Vacationer is thrilled to celebrate the announcement that Captain Sandy Yawn has been named as one of the Godmothers of Celebrity Ascent – it’s Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship set to launch in November. The Below Deck star will share the coveted title with her sister Michelle Dunham, the founder of the Jacksonville School for Autism (JSA). 

The sisters will now join the industry’s first brother-Captains Dimitrios, and Tasos Kafetzis, who were announced earlier this year as the chosen duo to jointly take the helm of the new vessel. 

You may recall that we interviewed Captain Sandy, where she not only talked to us about Season 7 of the hit Bravo TV series, Below Deck Mediterranean. She also revealed details about her career and relationship with her longtime girlfriend Leah Shafer. 

Celebrity Ascent (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)
Celebrity Ascent (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

Now the celebrity captain and her sister will join an illustrious group of admired, purposeful, and inspirational women who hold the role of Godmother for a Celebrity Cruises ship. Godmothers of the previous Edge® Series ships include Simone Biles, 19-time World Champion and seven-time Olympic Medalist who christened the most recent ship, Celebrity Beyond, in 2022; Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of international nonprofit Girls Who Code who named Celebrity Apex in 2021; and Malala Yousafzai, Nobel laureate and activist, who introduced the revolutionary ship class when Edge launched in 2018. 

“We are honored to have Captain Sandy and her sister Michelle join the legacy of Celebrity’s Godmothers, as they are both inspirational women who have dedicated their lives to making a positive impact in the world,” said Laura Hodges Bethge, Celebrity Cruises’ President. 


“Captain Sandy’s life story is one of resilience, leadership, and strength, as a pioneer in the maritime industry and as an inspirational role model for young women. Her sister Michelle is a tireless advocate for children with autism and shows us what is possible when you follow your vision for a better world. Both women live by Celebrity’s values, and we have no doubt they are the perfect choices for Ascent.” 

One of the most time-honored traditions at sea, the Godmother is the spiritual embodiment of a vessel – she is the woman who inspires, protects, and positively impacts the lives of everyone who sails onboard. During Ascent’s official naming ceremony on December 1, 2023, both sisters will bless and christen the ship, bringing good luck and protection for the crew and all passengers onboard.