For whom the bells tolled

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Modernity has overtaken the necessity of ships’ bells, which have a rich history of ceremonial uses that followed their origins in marking the time for sailors without their own timepieces.

Though the big bronze or brass ringers are now rarities on pleasure ships, Celebrity Cruises this year marked International Women’s Day with handbells rung in ceremonies on all its vessels and in its offices around the globe.

Ahead of the new observance, Celebrity President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo explained:

“More than 35 stock exchanges around the world will Ring The Bell in support of the advancement of women joining the UN Global Compact, UN Women and numerous corporations who support the advancement of women in business.

This is a global movement that I am proud to join and make our own.”

The first-of-its-kind initiative – which included guests, crew and landside staff – was organized in concert with the Red Shoe Movement, a career and leadership development company focused on Latinas. Its founder and CEO, Mariela Dabbah, led a workshop at Royal Caribbean’s Miami headquarters to coincide with the symbolic bell-ringing ceremonies.

The brief observance of the day, which has been celebrated since 1908 when 15,000 women marched in New York City for fairer working conditions and voting rights, included the reading of this manifesto:

“Today, we commemorate International Women’s Day around the world – a day when we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Celebrity Cruises is proud to ‘Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas’ to accelerate the representation of women at all levels of decision-making, equal pay and shared power.

“Let the bells of our fleet echo the bells ringing today at stock exchanges around the world. And let them echo the bells of every school that welcomes girls through their doors in those countries where that is not yet a reality.

“Let’s sail together towards an equal future.”

Those who participated were encouraged to wear red shoes or other crimson accessories as the symbol of gender equality established by Dabbah’s Red Shoe Movement. Red shoes were chosen to reflect power with femininity.

In a written statement explaining its partnership with Celebrity for the International Women’s Day observance, RSM made it clear that the movement is for women, but not limited to them.

“The ‘Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas’ is a symbol of a world joined by oceans and by travel. An experience that opens our minds. Helps us see new perspectives, different cultures and ways in which people live and do things.

“Hopefully, an experience that leads us to understand that every human being deserves equal treatment and respect.”

Lutoff-Perlo, who has made diversity and inclusion her mission since taking the helm of Celebrity Cruises in late 2014, was inducted into the Red Shoe Movement’s Hall of Fame in 2017.