Super-model turned super-mogul Kathy Ireland named Carnival Cruise Lines' 22d ship, the Carnival Freedom, in a ceremony in Venice March 4, one day ahead of its inaugural cruise to the eastern Mediterranean.


The 110,000-ton, 2,974-passenger vessel will introduce Carnival's first sailings to Greece and Turkey on 12-day itineraries from its homeport of Civitavecchia (Rome) on March 14.

The ceremony, held in the ship's Victoriana theater, also marked a decade of shipbuilding by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Lines. After an hour-long delay due to problems with the theater's sound system, Bob Dickinson, Carnival Cruise Lines CEO and president, noted that 10 years ago Fincantieri delivered the first Carnival vessel, the Destiny, in Venice. There are now eight Fincantieri ships in service for Carnival, and three on order.

It's safe to say, we like their work," said Dickinson.

Ireland, on hand with her husband, three children and parents for the inaugural cruise, is CEO and chief designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, a Los-Angeles based company whose mission is "finding solutions for families, especially busy moms."

"Cruising is a magnificent solution for families," she said to the packed theater. 'It brings the world to families."

Corrado Antonini, chairman of Fincantieri, also made remarks, as did the managing director of the Venice Cruise Terminal, Roberto Perocchio, who said he hoped Carnival would someday homeport the ship in Venice, where it was built in Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard. The Carnival Freedom, the fifth conquest-class vessel, is the largest ship ever built by Fincantieri.

Ireland is active in various charities, including the Special Olympics and Feed the Children. Carnival made a $25,000 donation to a charity of Ireland's choosing, the Alliance for Christian Education, which describes itself as a "nonprofit, nondenominational organization created to serve and glorify God by furthering Christ-based education."

Before the ceremony, Ireland said that she had cruised before, although not with Carnival, and found it to be a perfect vacation to do with her children, ages 12, 5 and 3. Her youngest is to celebrate his fourth birthday on the cruise.

"She has a persona that is literally unsullied," said Dickinson on the choice of Ireland as godmother. "She's been a public persona for well over 20 years, but she's spotless. There's no scandal. She is a woman of high moral character, a working mom, a career woman. She's extremely philanthropic. She walks the talk. It's not a facade. It's the real deal."

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


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