Dame Helen Mirren was chosen as godmother of Ventura because she is a “British icon”, said P&O Cruises managing director Nigel Esdale.

Helen Mirren christens P&O Ventura

Speaking to Travel Weekly during the VIP agent day on Sunday he said that in naming a ship it is important to ensure the chosen godmother has stature.

Travel Weekly Cruise Month - April 2008He said: “It’s fitting that the finest actress this country has produced names the best ship this country has produced.”

“Ventura is the only ship introduced at the moment that has been designed for the British market. It is an unashamedly British experience.”

The ship, which is advertised as ‘the superliner designed for Britain’, has 1,546 cabins with a passenger occupancy of 3,600.

Esdale added: “A ship on this scale allows you to provide more options for customers.”

Ventura boasts a range of restaurants – including one from celebrity chef Marco Pierre White – and a range of children’s facilities.

Esdale said VIP agent days are essential and believes agents have a strong role to play in the cruise market.

He said: “People are increasingly busy and don’t have time to search for holidays. The smart travel agent is the one taking the hassle out of the searching.”

After the launch he said  P&O Cruises was considering “a number of options” for its next ship – out in April 2010 – and was likely to have decided on a name before September.