It sounds like an April Fool’s Day joke. Except it isn’t. Or so they say.
Showing its playful side, cruise giant Royal Caribbean is asking the British wisecracker who famously suggested the name Boaty McBoatface for a new research vessel to help the line name one of its next ships, too.
Royal Caribbean tells USA TODAY it has invited James Hand, 26, of the UK’s West Midlands to sail on its newest and biggest vessel, Harmony of the Seas, when it debuts in May. In what is either guerrilla marketing at its best or a disaster in the making, he’ll then meet with the line’s ship naming team to brainstorm a name for a coming vessel.
“Like the rest of the world, we fell in love with the name Boaty McBoatface when we heard it, and we knew immediately that Royal Caribbean could use James Hand’s talent to name our next ship,” Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley is quoted as saying in an announcement to be issued Friday.
Hand gained overnight fame earlier this month after submitting the ridiculous name to an otherwise sober online contest to label a $288 million Antarctic survey vessel. The ship is being built for the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council. Catching the fancy of mischievous Internet users, the moniker quickly shot to the top in online voting, ahead of such history-inspired names as Shackleton and Endeavour, and the story went viral (so much so that the Council’s voting site crashed).
So does this mean a Boaty McBoatface of the Seas or something similar is in the cards? Probably not, although Royal Caribbean showed its sense of humor by mocking up an image of one of its ships with the name splashed across its rear. Hand won’t necessarily have the final say in a future ship name.
Not that Hand isn’t taking the challenge seriously.
“I’m really excited Royal Caribbean has given me the opportunity to test out my boat-naming prowess on its fleet,” he told USA TODAY in an email relayed through a third party, as he’s no longer giving interviews. “The offer came as a massive surprise, as has all of the interest since I submitted the name Boaty McBoatface.”
Hand said he’s never been on a cruise before and is looking forward to experiencing Harmony of the Seas. Scheduled to sail for the first time with paying passengers on May 22, the ship is one of five Royal Caribbean has on order, three of which have yet to be named.
“I’m flattered by the interest,” said Hand, who at times has seemed a little flummoxed by the media frenzy his submission set off. “Especially as I was starting to think my ship-naming days were behind me.”
In a recent tweet, Hand called the whole thing “bonkers.”
This isn’t the first time Royal Caribbean has turned to outsiders for help in naming a vessel. Readers from USA TODAY named Royal Caribbean’s two largest ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, as part of a contest held at the USA TODAY Cruise Hub in 2008.
USA TODAY Cruise in 2015 was among a handful of U.S. media outlets to get early access to Royal Caribbean’s last new vessel, Anthem of the Seas, ahead of its christening in Southampton, England. For our ‘first look’ tour of the ship, click through the carousel below.
USA TODAY Reporter Gene Sloan may get to sail the world on the newest cruise ships, but he wasn’t that thrilled about this assignment…trying out indoor skydiving perched on the edge of Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas.
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The bionic bar on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas is an impressive sight…but can it make a drink as well as a human bartending expert? Let’s find out!
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USA TODAY Travel takes you onto Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum class ship, Anthem of the Seas. Watch the ship pull away from port in this time-lapse video.
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You won’t believe all the features inside the Royal Loft Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas. But it’s what’s on the outside that will REALLY blow you away!
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Meet Emma Wilby, the Godmother of Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas…yes, that’s a real thing! She’s in charge of bestowing luck on the ship, a responsibility that lasts a lifetime.
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Take a look at Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest mega-ship, from the sky and find out about some its impressive statistics!
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Gigi the giraffe is stealing the show on Royal Caribbean’s newest Quantum class ship, Anthem of the Seas. The 32-foot tall mascot made quite a journey to get on board the ship!
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Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Sea set sail from Southampton, Great Britain for its inaugural cruise on Friday, October 31, 2014. Watch the ship pull away from the port in this time lapse video.
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Cruisers aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas are flocking to the Bionic Bar — where robots perfectly mix custom drinks with precision.
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The North Star will lift you 300-feet above the level of the sea on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. A ride on North Star is between 10 and 15 minutes — but we’ve compressed it down to 60 seconds in this time lapse video.
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The suites aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas feature plenty of space, luxurious ammenities and epic views everywhere you look.
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Passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas can feel as if they are skydiving while aboard the ship with RipCord by iFly.
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Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman & CEO Richard Fain gives USA TODAY an exclusive first look at the North Star on Quantum of the Seas. The North Star lifts guests 300 feet above the sea for an epic view.
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Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas features a bartender like you’ve probably never seen. Watch as the Bionic Bar mixes one cruiser’s custom cocktail.
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Interior state rooms on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas feature virtual balconies — floor to ceiling screens that display a real time view of the outside view.
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Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas features an open, multi-use space called SeaPlex. Cruisers can enjoy bumper cars, roller skating, basketball, a nightclub and even more while aboard.
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By day, Quantum of the Seas’ Two70 is a great place to take in the view and relax. But at night, the space transforms into an entertainment venue featuring a massive projection screen and six robotic, moving video screens.
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Chef and restauranteur Jamie Oliver is bringing his restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, to Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. The restaurant features classic italian dishes and some diners’ favorites from his land-based restaurants.
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James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz is bring his own line of beers, plus artisanal and craft foods to Michael’s Genuine Pub on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.
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‘Terrified’ reporter goes flying on cruise ship’s edge
Man vs. machine: Who makes the ultimate mixed drink?
Sail onto the water on Anthem of the Seas in 30 seconds
The luxurious suite feature you just can’t get at home
Why your next vacation needs a (fairy) Godmother!
Soar above Anthem of the Seas as it sets sail
Meet Anthem of the Seas 32-foot mascot
Quantum of the Seas sets sail for inaugural cruise
Bionic Bar mixes perfect, precise drinks
Experience Quantum of the Seas’ North Star in 60 seconds
Quantum of the Seas suites ‘wow’ with space, epic views
Get airborne on your next cruise
Quantum of the Seas ride gives 360-degree sea view
Quantum of the Seas’ Bionic Bar mixes your drink in about a minute
Virtual balconies bring ocean views to interior state rooms
Quantum of the Seas’ SeaPlex feature bumper cars, more
Quantum of the Seas’ ‘Two70’ is transformative living room
Jamie Oliver brings ‘neighborhood’ Italian to Quantum of the Seas
Michael’s Genuine Pub brings artisan flavors to Quantum of the Seas
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