(1 p.m. EST) -- Welsh-born diva Dame Shirley Bassey will smash a bottle on the hull of P&O Cruises
' newest ship, the 710-passenger Adonia, when the vessel is named in Southampton on May 21.
One of Britain's most successful singers -- with 135 million record sales and a career spanning half a century -- Bassey, who looks nowhere near her 74 years, is best known for her renditions of James Bond movie themes ("Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever"). Amazingly, she's never been asked to name a cruise ship before, despite what must be thousands of performances of her songs in theatres at sea.
P&O Cruises has a habit of picking 'national treasures' as its ships' godmothers. Ballet star Darcey Bussell did the honours for Azura
last year, with another dame -- Helen Mirren, to be precise -- naming Ventura
But Dame Shirley's relationship with large ships hasn't always been a happy one. In 2007, she famously complained to Britain's Daily Express newspaper that the view of Monaco's harbour from her hilltop apartment in the principality was ruined by the "big and ugly and new-fangled" yacht, Le Grand Bleu, at the time belonging to Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
Goodness knows what she makes of the far bigger cruise ships that dock there now.
Perhaps she'll approve of Adonia, which at just 30,200 tons is positively dainty in comparison to most new-builds. The ship, which was built in 2001, is currently sailing for Princess Cruises
as Royal Princess
and will be marketed by P&O Cruises as an upmarket, adults-only vessel, offering destination-intensive cruises.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor