When the largest cruise ship in the world finds its way to its new home in Florida in a couple of weeks, it will have a godmother waiting for it.
Royal Caribbean named 23-year-old Brittany Affolter from the Miami-Dade region of Teach For America as godmother for Harmony of the Seas, which arrives to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale in November.
The cruise line conducted a six-week search for an educator to take the ceremonial role, which has in years past been bestowed upon royalty, celebrities, astronauts and even an animated princess.
"The Godmothers of our ships are remarkable individuals whose life lessons and achievements are rooted in courage, dedication and determination," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International in a press release. "Brittany exemplifies these qualities and so much more. We were exceptionally impressed by the passion she has for empowering our youth to believe in a better world and brighter future. She is wise beyond her years, and we can only imagine the accomplishments that she will continue to achieve."
The company sought nominations for a South Florida hometown hero in education, and Affolter came out on top. She will now be the official bottle breaker at the ship's naming ceremony on Nov. 10.
Royal Caribbean said Affolter's story, in which she grew up in a difficult environment but was able to use the help of teachers and mentors to find success, was worthy of the godmother honor. Affolter has been working with Teach For America Miami-Dade since 2014 that help at-risk and low-income students and also tutors students in her spare time, is trying to become a mentor for children in foster care and is completing a master's in educational leadership.
"I am so honored to have been selected as Godmother to Harmony of the Seas and hope that my story can help give a voice to all the hard-working teachers that give so much of themselves to make a meaningful difference," said Affolter in the press release. "It's most important for me to help kids understand that no matter what is going on in their lives, they can reach the dreams they have for themselves. It's amazing what you can achieve when you have the support and encouragement of teachers who go above and beyond."
As part of the announcement, Royal Caribbean said it will give a $25,000 grant to Teach For America Miami-Dade.
Harmony of the Seas is the third Oasis-class ship from the line. The original, Oasis of the Seas, which debuted in 2008 and has sailed primarily from Port Everglades since, but is now heading up the coast to Port Canaveral. Harmony will join Allure of the Seas sailing alternating eastern and western Caribbean seven-night itineraries starting Nov. 12.
Harmony of the Seas is slightly bigger than the first two Oasis-class ships, coming in at 226, 963 gross tons. The ships can hold more than 7,000 passengers when at full capacity, but 5,479 at double occupancy in its 2,747 staterooms. For the record, Allure of the Seas' godmother is Fiona, the animated princess from "Shrek" while Oasis of the Seas' actually has seven women sharing the godmother title: Gloria Estefan, Michelle Kwan, Jane Seymour, Dara Torres, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Shawn Johnson and Daisy Fuentes.
It's the first of two new Oasis-class ships from Royal Caribbean with Harmony's yet-to-be-named sister ship currently under construction at STX France set to debut in mid-2018.