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It finally happened, after the long wait: Azura arrived at Southampton this morning. She edged gently into Berth 46 at Southampton docks, alongside the Ocean Terminal, at just after 9 o’clock. She’ll stay there for a number of days. I gather that there will be a lot of visits on board by travel industry workers for the rest of the week. Then on Saturday evening there’ll be the grand naming ceremony, by Darcy Busselle, the Royal Ballet’s former principal ballerina. (I’m still not entirely sure what her connection is with cruising or P&O – but never mind!) Those invited to the naming ceremony will be staying on board overnight, though Azura will remain firmly tied up alongside the pier. Incidentally, I’m hoping to persuade someone who’s been invited to the naming ceremony to send me an account of it. Then next Monday, 12 April, Azura will set off on her first paying cruise, 16 nights to Venice and back.

Andrew Sassoli-Walker, whose work I’ve been able to feature here before, was able to take some of his excellent pictures as Azura came into Southampton this morning. You can find them here – the last four images in that gallery. In my humble opinion, they’re better than the ones on the PO website. Thank you, Andrew, both for the images and permission to link to them.

One more thing about Azura – it seems her port of registry is Southampton. I hope they keep that, it seems better than having Hamilton (in Bermuda) as the port of registry. I know that probably means they can’t do weddings; maybe there’s been a rethink.

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