A few months ago P&O announced that they would be launching a new cruise ship in 2020 and there was a competition to come up with a name for it. The ship will host over 5000 passengers which means it will be the first in the I Can’t Think Of Anything Worse Than That Number Of People On Board class of ships operated by a British cruise line.

I decided to enter the competition (which has now closed) and the winner won’t be announced until next year. The name I entered, in case you’re wondering, was Nova, and my reasoning was thus:

  • It ends with the letter -a which is common throughout the P&O fleet.
  • It means “new” which the ship will be for a while.
  • It can also mean a star undergoing sudden brightness (fine, because it’s exploding and destroying all life in its solar system but let’s not get nitpicky).

Now, in case you’re thinking that Nova was the first name I came up with for P&O’s new cruise ship let me state for the record that it was not. I rejected many names before settling on Nova and I’d like to explain why.

#1: A

Not only does it satisfy the likely requirement that the ship would end with the letter -a (as do all my rejected names), it would guarantee being the first listed alphabetically which might just be beneficial for people too lazy to look beyond the first option when booking a cruise. Potentially a huge market.

Rejected because of the problem with pronunciation and people wondering if you’re Canadian when you ask “Are you enjoying the P&O cruise ship A?”

#2: Brenda

Cunard already has the Queen Elizabeth so what says “British, patriotic, royal, but maybe just a little bit more common than that” better than the Private Eye nickname of Brenda?

Rejected because of potential jail time for persistent jokes about cramming seamen into Brenda and people remarking they had a rough time on Brenda in the Bay of Biscay once.

#3: Anglia

It’s a name that says England! And in the post-Brexit apocalypse of 2020 that’s all that’s probably going to be left of what was once a nicely united kingdom.

Rejected because of the inevitable filling up of memories of people’s first sexual experiences in a Ford Anglia in the 1950s and 1960s on all the cruise forums.

#4: Europa

P&O already have Britannia and what’s bigger than Britain? Europe! This name almost chooses itself.

Rejected because two years of Nigel Farage appearing on Question Time denouncing the work of P&O as treasonous is too much punishment for anyone to suffer.

#5: Pangaea

What’s even bigger than Europe yet won’t cause the bile to rise and the spittle to dribble down the jowls of Nigel Farage? Pangaea, the supercontinent land mass before all the continents we know today split from it! It’s a name that means everywhere on Earth, perfect for describing just what cruising is about.

Rejected because nobody will be able to spell it correctly.

#6: Siluria

Pangaea got me thinking about the geological periods in Earth’s history and the Silurian jumped out of me particularly from the description: "During this period, the Earth entered a long, warm greenhouse phase, supported by high CO2 levels […] and warm shallow seas covered much of the equatorial land masses. Early in the Silurian, glaciers retreated back into the South Pole until they almost disappeared […There is] strong evidence of a climate dominated by violent storms generated then as now by warm sea surfaces."

Rejected because I’ve cruised with enough people to know that a little bit of education every now and then angers them.

#7: Gargantua

As I’ve already intimated, the new P&O cruise ship will be a little bit large for my tastes. I’ve grown used to the Grand class ships (such as P&O’s Ventura and Azura, and many from Princess) and they feel just right for me. This name brings across that “it’s a big ship with lots of people and less opportunity to get into ports without using tender boats!” without using the word Titanic because of its unfortunate connotations with cruise history.

Rejected because it’s also the name of a TV movie starring Adam Baldwin who isn’t the worst Baldwin by a long way but is still a Baldwin nonetheless.

#8: Dan Castellaneta

I got to wondering about trying to tie together people from the world of television and movies with the cruise ship name (Baldwins excluded) because everybody likes amiable celebrities. Just look at Jane McDonald! If her name ended with -a she’d be a dead certainty for having a ship named after her by now. Instead, the first name that popped into my head was American actor Dan Castellaneta, the voice of many Simpsons characters (notably Homer).

Rejected because of the possibility that P&O would replace the stylised Union Jack flag on the ship’s hull with Dan’s face. He’s not an ugly man; I just wouldn’t want to see the mass panic from locals as his 20-metre-high head cuts through the waters approaching Kotor.

#9: Evil Edna

There’s something nostalgic about going on a cruise ship and despite a younger demographic taking to cruising these days that still means there are elements of a ship – particularly a British one – that need to bridge the modern with the classic to appeal to everyone. You don’t get more classic yet also horribly hip than children’s television show characters. Again, the first name that jumped into my head, a character ending with -a, someone who would stoke the fires of fond smiles of familiarity, voiced by the incredible Kenneth Williams: Evil Edna.

Rejected because people are superstitious on ships (No deck 13? Really?) and it’s possible that taking a cruise on an evil ship might put off the more feeble-minded, many of whom are relied upon to keep the holistic foot-aura treatment people employed.

#10: Cholera

For this final, rejected name for a new P&O cruise ship I cleared my mind and thought about the key elements of any cruising vessel: waterborne, a lot of drinking going on, transfers its living organisms rapidly to new places. This name just jumped out.

Rejected because nobody ever picks ironically humorous names for ships.

Featured image is of the Ventura in Southampton waters, a ship I’ll soon be trying out for the first time on a taster cruise unless I’m barred as a result of this post.

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