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Azura Naming Ceremony

The naming ceremony for Azura was held last Saturday (10 April). I wasn’t there, but my internet friend Sue (who posts on several forums as ‘LibraLass’) was one of the lucky invitees. Here’s the report she wrote:

When we arrived at Ocean Terminal, and went to the arrivals lounge. We sat and waited to board and a nice touch was all of a sudden, a ‘Officer’ who was walking through the waiting area burst into song. I later discovered he and other singing ‘officers’ were from a group called ‘Tenors and Divas Incognito’.

After a strict security check – my first time to have a full body search (external only!!) and my luggage turned out of its case and looked through (my styling brush looked like a knife apparently! ) when it went through the scanner, we eventually got onboard. I think it was 3.30pm (check in started at 3pm). We headed for our cabin straight away to leave our hand luggage, as we had a 4pm meet with Carol Marlow (P&O Managing Director) who had kindly agreed to meet us ‘top 12 posters on the P&O community chat site‘. Oh dear! Cabin door doesn’t open, look around to see other people having trouble opening their doors as well. Eventually a steward appears and lets us in, but we have to go down to the reception later to activate the card. We leave the luggage and head straight for the Planet Bar up on deck 18 for our short meet with Carol Marlow.

Ms Marlow meets us along with Elliott the Media Manager who arranged for us P&O Cruise Community top posters to come to the event. Carol asks us if we like Azura, a silence….as we have all been onboard about 15mins, and that was just the trip up to our cabins and along to the bar, so we can’t really answer that one…but agree she looks a lovely ship. She shakes hands with every one of us and says nice to meet you, then tells us about the ship. Some questions are asked about itineraries and new suggestions for new places to go. I also asked one question ‘Will P&O ever bring ever back some mid range 70-80,000 tonnes ships into the fleet again or will they always be the size of Ventura/Azura ? And she said Azura maybe the last one of this size for quite a while and they may well come back to Aurora/Arcadia sized ships depending on the needs and wants of their customers…so you never know. After the 15min meet we thanked Carol for inviting us, and she went on to a press conference.

Then it was time to explore the ship. We only had about a hour or so. I took some photos of the ship, here is a link to them:
http://picasaweb.google.com/AuroraPartyCruiseSueV/AzuraApril10#5458865851795395218

Then we decided to have afternoon tea, unbelievably my first ever afternoon tea after 10 cruises, I never attend these as I don’t like to eat food that close to dinner, even though we are on 2nd sitting. As we don’t go into dinner tonight until 9pm I decide to give it a try, and enjoy the savouries, having 2, and there was also finger sandwiches, and assorted tiny pasties , cakes and scones, and of course plentiful cups of tea!.

Back To the cabin then to change for the formal naming event party. I wear a black & white dress with gold sheer wrap (as it’s black, white and gold dress code), I meet Elliot the Media Manager outside the Planet bar, and he invites us for drinks with his wife, so champagne is the order of the day at the free bar. Then onto the Gala reception, with plentiful canapés and drinks. Ventura was still in dock and sailed later than usual at about 7.30pm , it was wonderful to see these two ‘sister-ships’ together, as she sailed past Azura gave her some horn blasts.

The naming ceremony then began with Sir Trevor McDonald doing the introduction, followed by Carol Marlow giving a speech, and then there was dancing first from boys from the London ballet school, in sailors outfits and then dancers doing different dances from a ‘movie dance theme’ for example Elvis was on the sea screen in the movie jail-house rock and below the dancers were dressed in the same jail -outfits doing the same dance.
Darcey Bussell then came on stage and named the ship, and then we had streamers from above and fireworks over the ship. As the fireworks faded we all went on into dinner.

The menu was a fixed one, and we luckily liked all that was offered:

Duo of Loch Fyne Smoked Salmon and Scottish Langoustine

Leek and Mushroom Veloute (soup!)

Rack of West Country Lamb

Chocolate Delicacies (oooh even a pot of runny white and dark chocolate with a chocolate spoon.)
The dinner service was rather slow, we had our soup at 10.30pm… but I expect the new waiting and kitchen staff are still finding their feet, and we all waited patiently and enjoyed what was offered.
We had a full guest list given to us so here are some of the people invited….

Who went ?

There were VIP’s and minor? celebs depending on your point of view, and a few big celebs – depending on your point of view. !

First the Celebs (or VIP’s) !

Sir Trevor McDonald
Darcey Bussell CBE
Johnny Vegas
Kim Woodburn(how clean is your house- the blonde one with the hair bun!)
Helen Worth (Gail from Corrie)
Esther Ranzen CBE
Judith Chalmers
Sarah Kennedy MBE Broadcaster
Angela Griffin (ex Corrie, ) Now talkshow host and acts in other shows
Tom Chambers
Camilla Dallerup
Craig Revel Horwood
Emma Crosby – GMTV

Gary Rhodes

Annabel Croft

Richard Fleeshman

Olly Smith Wine expert and has a bar on there -Glass House
Atul Kochhar -Michelin chef

Then there were P&O/carnival top execs..
Carol Marlow -Managing Director
David Dingle CBE
and other Managers …

There were Food Writers,and Critics, Travel writers , Travel Agents, Lords, Baroness’s, Dr’s Etc, and people from businesses related to the building of Azura.

and the representatives of cruise chat sites such as Cruise Critic, Cruise.co.uk and P&O…

Darcey Bussell:
She was beautiful, elegant, delightful…and wore a red dress by Jasper Conran.

She was chosen as she epitomises glamour, sophistication and elegance ”all the qualities we are trying to achieve with Azura” says Carol Marlow…. A perfect choice as Godmother for Azura. She didn’t make a speech, just named the ship and cut the clapperboard tape which launched the champagne, but everything went as it should and everyone enjoyed the party.
After strolling around the ship and watching a Annie Lennox Tribute singer, it was time for bed, and on our bed – a lovely surprise of Dartington Glasses in a presentation box with a blue wave design swirling around each flute.
In the morning we ate breakfast in the Peninsular Restaurant, and then it was time to reluctantly leave this fine beautiful ship. I would like to return someday soon
.

Thanks to Sue for permission to re-use her report here. You can find her pictures of the event here; and another set of pictures of Azura here (again, by Sue).

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