IONA, P&O Cruises’ new supership won’t be named with the traditional smash of a champagne bottle to ward off evil spirits.
Instead, she’ll be celebrated with a giant bottle of Blur legend Alex James’ Britpop CIDER.
Cruise line bosses want good old English apples to be used for next week’s smashing ceremony.
Step forward musician, producer, writer, cheesemaker and cider czar Alex, who crafts his elixir in Herefordshire.
Britpop is made with bitter sweet and bitter sharp cider apples from England’s ‘Cider Belt’ in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
The glittering ceremony takes place on Sunday May 16 in Southampton and, due to Covid restrictions, will be streamed online to a specially invited audience.
The VIP event will culminate in the smashing of a Nebuchadnezzar of Britpop, especially made for the event, against the side of Iona’s hull.
“Britain’s apples are part of our treasured heritage and Britpop has turned those apples into a celebratory tipple, which is an ideal way to launch this extraordinarily cool ship,” says Alex.
“Britpop is pure golden sunshine in a glass and it could not be more appropriate to mark the naming of a ship which will take you on glorious sunshine escapes. Cheers to Iona!”
During the ceremony Take That star Gary Barlow, who has signed up as Iona’s musical director, will sing live, and there’ll be a performance by the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra and Choir.
Dame Irene Hays, who heads up Hays Travel, will be there as Iona’s Godmother, and P&O ‘Food Heroes’ Eric Lanlard, Marco Pierre White and Olly Smith will be on hand, too.
Watch out also for ‘Local Food Heroes’ Jose Pizarro and Kjartan Skjelde as the event is hosted by BBC Radio 2 presenter and DJ Jo Whiley.
“The naming of a ship is a momentous occasion and steeped in seafaring tradition,” says P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow.
“The bottle smash, which has happened for centuries, is to ward off evil spirits and bless the ship, bringing it good fortune in its travels.
“Cider has often been used throughout history for ship launches, most notably during Prohibition, and for P&O Cruises and Iona, with her many firsts, it is very fitting to have English apples, grown from this ancient soil and pressed in this country, for the christening.
“We are also delighted to have Jo Whiley as our host for the event. With her inimitable warmth and style she will certainly embrace the virtual format and ensure all our guests feel an integral part of this special evening.”
Iona will sail her seven night maiden voyage around the coast of the island of Iona and the Scottish Isles from Southampton on Saturday August 7, 2021. See www.pocruises.com, call 03453 555 111 or call a trusted travel agent.