MIAMI: Royal Caribbean will introduce the largest cruise ship in the world next week in New York amidst a flurry of high-profile PR events.
The launch comes as the company deals with fallout - most recently in the April issue of Vanity Fair - from an incident last summer in which a passenger disappeared during a cruise.
The new ship, Freedom of the Seas, will arrive in New York harbor Wednesday May 10. On May 12, NBC's Today show will air live from the ship, which will be anchored in front of the Statue of Liberty.
"This is by far the biggest inaugural we have ever done," said Rene Mack, president of the travel and leisure group at Weber Shandwick, Royal Caribbean's AOR for the past eight years.
Today will also kick off its summer concert series that day with Barry Manilow performing on the ship's top deck.
Mack said the company started mulling the campaign two years ago. "Royal Caribbean knew it was debuting the largest cruise ship two years later, so the thought process was, 'How do we top the coverage the Queen Mary 2 got?'" Mack said.
The company settled on a promotion around the traditional christening ceremony in which a "godmother," normally a head of state or celebrity, breaks a bottle of champagne across the ship's bow.
In conjunction with Today, Royal Caribbean set out to find an everyday woman who did "great things for other people who would otherwise not be recognized," Mack said.
They chose Louise Calder, a foster mother from Portland, OR.
Tracy Quan, director of corporate communications at Royal Caribbean, said the ship will also host a gala party for Spike Lee's celebration of his 20th year in the film industry.
Quan said the incident last summer hasn't forced the company to alter communications or business.