Carnival Cruise Line officially named its new Horizon cruise ship in New York City last week, and Queen Latifah played a very special role. Not only was the Grammy-winning artist there to compete against Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott in a Lip Sync Battle (Spoiler: She won.), but she was also on board to christen the gargantuan new ship as its godmother.
We spoke with the Queen on the ship in between her Lip Sync rehearsals, where she dished out everything from her best cruising tips to how to make the perfect vacation playlist.
Travel + Leisure: What does it mean to you to be Godmother of a cruise ship?
Queen Latifah: “I mean this is a first ... I love these big, massive, beautiful ships and what they are able to create. Carnival is unbelievable with this. To be able to be part of a naming of this cruise ship is really special. And I have family members who love to cruise and they're here today, they came up from Maryland to check out the new ship, so it's an exciting day.”
Have you ever taken a cruise?
“I've taken one cruise. It's kind of hard for me, because I'm pretty famous — not to toot my own horn — but it could get a little difficult for someone like myself. But I performed on another Carnival cruise a few years back and I'll tell you I had so much fun on that cruise, I couldn't believe it. It was my first experience cruising and there was music everywhere, performances all over the place, all the restaurants, all the fun during the day ... the staff alone, the people are so very helpful, they make it a lot of fun. I had a blast. It was definitely something I'd do again if I could. I might be able to sneak one in on Carnival Horizon which I'm looking forward to because they have some nice quick cruises to Bermuda, so I might hop on one of those this summer.”
What's your best cruising tip?
“If you're grumpy about something, leave that at the dock. Whatever your problems are, whatever life's stresses are, you get an opportunity to take a week, 10 days, two weeks — leave it at the dock, jump on the ship, and just enjoy yourself. It's a very exciting thing to be able to do, to be able to visit so many places in such a short amount of time ... and take somebody with you who you really want to hang with; somebody who knows how to have some fun.”
Speaking of things you need to bring with you, what's one thing you always pack no matter what?
“My Bible. I bring my Bible wherever I go. I definitely take my Bible, and my face products — my skincare. I definitely take some sunblock, but the good stuff that's for the face.”
What are some of your favorite skin products?
“It depends on where you're going because you can get natural things; I just left Hawaii not too long ago, they make all-natural things that are healthy for the environment that you can just get there. But if I'm here I usually use a Neutrogena on the face or La Roche, they have some great ones; I use Kasha, which is another skincare line that has a great one ... but the most important thing is to actually use it and not to forget to keep putting it on. You can get a lot of sun. We're on Pier 88 in Manhattan right now and it is so sunny outside that I had to kind of go inside for a second. You could get a sunburn right on your balcony.”
Who are the people you always take along with you?
“Any of my friends, any of my relatives — my family knows how to party. They know how to have a good time. They do this all the time, they leave without me, so if anything I'd be going with them.”
Who's the one celebrity you'd love to travel with?
“Actually, and I told him that, I would like to roll with Ewan McGregor; I would like to get on my motorcycle and he can get on his ... I would love to take a motorcycle trip with him somewhere. Somewhere around the world, try one of those adventure rides. Other than that I guess if we can go SpaceX on this bad boy I'd roll with Elon [Musk]. Let me go see what space feels like.”
We had to ask: Is Queen Latifah the name on your passport?
“We don't answer these questions because I don't need anybody duplicating my Queen Latifah passport. [Laughs] No, Queen Latifah is the face that's on the passport; she's the one who travels around the world ... but definitely not the name on the passport.”
What's the best fake name you've used to book a hotel?
“I used to stay under the name Dominique Sadat; I pictured myself just being a spy with this extravagant life, and I love the name Dominique. Back then at least. Now I've moved on to several other names.”
Do you have a go-to travel outfit?
“It's all about the pants I'm wearing. I'll wear either some really comfortable stretch leggings or I have these Helmut Lang pants that are comfortable and they stretch because I'm gonna lay down, I'm gonna sleep ... I don't want anything tight around my waist ... and as far as shoes are concerned, I wear something really comfortable because sometimes your feet tend to swell when you fly and you want to be in something that has a little give to it. Last night it was my Fenty Pumas but who knows what it'll be today, maybe some Nikes, usually a sneaker.”
Do you have an in-flight routine?
“I've been flying a very long time; I've been flying more than half my life. I have a prayer that I always say, I may add on a little extra depending on what I'm feeling or what's going on in life ... I get on the plane and I get comfortable. I take my shoes off, I put all my things away, anything I need I take it out, I do not like getting up and going in the overhead compartment. I make sure I have a separate little bag with me with all the things I need quickly: a pair of glasses, some lotion, some lip balm, my books I want to read. And I gotta have my Bose headphones for high-quality sound.”
What's on your travel playlist?
“You know, it depends on what country I'm going to; I might need to get inspired. If I'm going to Jamaica I might play a little more reggae, if I'm going to Brazil it might be some samba ... electronic music and house music are always in there and of course depending on which hip-hop song is popping at the time I'm playing that too. I usually wait 'til I get there, wherever the vacation is, even if it's in my room on this vessel, and plug in my speaker and blast some hip-hop ... that's my thing. I play some hip-hop and that's my thing.”
Editor's Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length.