Gifford was joined by her mother Kathie Lee Gifford, who served as the godmother for Carnival’s 1987-built Celebration. Along with an impromptu performance by Kathie Lee, who sang the memorable tune to the commercials that helped popularize the Carnival brand in the 1980s, attendees were treated to a preview of the new ship’s entertainment, including an aerialist performance.

Capt. Vincenzo Alcaras accompanied the godmother as she broke the ceremonial Champagne.

‘Celebrate!’ with Kool & The Gang

A concert by Kool & The Gang capped the night and included their dance classic ‘Celebrate!’

Carnival President Christine Duffy called it the ‘perfect culmination’ of the 50th anniversary year and said Carnival Celebration ‘builds on the success of our incredible Mardi Gras and the many innovations we introduced with our Excel class, including a top-deck roller-coaster,’ along with new features.

Duffy spoke before an audience in the ship’s three-deck-high atrium, Celebration Central.

Emeril Lagasse opens Emeril’s Bistro 1397

Also on Sunday evening, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse cut a ribbon to open his second restaurant at sea, Emeril’s Bistro 1397, inside Carnival Celebration’s The Gateway, a new zone.

Lagasse’s latest location builds on guest-favorite menu items from his first restaurant at sea on Mardi Gras and adds more international offerings to match The Gateway’s travel theme.

It offers cuisines that complement the visuals shown on 12 virtual ‘windows’ surrounding the space, The Gateway also features a 100-foot LED ceiling, sound effects and theatrical lighting that combine to create an ever-changing environment inside the two-deck-high promenade.

The Gateway also includes a new travel-inspired bar concept, Latitudes, which evokes a classic airport or train station with a modern take on a vintage departures board. Together, Latitudes and Emeril’s Bistro serve international dishes that change to correspond with the zone’s nightly themes and featured cultures.

820 Biscayne

Another new part of Carnival Celebration is the Miami-themed zone 820 Biscayne, named after Carnival’s first headquarters address and designed as a tribute to Miami’s cultural vibe and its dining and beverage offerings.

Terminal F opening

Carnival’s newly redesigned and expanded Terminal F opened its doors in conjunction with Carnival Celebration as the first LNG-powered cruise ship based at PortMiami.

At a ribbon-cutting Duffy was joined by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, county ommissioners and Carnival Corp. & plc CEO Josh Weinstein.

Ahead of the ribbon cutting, Duffy announced a $25,000 donation from Carnival to the Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in honor of the Miami-Dade leadership. The donation will support medical and health services to more than 6,000 women veterans in Miami-Dade.

The terminal’s new open design allows for great efficiency and flexibility to accommodate Carnival’s newest class of ships. The terminal also maximizes technology so cruisers move through the embarkation process quickly.

Digital media experiences are built into all three levels of Terminal F, including an immersive tunnel travelers pass through on level two. The digital screens showcase images of the ship, destinations, underwater seascapes and the nighttime sky.

Alternating eastern/western Caribbean cruises

Carnival Celebration is set to carry its first passengers from PortMiami on a six-day Thanksgiving cruise, sailing today to Grand Turk, Amber Cove and Nassau. On Nov. 27, the ship will begin a rotation of week-long eastern and western Caribbean sailings departing Sundays to such destinations as the Dominican Republic, St. Thomas, Cozumel and Costa Maya.

Five Fun Ships homeport at Miami

Adding Carnival Celebration at Terminal F, now five of Carnival’s 24-ship fleet are homeported in Miami. Going forward, the line expects to embark more than 20,000 cruisers per week from the port.