Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate, activist and Taliban survivor is an inspirational figure - but last Tuesday, the 21-year old University of Oxford student took on another role.

She is now also the "godmother" of a 130 thousand tonne boat.

Breaking a custom made, eighteen-litre Melchior sized bottle of sparkling water on the prow of the ship, she dubbed the vessel Celebrity Edge.

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President of the Celebrity cruise line was thrilled by the choice. "Malala is the perfect godmother for Celebrity Edge," she said of the young role model.

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Malala's other roles include running the Malala Fund which advocates international literacy and a world where all girls can attend schools without fear.

The Pakistan-born activist has spoken in the UN parliament so breaking a bottle on a boat should have been a doddle.

However this choice of godmother represented a piece of history.

A ship's naming ceremony is normally presided over by royalty. Queen Elizabeth II has a whole fleet of cruise-godchildren to her name, but now cruise ships are thinking more creatively about whom to put as the spiritual figurehead of their vessels.

Malala foundation: Yousafzai speaks on her charity's pro-literacy goals in Sydney. Photo / James D. Morgan, Getty Images
Malala foundation: Yousafzai speaks on her charity's pro-literacy goals in Sydney. Photo / James D. Morgan, Getty Images

For Lutoff-Perlo, Malala was a visionary choice and sent a clear message about the Celebrity fleet's latest addition:

"When we were thinking about this ship and we were thinking about the fact that it's really transformative and heroic we then decided that we needed to think about a godmother who is equally transformative and equally heroic and when the team was thinking about who could that be, the first name that came to everyone's lips was Malala Yousafzai," she said in an interview with Escape magazine.

As part of this Celebrity has partnered to support the Malala Fund's mission in pledging 12 years of safe, quality education for the 130 million school-age girls around the world who would otherwise not receive it.

"I'm fighting to ensure millions of girls stuck in situations of poverty or war that they didn't create can learn what they need to choose a future for themselves," said Malala Yousafzai, on launching the vessel.

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The public face of a ship is an important consideration for a boat.

Particularly for a cruise line whose name is "Celebrity", the godparents it takes to represent its ships as figureheads are an important consideration.

Godfather: Musician, Pitbull christens Norwegian Escape. Photo / Alexander Tamargo, Getty Images
Godfather: Musician, Pitbull christens Norwegian Escape. Photo / Alexander Tamargo, Getty Images

Other cruise lines' creative nominations to the ambassadorial position include Duchess of Cambridge AKA Kate Middleton (for the aptly named Royal Princess), Melania Trump (Norwegian Jewel) and the entire Miami Dolphins Cheer Squad (Norwegian Getaway).

Though highly non-traditional there have even been male godparents to cruise liners. In 2018, the rapper Pitbull became "godfather" to Norwegian Escape.

"I think Pitbull was the first time we really looked to try to extend it beyond the typical outcome,"said Norwegian's President Andy Stuart after the musician, real name Armando Christian Pérez, named the ship in 2015.

By going against convention, the choice helped the cruise line make the statement that they were about "non-traditional cruising that focuses on freedom and flexibility for guests."

As well as marketing spin, the choice of a celebrity godparent can do wonders for cruise sales. By having the right godparent as the 'face of the ship', ships can cruise on the fame and fanbase of their naming patron.

Norwegian Godmothers: The Maiami Dolphins' Cheer Squad of the Norwegian Getaway. Photo / Supplied
Norwegian Godmothers: The Maiami Dolphins' Cheer Squad of the Norwegian Getaway. Photo / Supplied

When Oprah Winfrey christened Holland America's Niew Statendam the godmother sold out a branded three-day, Florida "Girls' Getaway" itinerary almost instantly.

Fictional godparents are not unheard of. When cartoon character Dora the Explorer was chosen as the figurehead of P&O's Pacific Explorer, President Sture Myrmell described her as "a perfect fit to help showcase all that our ship has to offer."

While some liners are setting a course away from tradition, others are using their celebrity co-brands to establish new ones. MSC Cruises, for example, insists on aligning themselves with Hollywood royalty such as Sofia Loren for their ships.

Silversea Cruises' owner Manfredi Lefebvre has made all his female family members honorary godmothers to his fleet.

While now godfathers and even god families are the new norm there is one gender norm that goes unchallenged.

The ships are all without exception referred to as female and so too unwavering are the words of their chosen celebrity at the ceremony:

"May God bless her and all who sail in her."

Though, as proven by Malala Yousafzai, the breaking of champagne on the prow is entirely optional.