Celebrity Cruises announced the appointment of Michelle Morgan, the president and CEO of Signature Travel Network, to serve as Godmother of one of the most talked-about new ships to enter the market this year, Celebrity Silhouette.
The first travel industry executive to serve as Godmother of a Celebrity ship, Morgan will preside over the line's first naming ceremony to be held in Hamburg, Germany, on July 21.
"We are thrilled and honored to have a woman of Michelle's caliber serve as Godmother of this exceptional ship," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman of Celebrity Cruises and Chairman and CEO of parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "Her achievements in business are remarkable, and her personal life is as inspiring as her professional life."
A 33-year travel marketing executive, Morgan joined Signature Travel in 1991, when the company had 30 locations in Southern California. Today, its membership has grown to 350 locations in 38 states and two providences in Canada, with sales exceeding USD $5-billion.
The member-owned co-operative has enjoyed explosive growth over the past 20 years. As president and CEO, Morgan maintains day-to-day operating responsibility and has been instrumental in framing the organization's strategic direction, partnership development, marketing, technology and member services programs. She takes special pride in the fact that her company has the lowest attrition rate of any network.
Morgan has received a host of industry honors, including recognition as Luxury Travel Advisor's Retail Travel Partner of the Year, and one of Forbes' "25 Most Influential Women in Travel." This year, Michelle also was inducted into Cruise Line International Association's (CLIA) Hall of Fame.
About her honors, Morgan says: "It's not about me; it's about the incredible staff at Signature - many of whom have been with me as long as 15 years - and the hand-selected agencies that are members of our organization. Their commitment to the highest service standards, ethical practices and professionalism is at the core of what makes Signature extraordinary. I've worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to ensure these small business owners can compete and prosper. Their success is my success," adds Morgan. "Signature is my second family."
Morgan's "first family" is comprised of her daughters, Deirdre and Alisa, who she raised as a single parent from the time they were ages three and six. She has taken great pride in seeing each of them succeed as parents, and as a veterinarian and a director of internet business solutions, respectively. Morgan takes equal pride in her four grandchildren, in addition to her mother, a breast cancer survivor who - at age 85 - is extraordinarily active and an inspiration to Morgan and her family.
Like her mother - and each of Celebrity's exceptional Solstice-Class Godmothers - Morgan, too, has courageously battled breast cancer. Despite enduring two series of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, she says she didn't allow the disease to define her.
"I learned many lessons as I went through the treatment," says Morgan. "I found that if I continued with my life and work, and behaved positively - showing unflinching confidence and optimism to my family, friends, co-workers, and doctors, and banishing any doubts or negative thoughts - it would take over the core of my belief system, and it did. More importantly, my family, friends and industry friends brought me endless joy and hope."
"Michelle Morgan personifies all of the qualities we seek in our Solstice-Class Godmothers: remarkable strength and courage in both her professional and personal life, along with optimism, warmth and a very engaging personality, all of which have made her so admired throughout the industry," said Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Dan Hanrahan.
Morgan shares Celebrity Cruises' devotion to the breast cancer cause, through Signature's participation in the travel industry's breast cancer awareness month in October, and says Signature's board will be exploring fundraising programs for breast cancer research this year.
Celebrity Cruises also said it plans to extend its efforts to support the cause, which began in 2008 with its Celebrity Solstice event to raise funds for breast cancer screenings for low-income women, and its sponsorship of the first "Celebrity Sunwalk," in association with Walk the Walk, a breast cancer charity founded by the Godmother of Celebrity Equinox, Nina Barough. In addition to continuing to work with Walk the Walk in the UK, Celebrity also will introduce a variety of year-long fundraising activities to further support breast cancer research this year.
Following Celebrity Silhouette's naming cruise July 21-23, the ship will set sail from Hamburg to Civitavecchia (for Rome), Italy, where it will present 12-night roundtrip Mediterranean/Holy Land voyages through October. The ship will offer Celebrity's first Solstice Class sailings from the Northeast beginning in November, when Celebrity Silhouette offers 12-night Caribbean vacations roundtrip from the port of Cape Liberty (Bayonne), NJ.
One of the fastest-growing major cruise lines, Celebrity's fleet currently consists of nine ships, with two additional Solstice Class ships scheduled to join the fleet: Celebrity Silhouette in July 2011, and Celebrity Reflection in Fall 2012.