Exclusive Access: Behind the Scenes at Carnival Jubilee’s Naming Ceremony

It’s a Jubilee, y’all!

That was the theme for the day while celebrating Carnival Jubilee’s christening in Galveston, Texas. 

A large cruise ship, the Carnival Jubilee, docked at a VIP dock.

Attendees wore their best Texan attire as a nod to Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship and her ties to the Lone Star State.

Even just walking into through the terminal to board the ship, both shoreside and shipboard staff were decked out in things like red cowboy hats, bandanas, and boots. 

Two people standing in front of a sign that says Jubilee Yay.

Stepping onto the ship felt new and familiar at the same time. New, because the ship still had that new-ship smell, and the sleek, chic, thoughtful design and décor were unlike anything I have ever experienced on a Carnival ship.

Welcome aboard the Carnival Jubilee cruise ship during the Naming Ceremony.

Stepping on board, the Grand Central atrium immediately wows you with its three-story-high entertainment screen.

The whole room lit up. It wasn’t just the screen or the lighting—a general air of excitement and fun around the space. It draws you in, and it’s hard to leave.

A group of VIP guests mingling at the bar on the Carnival Jubilee cruise ship.

Just around a corner and down the hall, though, is the Currents zone. Giant LED screens adorn the walls of the second story and mimic windows of a submarine.

When I first arrived, it displayed tons of colorful, unique fish that were actually drawings by children that had been animated and brought to life.

A view of the ocean through a window on the VIP Carnival Jubilee during its Naming Ceremony.

The scenery would quickly change to the golden mermaid or to a submarine adventure.

currents zone fish

And the space around you changes too, with the lighting turning dark to reflect a submersible’s dive to deeper depths. Without realizing it, I found myself captivated by the narration, like I was on a real adventure. 

Then, suddenly, several people started shuffling around me. I realized I stood only a few feet away from three-time Grammy Award–winning singer and songwriter Gwen Stefani!

Gwen Stefani at the Hyatt Regency Las Vegas for the Carnival Jubilee VIP event.

After my deer-in-headlights moment, Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy arrived to officially reveal a piece of artwork by Ty, a patient of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, that Carnival brought to life as a 3D sculpture.

A group of people cutting a ribbon at a naming ceremony.

Surrounded by Duffy, Jubilee godmother Gwen Stefani, his family, and Richard Shadyac, president and CEO of the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, Ty cut the ribbon to officially welcome his artwork to its new home on Carnival Jubilee.

Shadyac then thanked Carnival for their long-standing partnership. Carnival Cruise Line has raised more than $30 million to benefit the patients and families of St. Jude.

As if I wasn’t starstruck enough, immediately after this, it was time to inaugurate Emeril’s Bistro 717.

A group of people are cutting a ribbon at a naming ceremony.

Award-winning celebrity chef and Carnival’s Chief Culinary Officer Emeril Lagasse appeared, flanked by Duffy and Stefani, to celebrate his third restaurant on a Carnival ship with his own ribbon cutting.

The Jubilee then continued with a private lunch in the Pacific Restaurant dining room for the VIP guests. After just being in the presence of the esteemed Lagasse, I ordered the shrimp and grits—a featured dish from Emeril’s Bistro 717.

A VIP is holding up a menu at the Carnival Jubilee Naming Ceremony table.

It lived up to the hype. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, the grits just the right texture, and the pork added just the right amount of a salty kick to the dish. 

A white plate with shrimp and grits on it at a Carnival Jubilee.

Without the dancing waitstaff, it wouldn’t be a Carnival main dining room experience—or a true jubilee.

Toward the end of our meal, a handful of crew members came out in red cowboy hats to regale us with their rendition of “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson. It was every bit as fun and funny as you can imagine, y’all. *tips cowboy hat*

As I made my way down to the Jubilee Theater for the naming ceremony, I felt grateful knowing I will be cruising on Jubilee in just a few weeks.

Otherwise, I would have booked one online right there and then. In just a few hours, this Texas ship captured my Texan heart.

Carnival Jubilee Naming Ceremony

Two women at the VIP Naming Ceremony of Carnival Jubilee on stage in front of a cruise ship.

Jubilee’s cruise director, Kyndall Fire kicked off the ceremony. After a performance of the national anthem, artist Will Fitzpatrick took the stage to demonstrate trick roping and show off skills with a lasso.

Carnival Jubilee, also known as Gwen Stefani, is the godmother of the ship.

Next, Mayor of Galveston Craig Brown presented Carnival President Christine Duffy with the key to Galveston, declaring February 24 as “Carnival Jubilee Day.”

A VIP couple standing at a podium for the Naming Ceremony of the Carnival Jubilee cruise ship.

Mayor Brown noted that Carnival “initiated the entire cruise industry for the city of Galveston” when it became the first cruise line to homeport from Texas in 1974. “And you’re first in our hearts, too,” he added.

Carnival Jubilee is shore power ready, Mayor!” she quipped. “So when the Port of Galveston gets equipped with technology enhancements that will allow cruise ships to plug into the grid, we will be operating here at berth utilizing shoreside electricity, which also helps us reduce emissions.”

A stage with a picture of a man and woman on it, behind the scenes.

Duffy honored Carnival’s roots by mentioning Ted Arison, who founded Carnival Cruise Line in 1972. Ted would have been 100 years-old on the day of the christening.

Jubilee Cowboy Boots Auctioned

Could the ship truly be Texan without a pair of cowboy boots? Don’t worry. Carnival thought of this too. The custom boots by local Houston company Parker Boots display Duffy’s initials “C” and “D” on their backs as well as the Carnival funnel on their sides and the state of Texas on the front. “When I found out how much these boots cost, I figured I shouldn’t be wearing them,” Duffy joked.

Instead, the boots will remain on display on the ship. After receiving numerous inquiries about how one might acquire these boots, Duffy had another custom pair made that went in an online auction.

The proceeds from the winning bid of $25,000 will support military families through Carnival’s partnership with Operation Homefront.

Carnival Raises Goal for St. Jude Donations

A group of people at a Carnival Jubilee.

In the final remarks before the main event, Duffy presented St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with a $50,000 donation on behalf of Jubilee’s godmother, Gwen Stefani.

Since 2012, when Carnival Cruise Line began supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in its mission to treat and cure childhood cancer, Carnival has raised an impressive $33 million for the organization.

Gwen Stefani Christens Carnival’s Newest Ship

A VIP woman is standing on stage at the Naming Ceremony of the Carnival Jubilee.

And now, it was time for the official christening!

In choosing a godmother, Duffy noted that the cruise lines looks for someone who reflects the same values of the company and embodies leadership, inclusivity, giving back to the community, and, of course, having fun.

A VIP group of people stands in front of the stage with the word Carnival Jubilee.

Joining the stage, Stefani then pulled a lever, which released a ceremonial bottle outside that smashed against the side of the ship.

A VIP group on a stage.

The ceremony concluded with a live performance by Stefani, who performed five top hits from her and her band No Doubt: “Sweet Escape,” “Underneath It All,” “Don’t Speak,” “Just a Girl,” and a unique version of “Hollaback Girl.”

A group of people singing on stage during a Carnival Jubilee.

For the last song, she changed the lyrics, proclaiming, “This my ship, this my ship!”

A group of people on stage in front of a red background at a jubilee event.

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