By Anesta Henry
Barbados was a part of history on Thursday when British-based cruise line P&O Cruises officially named its newest ship Arvia in a spectacular beachside ceremony at Heywoods Beach, St Peter.
The event which included some of Britain’s most contemporary performers and presenters – including award-winning, multi-platinum-selling singer, songwriter, actress, dancer and TV personality Nicole Scherzinger, named by P&O Cruises as Arvia’s godmother – was broadcast online to a global audience.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Grenada Dickon Mitchell, Minister of Tourism Ian Gooding-Edghill, Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for St Peter Colin Jordan, P&O Cruises President Paul Ludlow, senior corporate executives and specially invited guests witnessed the historic moment on the island’s west coast.
Prime Minister Mottley said Barbados and, by extension, the Caribbean was proud to have the honour of hosting the first naming ceremony of a P&O ship to take place outside of the United Kingdom.
“This coast here has seen the best and worst of times this decade. And it is so good that we can welcome you here because a few years ago in the middle of the [COVID-19] pandemic, it wasn’t able to happen. Today, we do so with pride,” the Barbadian leader said.
“And to all of you who are watching in the United Kingdom and wherever you are in the world, we say to you ‘do yourself a favour and come and join us in Barbados, come and join us in Grenada, come and join us in the Caribbean’ because, believe you me, if you have not seen heaven on earth then you will see it when you come here,” Mottley said.
Meanwhile, Ludlow said naming the ship in the Caribbean and having it broadcast as a live event was a first for the cruise line.
He noted that P&O Cruises has had a special relationship with Barbados, bringing guests here for many decades and having a ship homeporting on the island in the winter season.
“Both P&O Cruises and Barbados have a rich and proud history and it is, therefore, very fitting that we name our newest ship Arvia, our sunshine ship, under this Caribbean sun in the presence of all of you, many of whom lead and have affiliation and association with this exceptional region,” Ludlow said.
Built in 2022, Arvia is the second LNG-powered Excel class ship in the P&O Cruises fleet, following its sister ship Iona’s arrival in 2020.
Arvia has 20 restaurants, including new dining concepts, a swim-up bar, an indoor skydome with a retractable roof, an all-new top deck activity zone featuring a mission control multi-sensory escape room experience, and a boutique gin and rum distillery featuring tastings and masterclasses.
“Arvia is a creation of years of vision, design, technical, environmental and engineering excellence which
accumulated in this ship you see here before you today,” Ludlow said.
“This ship just behind me is an immense symbol of optimism and memories in the making. Arvia is the epitome of joyful travel of which we are very proud and which we hope you will remember for decades to come.”
During the ceremony, Scherzinger released a specially commissioned 15-litre Mount Gay Black Barrel bottle of rum which broke on the ship, in keeping with the belief of seafarers that the tradition affords the vessel luck and good fortune for the many journeys that lay ahead.
“Spirits were traditionally used for these ceremonies and it is only in more recent years that this has been replaced by champagne. Our naming party in Barbados is a world first, so it had to be rum,” Ludlow said.
“Rum is the very essence of Barbados and as the world’s oldest ocean cruise line, we simply had to pair it with the world’s oldest rum distillery and create what we believe is to be the world’s largest bottle of rum. Mount Gay has a long and distinguished history and affiliation with the sea; it’s a perfect mix.”