MS Azura

Torquay, United Kingdom | C.2010

Photo Credit: Will Hancox

Celebrated for its elegant design, not to mention its enormous size, it’s no wonder the MS Azura takes to the waters in unparalleled style. Launched in 2010, the Azura is the only Grand-class cruise ship with a “Duck Tail”-style stern and also counts a former Royal Ballet principal ballerina as its godmother.

Construction on the Azura began in 2008 when its keel was first laid at Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. The ship is classified as a Grand-class ship for its size and design, although the Azura has a modified design distinguishing her slightly from ships in the same class. After two years of building at Fincantieri, the Azura was ready to launch.

Her maiden voyage occurred on March 31, 2010, launching from Italy where it sailed to Southampton United Kingdom. There it was named by its godmother Darcey Busell, a former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet who is considered one of England’s greatest ballerinas. As part of the ceremony, Bussell also presented a performance by the Royal Ballet School on the ship.

It’s a common naval tradition to have a civilian act as “godmother” for a ship where they participate in its naming and blessing it by smashing a bottle of champagne on its hull. Some notable cruise ship godmothers include Dame Helen Mirren, Malala Yousafzai, and even Queen Elizabeth II. In some cases, men have also been called up to serve as a godfather of a ship.

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