HARWICH, England It took three tries, but Dame Judi Dench finally
broke a bottle of bubbly on the hull of the new Carnival Legend.
And when the third bottle smashed, it sprayed Dench with
champagne and bits of green glass. The British press promptly
dubbed her Dame Judi Drench.
Dench took it all in stride, laughing and then brushing off
offers of fresh makeup and a change of clothes.
“She was an unbelievably good sport,” said Carnival Corp.
Chairman Micky Arison. “The only issue she had after that was how
fantastic she smelled with all that champagne.”
The Academy Award-winning actress and stage veteran is a legend
herself in the United Kingdom.
When she spoke to the hundreds in attendance at the Legend’s
christening ceremony here, she said she was “completely
overwhelmed” and “deeply, deeply honored” to have been asked to
serve as the godmother to Carnival Cruise Lines’ new 88,500-ton
“I am godmother to 13 godchildren and godmother to a goddog. Now
I am godmother to a great ship,” Dench said. “Any time this great
ship feels the need for my help, I hope it will call to me, and I
will go rushing to its side.”
Her first attempt to break the champagne bottle was by the usual
method used nowadays pulling a lever dockside to send the bottle
smashing into the ship’s hull by a system of ropes and pulleys.
The bottle simply bounced against the hull. When the champagne
bottle fails to break, it is traditionally considered bad luck by
the superstitious maritime industry.
Dench then walked up to the gangway, grabbed a bottle in her
hand and aimed at the ship. It too failed to break and fell out of
her hand into the water.
The third time was the charm.
The drenching of Dame Dench and her good humor led most
attendees to forget about the bad luck. The British press had a
field day, publishing numerous photos of the actress soaked in
In fact, Carnival garnered more publicity than usually accorded
such an event, so it turned out to be good luck for the Fun Ship
line so far.
Later, Arison updated the press on his efforts to buy another
British legend, P&O Princess Cruises.
Carnival and its chief rival, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., are
aggressively vying for P&O Princess.
The deals are awaiting the decision by the Federal Trade
Commission on whether either would create a monopoly and stifle
competition in the cruise industry. A decision is expected in
mid-September or early October.
Arison said the chances for approval are 50-50 for either deal.
Both or neither one will get clearance, he predicted, because
Carnival and P&O would total 46% of the North American cruise
market in total berths while RCCL-P&O would be 45%.
“If the FTC rejects them, it’s basically over for these two
transactions, unless someone chooses to litigate,” Arison said.
If the FTC approves both transactions, the bidders will return
to the P&O Princess shareholders and let them vote on which
suitor they want.
“We are very confident that if it goes back to the shareholders,
we will own P&O Princess,” Arison asserted. “I am confident of
The $375 million Carnival Legend is the third Spirit-class
vessel, following the Carnival Spirit and the Carnival Pride. A
fourth in the class, the Carnival Miracle, is due out in early
The 2,124-passenger ship is the first Carnival vessel to sail in
Europe, although it was scheduled to operate just two cruises
before heading across the Atlantic to North America.
This fall, the Legend will operate Canada/New England cruises
from New York and two Bermuda cruises from Philadelphia and
From Nov. 10 to April 19, the Legend will operate eight-day
Southern and Western Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale.