Britain’s newest ship sails on maiden voyage after naming by Darcey Bussell

Britain’s newest ship sails on maiden voyage after naming by Darcey Bussell

Prima ballerina Darcey Bussell CBE has officially christened Azura, the latest P&O Cruises ship built exclusively for Britain. The spectacular celebrity naming ceremony, with Darcey Bussell as the ship’s Godmother, took place on Saturday April 10, prior to Azura’s maiden cruise to the Mediterranean which departed today.

Widely considered to be one of the greatest ballerinas of all time, Miss Bussell danced in the “Girl Hunt” scene reminiscent of Cyd Charisse in Band Wagon and then twirled onto the top deck of the ship in a striking red Jasper Conran evening dress.

Darcey Bussell said, “It’s a great honour to be involved as Azura’s godmother. For me this is a wonderful event because I am able promote the best of dance within one evening. It’s wonderful that P&O Cruises is carrying on that theme from the old films where dance was so important.”

P&O Cruises managing director, Carol Marlow said: “Darcey embodies glamour, vitality and classical elegance, which are also reflected in Azura. We are honoured that she agreed to become Godmother. Azura has one of her three magnificent dance floors right at the heart of the ship, so with dancing a real feature, Darcey was a natural choice for Godmother and very fittingly has given Azura the best possible start in life.”

In keeping with Azura’s “back to the future” values, her naming ceremony was a departure from tradition yet captured the glamorous spirit of dance and romance. As well as Darcey’s customary champagne naming, the celebration encompassed a spectacular event with clips from the most memorable dance sequences in film history, on Azura’s new SeaScreen, along with a live dance show.

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Over 1,200 guests were on board including Azura’s consultant Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar; wine expert Olly Smith who has a designer wine bar on board; GMTV presenter Emma Crosby; Strictly Come Dancing stars Tom Chambers, Camilla Dallerup and Craig Revel Horwood; Angela Griffin; parliamentary candidate Esther Rantzen and comedian Johnny Vegas.

The occasion benefited three charities supported by Darcey Bussell – The Prince’s Rainforest Trust, Royal Ballet School and Sydney Dance Company.

Azura departed today on her maiden cruise to the Mediterranean, calling in Malaga, Katakolon (for tours to Olympia), Corfu, Dubrovnik, Venice, Korcula and Gibraltar before returning to Southampton on Wednesday 28 April.