Seawater is lapping round the hull of P&O’s new super ship Azura for the first time tonight as the dry-dock where it has been under construction at the Monfalcone shipyard in Venice begins to fill.
Before the end of the weekend, the 115,000-ton vessel, a sister for Ventura, will be towed to another part of the yard and the dock will be drained ready for the first blocks of Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth to be lifted in o place next week.
Amanda Dowds, wife of Azura captain Keith Dowds, was the madrina or godmother, and welded a newly-minted £2 coin and a new euro at the base of the ship’s mast before smashing a bottle of Prosecco on the hull as a signal for the sluice gates to be opened.
There to see their new baby were Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, who is developing Sindhu, the ship’s Indian restaurant, and TV’s Saturday Kitchen wine expert Olly Smith, who will supervise the Glass House wine bar.
Also present were Carnival UK CEO, David Dingle, whose speech was bravely made in Italian, and P&O MD, Nigel Esdale.
Azura’s maiden voyage, a 16-night cruise to the Mediterranean, will leave Southampton on April 12 2010.