Two women astronauts named as godmothers of Princess Cruises’ new ship

From left:

Princess Cruises has christened its newest and fourth Royal Class ship Sky Princess in tribute to the pioneering women of the US Space Programme.

The godmothers of Sky Princess – captain Kay Hire, and engineer Frances “Poppy” Northcutt – were honoured for the key roles they played at NASA at the naming ceremony which was befittingly themed Reach for the Sky.

From left: Frances “Poppy” Northcutt; Sky Princess’ captain Heikki Laakkonen; Princess Cruises’ Jan Swartz; and Kay Hire at the naming ceremony

The duo recited the traditional cruise ship blessing before pushing a NASA-style “launch” button, releasing and smashing a 15-litre bottle of champagne, officially naming Sky Princess.

During her 30-year career at NASA, Hire first helped to launch more than 40 space missions as a mechanical systems engineer. Then, as an astronaut, she logged 700 hours in space, flew over 12 million miles, and orbited the earth 475 times. She was also the first female to be assigned to a military combat flight crew while serving in the US Navy.

Poppy Northcutt served as the first female mission control engineer during NASA’s historic moon landing mission 50 years ago. She was also part of the team that brought the crew of Apollo 13 back home safely when they became stranded in their service module.

“As we celebrate our newest, most technologically advanced ship – one whose spirit of adventure and discovery match the grandeur of her name, Sky Princess, we also applaud the groundbreaking women of the US Space Program,” said Princess Cruises’ president Jan Swartz. “Our godmothers, captain Kay Hire and Poppy Northcutt, remind us all of what we can achieve when we reach for the sky.”

The debut of the 143,700-ton, 3,660-guest Sky Princess marks the first MedallionClass new build. Powered by the OceanMedallion, a wearable technology device, MedallionClass vacations deliver personalised service through enhanced guest-crew interactions, while eliminating friction points and enabling interactive entertainment.

Sky Princess, which recently completed her inaugural season in Europe, is now sailing on voyages to the Caribbean through spring 2020.

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