British icon and Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren is to name the largest superliner designed exclusively for Britain, Ventura the latest addition to P&O Cruises fleet (it is announced today, February 4). The spectacular evening naming ceremony, with Dame Helen as the ship's Godmother, will take place in Southampton on April 16, prior to Ventura's maiden cruise to the Mediterranean.
But in a break with tradition, instead of Dame Helen simply pressing a button to send a cradled Taittinger champagne bottle towards the ship, she will command a crack team of Royal Marine Commandos to assist her in naming Ventura in a dramatic abseil.
Dame Helen Mirren said, "It is the first time I have ever named a ship, let alone one of the size of P&O Cruises Ventura and am really looking forward to being Godmother.”
Royal Marines display team commanding officer, Lt Colonel Steve Richards, "This is a rather unusual assignment for our lads, but well within their capabilities. They are very keen to assist Dame Helen with the launch - they will not let her down."
P&O Cruises managing director, Nigel Esdale said: "Dame Helen Mirren embodies glamour, vitality and Britishness, which are all values that will be a feature of Ventura. We are honoured that she has agreed to become Godmother. The arrival of Ventura is set to usher in a new era for the British cruise industry and will accelerate the rate of progress of an already fast growing market. We are delighted that Dame Helen is to be associated with her. At the same time, we are determined to get the bottle-smashing right, and are grateful for the military coordinated assistance of the Royal Marines."
In keeping with Ventura's contemporary and innovative values, her naming ceremony will be a departure from tradition. As well as Dame Helen's customary champagne naming, the celebration will encompass an exciting show with dramatic surprises.
On board, 1,500 guests will be invited including Ventura’s consultant celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White, and children's favourite, Noddy. The occasion will benefit three children's charities supported by Dame Helen and P&O Cruises - Barnardos, Kid's Company and Naomi House.