Former Royal Ballet principal dancer Darcey Bussell has been named Godmother of P&O Cruises’ new 115,000-ton ship Azura.

Bussell, who officially retired from ballet in 2007 and now lives in Sydney, Australia, will be naming the 3,100-passenger ship in front of 1,200 invited guests at a gala ceremony in Southampton on April 10 2010.

P&O Cruises managing director Carol Marlow said Darcey Bussell would be the perfect Godmother as she epitomises glamour, sophistication and elegance, which are all qualities the cruiseline has strived to achieve in Azura.

Azura will offer the service, quality and entertainment associated with cruising at its very best and as dance will play a key part in this, it is entirely fitting for Darcey to give Azura the best possible start in life.”

Bussell said she is “excited and honoured” to be Godmother, but also “somewhat filled with trepidation”.

The naming ceremony will benefit three international charities chosen by Bussell – Sydney Dance Company, the Royal Ballet School and the Prince’s Rainforest Project.

Azura‘s maiden voyage departs Southampton on April 12 and is a 16-night cruise calling at ports including Malaga, Corfu, Dubrovnik and Venice.