FORT LAUDERDALE -- After a six month search, Royal Caribbean International named Donnalea Madeley, a Toronto-based travel agent, godmother of its newest ship, the Liberty of the Seas, at the Cruise Lines International Association's Cruise3Sixty conference here.

Royal Caribbean revealed that Madeley was chosen out of three finalists by 15,000 people who voted at from March 1 to 15.

Madeley, of Marlin Travel, was chosen from among 2,500 nominations of travel agent women that "demonstrated dedication to philanthropy and service in their communities," according to Royal Caribbean.

"I'm just stunned," said a teary Madeley. "I'm just a mom. I work in my basement. I keep thinking, is this real?"

Madeley, a home-based agent, along with her husband, founded an organization called Hands Across the Nations; and has raised money and provided training for other projects, as well as constructed facilities in Mali and Bolivia.

The couple has three children, ages 12, 18 and 21.

Royal Caribbean presented Madeley with a check for $25,000 to Hands Across the Nations, which Madeley said will not only pay for a new medical clinic in Mali, but will allow the organization to add many other facilities to it.

Madeley will participate in the Liberty's naming ceremony on May 18.

"Through her, we are demonstrating our ultimate appreciation to the travel agent community, and recognizing the important role they play in the success of the cruise industry, and acknowledging their service and contributions to make the world a better place," said Lisa Bauer, Royal Caribbean International's senior vice president, sales.

Royal Caribbean also presented the two other finalists, Marie Brouard of American Express Centurion Travel Services in Miramar, Fla., and Carole Weishaar of Carefree Travel in Scottsdale, Ariz., with $5,000 donations to a charity of their choice. 

To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].

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