The Edge is a new cruise ship by Celebrity. It’s also the place to be if you really want to make a difference in the world. From its Infinite veranda staterooms to its provocative entertainment to its Magic Carpet to the godmother Celebrity selected for it, and more, this ship is different. We were blessed to be able to check it out on an inaugural voyage from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, thanks to the invitation from our Celebrity representative, Sharon Everett!
I’m writing this from the edge of this beautiful new ship, looking over the Atlantic Ocean south of Florida. No, I didn’t have to get up early to stake out a lounge chair by a railing. I’m in our stateroom, out on the edge of its infinite veranda, wrapped in a luxurious Celebrity robe. There is no patio door leading out to the veranda, but instead, the whole wall of our stateroom opens up to it, and has been open from the minute we arrived, adding 26% more space to our room and connecting us intimately to the sea. But it doesn’t end there. Instead of a railing, our veranda has a floor to ceiling, wall to wall window that can be opened from the top down to enjoy the sunrise, the expansive view, the cooling breeze, and the sounds of the sea. Or it can be closed to enjoy the air conditioning of our room without sacrificing the view. Right now, we are in the middle of a Bahamian storm. But our veranda is still open. The balcony of the suite above us is keeping the pelting rains at bay while still giving us free access to the salty air, the refreshing breeze, and the calming sounds of raindrops falling onto the rolling swells below us.
I slept in after attending a very busy night, beginning with the christening of this amazing ship by its amazing godmother. The naming ceremony featured VIPs of the company, including Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, as well as Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD, the mother company of Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, and Azamara. They both gave rousing speeches pointing out some of the revolutionary ideas behind The Edge, including having a female captain, a 30% female crew, an unequalled crew quarter, and several ingenious design features.
But all of this paled in comparison to the young woman Celebrity had chosen to become the ship’s godmother, Malala Yousefzai. Speaking of revolutionary, this woman is a hero for the world. She is known for being the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (She was 15.), but that is secondary to who Malala really is. She is a hero, as her name implies. Who knew the biggest activist for the education of young girls would hail from Pakistan, where the education of girls is considered secondary to most Pakistanis and even obscene to those influenced by the insidious Taliban? Malala, now a 21-year old Oxford student, was raised by a father who treasured her, even though he had two boys, and a mother who was wise and involved with family decisions but didn’t learn to read until after Malala had become world renowned. These brave, loving parents taught their daughter what every child should be taught: She can become whatever God has calls her to become, and her purpose is to make the world a better place. This was unheard of in her country. Her father was even warned, even by his closest relatives, that he was being unwise at best, scandalous at worst, when he allowed his daughter to sit at his feet and listen to men speak of politics. That didn’t stop him from encouraging her to break the Pakistani female mold, and even a Taliban-ordered gunshot to the head did not stop her from doing just that.
Malala added a brief speech to the naming ceremony (I captured some of it below), acknowledging the beauty and opulence of the ship and claiming, “I’ve certainly never been on a ship like this.” I wonder if she’s ever been on a ship at all? Then she quickly turned her attention to what really matters: Education for girls around the world. Through her foundation, The Malala Fund, she is determined to ensure that the over 130 million girls who currently have no access to school the world over will have the opportunity to attend at least 12 years of free public education. When she’s accomplished her goal, just imagine what those girls will accomplish for the world! Certainly more than signing her name to a cruise ship and releasing a bottle of mineral water to be smashed against its hull. My prayer is that Celebrity paid so dearly for their right to attach themselves to Malala’s name that her fund is now overflowing with funds to accomplish the miraculous!
As I revel in having heard Malala speak, I learn that she will be rushing off the ship soon, on her way to Harvard University to accept their activist of the year award. I shake myself from the daydream of being able to fulfill my students’ wishes, namely “Tell Malala hi for me!” and having her sign our copy of her autobiography. After all, who am I but an overprivileged American, certainly not in need of the attention of someone so heroically important as Malala Yousafzai? I never would have made it through her 21-man security detail anyway. I may have experienced the launching of The Edge, but she’s the one who’s really living on it.