The Cruise Ship MS Azura is Launched During a Pomp-Filled Celebration in Italy  

June 26, 2009

The cruise ship MS Azura, which had been built by the Trieste-based company Fincantieri S.p.A. at its shipyard in the town and comune of Monfalcone in northern Italy, was launched with a great deal of fanfare. (Fincantieri is the largest shipbuilder in Europe and the fourth largest in the world.) Azura was built for P&O Cruises, a British cruise line brand that is operated by Carnival United Kingdom (UK) and owned by the British-American travel leisure company Carnival Corporation & plc.

The Friday launching ceremony for Azura was attended by a large number of dignitaries, journalists, P&O Cruises executives, and shipyard workers. David K. Dingle, the chief executive officer of Carnival UK, was also on hand for those festivities and he used the opportunity to address the crowd. As a nod to the location of the launch and the fact that a company headquartered in Trieste built Azura, the British-born Dingle gave his entire speech in Italian. As the website Cruise Critic reported, “he sounded pretty fluent, though the language is clearly not his native tongue!”

Keith Dowds was the inaugural captain of Azura, and his wife Amanda Dowds served as the ship’s madrina (the Italian word for “godmother”) during the launch. Her duties in this regard included smashing a bottle of the Italian white wine Prosecco against the hull of the ship. This part of the ceremony was accompanied by loud cheers from those in attendance and followed by the performance of both the Italian and British national anthems.

Azura undertook her maiden voyage the following year, departing from Italy on March 31 and arriving in England on April 7. The 951.5-foot (290-meter) Azura is one of the Grand-class ships that have been built for use by not only P&O Cruises but also its fellow Carnival Corporation line Princess Cruises. The “duck tail” stem of Azura is one key feature that sets that vessel apart from the other Grand-class ships. Azura was originally registered to the city of Southampton in England as her homeport. Since 2011, however, this ship’s homeport has instead been the city of Hamilton in Bermuda.

Photo Credit: Master0Garfield (licensed under Creative Commons)

For more information on the launch of MS Azura, please check out


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