(3:42 p.m. EDT) -- Ultra-casual British operator Ocean Village will be defunct by 2010 -- but that hasn't stopped the line from introducing new programmes to entice customers to book. In May, it announced the addition of Basil Brush, a famously mischievous TV puppet fox, to its entertainment lineup.
Now, in a twist on the traditional cruise formal evening -- this is still ultra-casual Ocean Village after all -- the line has announced a new offering called "Big Night Out." On this night, held once per cruise on every sailing aboard Ocean Village and Ocean Village Two, one passenger will be chosen as "godmother" -- and all will be given the chance to dress up a touch for a evening of celebration that includes a "naming" ceremony, dinner, an awards gala and an after-party with a countdown to a midnight balloon drop. It's like a ship christening, the Oscars and New Year's Eve -- all rolled into one night.
So how does it work? Passengers will have the chance to nominate a "godmother" (self-nominations are allowed if begging doesn't work) by filling out a form, available onboard, and dropping it off at reception. On the big night, scheduled toward the end of the cruise, a party will take place in the ship's Village Square atrium. The Captain will pick the faux godmother at random from all of the nominees, and she will speak her line -- "I name this ship…" -- and smash a bottle against a large-scale backdrop of the ship's bow.
The ceremony will be followed by a celebration dinner, movie quiz (complete with life-size) Oscars-style statuettes and a late-night party in the nightclub, featuring a New Year's Eve-style countdown to midnight and the aforementioned balloon drop.
The Big Night Out will take place on Ocean Village's two ships -- Ocean Village and Ocean Village II -- until both are transferred to P&O Australia, which (like Ocean Village) falls under the Carnival U.K. umbrella. The transfers will take place at different times; Ocean Village Two will depart in Fall 2009 and will be renamed Pacific Jewel, which will offer year-round sailings from Brisbane. Ocean Village, the line's original ship, will depart in autumn 2010.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor