Celebrity Cruise Captains. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Setting a new standard for modern cruising and elevating the premium travel experience, Celebrity Cruises‘ newest ship Celebrity Ascent celebrated a special naming ceremony before its inaugural cruise on December 3, 2023.
Before the ceremony on the Resort Deck, two Greek brothers and Co-Captains Dimitrios Kafetzis and Captain Tasos Kafetzis were enjoying lunch at the Oceanview Cafe with other captains including the captain of the Celebrity Beyond which was also in port.
At sunset, the two brothers, known as the ‘Maritime Dream Team’ escorted the two sisters named the godmothers of the Celebrity Ascent. Captain Dimitrious escorted superyacht Captain Sandy Yawn from Bravo’s Below Deck, while brother Captain Tasos escorted Michelle Dunham, educator and founder of the Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA).
While attendees had flutes of champagne in their hand, the Ascent blasted her horn to acknowledge the nearby Celebrity Beyond making her way out of Port Everglades for a new cruise adventure. The Celebrity Beyond blasted her horn in reply wishing her newest sister ship a warm welcome.
Captain Sandy Yawn. Photo by Celebrity Cruises
Captain Sandy was honored for her leadership and commitment to the environment.
On Instagram Captain Sandy posted, ‘An absolute honor to be named godmothers of the Celebrity Ascent alongside my incredible sister Michelle. Together, we blessed this magnificent ship and all who embark on her journey. May she forever navigate the seas with grace, adventure, and endless wonders. Here’s to new horizons and unforgettable voyages ahead!’
Michelle Dunham. Photo by Celebrity Cruises
Sister Michelle Dunham was also honored for her diligence in providing the best learning environment for her son Nicholas. By developing a unique model for JSA, this nonprofit organization offers comprehensive K-12 educational services to students and young adults with autism spectrum disorders. They created an inclusive environment that empowers students to develop independence while improving their quality of life.
These two strong women were selected for their strength in paving the way for other women and leaders to follow in their footsteps.
Other godmothers of the Edge Series ships include Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel laureate and well-known activist. In 2018 she became the godmother of the very first Edge Class ship, the Celebrity Edge.
On the Celebrity Apex ship, Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of the global nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, was named the godmother in 2021.
Athlete Simone Biles, a 19-time World Champion and seven-time Olympic Medalist christened the Celebrity Beyond in 2022, as godmother of the ship.
Jason Liberty, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean Group said ‘the Celebrity Ascent is the 65th cruise ship in the fleet.’ He congratulated Laura Hodges Bethge, President of Celebrity Cruises on the naming of her very first ship. “Any dream is possible when you put your mind to it,’ said Liberty. While quoting Maya Angelo’s famous line, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Liberty dedicated this quote to the crew of the Celebrity Ascent.
“With each new ship, our ambition is to debut the ultimate vacation experience and Celebrity Ascent achieves this by raising the bar for premium travel,” said Liberty. “Her elevated design and new onboard experiences set her apart from competitors and serve as a new benchmark for the travel industry.”
As Liberty hoisted an 85 pound magnum of Veuve Cliquot Champagne up in the air, guests watched a video on an enormous screen of another magnum attached to a tether. As the crowd counted down from 10 to 1, the bottle was released and soared toward the bow of the ship with a ceremonial crash breaking into pieces. This true maritime tradition caused the crowd to cheer while live music played and entertainers danced on the deck.
Celebrity Ascent Maritime Dream Team – Photo Jill Weinlein
At a press conference the following morning, when the brothers were asked what inspired them to become captains, Captain Dimitrios shared how their father was a professional diver. ‘I liked going with him to work, being on the boat, and especially at lunch when they would put out a buffet.’ He also shared how ‘The Love Boat’ was his favorite television show.
Captain Dimitrios has dedicated his entire career spanning over three decades to the cruise line. He started as an Apprentice Officer on board the first vessel, Horizon, in 1990 and has played an integral role in the start-up teams aboard many other ships across the fleet.
Younger brother Tasos said, “We have such a love for each other, and when he sailed on ships I missed him a lot.” Tasos told the attendees, “When my big brother returned, I couldn’t wait to see the photos of his exotic travel adventures.” Deciding to follow in his footsteps, he joined Celebrity Cruises in 1998, and most recently served as captain of Celebrity Edge.
Captain Dimitrios described their appointment to the Ascent as “momentous” and expressed his joy at being part of Celebrity Cruises history. “Nearly 35 years after Celebrity Cruises was founded in Greece, and they will have not one, but two Greek captains taking the helm of their newest vessel in 2023. I am honored for my brother and I to take this role, together. I am so proud for my family and proud of my brother,” he commented.
Captain Tasos finished with “Together, my brother and I share a love of the ocean, and a love for this company and our guests. To share a special moment together like this is something I could have only dreamed of. I can’t wait to sail away on this incredible ship with our guests onboard and my brother in my heart.’
Following Celebrity Ascent’s maiden voyage on Dec. 3, 2023, she is sailing a variety of alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean vacations through late April, 2024, and then heads to the Mediterranean for sailings from Barcelona and Rome. Kicking off the summer 2024 with the ultimate Mediterranean getaway on a 9-Night Italian Riviera and France itinerary. She is also sailing 12-Night Best of Greece and Italy, crossing Rome, Naples, Mykonos, and Santorini.