The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, attended the Naming Ceremony of a new P&O Cruises ship, Britannia, at the Ocean Cruise Terminal, Southampton this morning.
Britannia, with its maximum capacity of 4,997, has been described as the largest cruise ship designed for the British holiday market by its operator, P&O Cruises.
The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment’s Parachute Display Team greeted the vessel as it arrived in Southampton on Friday.
Arriving just before 12noon today, the Royal Party were greeted by Lord Sterling, Life President of P&O and David Dingle, Chairman of Carnival UK, P&O’s parent company. Taking their seats, The Queen, and Prince Philip were present for the short ceremony during which the Bishop of Southampton, The Rt Revd Jonathan Frost, blessed the new ‘super liner’.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Britannia’s first Captain, Paul Brown, invited Her Majesty to officially name the ship – becoming the second P&O vessel she has launched. The Queen named ‘Oriana’ 10 years ago, in 1995.
P&O’s largest ship bears the same name as The Queen’s former Royal Yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997 after more than 50 years of service.
HMY Britannia was said to be one of the places where Her Majesty felt most comfortable and at home. It played host to a number of dignitaries whilst The Royal Family used it to tour the globe and was also used as a base for four Royal honeymoons.
Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong Jones, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, and The Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York all enjoyed their honeymoons on the Yacht.
P&O’s vessel is a sailing metropolis, with 18 decks in total, 15 of which are open to passengers. Amongst the facilities onboard are 13 places to eat with 13 bars, four swimming pools and nine places to enjoy entertainment. At 330m (1,082ft), the ship would eclipse The Shard in London if it were to be stood upright.
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh toured these new facilities after the Ceremony, meeting with staff and members of the crew. The Royal Party also met high-profile chefs Marco Pierre White, James Martin, Atul Kochhar and Eric Lanlard, all of whom will also host a Cookery Club onboard – allowing passengers to attend classes with Michelin-starred chefs during their cruise.
One of the judges of the award-winning baking competition The Great British Bake Off, Mary Berry, will also be joining the attraction from the 6 July – 9 July.
Britannia will begin her maiden voyage on Saturday 14 March, taking in destinations in Spain, Italy and France. Based in Southampton during the summer, she will move to the Caribbean in the winter months.
The vessel’s launch marks The Queen’s fifth cruise ship naming ceremony. In 1967, she launched Cunard’s then-flagship, named after herself, Queen Elizabeth 2. Before naming two other Cunard ‘Queens’ – Queen Mary 2 in 2004 and Queen Elizabeth in 2010.
Image Credit: Paul Ratcliffe (HMY Britannia) and P&O Cruises