Disney Cruise Line announced it was forgoing the traditional godmother role of its new ship Disney Wish in favor of godchildren — children past, present and future that have often fatal illnesses and are recipients of the charity of the Make-a-Wish foundation.
The fifth ship in the DCL fleet is set to have its christening ceremony at Port Canaveral on Wednesday, and children involved with Make-a-Wish will be on hand to recite the traditional maritime blessing of the vessel, and take on symbolic role that wishes good fortune upon the ship and all who travel aboard.
“Make-A-Wish children and their families are brave, determined, resilient, and some of the most inspirational people you could ever meet,” Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek in a press release. “Wishing is a transformative experience that brings hope and joy, and it is our privilege to proudly recognize children who strive to overcome challenges as our Disney Wish godchildren. Working with Make-A-Wish to support children with critical illnesses and making magic when it is needed most will always be a priority for The Walt Disney Company.”
The previous ships in the fleet have been traditional godmothers, although not all specifically real people. Patty Disney, who was the first wife of Walt Disney’s nephew Roy, was godmother to the line’s first vessel Disney Magic when it debuted in 1998 while “Peter Pan” character Tinkerbell took on the role for 1999′s Disney Wonder.
Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar-winning entertainer Jennifer Hudson, who started her career aboard a Disney Cruise Line ship, was named Disney Dream’s godmother for its ceremony in 2011, while Mariah Carey took on the role for 2012′s Disney Fantasy.
The Wednesday event will be the first time a Disney ship has been christened at Port Canaveral since Disney Dream. Disney will livestream it on its social media channels at 11 a.m.
Disney has a long-standing partnership with Make-A-Wish, with one out of every two wishes granted through the foundation involving Disney, according to the company. This year even saw a new state specialty license plate celebrating Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary that raises funds for Make-A-Wish of Central and Northern Florida. In an event last year on the annual World Wish Day, celebrated on April 29, and tied to announcing details of its new ship, Disney donated $1 million to the foundation.
The foundation has catered to granting wishes for more than 145,000 children suffering from critical illnesses since 1980.
For the cruise line, the company also announced fundraising initiatives including a line of Disney Wish exclusive merchandise such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse plush dolls, headbands and trading pins, from which 10% of sales will go to the foundation through July 18, 2023.
The line also donated a stateroom to help the foundation raise more than $260,000 through a drive, part of which will be used for the foundation’s Give Kids The World Village resort in Central Florida that hosts children and their families for weeklong vacations at no cost,
“The selection of Make-A-Wish children as the godchildren of the Disney Wish is another example of how Disney and Make-A-Wish continue to find innovative ways to bring joy to the lives of wish kids and their families,” said Make-A-Wish America President and CEO Richard K. Davis. “We are honored to partner with The Walt Disney Company and we look forward to granting countless more wishes together.”
The ship arrived to Port Canaveral last week, and will sail on a special christening cruise to the Bahamas after the ceremony. It begins normal three- and four-night voyages with its inaugural sailing with paying customers on July 14.