Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm Glad The Bottle Broke Last Night

I suppose it is understandable. After spending over £300 million building and promoting the largest cruise ship designed for the British market you don't want anything to go wrong at the last minute. Especially, you don't want to give the poor ship a Titanic-like reputation by implying that there is a degree of bad luck associated with the vessel. After all, it was only four months ago that the poor old Duchess of Cornwall launched the new Cunard line, the Queen Victoria. The champagne bottle didn't break when it hit the bows and before you could reach for your sick-bag there was an outbreak of norovirus on board and passengers were demanding compensation. So when P&O planned the launching ceremony (actually a naming ceremony because the ship was launched ages ago) for the mighty Ventura, they were determined to leave nothing to chance.

So last night the entire family gathered around the computer screen to watch the live video transmission of the launching ceremony on the P&O website. This was more than idle curiosity - within a few months we would be on board and we were anxious to discover whether we would be visiting Barcelona or the Ship's Hospital. The entire 30 minute ceremony was compulsive viewing - although a fair degree of that compulsion was devoted to trying to follow a complex plot which seemed to involve MI5, James Bond, a dare-devil chef and a troupe of Marines. Eventually the time came to name the ship and - to ensure that there were no problems - the Marines abseiled down the side of the ship and manually smashed the champagne against the hull. The ferocity with which they did this suggested that they had been threatened with a severe punishment if the bottles didn't break.

So the ship should be safe. Mind you, how far can you believe such superstitious rubbish. When the P&O liner Aurora was launched in 2000 by the Princess Royal, the champagne bottle didn't break. From then onwards it was deemed to be an ill-fated vessel. It broke down, voyages had to be cancelled, people were ill ... all the usual stuff short of hitting an iceberg. But we sailed on the Aurora last year and it was one of the best ships, and best holidays we have ever had.

Nevertheless, I'm glad the bottle broke last night.

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