The Duchess of Cornwall failed to break the champagne bottle on the side of the ship, while naming the Queen Victoria yesterday (10.12.07).

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Camilla, wife of Prince Charles, pushed the button to send the bottle swinging against Cunard’s new luxury liner at the official naming ceremony in Southampton, but it bounced off the boat and dangled unbroken. Superstitious seamen believe this is a bad omen and will leave the vessel cursed.

Moored in the same dock yesterday was the Aurora, officially named by Princess Anne in 2000. Then the champagne bottle also failed to smash at the ceremony and the cruise ship broke down on its maiden voyage. In 2003 The Aurora’s passengers were all stuck down by a virus, and in 2005, its engines failed.

But a spokesman for Cunard, dismissed superstition, saying: “We were delighted with the ceremony. Sometimes champagne bottles don’t break.”

Before the ceremony Camilla and her husband Prince Charles toured the new luxury liner, which has an 830-seat theatre, seven restaurants, three swimming pools, a 6,000-book library and a casino.

During the tour the duchess pressed the button to sound the ships whistle. The 90,000-tonne ship — which carries 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew – set sail on its maiden voyage today (11.12.07), a 10-day cruise around northern Europe.

In its first year the ship’s passengers are expected to consume 351,000 bottles of wine and champagne, one million teabags, 59,000lbs of coffee, 1.5 million eggs, 372,000 packs of breakfast cereal and 13,000lb of smoked salmon.

American shipping company Cunard also operate ocean liners the QE2 and the QM2. With the QE2 still in service until the end of next year, the three Cunard queens will be brought together in New York next month – one of the stops the Queen Victoria will be making on its first world cruise.