­ways, which op­er­ates eight spa­cious Suite Ships and also has an as­so­ci­a­tion with fash­ion iden­tity Deb­o­rah Hut­ton, who’ll break the bubbly over Avalon Il­lu­mi­na­tion in June next year.

Ital­ian-owned MSC Cruises has Sophia Loren on board, as it were, to name its mighty lin­ers — I at­tended the MSC Div­ina chris­ten­ing in Mar­seilles last year and con­trib­u­tor He­len McKen­zie is just back from Genoa, where sis­ter ship MSC Preziosa was launched.

In June, I will be in Southamp­ton for the nam­ing cer­e­mony of Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess by Cather­ine, Duchess of Cam­bridge.

I am sure God­mother Kate will pull it all off, un­like Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who pressed the wrong but­ton when chris­ten­ing Queen Vic­to­ria in 2007. The cham­pers didn’t break but hung ‘‘like an al­ba­tross might’’, ob­served Lon­don’s The Tele­graph.

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